FOR YEARS, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has been something of a sad tramp, flipping its moth-eaten pockets inside out with a shrug and a frown. The agency's gas- and parking-sensitive revenues haven't kept pace with rising costs, and it's got some hefty debt obligations.

Now we have a good idea how the city will attempt to darn those pockets.

In a news conference on April 10, Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick said he will propose a new flat fee on Portland households, dedicated solely to transportation. Monthly charges of $8 or $12 could raise $34 million to $52 million, the agency says—a far cry from the money it needs to get Portland's roads up to snuff, but a start nonetheless.

It's not an ideal choice. Novick actually favors a more progressive income tax hike to finance the road maintenance and safety improvements the bureau wants to carry out. But he said a recent phone survey showed Portlanders are most supportive of a so-called "street maintenance and safety fee." Even that support is tepid: A bare majority of 52 percent support an $8 monthly fee per household. A $12 fee garnered 51 percent support. DIRK VANDERHART

A SECOND MAYORAL STAFFER has been accused of violating state election law.

Partisans with the Portland Public Water District campaign announced on April 9 they'd filed a complaint against policy aide Josh Alpert with the Oregon Secretary of State's Office. The document says Alpert railed against the proposed water district at an April 2 meeting with attorneys from the law firm Tonkon Torp. Mayor Charlie Hales' office wouldn't comment on the allegation.

The water district campaign filed a similar complaint in February, aimed at a press release written by Hales' spokesman, Dana Haynes.

Both matters are under investigation.

Under Oregon law, elected officials are relatively free to support or oppose ballot measures. Their staff is more constrained. Public employees aren't allowed to campaign during work hours. For salaried workers like Haynes and Alpert, that's not simply 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays. DVH