Metro's decision to ask a Multnomah County Circuit judge to consolidate all legal challenges to its proposed headquarters hotel is more than just an attempt to resolve the one lawsuit brought by project opponents. It also is an attempt to short-circuit repeated legal challenges, such as those that have stalled the construction of a new hotel in Tacoma for more than four years.

The city of Tacoma recently intervened to resolve a dispute between two hotel owners. KS Tacoma LLC had filed numerous lawsuits against the construction of a new Marriott Residence hotel near the site of the Tacoma Convention & Trade Center. According to the Tacoma News Tribune, KS Tacoma lost its last legal battle in Pierce County Superior Court last fall, but had appealed that decision to a higher court.

Weary of the fight, the city brokered a deal to end the suits, agreeing to sell KS Tacoma two city-owned downtown lots valued at $1.34 million for $1.25 million. In exchange, KS Tacoma agreed to stop fighting the new Marriott or any other developer who might build a new hotel near the convention center.

Oregonian shows can-do spirit in run for office

Forget about wondering whether Hillary, Joe, Paul or Ted will run for president in 2016 — a Portlander already has announced for the highest office in the land.

Ed Baker, 35 and not a member of any political party, is running on a wide-ranging platform that includes protecting gun rights, legalizing marijuana, deporting all illegal aliens, drilling more oil in Alaska, restoring voting rights for convicted felons, reopening the 9/11 investigation, and improving mental health treatment options.

Baker is seeking funds on his campaign website to pay for fliers, business cards and Greyhound bus tickets for his first statewide campaign tour. He has not yet completed the paperwork for filing.

"A lot of my supporters are hurting, and though they would like to help out with a contribution are not able to. I think that running this campaign on a very small budget will be a positive," says Baker, who was born and raised in Oregon and has worked in call center management.

Baker's website, which was down for a while, is at

Dems no help in Merkley's quest for cash

Democratic campaign officials are undermining Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley's message that he needs to raise millions of dollars to fight off Republican attack ads.

For months the Merkley campaign has been pleading with supporters for more money to offset the big bucks that are going to be spent against him in the 2014 general election. The most recent request was an April 16 email that cited the money being raised by the super PAC operated by Republican strategist Karl Rove.

But on April 22 the Democratic Party of Oregon and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee publicized an internal Merkley campaign poll that shows him 16 to 20 percent ahead of his most likely Republican opponents. Both organizations sent out news releases calling attention to a story on the poll, which was conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group. It shows Merkley with well over the 50 percent of the vote needed to win re-election against either of the two leading Republican candidates, Monica Wehby and Jason Conger.

The next day, The New York Times reported that Republicans have a less than 5 percent chance of winning Merkley's seat in November.

Dr. Speak No Evil is in the house

In a feat of artful speech-writing, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber managed to give a seven-minute talk on health care at the Portland Business Alliance's annual meeting Tuesday morning without ever mentioning the words "Cover Oregon."

Kitzhaber was the warm-up act to keynote speaker Bernard Tyson, who is the CEO of Kaiser Permanente. As such, the governor could only speak for a few minutes. That may have been a good thing, because he was able to get on and off the stage — before a business crowd of more than 1,000 people — without ever having to address the failures of the Cover Oregon website.

The governor did boast about the hundreds of millions of dollars the state would save under its plan to curb the rise in health care costs. Absent was any mention of the hundreds of millions it already has lost on a website that will never be used.

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