John DiLorenzo is not surprised that Portland Chief Administrative Officer Jack Graham reportedly tried to use water and sewer funds to offset proposed budget cuts in the Office of Management and Finance.

Nor is DiLorenzo surprised that lower-level employees blew the whistle on Graham.

DiLorenzo is the lawyer representing ratepayers in the civil lawsuit to restrict water and sewer spending to core services. The Oregonian reported on Saturday that Graham tried to dip into a water and sewer reserve fund to offset cuts in his office budget ordered by former Mayor Sam Adams in 2012. He reportedly was stopped after employees complained.

“It’s always been the upper echelon that’s used water and sewer funds as a slush fund that could be spent on everything from public campaign financing to toilets to the Rose Festival Association building. I think the line workers have always been disturbed by it,” DiLorenzo says.

DiLorenzo doubts that Graham would have been stopped, however, if the ratepayers’ lawsuit hadn’t been filed by then.

“I believe the suit has had a prophylactic effect on the City Council,” he says.

According to DiLorenzo, he and city attorneys are close to agreeing on a set of stipulated facts in some of the spending decisions that can be submitted to a Multnomah County circuit judge handling the case. That should result in a ruling on how the City Charter’s restrictions on ratepayer spending should be applied to the rest of the decisions included in the lawsuit.

Wyden does surveillance on fundraising

Just days after finally receiving national credit for warning about the federal government’s growing surveillance powers, Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden turned it into a partisan political issue. On Tuesday, Wyden sent an email in support of fellow Democrat Ed Markey, who is running for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. In it, Wyden called Markey a champion of digital privacy and urged those receiving the email to donate to his campaign.

“So if you’re worried about digital privacy, you’ve got a powerful opportunity to send a message — and send a private champion to the U.S. Senate,” Wyden wrote.

Markey, a Massachusetts congressman, is running against Republican businessman Gabriel Gomez to replace U.S. Sen. John Kerry, who resigned to become U.S. secretary of state. The election is June 25.

After news broke last week about the National Security Agency building a vast database of phone calls, emails and credit card transactions by Americans in an effort to track suspected terrorists, The New York Times noted that Wyden spoke against extending the Patriot Act last December. The June 6 article referred to him as “an earnest and wonky Democrat from Oregon.”

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