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5 Oregon Stories To Watch This Week, February 14–20

A big ask for emergency shelter spending, the police contract up for debate, and yet more turmoil for the Timbers

By Julia Silverman February 14, 2022

Former Mayor and current mayoral aide Sam Adams has floated a proposal to build three massive emergency shelters for the homeless.

Newshounds worldwide are familiar with the concept of the Friday night news dump—when a flurry of news comes out late in the day on Friday, right before quitting time, in hopes of burying it. So it went in Portland last week, when news broke late in the day that former Mayor-turned-Mayoral aide Sam Adams was floating a plan for three huge homeless camps, to be on its way by June and staffed by the Oregon National Guard, plus social work students from Portland State. The idea comes after two years of relative stasis by city government on the homelessness issue, even as encampments mushroomed around the city, and public frustration grew. If the goal was to bury the topic, Adams and company are out of luck—it’s Monday now, and trust us, people will still be talking. Here’s what else you need to know about as the week unfolds.

Homelessness Plan 

Okay, so, Adams’ homelessness plan was met by equal parts derision and fury by some corners of Twitter, with a number of people, advocates or otherwise, chiming in to draw a line between his sanctioned camping spots and the Japanese internment camps that pockmarked the West Coast during World War II. Elected officials, too, seemed taken aback—two elected city commissioners, Jo-Ann Hardesty and Carmen Rubio, both said they considered the idea a non-starter, while a spokesperson for Gov. Kate Brown was dismissive of the entire concept, per The Oregonian. But that doesn’t mean the conversation is over. Adams’s boss, Mayor Ted Wheeler, has the backing of other Oregon mayors in a push to get the legislature to set aside millions of dollars for short-term aid to help cities fund emergency homeless shelters. (Conveniently for them, the state is looking at a huge budget surplus, thanks to a rosy economic forecast.)  Meanwhile, city commissioner Dan Ryan’s office has said it “hopes” to share locations soon for several of its Safe Rest villages, which were to hold up to 60 people apiece.  (Never mind that those were supposed to be up and running by the end of 2021.)

Police Labor Contract

Let’s stick with news out of City Hall for a minute. The city council has set aside three hours this week on Thursday to hear testimony about the proposed labor contract with Portland Police. In our eyes, the contract is pretty notable for what it doesn’t include—there are very few specifics about the citywide expansion of Portland Street Response, which sends trained mental health clinicians to respond to some cases instead of armed police officers, and no agreement yet on whether the police will have the right to review any footage from body cameras before it is turned over to investigators. Accordingly, we’re expecting some fireworks during that Thursday session.

Return to Work? 

Speaking of City Hall, part 3, it’s still closed to the public even as we close in on year 2 of the pandemic (now there’s a bleak anniversary for you.) But we’re starting to wonder whether this could be the week that—given the state’s promise to pull back the indoor mask mandate when hospitalizations with or for COVID-19 hit 400, or by March 31, whichever comes first, we might hear major employers, including City Hall, make some public statements on when employees will be returning to work and what that might look like going forward. Hybrid schedules, which combine home-and-office work are likely to be much more common going forward, but no one knows yet exactly what that will look like and how it affects small businesses, particularly in the downtown core, that cater to office workers.

Timbers Turmoil

Another week, more turmoil for the Timbers front office. As their season gets underway—after beating/losing to Minnesota over the weekend, they’ll face off against Real Salt Lake next Saturday—the front office and owner Merrit Paulson are getting pummeled again for some questionable decision. The Athletic, which broke the story about sexual harassment by a former Thorns coach who went on to coach elsewhere in the NWSL, is reporting about allegations of domestic violence against midfielder Andy Polo, who has been terminated by the team. But the questions remain—who knew, when did they know it,—in a statement, the Timbers front office admitted knowing about the allegations in May of 2021—what did they do about it, and what does all this mean for ticket sales and the long-standing love affair between Portland, its teams and the beautiful game. (Meanwhile, if you need a little more affirming sportsball news, read this piece penned by now former Trail Blazer CJ McCollum as he starts over in New Orleans—it’s a beautiful love letter to the city, its fans, his former teammates and the Blazers.)

Love from Us

And finally, lest you forget, today is Valentine’s Day. Here at Portland Monthly, we love love—and so we have rounded up a number of ways to celebrate this most romantic (and okay, most corporate) of holiday. If you need a last-minute gift, or a romantic getaway or a place to have dinner or even just a fancy dessert to make for yourself or your sweetie, we’ve got you covered. 

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