More employees are leaving The Oregonian as what’s left of the newspaper moves from its former headquarters on Southwest Broadway to smaller leased digs in the Crown Plaza Building next to the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront.

As news of the move was spreading, Willamette Week reported that Managing Sports Editor Seth Prince and longtime reporter Katy Muldoon were leaving. Then editorial board member and columnist Susan Nielsen announced on Sunday that she is leaving, too.

And now emails to Retail Display Advertising Manager Gayle Heim are bouncing back with a message that she is no longer working for the Oregon Media Group, one of two companies created as part of the transition that has included fewer home deliveries and a reduced page size. Heim also was the media strategist manager for the transition.

Easier to pay fine than appeal it

Mayor Charlie Hales’ spokesman, Dana Haynes, has paid his most recent fine for violating state election laws by campaigning on public time.

The Oregon Secretary of State’s Office proposed fining Haynes $150 on July 10 for writing and distributing an official news release attacking the backers of the proposed Portland Public Water District after the measure qualified for the May 20 primary election ballot, where it was defeated. Haynes chose to pay the fine rather than appeal it, as allowed by law.

That makes sense. During the state investigation into the news release, Haynes said it was his idea and that he wrote the offending quote from Hales that criticized the measure’s funders as “anti-environmental” and backed by “unlimited corporate funds,” although his boss approved it.

Haynes was fined $75 in 2009 for advocating for a Portland Community College bond measure when he worked for PCC. If Haynes breaks the law again, the maximum penalty is a $250 fine under the Secretary of State’s current policies.

Candidates to share stage five more times

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber must have thought he did pretty well during his July 18 debate with Republican challenger Dennis Richardson. Kitzhaber’s campaign wrote the Southern Oregon state representative proposing five more debates before the Nov. 4 general election. It is very unusual for incumbents to want to give their less-well-known opponents more free publicity.

Kitzhaber’s reaction runs counter to the narrative that Richardson is trying to spin about the first debate. Shortly after it ended, his campaign sent out an email news release claiming he had clearly won it. Richardson’s campaign repeated the claim in a July 24 email, adding the following quote from The Daily Astorian newspaper: “It is clear from watching the governor’s performance of the past two years that the man has lost his edge.”

Richardson has accepted Kitzhaber’s offer, and the details for the upcoming debates are being discussed.

Task force hopes to nip pot problems in bud

Portland officials have been quietly meeting to figure out whether there are any problems with the medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, and whether any new laws or policies will be needed if voters legalize recreational marijuana in the general election.

The informal Marijuana Task Force was put together by Mayor Charlie Hales about 20 months ago. It is chaired by Josh Alpert, one of his policy advisers, and includes representatives from about 20 bureaus, including the Portland Police Bureau, Portland Bureau of Transportation, Office of Neighborhood Involvement, and the Office of Management and Finance, which includes the Revenue Bureau.

Unlike some surrounding jurisdictions, Portland has not imposed a moratorium on the siting of medical marijuana dispensaries. The task force has not yet identified any pressing problems with them that call for changes in the state laws or city policies. But its members are talking to officials in Colorado and Washington about any problems they have encountered since voters legalized recreational marijuana. Suggested changes most likely would be discussed with other cities in the area and brought to the 2015 Oregon Legislature as a regional proposal, if deemed necessary.

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