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Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in Oregon Politics: Steve Novick, Reservoir Dogs, Working Class Oregonians

Friday, December 19, 2014

 

Every Friday, GoLocalPDX breaks down who's rising and who's falling in the world of Oregon politics. Check out who made the lists this week.

Hot

Working Class Oregonians

Working class Oregonians stand to be the biggest winners in Salem when the legislature convenes. With the Democrats firmly in control in Salem, legislators drew a line in the sand with the business lobby  by announcing legislation to require paid sick leave and to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. To boot, the Oregon AFL-CIO, long the strongest voice for the working class, lost their lobbyist. Don’t fret, it is because she was tapped for a top job in Governor John Kitzhaber’s office.

Tom Burns

Tom Burns is the bureaucrat most recently headed up the effort to ensure a smooth transition for medical marijuana dispensaries when legalized in 2013. This week he was selected to be Oregon’s marijuana czar. He soon starts work at the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to shepherd the behemoth state agency into a whole new drug business. 

Reservoir Dogs

Activists have been dogging the City of Portland’s plans to repurpose its reservoirs when new covered ones come online in late 2015. This week the city’s Historic Landmarks Commission rejected the city’s plans, handing activists a win in a fight that most had already written off. The reservoirs will no longer be used for the city’s water system come 2016, making this victory pyrrhic.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer

In a toxic Washington DC environment where passing a bill that declares water is even wet (or the sky is blue) would be a long shot, Portland Congressman Earl Blumenauer scored a win this week. The Paul Simon Water for the World Act, which Blumenauer spearheaded, helps ensure that our country’s foreign aid is focused on the poorest countries and water issues are considered with development projects.  

David Mannix & Barbara Scrivner

You’ve never heard their names before and if President Obama’s bet is right, you never will again. This week David Mannix and Barbara Scrivner became the first two Oregonians to receive commutations from this president. When Scrivner is released next June, she’ll have a lot of television shows to catch up on. Somehow I doubt Orange is the New Black will be on the list. With any luck, her prison release agreement prevents her from watching Breaking Bad.

Not

Portland Public Schools Board of Directors Member Steve Buel

Sinc before he was elected again (after a 32 year absence) to the Portland Public School Board, Steve Buel has been a thorn in the district and his fellow board members’ sides. For instance, last month Buel called out the Chair for violating Oregon’s strict open meeting laws. Good for him. His more recent comments to a fellow board member give them more than enough ammunition to push back. No matter how kidding he may have been, racially charged comments to a Native American colleague are a bad idea. This will not end well. See Jackson, Derry.

First Lady Cylvia Hayes 

After delaying public records requests for months, First Lady Cylvia Hayes hubby to be’s office released records showing the staff of Governor Kitzhaber regularly spent time helping support Ms. Hayes private business. This slow release of information ensures we all continue to see her name in print. What stands out the most in the latest document dump? Having a $60,000 per year public employee booking travel. Yes, that’s right, in the Governor’s Office, even an administrative assistant makes $60,000. Keep your eye out for job openings here.

The Veritable Quandary (The VQ)

The VQ’s own veritable quandary really commenced yesterday when the county asserted its right as a property owner, and voted to move forward with plans to develop a portion of the land that holds the VQ to construct a new courthouse. It is unlikely the downtown Portland landmark restaurant would survive the downsizing required or the years long construction associated with such a large development.

City Commissioner Steve Novick

Portland Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick has threatened to “throw the book” at Uber drivers, seemingly offering more contempt for his constituents than he alleges they have for the law. The Mayor’s office has thus far thwarted his efforts to penalize drivers and just yesterday brokered a deal with Uber. Under the deal they will cease operations for 90 days while the city's archaic rules are revised. The Mayor isn't showing a lot of faith in the person he tapped to be in charge of transportation issues. 

Additionally, Novick’s efforts to enact a street fee have continued to elude him. He’s been combative toward anyone who dares to challenge him and in doing so has steeled the opposition and alienated allies. Most recently, he likened the Portland Business Alliance to mass arsonists by stating they’d rather “burn the city to the ground” than accept a compromise. As a result, a vote on the street fee was again delayed. It will likely be enacted sometime after Hillarycare, unless the Mayor steps in and takes the reigns here as well.

The Governor’s Budget

There is a political science line about the Governor’s Budget in the political process which says “the Governor proposes and the legislature disposes.” In Oregon, it seems like the only thing to stay on the kitchen table less time than the barrage of political mail from the election is the Governor’s Budget. The Senate’s chief budget writer’s concerns raise a red flag that despite strong Democratic control in Salem, do not expect kumbaya.

Me

Kim Jong-un destroyed my plans on Christmas afternoon. Thousands have had their personal information stolen. Sony will lose millions of dollars. Most importantly, my hopes to see the best new bad comedy of the season while most are celebrating consumerism and gluttony were dashed this week. Sony fell to the demands of hackers, allegedly in cahoots with the North Korean government, and canceled the released of The Interview. Apparently Dennis Rodman can’t even fix this one. Makes me wonder if they were the cause of the fire at Kim Jong Grillin’ after all.

Jesse is an East Portland resident, political junkie, snowboard fanatic, and former pub owner.

 

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