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Sources Say: For teachers union, school funding takes back seat to PERS

Sources made a mistake in assuming the Portland Association of Teachers supported the additional $100 million for schools approved by the 2013 special session of the Oregon Legislature. It turns out the teachers union was against the “grand bargain” of four bills that included the increase approved then, which explains why they endorsed state Rep. Jules Bailey (D-Portland) for Multnomah County Commission, even though he voted against all of them.

So why would a union representing Portland teachers be against an additional $100 million for Oregon schools? We forget the package also included a reduction in Public Employees Retirement System benefits.

Gov. John Kitzhaber said lawmakers had to approve all of the bills or he would veto whichever ones were approved. Looks like reducing PERS benefits trumped increasing school funding for the Portland teachers union.

Water district backers put City Hall in crosshairs

Supporters of the Portland Public Water District have released their first campaign ad, and it spends more time bashing City Hall than explaining the measure on the May 20 ballot to create an independently elected water and sewer board.

The 3:43-minute online spot is mostly a collection of local TV reports on such controversial projects as the Portland Loos and the Water House. It notes that Mayor Charlie Hales broke his campaign promise to reduce water and sewer rates, and even includes a clip of him calling Measure 26-156 an “act of terrorism” during a Willamette Week interview.

Although called “A Look Back: Portland’s Water Rate Crisis,” projects highlighted in the ad were relatively inexpensive and did not increase water and sewer rates much, if at all. It barely touches on the city’s plan to cover open reservoirs, only referring to the replacement of the Powell Butte reservoir as leaking and behind schedule — charges the city minimizes.

Then again, it’s only the first ad. It can be seen at youtu.be/2pWeo93IoEc.

If GOP has target on Merkley, only he can see it

Democratic Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley keeps saying that big-money Republicans have targeted his seat in the 2014 elections. The most recent alarm was sounded in a March 6 email from the Merkley campaign after Republican adviser Karl Rove mentioned him in a Wall Street Journal column among Democrats feeling heat for supporting Obamacare.

The national news media isn’t buying it, however. Although several stories have appeared recently about U.S. Senate seats Republicans might pick up in November, none of them mention

Merkley.

One recent story appeared on March 23 on The Christian Science Monitor’s website. It focused on a prediction by polling expert Nate Silver that Republicans will take control of the Senate in November. But the races he mentioned were in West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana, Arkansas, Alaska, North Carolina, Michigan and New Hampshire.

Of course, the Republicans haven’t chosen a candidate to run against Merkley yet. Dr. Monica Wehby and state Rep. Jason Conger are still battling it out, with Conger recently tacking far to the right by boasting about his endorsement from the Oregon Firearms Federation.

Cover Oregon logs another opportunity

It isn’t just Republicans who are trying to take advantage of problems with the Cover Oegon website.

So is Joaquin Lippincott, president and founder of Metal Toad Media, a Portland digital development company.

Despite costing hundreds of millions of dollars, the Cover Oregon website is dysfunctional. A few days after Gov. John Kitzhaber released a report documenting how his adminstration botched the development of the website, Lippincott offered to build a replacement in six months for just $10 million — and to pay the money back if his replacement site doesn’t work.

“Metal Toad could build a timely new open source-based version of CoverOregon that functions properly for a fixed cost of $10 million dollars, or I would refund every cent of it to the Oregon taxpayer,” Lippincott wrote in a March 20 letter to Kitzhaber.

No word on a reply from the governor’s office.