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In Other News



After nearly four years, and after one near-miss at a deal two years ago, Portland City Council on Wednesday, August 22, quietly ended a long legal fight aimed at overturning the city's so-called "camping ban." The council approved a legal settlement that preserves city laws against structures and campsites, even small ones, but promises, instead, new rules for how homeless campers are treated by cops. The 2008 class-action lawsuit, filed by a group of then-homeless Portlanders, accused police of violating civil rights by unjustly clearing camps and disposing of homeless Portlanders' personal property. Under the deal, cops will now photograph, film, and itemize property confiscated from camps. Also, four of the plaintiffs will split $3,200 in restitution, and the legal fees for their attorneys at the Oregon Law Center—$37,000—will be donated to rent-assistance programs. DENIS C. THERIAULT

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Voters next year will likely weigh in on a new bond measure that would pour millions of dollars into Portland's award-winning parks system, Parks Commissioner Nick Fish's office confirmed last week. Jim Blackwood, a policy adviser for Fish, said officials had yet to figure out how much money to ask voters to borrow or how to spend that money. It's also not clear which election, spring or fall, the measure might appear. The parks bureau has a $700 million maintenance backlog, Blackwood says, and parks officials and advocates will have to balance finding cash to bring that down against finding money to build out and add parks in underserved neighborhoods like East Portland. One thing is all but certain: Running a parks bond next year, followed by Fish's presumed re-election bid in 2014, will push off a long-awaited housing levy until at least 2015. DCT

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A Multnomah County judge on Friday, August 17, tossed aside a pair of challenges to the $35-a-resident arts income tax levy headed before voters this fall. Two opponents had tried to argue that the proposed ballot language was imprecise and that the tax, technically, was a head tax—which would run afoul of the state constitution. But Judge John A. Wittmayer, according to Creative Advocacy Network, the group that lobbied Portland City Council for approval in June, said he clearly thought the measure was an income tax. And he only ordered one small change in wording in the title: replacing the words "capped at" with "of." The title will now read: "Shall Portland restore arts, music for schools and fund arts through income tax of 35 dollars per year?" In terms of arts funding, Portland schools rank among the lowest in the nation ["Creative Class," News, May 10]. DCT


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