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COURTS

Two strike plea deals

Two members of the street 'family' charged in connection with the May killing of Jessica Kate Williams have struck deals with Multnomah County prosecutors that require them to testify against the remaining 11 defendants.

Heidi Lea Keller, 21, and Crystal Ann Grace, 20, pleaded guilty this week to kidnapping, robbery and assault charges. Keller was sentenced to five years in prison on the kidnapping charge, 10 months less than the state's mandatory minimum sentences. Grace was to be sentenced later.

They will be sentenced on the other charges after the cases are concluded against the remaining defendants.

Norm Frink, senior deputy district attorney for Multnomah County, said he expects other family members to enter similar pleas.

Williams, a developmentally challenged 22-year-old, was allegedly held, assaulted and killed by the Portland street family that had befriended her. Her body was found near the railroad tracks under the east end of the Steel Bridge on May 23.

MEDIA

OPB workers picket

Oregon Public Broadcasting's financial-related woes continued to mount this week as the union that represents some of its employees picketed OPB's southwest Macadam Avenue office Tuesday.

OPB has asked its union employees, who make up slightly less than one-third of its staff, to accept wage freezes and cuts to health insurance and retirement benefits, according to Claire Closmann, chief negotiator with OPB for Service Employees International Union Local 503.

Closmann said the approximately 40 picketers were protesting what she described as OPB's attempt to make union employees bear a disproportionate share of the nonprofit agency's budget shortfall.

On June 30, an arbitrator ruled that OPB violated its collective bargaining agreement with the service employees union last year when it laid off 10 union employees, then rehired seven of them for their former jobs, but as temporary employees, without benefits.

In April, OPB learned that it would not receive a previously anticipated $3.45 million from the state for the 2003-05 biennium because of the state's expected budget shortfall.

In June, it announced that it will not be able to provide statewide emergency response and 'amber alert' broadcasts 24 hours a day if it doesn't receive money from the state by Sept. 1. Legislators have yet to agree on a budget for the 2003-05 biennium, which began July 1.

Tribune staff