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TIMBER WARS

Weyerhaeuser extends offer

Weyerhaeuser Co. is giving Willamette Industries Inc. more time to accept its $55 a share offer in its hostile takeover bid for the timber and paper products company.

Willamette isn't budging in its refusal.

Weyerhaeuser extended the deadline to Feb. 27 after it saw strong support from three-quarters of Willamette shareholders. Willamette shares rose 6 percent to $46.87 at press time Thursday.

'The offer is still the same,' said Willamette spokeswoman Jackie Lang. 'We have never wavered in our estimation of Willamette's worth. The board at the last meeting determined the offer to be inadequate. We have terminated discussions.'

Weyerhaeuser chairman Steven Rogel, who has been trying to buy Willamette since he left the company in 1997, said there are 70 million shares of Willamette stock or about three-quarters, that remain tendered. Rogel said that is a sign of support for Weyerhaeuser's $6 billion takeover bid.

Willamette's board of directors has said it would negotiate when Weyerhauser's share offer is in the high $50s.

FINANCES

City budget forums set

Five public forums have been scheduled this month on next year's city budget. Because of the recession and a dispute over utility franchise fees, the fees and taxes that come to the city are expected to fall approximately $14 million during the financial year that starts July 1. Citizens are invited to offer their spending priorities at the forums, which will include roundtable discussions with city commissioners and bureau directors.

The five forums are:

• 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Multnomah Arts Center, 7688 S.W. Capitol Highway

• 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, King Facility, 4815 N.E. Seventh Ave.

• 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Floyd Light Middle School, 10800 S.E. Washington St.

• 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Mt. Tabor Middle School, 5800 S.E. Ash St.

• 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, St. Johns Community Center, 8427 N. Central St.

INVESTIGATION

PDC breach probed

The results of an internal Portland Development Commission investigation are expected to be announced today. Agency officials are looking into why one of their property supervisors allowed an employee to move into a PDC-owned house without going through the proper channels or signing a rental agreement.

Executive Director Don Maz-ziotti refused to name the employees or release the address of the house while the investigation was under way. But Mazziotti said the supervisor allowed the employee to move into the house in early November in violation of PDC policies and procedures.

Agency employees are entitled to apply for all programs available to the public but must go through the same application process as everyone else. In this case, the house never was formally advertised for rent, which is standard procedure. It is near Lents Park; the PDC purchased it several years ago as part of a potential expansion plan.

HOUSING

Low-cost rentals scarce

Downtown Portland's supply of inexpensive rental units shrank in the past two years, according to a new inventory of affordable housing published by the Northwest Pilot Project.

The 2002 Downtown Portland Affordable Housing Inventory, published by the nonprofit organization, shows a net loss of 152 low-cost rental units in the past 27 months.

The inventory accounts for 3,539 rental units in 47 buildings, down from 3,691 units in 50 buildings in 1999.

The biggest loss was the demolition of the St. Francis Hotel, which contained 133 apartments. But the city will replace 100 of those units on the same site and 33 units in another building.

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development defines affordability as housing that requires 30 percent or less of a monthly household income. For the purposes of the inventory, however, the Pilot Project considers a monthly rent of $425 as a standard for affordability.

HOTELS

Investment group buys Imperial

A Portland hotel investment group has paid $10.4 million for the family-owned Imperial Hotel, and closed it for a $3 million renovation into a luxury, European-style hotel.

The Imperial, at the corner of Southwest Broadway and Stark Street, will reopen May 13 as the St. Lucia Hotel.

The Aspen Group, which also owns Portland's Westin Hotel and Seattle's Roosevelt Hotel, bought the nine-story, 128-room hotel from Imperial Hotel President Albert Gentner.

The Gentners have owned the 94-year-old Imperial for 50 years and decided to sell for estate planning reasons, said Gary Griff, the Cushman & Wakefield director who represented them in the sale. The 90,000-square-foot building also is home to Typhoon Restaurant, which will remain open during renovations.

The family also owns the Mallory Hotel.

GIVING

Family upholds blood ties

For the last 27 years, the family of the late Morris Weiss has celebrated the new year in the same way: gathering on the first Saturday of January at the local chapter of the American Red Cross to donate blood. This year was no different.

'It's a living New Year's resolution,' said Morris' son, Samuel Weiss of Portland, as blood pumped from his arm into the plastic bag nearby. 'As a family who is healthy, we come together every year to give some of what we have to share with those who need it.'

The tradition began with Morris Weiss, who died in 1985 having donated 177 pints of blood in his lifetime. On Saturday, Jan. 5, a dozen members of the family continued the tradition at the Red Cross donor center on North Vancouver Avenue.

The family's fourth generation was represented for the first time by 17-year-old Jennifer Kerns, Sam Weiss' great-niece.

'It's somewhat expected,' she said. 'I don't mind. I'm glad to do my part, and I will do it wherever I am for as long as I can.'

HOSPITALS

Nurse sues hospital

A second former employee of Woodland Park Hospital has filed a lawsuit against the facility and its owner, Nashville, Tenn.-based HealthMont Inc., claiming he was fired for bringing safety attentions to hospital administrators.

Pat Rice, a registered nurse, filed suit Thursday in Multnomah County Circuit Court, asking $70,000 in economic damages against the 209-bed acute care hospital in Northeast Portland.

Rice and Russ Spencer, a former Woodland Park mental health technician who filed suit in November, claim that they raised staffing and safety concerns about the adult psychiatric ward to hospital managers, who did not address the issues to their satisfaction.

Rice also alleged fraud, claiming hospital managers asked employees not to chart patients' medical conditions correctly for insurance reasons.

Spencer was fired in April, and Rice was fired in August. Roy Day, a former registered nurse at the hospital who was fired in April, said he plans to file suit against the hospital in upcoming weeks.

A hospital spokeswoman said she had not received any information about a new lawsuit as of Thursday morning.

Ñ Tribune staff