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5 Oregon Stories To Watch This Week, October 4-11

Turmoil at the Thorns, debate over Portland Street Response, and a new strategy to curb drive-by shootings

By Julia Silverman October 4, 2021

Thorns fans in happier times. 

If you love a good will they/won’t they, the week ahead is for you. Will the Thorns return to their regularly scheduled season of play? (See below to find out why last weekend’s game was called off.) Will Portland City Council finally decide whether to expand Portland Street Response citywide? Will more of the state’s largest employers follow the example set by the fine people at Tyson Chicken and announce vaccine mandates for their employees? We’re on the edge of our seats. We may not have all the answers (yet) but we do know one thing: Here are the stories people in Portland are going to be chewing over this week. 

First Responders 

Last spring, given the chance to expand the Portland Street Response—the team of trained, unarmed mental health professionals and medics that responds to nonemergency calls in the Lents neighborhood instead of the police—Portland City Council punted, big time. More data was needed about the team’s efficacy, said Mayor Ted Wheeler; city council members Mingus Mapps and Dan Ryan agreed. Well, on Tuesday, they will get their share of data, and lots of it. Researchers from Portland State University will present the results of an intensive fact-finding mission to the full city council that morning. Expect a deep dive in the inner workings of PSR, and—soon after—another vote on whether to take the program citywide, which could garner some turf pushback from the Portland Police Bureau. 

Strife on the Pitch 

The Athletic’s Meg Linehan blew up the National Women’s Soccer League last week with her bombshell report about abuse allegations against a former manager of the Portland Thorns. A dozen players told Linehan about their experiences with North Carolina Courage manager Paul Riley, including two former members of the Thorns squad, one of whom told the outlet she’d reported Riley’s conduct to the head office in Portland back in 2015. He left Portland not long after that—but continued to work at the league’s highest levels elsewhere. The Thorns match set for this past weekend, like all NWSL games, was called off, and fans are in an uproar. The team released a statement saying it intends to “fully cooperate” with any additional investigations and “re-examine our own processes and protocol” which could well be code for “heads will roll.” 

Here a Mandate, There a Mandate 

It’s been a few weeks now since President Biden asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known as OSHA, to order employers with more than 100 employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccines. Already, there are national signs that the corporate world isn’t waiting for OSHA to make that official, with companies from Tyson Chicken to United Airlines forging ahead with their own vaccine requirements. Major employers in Oregon have been mostly quiet about their plans, but there are signs that the dominoes are about to start falling. Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle has been a vocal supporter of Biden’s move, telling Yahoo Finance last week that “now we’ve got great cover from the federal government, which makes it much easier for us to really mandate this.” Meanwhile, the already-in-effect mandate for health care workers has left some local health care systems shorthanded, and the October 18 deadline that Gov. Kate Brown set for state employees to be fully vaccinated is drawing ever closer. 

Slow Roll 

The headlines on gun violence have been grim lately—a shooting in the center of the upscale NW 21st Avenue, a man shot dead in the North Tabor neighborhood, another killed in outer Southeast Portland. This week, we’ll see the first results of a new strategy by Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty’s office: an attempt to drill down on the Arleta-Mount Scott neighborhood, which has seen a rash of drive-by shootings of late. Could one solution to turn down the heat there be as simple as making the streets harder for cars to drive through at top speed? To test that theory, the Portland Bureau of Transportation will spend time this week putting in a total of 26 temporary traffic barrels around a 6-block area north of SE Woodstock and 72nd Avenue. If the slow roll strategy works in Arleta-Mount Scott, Hardesty says it could make its way into future budget proposals to replicate elsewhere in the city. 

Flu Forward 

Covid vaccines and boosters might grab the spotlight, don’t get us wrong, and if you haven’t gotten your vaccine yet, you may have heard that Oregon health officials would love for you to get around to that ASAP. But don’t sleep on your flu shot. After all, flu season starts in October which is right now. And it takes two weeks for you to be fully protected once you’ve gotten the shot, so the sooner the better, really. Shots are available for free at local pharmacies—expect the messaging on this from state officials to ramp up this week, as October starts in earnest. In this case, the will they/won’t they is all about you—and we really hope you will.  

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