We’re glad to see Oregon U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici has her priorities straight. As the federal government shutdown passed its 14th day, the 1st Congressional District Democrat sent a news release calling on the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to resume approval of new labels for seasonal craft beers in bottles. Bonamici also called on the bureau to work through its backlog as quickly as possible once the shutdown ends.

“Seasonal varieties are crucial to small brewers in Oregon, but if they can’t get new labels approved, they can’t move forward with production,” Bonamici wrote.

To be fair, Bonamici has sent several news releases criticizing the shutdown for undermining public health, welfare and safety. But none was as specific as the one on craft beer labels, which noted, “There are more than 135 breweries operating in Oregon, and they employ approximately 6,400 Oregonians. In total, the industry accounts for a $2.83 billion piece of Oregon’s economy.”

Ballot initiative language bolsters foes’ argument

Opponents of the initiative petition to create an elected Portland water and sewer board were given plenty of ammunition against the proposed measure by Multnomah Circuit Judge Leslie Roberts last week.

Roberts rewrote the ballot title after the original version drafted by the Portland City Attorney’s Office was challenged by sponsors and opponents of the measure. Roberts also took the unusual step of issuing a four-page opinion raising questions about how the new board would work. Among other things, Roberts noted that some voters may not be represented on the board, especially if they live in East Portland. Roberts also said the measure unintentionally prevents board members from running for re-election.

Co-petitioners Kent Craford and Floy Jones disagree with some of Roberts’ conclusions. But her opinion gives opponents an opportunity to question the measure’s language while supporters are trying to gather enough Portland voter signatures to qualify it for the May 2014 primary election ballot.

Multnomah County races finally start to sizzle

For once the Multnomah County Commission races are shaping up to be more interesting than those for the Portland City Council. No one with any campaign or political experience has yet indicated they will challenge Nick Fish or Dan Saltzman, the two council members up for re-election next year. But two potentially serious commission races already are shaping up.

Commissioner Deborah Kafoury is running for the county chair seat that was vacated by Jeff Cogen. Former City Councilor Jim Francesconi announced for the seat on Sunday. And commissioner Diane McKeel also has expressed interest.

State Rep. Jules Bailey (D-Dist. 42) has said he will run for Kafoury’s seat. And so has Brian Wilson, who has chaired the longstanding political action committee that supports Multnomah County Library levies. Bailey already has more than $63,000 in his legislative campaign committee that he can transfer to the county race. Wilson has only raised a little more than $6,600 so far, mostly from himself and his family. But the library committee he chaired raised nearly $1.4 million during the past two years, although it has a deficit of around $188,000.