Plus, citizen Portland Utility Board members resign and Multnomah Neighborhood Association keeps fighting infill project

KOIN 6 NEWS - Frank Gable after his release from prison.The brothers of slain Oregon corrections director Michael Francke are calling on the Oregon Department of Justice to stop appealing the federal court ruling overturning his killer's conviction.

Appearing on the July 3 edition of 'Think Out Loud' on Oregon Public Broadcasting, Kevin and Patrick Francke said they have never believed petty Salem criminal Frank Gable killed their brother in 1989. They agreed with the April ruling by Oregon U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge John Acosta that Gable is probably innocent and did not receive a fair trial before being sentenced to life without parole. Gable was freed from prison on June 28.

The justice department has appealed the ruling to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. It is unclear who can make the decision to drop the appeal. The department removed Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum from the case because she was serving on the Oregon Court of Appeals when it upheld the conviction in 1994. Those making the decision now include Deputy Attorney General Fred Boss.

Citizen board members resign

Five of the citizen members of the Portland Utility Board resigned on June 11, prior to the end of their terms.

The 11-member board was created to advise the council on ratepayer-related water and sewer issues. The board includes five representatives from the Portland Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services who take part in its deliberations. Two of the city employees are also authorized to vote.

In a letter to the council, the five citizen members said they resigned because presence of the city employees on the board undermines its credibility.

"City staff have an important and necessary commitment to the interests and well-being of their organizations. They should not be in positions where they find themselves both beneficiaries and gatekeepers at the same time," the letter said.

Residential infill challenge continues

The Multnomah Neighborhood Association is continuing to fight the Residential Infill Project, despite the approval of House Bill 2001 by the 2019 Oregon Legislature. The bill, which Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is expected to sign, requires cities to allow missing middle housing in single-family neighborhoods, which is the goal of the project.

The challenge is currently before the Oregon Court of Appeals. The association argues it is still valid because while HB 2001 allows only duplexes on every lot, it lets cities determine where triplexes, fourplexes and cottage clusters must be allowed.

According to members of the association, if they prevail, Portland will have to justify allowing up to four units on every lot, as called for in the current version of the infill plan.

You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.