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Sources Say: Little elephant in a big room

The Oregon Zoo is facing a public relations nightmare that could have easily been avoided. Its new baby elephant legally belongs to Have Trunk Will Travel, a Perris, Calif., elephant ranch that owns the father, Tusko.

Terms of the contract between the zoo and Have Trunk Will Travel were reported by The Oregonian on Oct. 20, 2011. The article noted that the contract gives the company a “possible claim” on the baby.

Have Trunk Will Travel rents elephants for special events, TV and movie productions and commercial ventures.

Oregon Zoo officials did not clarify in October 2011 that the still-to-be-named baby would spend its life in Portland. Then, after the 300-pound calf was born in the early morning hours of Friday, Nov. 30, the Seattle Times reported on the contract.

The Oregonian and the rest of the local news media reacted by reporting that Have Trunk Will Travel could take the baby away.

That forced zoo officials to host a hastily called Tuesday press conference to insist the calf was never going to leave.

By then, blogs and talk radio shows were full of angry comments denouncing the zoo and Metro, the regional government that operates it.

Have Trunk Will Travel owners say the calf is staying at the zoo.

Kitzhaber still filling out that tax pledge

Gov. John Kitzhaber was warmly received Monday at the 2012 Oregon Business Leadership Summit, even though he waffled on one of the group’s top priorities, tax reform.

Kitzhaber has repeatedly promised to reform the state’s tax system, something many business leaders take to mean proposing a sales tax to help stabilize school funding. Kitzhaber told reporters at the summit he was still committed to tax reform, but again did not offer specifics.

Answering questions after his keynote speech, Kitzhaber said he did not believe a measure could be submitted to the ballot until 2014, at the earliest. He said voters must become convince the school really need more money and that it would make a real difference in test results and graduation rates.

Interestingly, Kitzhaber is up for re-election in 2014 as well — making him either very courageous or very foolish.

Adams loads up his final agendas

Many elected officials either kick back or use up their international budget when they near the end of their term. Not Mayor Sam Adams. He entered the final month of his administration with his foot firmly on the gas.

This week’s City Council agenda was crammed with requests by Adams to complete many of the projects he has worked on for years. They include new parking plans in Northwest Portland and Washington Park, along with funds to renovate Veterans Memorial Coliseum and complete the Portland Streetcar Loop over the new Willamette River transit bridge.

Adams has been forced to give up on only one of his ambitious last-minute efforts, the proposal to have the city annex 800 acres of West Hayden Island so the Port of Portland could develop 300 of them into new marine terminals. Opposition from many residents and environmentalists prompted the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission to delay its vote on the plan, preventing the council from receiving it before the end of the year.

Incoming Mayor Charlie Hales can decide if he wants to continue the negotiations or start over.