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Sources Say: Mediation fails, but both sides in city land sale call victory

The battle over the pending sale of surplus Water Bureau property in Southwest Portland has taken several twists in recent days.

After Water Commissioner Nick Fish proposed mediation, the neighbors fighting the sale agreed but the purchaser, Renaissance Homes, did not. The Multnomah Neighborhood Association then filed a writ of mandamus against the city of Portland in Multnomah County Circuit Court to stop the sale, which was scheduled to close on Jan. 31. A judge set a hearing for that day, but Renaissance requested and was granted a two-week delay to prepare its response. The sale was put on hold until the judge rules on its legality.

The opponents, who call themselves Woods Park Advocates, take this as good news. An email to supporters called the delay requested by Renaissance, “an encouraging sign of the strength of our cause.”

Barbs traded in Tigard transit tussle

The fight is heating up on the March 11 ballot measure in Tigard to block a new high-capacity transit line.

Tigard First, a grassroots citizens organization, is questioning who is behind Measure 34-210. Its website has a page charging that most of the money behind the initiative drive came from people and organizations outside Tigard, including the conservative Oregon Transformation Project political action committee. “Special interests WHO DON’T LIVE IN TIGARD have provided most of the money to get Measure 34-210 on the ballot,” according to the website.

Move Oregon, a recently formed public transportation advocacy organization, says the measure will limit Tigard’s future transit choices and increase congestion. “Without transit, people traveling through Tigard to Sherwood, Beaverton, Tualatin and Portland will only have one way to go: by car. That means more congestion on Highway 99 and other major arterials,” according to a Jan. 29 missive from the organization.

Wheeler stumps for what Kitzhaber reaped

Many political insiders think State Treasurer Ted Wheeler is interested in higher office, and would have run for governor if John Kitzhaber had not decided to seek re-election. Whatever the case, Wheeler polished his résumé last week by being named Elected Official of the Year by the National Conference on Public Employees Retirement Systems.

The honor recognizes Wheeler’s efforts to get more people to increase savings for their retirement. Among other things, Wheeler successfully lobbied the 2013 Legislature for the creation of a State Retirement Task Force, which he will chair. Wheeler also convened a bipartisan roundtable in New York of union representatives, financial services leaders and state treasurers to discuss whether new options are needed to help workers save.

Ironically, the man standing in the way of Wheeler’s perceived ambitions already retired from politics once. And Kitzhaber probably wasn’t worried about his financial future when he came out of retirement to run for a third term as governor in 2010, thanks to the Public Employees Retirement System benefits he earned as a state legislator and previous two-term governor.

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