One issue expected to surface in the election is the City Council’s response to the increasing number of homes in town being demolished and replaced by one or more larger houses or apartment buildings. Neighborhood activists who met to discuss the issue on May 6 were disappointed by the lack of response from the council on the issue, so far. They think Bureau of Development Services policies need to be rewritten to encourage preservation and discourage such in-fill projects.

According to a follow-up memo written by Beaumont-Wilshire Neighborhood Association Chairman Al Ellis, “Those in the room who have interacted with the mayor, City Council commissioners and the Bureau of Development Services see a disconnect between the alarm expressed by their residents and a seeming reluctance at City Hall to get involved.”

Will cash translate into votes for Kitzhaber?

Because he faced no opponent in the primary election, Gov. John Kitzhaber enters the general election with a huge war chest — more than $668,000 in the bank, according to recent filings. That doesn’t mean Kitzhaber didn’t spend any money in the primary. He raised more than $1.3 million in cash and in-kind contributions over the past two years and spent the balance hiring staff, taking polls and creating the statewide organization that will be put into action between now and November.

In contrast, Southern Oregon state Rep. Dennis Richardson, who raised more than any other potential Republican challenger, by far, only collected around $404,000 and ended the primary with about $86,000 in the bank.

Whether all those resources — and the additional funds he will raise over the next five months — will propel Kitzhaber to victory is a matter of heated speculation. With Oregon’s Democratic voter registration edge and his name familiarity, Kitzhaber has long been regarded as a shoo-in. But his star has been tarnished by the highly publicized problems with the Cover Oregon health exchange website, and a recent DHM Research poll says he could be vulnerable.

Gift givers don’t bestow much on city officials

If the value of gifts given to city officials are any indication, some are more important than others, and being elected to office isn’t much of a factor.

According to the 2014 first-quarter gift filing with the city auditor’s office, Gail Shibley, chief of staff for Mayor Charlie Hales, received the single biggest gift. It was $3,116.81 worth of travel and lodging expenses to research bidding for the 2016 World Indoor Track and Field Championships, which Portland won. In contrast, the most costliest gift reported by Hales was $200 for a conference registration fee.

If that doesn’t sound like much, it’s worth noting that Commissioner Steve Novick is the only other member of the City Council to report receiving any gifts at all. The most expensive was $250 worth of tickets from the ACLU’s annual Liberty District. That compares to $1,728.24 worth of travel expenses for Leah Treat, his Portland Bureau of Transportation director, to attend an Urban Land Institute conference in Honolulu.

Novick also reported the least-expensive gift to any Portland official, an umbrella from the Women’s Transportation Seminar valued at $7.99.

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