Add transportation to the list of funding woes for Portland Public Schools.
As school starts on Tuesday, all PPS high schoolers will still be able to ride TriMet for free with their YouthPass, but that will end Dec. 31 because of a change in state law.
PPS pays $800,000 per year for the $1.2 million program. The rest is covered by state Business Energy Tax Credits, a funding option the Legislature recently cut off.
The Multnomah Youth Commission, which spearheaded the YouthPass program in 2008, is trying to find a way to save it with long-term funding.
'We'd like to get it on the (next legislative) agenda,' says Todd Diskin, the city's staff person to the youth commission. 'The YouthPass saves the state money. We're not utilizing yellow bus service, plus we're giving students 24/7 access to the transit system.'
It would take $600,000 to continue the passes through the end of the school year. Eighty percent of high schoolers use the pass once or twice a week. Many of them are being forced by the latest high school redesign to take not one but two buses to school.
Is Kate Brown publicity shy?
Why did Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown not send a press release saying that her office decided that eight Portland Public Schools employees broke state election laws by using public funds to campaign for May's construction ballot measure?
Brown has not been shy about touting her accomplishments. So far this year, Brown's office has sent 22 press releases on other matters. It sent out 39 press releases in 2010 and 42 in 2009.
Some of the press releases also dealt with campaign violation investigations. For example, on Feb. 12, 2009, her office issued a press release saying elections officials were investigating conservative activist Bill Sizemore for violating campaign finance laws. On Nov. 12, 2009, Brown announced that Springfield Mayor Sid Leiken had been found guilty of two campaign violations. On Oct. 26, 2010, she and Oregon Attorney General John Kroger issued a press release announcing the indictment of two signature gatherers, working on a conservative initiative petition drive, on fraud charges.
But Brown did not announce the rulings against the Portland school officials, even though notice of the violations were sent to the officials on Aug. 25. News did not break until four days later.
The officials might appeal the state rulings.
Sustainable superiority complex
Mayor Sam Adams and others constantly push Portland as a national model for sustainability, pointing to city policies that encourage bicycling, streetcars and recycling.
On Sunday, the New York Times boiled the hype down to a somewhat unflattering phrase, noting the city has a 'greener-than-thou image.'
The description appeared in an otherwise glowing story about efforts to install public charging stations throughout the city to encourage the use of electric vehicles.
It noted that Portland is ideally suited for them for a number of reasons, including the compact design elements favored by urban planners and the abundant hydroelectric power generated by the Columbia River dams built before anyone thought about such things.