President Obama has been criticized for not going far enough when he promised to rein in government surveillance abuses on Aug. 9. But not by Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, one

of the earliest and strongest critics against the sweeping surveillance systems revealed by former National Security Agency consultant

Edward Snowden.

In a statement released after Obama’s remarks, Wyden praised the president for promising action in two areas: balancing the presentations made to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and reforming Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which Wyden said has been too broadly interpreted.

Wyden urged Obama to also reform Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, saying that it potentially allows for the warrantless searches of Americans’ phone calls and emails.

“Overall, I welcome the proposals made today by the president and intend to work closely with my colleagues, including Sens. Udall, Leahy, Blumenthal, Merkley and Feinstein and Reps. Sensenbrenner and Lofgren, to ensure that the president’s proposals are strengthened and become law,” Wyden said.

Strikes one of few things separating TriMet, BART

TriMet isn’t the only transit agency in the country dealing with labor problems as it tries to balance its funding priorities. A recent story on the breakdown in contract negotiations at the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency included issues familiar to anyone who is following TriMet’s fight with the Amalgamated Transit Union — including the role of the ATU. Different locals represent workers at both agencies.

According to the Aug. 11 story, BART and the ATU are far apart on contract proposals. That sounds a lot like the gap between TriMet and the ATU over how much union members should pay for their health coverage. BART also says it has other priorities, like upgrading its infrastructure and buying new trains. TriMet also is investing in infrastructure and updating its bus fleet. In both cases, union officials say their members should come first.

There’s one big difference between TriMet and BART, however. TriMet’s workers cannot go on strike but BART’s workers can — and want to. California Gov. Jerry Brown has ordered a 60-day cooling-off period to help resolve the current standoff.

Is first City Hall race already under way?

Although candidates cannot officially file for any office until Sept. 12, Mary Hull Caballero has registered a political action committee to run for the city auditor’s office. The committee has a balance of $2,480. Caballero, a Metro performance auditor, told Sources it was “premature” to talk about the race now, but will be discussing it “soon.”

Incumbent City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade has not yet announced for re-election next year. Her committee’s most recent contribution was $1.28 on Jan. 7. Her committee has a current balance of $734.26. She did not return calls for comment.

Griffin-Valade was Multnomah County auditor when she was elected city auditor in a special election in 2008 to replace Gary Blackmer, who went to work in the Oregon secretary of state’s office. Griffin-Valade was unopposed in that race and again in 2010 when she was elected to her current term.

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