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Sources Say: Let readers decide whether officials' time was well spent

Some members of the Portland City Council were upset when Sources reported last week that they did not have much work to do after the power went out at City Hall during the recent cold snap. The comment was meant to underscore the noticeable absence of council members from the Oregon Business Plan Leadership Summit on Monday, Dec. 9.

Commissioner Nick Fish emailed to say he spent Monday and Tuesday managing the responses of his bureaus to inclement weather, while Commissioner Steve Novick called to demand a retraction.

Sources may have underestimated how much direction city bureaus need to perform their duties when the weather’s bad. But we’ll leave it to readers to decide whether the council members’ time is more valuable than that of the other elected officials who attended the summit. They included Oregon U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, Gov. John Kitzhaber, the entire leadership of the Legislature, numerous members of the Metro Council and county and city officials from throughout the region.

Move Oregon adds voice to transit talks

A politically connected nonprofit organization has been formed to support public and alternative forms of transportation. Called Move Oregon, it will lobby for new transit funding at the 2014 Oregon Legislature, among other things.

The organization was formed to help ensure better transportation options as the population in the metropolitan area increases in coming years. The director is Katja Dillman, a former transportation director for Mayor Sam Adams who also serves on the board of Oregon Walks.

The Move Oregon board includes Portland Business Alliance Vice President Bernie Bottomly; CH2M Hill Vice President and Area Manager David Knowles; OHSU Campus Planning, Development & Real Estate Director Brian Newman; Portland Streetcar Executive Director Rick Gustafson; and Bicycle Transportation Alliance Executive Director Rob Sadowsky.

“We believe the more functional, diversified and fully integrated the transportation system, the more vibrant our neighborhoods and our businesses,” according to the organization’s website.

Plenty of blame to spread around

With the state’s health care exchange website still ranked the nation’s worst in many surveys, ObamaCare supporters in Oregon seem to have agreed on a response: blame the contractor. Merkley was among the first to blame Oracle for Cover Oregon’s woes during a late November interview on MSNBC. Since then numerous stories have surfaced showing dissatisfaction with the company’s performance by Kitzhaber, Wyden and others.

It’s unclear whether the strategy will be successful, however. An online survey by The Oregonian found that nearly 48 percent of respondents said state officials were to blame. Only 29 percent blamed Oracle, while

21 percent blamed both or others.

The New York Times was one of the latest media outlets to highlight Cover Oregon’s poor performance. It published a chart ranking the best and worst performing health care exchange websites on Dec. 12. Oregon was dead last, hitting only 0.1 percent of its second-month goal.

Bus Project says it doesn’t travel in the left lane

Bus Project officials in Portland are disputing a story on a conservative news website that the nonprofit civic engagement organization is oriented toward Democrats and labor unions. The charges were made in an Dec. 10 story posted on Watchdog.org, which describes itself as approaching stories from a “free-market, pro-liberty perspective.” it is funded by the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, a nonprofit organization that does not disclose its donors.

The article by Dustin Hurst notes that much of the Bus Project’s funding comes from liberal foundations, that its board includes labor and Oregon Democratic Party leaders, and that its primary purpose is registering young voters who tend to vote Democratic. It quotes former Oregon Republican Party spokesman Greg Leo as saying, “It’s fair to say they are Democrat Party-oriented and that they really are a subsidiary of the Democratic Party of Oregon.”

Bus Project Director Tara Sulzen says the organization has gone door-to-door for candidates from both parties and is also involved in ballot measure campaigns, which are nonpartisan. Besides, she notes, “A plurality of young voters identity themselves as independents, not Democrats or Republicans.”