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To prove that politics makes strange bedfellows, look no further than the agreement between Portland city Commissioner Nick Fish and local attorney John DiLorenzo that the Terminal 1 homeless shelter lease approved by the City Council must be based on its market value.

For years, DiLorenzo has tormented Fish, who is in charge of the Portland Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services, with a long-running lawsuit charging the council has repeatedly misspent ratepayer funds. Multnomah County Circuit Judge Stephen Bushong has ruled such spending must be reasonably related to the primary missions of the bureaus, and Fish has protested on some of the occasions when the judge ruled in favor of DiLorenzo.

But when Commissioner Dan Saltzman asked the council to approve a $10,000-a-month lease for Terminal 1, Fish cited the lawsuit to say it must be around $100,000 a month because that is the estimated market value. After the council approved the lower amount on a 3-to-2 vote anyway, DiLorenzo promptly served notice that he will ask Bushong to invalidate the lease if the monthly payments aren’t raised to the market rate.

That’s one theory

Some in the Portland media recently discovered that Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler has received campaign contributions since winning the office in the May primary election with more than 50 percent of the vote.

He has been using the funds to finance his transition team until $85,000 previously approved by the City Council becomes available in November. But in a bizarre story posted on Aug. 11, The Oregonian said labor unions were paying for the transition. The story, inspired by a Wheeler news release updating the public about his transition staff, was headlined, “Ted Wheeler is naming his mayoral team and using union money to pay them.”

Well, yes and no. According to elections filings, unions have contributed at least $32,750 since Wheeler won the election. But businesses have contributed at least $21,500, and a number of individuals have made both large and small contributions, too.

Oregon tax fight goes national

As the fight over Measure 97 picks up in Oregon, the national news media are beginning to notice the corporate sales tax proposal on the November general election ballot.

One of the first to weigh in editorially was the Wall Street Journal, which was against it, naturally. On Aug. 11, the newspaper — named after the kind of big businesses targeted by the measure’s sponsors — predicted it would increase prices for just about everyone in the state if approved.

“While the referendum is billed as a progressive tax to help fund education and health services for the poor, the real beneficiaries as usual will be public unions. Oregon’s gross-receipts tax would be one more regressive income redistribution from the private economy to the privileged government class,” said the Journal.

Expect liberal media outlets to take a different position on the measure if they weigh in.

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