News Yesterday 11:17 AM

Multnomah County Voters Will Weigh in On Voting Rights, Jail Inspections, and Ranked Choice Voting This November

Multnomah County Commissioners approved all seven of the proposed county charter amendments Thursday

The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved all seven amendments to the county’s primary governing document proposed by a volunteer committee Thursday.

Every six years, local lawmakers convene a committee to review the Multnomah County Charter—the county equivalent to a constitution. The committee is tasked with reviewing the charter and suggesting changes for voters to approve or not. This year, the 16-person committee suggested seven changes that they believe will make county governance more just, accessible, and transparent.

“I’m so grateful that this committee has chosen to focus on crucial tenants underlying a successful democracy, and those are transparency, accountability, equity, and inclusion,” said Commissioner Sharon Meieran. “I know that our process is a little bit overshadowed by that of the [city of Portland’s simultaneous charter review], but that in no way diminishes its importance.”

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Visual Art Yesterday 10:07 AM

This Week's Mercury Cover: Steven Miller’s Spiritual Skinny Dipping

An Interview with the Photographer About His Collection of Underwater Nudes, Subsumed

Steven Miller has been producing beautiful and brave photographic work for 20 years, exploring themes like queer resistance and resilience, the sublime, and hot gay sex.

His series, Subsumed, borrows from all of those interests, as it centers on naked figures suspended in underwater scenes. The photos capture the sublimity of skinny dipping in the classical sense: The beauty of bodies both aquatic and human, the terror of the unknown waters, and the childlike curiosity driving us forward despite our fears.

In our conversation, Miller dives deep into his relationship with the world beneath, and the “tiny queer bubble” through which he views the world.

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The Mercury provides news and fun every single day—but your help is essential. If you believe Portland benefits from smart, local journalism and arts coverage, please consider making a small monthly contribution, because without you, there is no us. Thanks for your support!

Good morning, Portland! Let's jump right in today.

In local news:

• Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall told county commissioners Wednesday that she addressed the blurry ballot barcode issue during the May primaries in a timely way and the response was “nothing but a success.” Clackamas County Commissioners pushed back, asking how Hall can claim success when the work facing county election workers kept mounting and mounting until Hall finally accepted assistance from county staff on election day. Clackamas County didn’t certify its elections results until nearly two weeks after election day and cost taxpayers $600,000 to duplicate the defective ballots. Hall has, however, found a new ballot printer for the November election.

• Signing bonuses have been a key hiring incentive for agencies like TriMet and the police bureau to combat employee shortages throughout the pandemic. However, hiring incentives are about to become much more difficult to offer as an Oregon exception for pay equity laws comes to an end in September.

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The Mercury provides news and fun every single day—but your help is essential. If you believe Portland benefits from smart, local journalism and arts coverage, please consider making a small monthly contribution, because without you, there is no us. Thanks for your support!

Good afternoon, Portland! Hope you're enjoying the cooler weather. Here are the headlines. 

IN LOCAL NEWS:

  • Following a spring report about dysfunction on the Planning and Sustainability Commission between commissioners who prioritized sustainability and commissioners who prioritized land use, City Commissioner Carmen Rubio decided to split the commission into two separate panels. Not everyone is pleased with the decision. 

The Mercury's Portland Burger Week, presented by New Seasons, starts on Monday—woo! Are you stoked? If you're hesitant because you're not a meat-eater, then we have great news for you:

There are FOURTEEN vegetarian and vegan Burger Week options! And we've made a handy list of all of them right here for you. 

From plant-based patties to vegan cheese, these restaurants are here to accommodate.

Check it out here, and check out ALL of the delicious burgers you'll be able to eat next week—for just $8 each!—HERE!

Happening right now, but only through this Sunday August 14... it's the coolest, most delicious event of the summer!

The Portland Mercury and Jim Beam proudly present the Summer of Slushies! Get boozy, frozen, custom-made slushies at your favorite bars—and for only $6 each! Check out all of these delicious concoctions NOW! Want to find a delicious, cooling slushie near you? Check out our SLUSHIE MAP!

Want to receive the latest updates on Summer of Slushies and other exciting Mercury Food and Drink promotions? Don't miss out on any of the fun—sign up for our newsletter!

