Protesting the even deeper budget cuts proposed by Portland's school board, hundreds of students from local high schools walked out of class Thursday morning and met in Pioneer Square. Holding signs, chanting, and occasionally blocking traffic, the junior protesters ultimately hoped to convince residents to vote for Measure 28, an income-tax increase that will have a special election in mid-January. The measure is widely expected to fail.
Portland schools have recently been under siege. The school board voted recently to cut as many as 15 days from the school year, which would give Portland the country's shortest school year. The board also voted to cut spring sports--golf, baseball, softball, tennis, and track. But the sports were saved from the trashcan after Trailblazer Damon Stoudamire gave $150,000.
Local business leaders have refused to help bail out the struggling district, arguing that quick-fix loans will not correct the culprit: decreased state revenue due to piss-poor economic growth. Instead, Portland business owners recently presented governor-elect Ted Kulongoski with an "economic recovery" plan calling for an income tax decrease and other Reagan-era methods meant to encourage business development. ANNA BOND
It may not be the stone to kill a corporate giant, but last Thursday a federal jury found that Wal-Marts across Oregon, in no uncertain terms, had screwed its employees out of overtime wages. After hearing testimony for the past month from current and former workers, the jury agreed that the Wal-Mart had forced employees to work overtime for no extra pay.
Many employees said they complied out of fear and economic necessity. In an interview with The New York Times, Daniel Corey, a one-time lawn and garden manager, testified he feared he would lose his job if he clocked more than 40 hours, even when he routinely worked longer than that. "Jobs aren't that good [here]," he explained. "You held on to your job. I feared losing my job. I feared getting fired."
One employee testified that Wal-Mart was so opposed to paying overtime that bosses asked her to erase hours from time records. This was the first of 40 such suits across the country. PHIL BUSSE