Potter heads to D.C.

Portland Mayor Tom Potter will travel to Washington, D.C., next week for the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

He'll spend Monday through Wednesday hearing speakers address issues ranging from tax changes and budgeting to homeland security, public health, education and affordable housing.

Potter said he's most interested in hearing about work-force development ideas and making connections with federal partners. The cost of the trip, about $1,650, will be picked up by the city's Bureau of Government Affairs.

Potter will return to Portland before President Bush's inauguration on Thursday, when several groups plan to hold demonstrations.

Adams wants feedback

New city Commissioner Sam Adams is taking the unusual step of soliciting input from the community on a proposed council ordinance before he schedules it for a public hearing.

Adams is proposing to require paid city lobbyists to register with the city auditor. He wants to increase transparency in city government by requiring reports both by people who hire paid lobbyists and by elected officials who receive benefits or seek donations from lobbyists.

The commissioner aims to have the registering and reporting process available online. He sent a draft this week to his council colleagues and hundreds of people on his campaign list, asking for feedback on the issue by Jan. 28.

Inauguration rallies set

Several local protests are being planned for Thursday, the day George W. Bush will be inaugurated for his second term as president.

A coalition of anti-war groups has scheduled a peace vigil from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Terry Schrunk Plaza, Southwest Third Avenue and Madison Street. A group called Students for Unity is planning a daylong anti-war 'carnival' at Portland State University and the South Park Blocks that will conclude with an afternoon march to the North Park Blocks.

Other afternoon marches to the West Burnside Street and Northwest Park Avenue area are being planned by the Industrial Workers of the World union, the Code Pink anti-war group and other labor and political organizations.

Protesters then are expected to begin marching through downtown around 4:30 p.m. A group called the J20 Organizing Committee has taken out a permit for the march, which is scheduled to end at the Mark Hatfield Federal Courthouse, 1000 S.W. Third Ave. The committee's Web page said that 'unpermitted' marches are expected to continue from there.

Portland police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz said the bureau has enough officers to patrol the protests. The City Council has approved sending 19 officers to Washington, D.C., to help provide security for the inaugural events.


YMCA gets new owner

The YMCA of Columbia-Willamette sold its 80-year-old Northeast Portland building this week in a deal that will keep the building open under the name Northeast Community Center.

The new owner is Dan Dolan, the president of A-Boy Electric and Plumbing. He and his family live nearby and are longtime members of the facility at 1630 N.E. 38th Ave.

Dolan intends to lease the building to a new nonprofit organization that will continue to operate it as a health and community center. Dolan and the new organization soon will launch a drive to raise money and increase membership.

'We wish them success and will work together to make this transition as smooth as possible,' said Bob Hall, president and chief executive officer of the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette. 'I am thrilled that we found a very positive solution which will preserve this Northeast community resource.'


Jobless rate declines

Oregon's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 7.2 percent in November to 6.8 percent in December, the Oregon Employment Department announced Thursday.

Payroll employment was up by a net total of 1,700 jobs in December, with trade, transportation and utilities adding 2,600 jobs and the manufacturing and construction sectors shedding fewer jobs than normal for December.

David Cooke, an OED economist, said the December numbers capped six months of slowly rising employment figures that saw an average of 800 jobs added each month.

'The unemployment rate has been on a declining trend over the last year and a half,' he said. Oregon's unemployment rate in December 2003 was 7.6 percent.

Despite the improvement, Oregon's rate remains above the national rate of 5.4 percent. Cooke said it's too early to tell how Oregon currently ranks among other states, but as of November, it was tied with Alaska for the highest jobless rate in the nation.

The state's Department of Administrative Services is forecasting job growth of 2.1 percent in 2005, he said, about the same as in 2004.

Ñ Tribune staff

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