Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick were applauded by those attending a transportation forum Monday for completely different reasons.

Those at the forum broke into applause when Hales called for raising taxes to fund transportation and transit programs. “You have to speak the name. Raise the federal gas tax. Raise TriMet’s payroll tax. Raise the state gas tax a measly 5 cents,” Hales said while speaking on a panel.

Novick drew applause when the moderator of a different panel said he is getting married this weekend to his longtime girlfriend, Rachel Philofsky, Multnomah County’s emergency management coordinator and the niece of local political consultant Liz Kaufman. They live in the Multnomah Village area of Southwest Portland. The normally wisecracking Novick seemed surprised by the applause and thanked the crowd.

The Forum on the Future of America’s Transportation Infrastructure was organized at Portland State University by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat representing Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District and a longtime multimodal transportation advocate.

Open primary measure divides parties

Our Oregon, the liberal advocacy organization backed largely by public employee unions, says it will be part of a coalition opposing the open primary measure that will appear on the Nov. 4 general election ballot. Supporters include Gov. John Kitzhaber, his Republican opponent for re-election Dennis Richardson, PacifiCorp, PGE, the Oregon Business Association, and the Oregon Working Families Party.

The coalition to oppose Measure 90 is calling itself Protect Our Vote. The other members won’t be announced for awhile, but spokeswoman Sara Logue says they will be along the lines of those who defeated a similar measure in 2008. They included public employee unions and both major and minor political parties.

Ballot Measure 65 was proposed by former Democratic Oregon Secretary of State Phil Keisling and former Republican Oregon Secretary of State Norma Paulus. Endorsers included then-former Gov. Kitzhaber, former state Sen. Avel Gordly of Portland, Associated Oregon Industries, the Oregon Business Association and the Oregon Business Council. It lost by a margin of 66 percent to 34 percent.

Negative ad campaign still under wraps

If Democratic Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley is right, by now we should be swamped with negative TV ads attacking him as part of a well-funded effort to elect his Republican opponent, Monica Wehby.

Merkley has been warning supporters for weeks that a conservative SuperPAC called Freedom Partners has bought more than $3.6 million in ad time between now and the Nov. 4 general election. The PAC did not return calls for comment. According to numerous reports, it is supported by the billionaires Charles and David Koch, commonly referred to as the Koch Brothers.

Merkley’s campaign came up with the $3.6 million figure by researching purchase orders for political ads that TV stations must file with the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC maintains a website where each station and its required reports can be found. Buys for ads supporting Merkley also can be found there. It is online at Just search for stations by name.

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