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The fallout of police use of force against members of the public during 2020 racial justice protests has cost more than just negative headlines for the city of Portland.

As of early August, the city has paid out just over $325,000 in legal compensation to Portlanders who sued the city after they were injured by the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) at a civil rights demonstration in 2020. Those payouts, calculated with assistance from data collected by Portland Copwatch, have all come in the form of settlements—or, a payment given to the plaintiff in exchange for them dropping the case, absolving the city (and its police) from any guilt in the process. The total cost of the settled 2020 cases represents eight separate lawsuits, ranging in settlements from $100,000 for a man who was kicked and pepper sprayed by police while registering people to vote at a rally to $12,000 for a woman shot by a flashbang grenade as she was leaving a demonstration. 

While a third of a million dollars is a significant amount, it lies in stark contrast with the financial settlements coming out of other US cities that saw the same type of police response to 2020 protests. 

In Minneapolis, where the murder of George Floyd sparked the first surge of 2020 protests, the city has so far agreed to pay at least $5.4 million to resolve two lawsuits filed by demonstrators injured by the police. In Columbus, the total number is $5.75 million for a single case filed by 32 plaintiffs. In Oakland, the city has paid $1.5 million to resolve a lawsuit filed by 25 people who were harmed by police during 2020 protests. And in Austin, city officials have handed over a combined $14 million from six separate settlement agreements with protesters.

To be sure, at least 20 lawsuits against Portland police are still pending in state and federal court, and some will surely resolve in a payment from the city. But that still doesn’t explain why, in the same two-year span, Portland has paid out so little to protesters hurt by its police officers compared to other cities where demonstrators were met with equal—if not lesser—police force during 2020. So what sets Portland apart from these kinds of payouts? 

Juan Chavez, a lawyer with the Oregon Justice Resource Center (OJRC) who has represented several people in lawsuits against PPB’s 2020 actions, jokingly calls it the “Oregon tax of civil rights.”

“Historically speaking, Oregon juries aren’t generous with money or finding liability in protester cases against the police,” said Chavez. “I think the [city] knows that and exploits that with their settlement recommendations. We haven’t seen a successful protest trial in quite some time.”

After the city is hit with a lawsuit, it heads to the city’s Risk Management Division, which partners with the City Attorney’s Office to analyze the case. The two offices work together in calculating the predicted cost of a case and making settlement offers, if appropriate. 

There isn’t one tool the city relies on to determine a lawsuit’s potential cost for the city. In an email to the Mercury, a spokesperson from the Risk Management Division listed different factors taken into account when making this calculation. 

“Considerations can include: liability exposure, amount and type of damages, available defenses and cost of continued litigation,” the email reads. “Prior settlements on similar cases are also considered but are not the primary factor in determining this value.”

The city dips into its internal Insurance and Claims Fund to cover settlement costs, which is then reimbursed by the bureau responsible for the claim. This means that the $325,000 of 2020 protest-related payouts comes directly from the PPB's annual budget.

In making settlement recommendations to Portland City Council—which must approve any settlement agreement over $5,000—Risk Management staff usually note that, based on their investigation, they believe “there is a risk” that the city may be found liable if the lawsuit went to trial. Agreeing to settle both keeps the city out of court and shields them from admitting guilt. 

It’s a path that Portlanders who sue the police also appear more comfortable with, too. That won’t change, Chavez suspects, until Portland sees a trial where a jury determines that the city is liable for the way its officers treated a protester.

“We’re all looking for the next protest case that succeeds in Oregon to figure out how jurors are feeling,” he said. 

Chavez will have the opportunity to test this theory in a few months, when his client Linda Senn is set to face Multnomah County Deputy Kyle Smith in court over a lawsuit she filed against Smith after he pepper sprayed her at a 2016 protest inside Portland City Hall. Chavez said he hopes Senn’s case can prove as a temperature check for how jurors respond to protester’s lawsuits against police. 

It’s clear where juries stand in other states. In April, a federal jury determined Denver police used excessive force against 12 nonviolent protesters, ordering the city to pay the plaintiffs $14 million (the city has since announced it will appeal the verdict).

