Eileen Brady broke the half-million-dollar mark in cash and in-kind contributions for her mayoral campaign early this week, aided in large part by downtown business contributions she received since being endorsed by the Portland Business Alliance. They included $10,000 from Tom Moyer's TMT Development, $1,000 from Northwest Natural executive Gregg Kantor, and $500 from PBA President and CEO Sandra McDonough.

But at least some of the business support is apparently conditional. TMT Development also gave $10,000 to mayoral candidate Charlie Hales, suggesting a certain 'cover your bets' mentality.

Then again, the company didn't give anything to state Rep. Jefferson Smith, the third major candidate in the race.

And lanor unions are finally beginning to pick sides in the race. Brady won the endorsement of Local 48 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers last week, while Smith was endorsed by Local 189 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees on Tuesday.

Charter Commission up against it

Although the City Council cannot officially shut down the Charter Review Commission, council members are exerting heavy pressure on the commissioners to finish work by early March.

Council members are refusing to replace departing commissioners, allowing their numbers to shrink near the 15 required to do business. The council has also said it will not give the commission any more money, preventing it from adequately publicizing and holding forums on such complex and controversial issues as an Independent Utility Commission and Ranked Choice Voting.

Appointed commissions to review and recommend changes to the City Charter were approved in 2007 by Portland voters. They have the power to put charter reforms directly on a ballot without getting council approval. But as the experiences of the first commission prove, the City Council can still limit their operations.

Headquarters Hotel plan checks back in

The on-again, off-again discussions about building a hotel next to the Oregon Convention Center are apparently on again, but with a twist.

As reported by news reporter Nick Christensen on Metro's website, the Metro Council and Metro Exposition and Recreation Commission agreed to reopen negotiations on the project on Jan. 17. The members agreed Portland was losing convention business because it cannot guarantee a block of hotel rooms near the center.

But they also agreed to focus on a smaller hotel than the 600-room Headquarters Hotel that had been considered. That idea was abandoned because it required too much public subsidy and was opposed by other Portland hotel owners.

At the meeting, the council and commission talked about a 400-room hotel that would require less public support. Although the Portland Development Commission owns a potential site across the street from the center, at least one other nearby property owner has expressed interest in the project, too.

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