A little more than a year after enthusiastically approving a partial ban on plastic bags—applying only to the biggest retailers in town, making more than $2 million a year—Portland City Council on Thursday, November 15, unanimously decided to extend the ban citywide. By October 1, 2013 every single restaurant, food cart, big-box behemoth, and mom-and-pop grocery in Portland will be barred from handing out single-use plastic bags—the long-derided scourge of rivers, beaches, and trash recyclers. Larger restaurants and stores will have to fall in line a bit earlier, by March, with some 5,000 businesses to be affected overall. The ban won't apply to plastic bags used to separate wet, sloppy items like produce and raw meat from the rest of someone's groceries. It also won't include, after pushing by the timber industry lobbyists and Commissioner Dan Saltzman, a five-cent fee on paper bags also sought by environmentalists. The citywide ban—telegraphed in a city report earlier this fall that showed a surge in the use of reusable bags—puts Portland in the company of several other West Coast cities. DENIS C. THERIAULT


Despite significant misgivings by city commissioners, the Portland City Council on Wednesday, November 14, followed the script laid out by Mayor Sam Adams and approved a landmark legal deal with the US Department of Justice meant to settle findings that our cops have a history of beating up, and even killing, people with mental illness. The deal promises improvements in police training on mental illness, new units meant to proactively help Portlanders in crisis, speedier misconduct probes, and an ambitious timeline for starting up a new drop-off clinic. But it also will cost more than $5 million a year—a cost Adams hopes to partly offset by raising taxes on two landline phone companies. Commissioner Amanda Fritz worried one of the changes—a shorter window for appealing findings in misconduct cases—might actually hurt the public. Nick Fish fretted that the settlement might have committed more cash to front-end social services. And Dan Saltzman, perhaps unaware of just how lean the city's Independent Police Review office already is, worried about the dollar amount involved in adding positions like investigators. DCT