Jason Kafoury, a Portland lawyer who is also representing several protesters suing the PPB for use-of-force in 2020, doesn’t believe there’s anything especially unique about Oregon juries that convince the city and plaintiffs to settle. He suspects that the biggest reason Portland hasn’t paid much for 2020 protester injury cases is based on court delays due to COVID-19. 

“My guess is that there’s a lot more cases out there that are still pending than have been settled,” said Kafoury. 

He’s not wrong. There are at least 20 federal and state lawsuits against PPB for using force against protesters in 2020 that remain unresolved.

“We’ll probably take at least one of these cases to trial,” said Kafoury, of the several lawsuits his firm has filed against the police on behalf of Portland protesters. Kafoury said he only suggests settling when the case doesn’t have enough independent eyewitness testimony or video to help it prevail in court. But, Kafoury said, that’s not the case in many of these police cases. He’s confident that, based on the harmful and well-documented impact PPB left on Portland in 2020, he’ll see jurors side with the plaintiffs. 

“With the information out there,” he said, “there may be an outrage factor from the jury. I wouldn’t be surprised.”

The Mercury provides news and fun every single day—but your help is essential. If you believe Portland benefits from smart, local journalism and arts coverage, please consider making a small monthly contribution, because without you, there is no us. Thanks for your support!

Good morning, Portland! Long live Kate Bush! I think that from now on I'm going to try to say "long live Kate Bush" instead of "hello" and "goodbye"—conversational routines that have always bored me. Long live Kate Bush! Here's the news!

IN LOCAL NEWS:

• Today in Wolf News: Oregon State Patrol is investigating the circumstances under which a 2-year-old collared female wolf was shot and left on the embankment of a wilderness backroad. Oregon Wildlife Coalition is offering an $11,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the shooting.

• I did not know that Oregon had wild horse gangs, but I am delighted to learn this is the case. OPB reports that the Bureau of Land Management wants to give some of the horses contraception because the WILD HORSE GANGS ARE INCREASING (Yes! How could this not be good?). Some "horse advocates"—a designation I wish I could claim—don't want to put the horses on the pill.

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The Mercury provides news and fun every single day—but your help is essential. If you believe Portland benefits from smart, local journalism and arts coverage, please consider making a small monthly contribution, because without you, there is no us. Thanks for your support!

Good afternoon, Portland! DID YOU SEE? It rained for like five minutes. World, BACK ON! Oh, it's done raining? WORLD IS BACK OFF. With the world back off, I suppose we should get into the news:

IN LOCAL NEWS:

• If you've been following the city of Portland's ongoing problems with the US Department of Justice (DOJ)—Portland police are not in compliance with a 2014 settlement and haven't been for 17 months—today OPB reports that city attorneys say the DOJ is misinterpreting police programs and shifting its requirements. 

• Now some nice news: Portland's champions of underground and cult cinema Church of Film celebrate their ninth anniversary today. That's nine years sharing of introspective foreign shorts and nightmare cartoons with the city's adoring, weird-loving audiences.

• Today in “things that are not where they should be,” there's a trampoline in Johnson Creek. I just hope the industrious youths who dragged it over there had many an epic bounce and that all their bones remain whole. 

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FINALLY! At long last, it’s time for humankind’s greatest celebration/accomplishment: New Seasons Presents Portland Burger Week! This year, Burger Week is bigger and better than ever: From Monday Aug 15 to Sunday Aug 21, Portlanders will be feasting on 48 (!!) delectable, original burgers... and if that wasn’t great enough, each of those burgers can be had for a mere $8! Holy cats... this is looking to be the best Burger Week yet!

(Thanks and a tip o' the hat to this year's fine Burger Week sponsors: New Seasons Market, Jim Beam, Laurelwood Brewing, Electric Lettuce, DinnerStar, and EverOut. Woot-woot!)

Go here to see pics and descriptions of all 48 (!!) of this year’s one-of-a-kind burger creations—but before you start planning the most delicious week of your life, keep a few things in mind:

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Savage Love Tue 12:00 PM

Choke Hold

Choke Play: Is It Super Dangerous or Just Sorta Dangerous? Let's Find Out in This Week's SAVAGE LOVE.

