The fight over the headquarters hotel is far from over, despite the recent Portland City Council and Multnomah County Commission votes in support of Metro’s proposed project.

The county commission must still amend its ordinance governing the collection and distribution of transient lodging taxes to help fund the $198 million project. Opponents could refer that amendment to the voters, freezing the change and delaying the project until after the election — and potentially defeating it at the polls.

Paige Richardson, the political consultant working for the existing hotel owner who opposes the project, says all options are on the table, including the referral drive. She also says Metro still could limit the amount or source of transient lodge funds to be spent on the $198 million project, reducing the possibility of the referral drive.

“There’s still a long ways to go on the project,” Richardson says.

White House looks past Portland politics

For the past few months, Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith has largely been associated with two unseemly stories — the sexually inappropriate comments by an aide to Mayor Charlie Hales and the initially unsuccessful effort to get former Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen to resign by the rest of the commission.

But it turns out someone else has been paying closer attention to Smith’s on-the-job record. She will be honored at the White House on Sept. 26 as part of the national “Champions of Change” program. Smith’s award as a “Youth Job+ Champion” honors her leadership in Multnomah County for SummerWorks, a program that provides young people from low-income and under-represented communities their first work experience through a paid, 180-hour summer internship.

This year, more than 1,200 students countywide applied for 520 total SummerWorks placements. Since 2011, Multnomah County has quadrupled its number to provide 100 of those placements.

Line starts to form for Cogen’s seat

The race to replace former Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen could be one of the more interesting contests on the May primary election ballot.

The front-runner is thought to be Commissioner Deborah Kafoury, who has said she will run for the seat, but who has not yet formally filed for the office, at least in part because of the Multnomah County Charter that would require her to resign. Two other commissioners — Loretta Smith and Diane McKeel — also have expressed interest in the race. Smith would not be forced to resign because she is up for re-election next year.

In the meantime, former Portland City Commissioner Jim Francesconi says he is considering the race and hopes to make up his mind in the next few weeks.

“I’m still working through the process, talking to folks, and talking to my family,” says Francesconi, a personal injury lawyer for Haglund Kelley Jones & Wilder who raised more than $1 million in his unsuccessful race against former Police Chief Tom Potter for Portland Mayor in 2004.

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