When it comes to political clout, New York obviously has a lot more than Oregon. New York U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer recently browbeat the head of the federal Environmental Protection Agency into reviewing an agency requirement that the state of New York had to cap a large open water reservoir.
Portland's efforts to keep its open reservoirs have been consistently rebuked by EPA and state officials charged with enforcing the requirement. Most recently, Oregon Health Authority Administrator Gail Shibley wrote Water Commissioner Randy Leonard in June to say no variance was available to the federal requirements.
That may have changed with the EPA's Aug. 19 letter to Schumer, saying the agency would review its rules on the open reservoir issue.
Oregon's two U.S. senators have repeatedly said their hands are tied as they tried to find legislative solutions to Portland's reservoir situation. But now Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have been shown up as lightweights by Schumer and are scrambling to win the same reconsideration from the EPA.
Merkley's office says the senator is 'looking into this decision to get more information and see how New York might be comparable to Portland.'
In the meantime, water watchdogs wonder how hard city, state and federal officials pressed the EPA in the first case. Portland has already spent millions preparing to replace the five open reservoirs in Mt. Tabor and Washington parks.
Rolling in dough
The race for Portland mayor is heating up - the fundraising race, that is. For the first time since they announced, former City Commissioner Charlie Hales reported raising more cash and in-kind contributions than New Season co-founder Eileen Brady at the beginning of this week. Hales claimed just under $155,000, compared to a little more than $141,000 for Brady.
Hales' campaign chest was buoyed by a number of familiar names, including developer John Carroll ($5,000), consultant Rick Gufstason ($1,000), industrialist Jay Zidell ($2,000), lawyer Steve Naito ($1,000), consultant Roger Shiels ($1,500), builder Robert Walsh ($2,500), the Williams/Dames and Associates development company ($5,000), and Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle.
Brady has not attracted such support from the Portland establishment. But she has received more contributions of $100 and less than Hales, something her campaign calls a sign of grassroots support.
Is that all there is?
Although the filing deadline for the 2012 elections is still more than seven months away, campaigns previously start around the previous Labor Day. With Sept. 5 rapidly approaching, political observers are wondering whether any other major candidates are going to jump into the local races. Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain and state Rep. Jefferson Smith (Southeast Portland) have both expressed interest in the mayor's race. Neither had announced a decision by press time, however, and few other rumors are even circulating.
Just about the only recent announcement was that of Jeri Williams, a Portland city employee who declared against political consultant Steve Novick for the City Council seat being vacated by Randy Leonard. Williams, perhaps best known as a human trafficking survivor and activist, faces an uphill battle.
Novick won a majority of the votes in Portland against Jeff Merkley in the 2008 Democratic U.S. Senate primary election. He has also collected more than $100,000 in campaign funds so far.
And state Rep. Mary Nolan (West Portland) is still the only major candidate challenging Commissioner Amanda Fritz.