By Midge Pierce

Population Counts Matter

The federal 2020 Census is coming. It can determine whether Oregon gets another House seat or not.

It may come as a surprise that it will mostly be conducted online. That will make it more difficult to count rural Oregonians, those living on reservations and those distrustful of Government. Special efforts are underway to reach them.

The so-called Get Out the Vote Count is part of Oregon’s Census Equity Focus of Oregon that will supplement federal funding to reach some 1.3 million so-called hard to contact individuals known as HTCs.

Partnering with United Way, a consulting group called Dancing Heart seeks some 10,000 volunteers to work at assistance centers or help locate HTCs. Some 150,000 are in Multnomah County, comprised of non-English speakers, people of color, Native Americans, single parents, renters and the unhoused.

Chloe’s Challenger

In the midst of hubbub over Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s threatening conduct toward colleagues, Mingus Mapps, who formerly worked in the Office of Civic and Community Life that Eudaly manages, has declared he will run against her for the office in 2020.

He pledged a different type of government – one that will “listen and examine assumptions when challenged”, according to an interview in Willamette Week.

Mapps indicated he is critical of rent control policies but supportive of Infill development, particularly on Portland’s fringes where development of services, infrastructure and town centers are needed.

He has advocated for homeless shelters and believes working with neighborhoods on issues is important. He says NAs are not the enemy but rather, should be considered part of City solutions.

Electric or Bust Buses

You can’t buy what doesn’t exist. That’s according to upset neighbors near Division who say Trimet should have known electric buses were not yet available for the proposed Division Rapid Transit project.

Trimet recently purchased thirty-five diesel buses. Neighbors reacted by calling the $175 million price tag of the rapid transit project, “a waste.” They are concerned that routes they claim were specifically designed with battery-powered buses in mind, could add time to daily commutes.

Trimet says it will no longer purchase diesel equipment after 2024. It plans to transition to all electric buses by 2040 when the current fleet’s lifespan ends.

Blowin’ in the Wind update

A sure sound of fall is the drone of gas-powered blowers against fallen leaves.

According to environmental activist Albert Kaufman, those blowers are not just noisy, they are toxic.

They cause cancer, hearing loss and hypertension and contribute to the build-up of greenhouse gases.

In his tree-friendly, environmental newsletter The Eleven, urban farmer, tree planter/hugger/musician, Kaufman addresses these and other issues associated with gas blowers “hurricane force” winds.

Last year he helped launch a petition to ban gas blowers. After receiving hundreds of signatures, it caught the attention of Portland Commissioner Nick Fritz’ office which is looking at how communities in Washington and California address the issue.

Policy Director Everett Wild says the office is still “squarely” in the research phase as it examines the legal ramifications of regulating blowers.

The issue is moving slowly to avoid unintended consequences that might make it harder, or costlier, for landscapers and low wage workers to do their jobs.

One approach might be to phase in alternatives such as electric powered tools. Wild says Portland’s Parks might be a likely place to start a pilot.

Electric Bus or Bust

You can’t buy what doesn’t exist. That’s the dilemma faced by Trimet when, instead of purchasing an electric fleet for the Division Rapid Transit Line as recommended, it bought 31 articulated diesel buses. Neighbors reacted by calling the $175 million price tag of the rapid transit project, “a waste”. They claim that the routes designed for the buses could add time to daily commutes.

Trimet says it will no longer purchase diesel equipment after 2024. It plans to transition to all electric buses by 2040 when the current fleet’s lifespan ends. Trimet says it is putting pressure on manufacturers to improve and provide electric bus technology that is more affordable.  The timelines seem “so close and yet so far away,” according to a spokesperson.