I have a question about choking. Or should that be simulated choking? I've recently discovered that being pinned down by my neck is a huge turn on for me. I love the feeling of being dominated and controlled, and of feeling my partner's strength on this part of my body. I'm much more interested in this feeling than in actual breath control or oxygen deprivation. I've been reading up on choking because I'm trying to make sure I can be manhandled in the way I like as safely as possible. However, all the advice about choking is about how dangerous it is. But most of the advice concentrates on the dangers of restricting oxygen (which is not what I am going for) or on damaging the windpipe by putting pressure on the front of the throat (which my partners avoid). So, my question is… how dangerous is this kind of simulated choking play really? Play where one person is being held down by their throat with only mild pressure? What can we do to make it as safe as possible? I'm having a hard time finding good answers, and given how wet this makes my pussy, abstaining from this activity is not an option for me.

Please I Need More Expertise

“Choking and other forms of breath play used to be very uncommon,” said Dr. Debby Herbenick. “But over the past decade, choking has become extremely common, especially among people under 40.”

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Books Tue 11:00 AM

Kevin Sampsell’s Creative Chopping Block

I Made An Accident collects darkly humorous collages from a celebrated Portland author

Kevin Sampsell sees collage as a punk art form, so he wouldn’t mind if readers cut up his new book and added it to their scraps. The local author, Future Tense Books publisher, and past Mercury contributor is a known force in our city’s literary scene—you’ll see him introducing most reading nights at Powell’s where he is the events coordinator.

But in addition to his passion for poetry and prose, Sampsell has a seven year creative practice of collaging found media—liberating it from its original context and imbibing it with fresh meaning. His latest book I Made An Accident (Clash Media, 192 pages) is a sampling of nearly 200 collages, placed alongside more than two dozen of his original poems. The result is a jubilant celebration of bizarre, jarring, and defiant imagery. 

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Who's ready to see some shows? Well, the Mercury is here to help with FREE TICKETS to see some of Portland's best concerts—our way of saying thanks to our great readers and spread the word about some fantastic upcoming performances! (Psst... if you want to say thanks to the Mercury, please consider making a small monthly contribution to keep us alive and kickin'!) And oh boy, do we have a great show coming at ya this week! CHECK IT OUT!

 


WIN FREE TIX to see ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN at the Roseland Theater on August 31!

Portland! Echo & The Bunnymen visits Roseland Theater on August 31, with special guest Cayucas! 80’s English rock outfit Echo & The Bunnymen celebrates 40 years of magical songs as they play their hits in Portland. Tickets are on sale now or enter to win here!

Roseland Theater, 8 NW 6th, Wed Aug 31, 8 pm, $49.50-$59.50


 

GOOD LUCK, and all winners will be notified by this Thursday. And check back next week for more FREE TIX from the Mercury!

The Mercury provides news and fun every single day—but your help is essential. If you believe Portland benefits from smart, local journalism and arts coverage, please consider making a small monthly contribution, because without you, there is no us. Thanks for your support!

Good morning, Portland! We're back to more typical summer weather today with overcast skies, a high of 87 degrees, and a chance of rain later tonight. Now, onto the news!

In local news:

• The kids aren’t okay: 16.1 percent of Oregon youth reported experiencing anxiety and depression in 2020, a 40 percent increase since 2016, according to a new wellness report. That’s more than the 26 percent increase in children reporting mental health issues nationally. The U.S Office of the Surgeon General is calling the increase a “mental health pandemic.” Overall, the report ranked Oregon 26th in children’s wellness.

• TriMet is ramping up its efforts to fill empty transit police positions, citing an increase in drug use on the transit system and other TriMet violations. A TriMet spokesperson told the Mercury that a more highly visible presences of security personnel “helps put riders at ease”—a position rider advocates and a TriMet operator dispute.

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The Mercury provides news and fun every single day—but your help is essential. If you believe Portland benefits from smart, local journalism and arts coverage, please consider making a small monthly contribution, because without you, there is no us. Thanks for your support!

Good afternoon, Portland! Hope your week is off to a promising, happy start. Here are the afternoon headlines. 

IN LOCAL NEWS