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Sources Say: County gets on board special election train

It looks like Clackamas County voters will have a say on the Portland-to-Milwaukie light-rail project at the May 21 special election.

The election won’t be about the county’s $25 million contribution to the project, which Clackamas County commissioners paid before two of its members were replaced by project opponents in November. Instead, the new commission is leaning toward referring the transfer of two small parcels needed to complete the project to the ballot.

New county Chair John Ludlow, who campaigned against the project, says the vote is required by the Sept. 18 passage of Ballot Measure 3-401, which calls for a public vote on future transit projects.

Commissioner Jim Bernard, who supports the project and was not up for re-election last year, says he believes the referral could result in a lawsuit from TriMet, which is in charge of the $1.49 billion project.

Maybe Portland’s economy is coming down with something

When Portland Mayor Charlie Hales spoke before the Westside Economic Alliance a couple weeks ago, no one asked him where he stands on the proposal before the City Council to require all employers to provide paid sick leave for their workers.

Portland’s City Council is expected to vote on it in early March.

Several members of the alliance discussed the proposal among themselves before Hales spoke. They speculated that some businesses might move out of Portland to cities in Washington County if the council adopts the paid sick leave policy — especially if real estate brokers with vacant properties recruit them.

Hales endorsed the concept when he campaigned for mayor, but that was before City Commissioner Amanda Fritz released the final version of the plan. Fritz has said that the 2013 Legislature might pass a statewide requirement if Portland approves one first.

Wyden targets the terrorist targeters

You’ve got to give U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden credit for not giving up. He has been trying for months to get the Obama Administration to release its legal opinions justifying the killing of Americans during counterterrorism operations.

On Monday, Wyden and 10 other senators wrote to President Obama asking that the opinions be released. That same day, a U.S. Justice Department briefing paper summarizing the opinions was released to media outlets. The paper outlined a plan saying that high-ranking Al Qaeda figures who pose an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States could be targeted by an informed, high-level government official.

Wyden praised the release, but said it was not enough.

“Questions like, ‘How much evidence does the president need to decide that a particular American is part of a terrorist group?’; ‘Does the president have to provide individual Americans with the opportunity to surrender?’; and ‘Can the president order intelligence agencies or the military to kill an American who is inside the United States?’; need to be asked and answered in a way that is consistent with American laws and American values,” Wyden said.