Attorneys for bomb plot suspect Mohamed Osman Mohamud face an uphill legal battle, according to a recent analysis of federal terrorism cases conducted by Associated Press.

Mohamud is accused of plotting to set off a bomb at the Nov. 26, 2010, Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Pioneer Courthouse Square. His federal public defenders are arguing that a government informant entrapped the former Oregon State University student into committing the crime. But the AP found that the federal government has won 90 percent of its major terrorism cases during the past 10 years, including those that involve informants.

Of the nearly 200 most serious terrorism cases brought since the 9/11 attacks, 178 have ended in convictions.

The analysis included the cases of the seven Portland Muslims who plead guilty to various charges related to plans to fight allied troops in Afghanistan.

School board ponders defense

One of the first tasks this year of the new Portland School Board will be to consult with the eight district employees who violated election laws regarding messaging over the two recent school ballot measures.

Board members will discuss whether the district should seek outside counsel to appeal the ruling and $75 fines. If board members opt to appeal, each named employee will then decide whether to join the group's defense or fight it solo.

District spokesman Matt Shelby, for one, says he'll represent himself.

'I want some clear direction on what is or isn't acceptable; it looks like the only way we're going to get that is through an appeals,' he says.

Starting Sept. 12, the board will also adopt a new system. Rather than discuss issues in small committee meetings, the full board will start holding two 'study sessions' and one decision-making meeting per month, all three of which are open to public testimony.

That's good news or bad news, depending on whether you're a fan of endless public debate.

Morrison Bridge project back on track

Multnomah County and Conway Construction have cleared up their spat on the Morrison Bridge deck project.

Once things have been squared with the state Department of Environmental Quality, the $4.2 million project to replace part of the bridge's deck could resume next week.

Conway and the county tangled in early July because of alleged environmental rule violations. The county and the state were concerned that the company allegedly allowed paint and other contaminants to fall from the bridge into the Willamette River.

A legal fight loomed.

But now, according to county spokesman Mike Pullen, both sides have resolved the containment issue. Conway will use a different type of system to catch debris, and the company will submit an enhanced safety plan.

The project lost a few weeks to the legal wrangling, pushing back the construction schedule, Pullen says. The work probably won't be done until 2012, instead of this year, he says.

'This is a very unusual situation for a Multnomah County bridge project,' Pullen says. 'We regret the inconvenience to bridge users and will be working closely with the contractor to get the project completed as quickly as possible.'

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