ATTORNEY GENERAL Ellen Rosenblum is prepared to spend nearly $90,000 studying how at least one criminal investigator at her Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) began gathering information on Oregonians who tweeted the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, as state civil liberties groups call for a criminal probe.
The contract amount of $88,000, first reported by the Oregonian, will go to a Portland labor attorney named Carolyn Walker, who'll earn $440 an hour for the work. But while Walker's internal probe may answer key questions about the DOJ surveillance—like who was scrutinized, for how long, and to what degree—it likely won't answer whether the DOJ's surveillance broke Oregon law.
That's got Nkenge Harmon Johnson, president of the Urban League of Portland, calling for a more serious investigation. Johnson told OPB: "It seems as though a crime may in fact have been committed at the department of justice."
Johnson's husband, Erious Johnson, is a DOJ employee, and its lead on civil rights matters. He's also the only person we know for sure was scrutinized by the department's criminal division. DIRK VANDERHART
MAYOR CHARLIE HALES' office says it will hire a shuttle service to ferry homeless people from downtown to a new emergency shelter near Southwest Portland's Multnomah Village this winter.
The plans, first reported by the Mercury, represent a new paradigm for getting people to shelter, as the city works to develop more shelter beds before winter sets in. While social services agencies have given homeless residents transit passes in the past, no one the Mercury spoke to could recall a shuttle service.
The new site will offer space for up to 200 people at a former US Army reserve center. If it reaches that capacity, it'll be the largest shelter in the city. Transition Projects, which will operate the space, plans to initially open it up only to homeless women, but may expand that to couples without children. DVH
ONE DAY after Portland City Council voted unanimously to oppose all future fossil fuel projects in the area, Union Pacific announced its intention to increase railway shipments of oil from North Dakota's Bakken formation through the Columbia River Gorge.
Oregon Department of Transportation Administrator Hal Gard says this could mean an additional three million gallons of oil coming through the gorge each month.
On November 12, city commissioners passed a resolution, brought forward by Mayor Charlie Hales, directing the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to explore policy options that would stifle expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in the city. The week prior, the council passed a resolution from Commissioner Amanda Fritz that puts the city squarely in opposition to oil trains. SHELBY R. KING