City Hall Update: Council approves subpoena of Uber evasion documents
The City Council voted unanimously to subpoena the Uber ride-sharing company for documents related to a software program it reportedly used to evade regulation before being approved to operate in town. Use of the so-called Greyball software was first reported by The New York Times after the council had approved regulations allowing Uber and similar companies, such as Lyft, to do business in Portland. Commissioner Dan Saltzman told the council that Uber had refused to turn over requested documents concerning the software and policies for its use during a Portland Bureau of Transportation investigation launched after the news report. No one representing Uber testified.
Council backs Timbers’ expansion plan
The Portland Timbers’ plan to add 4,000 seats to Providence Park got the go-ahead Wednesday when the City Council unanimously voted to grant the team a 10-year, $2 million tax break for the project. The team will raise and spend an additional $50 million to add the seats and make other improvements to the stadium where the Timbers and Portland Thorns play. It hosts other athletic and community events, too. All of the Timbers games have sold out, justifying the expansion project. The council will vote to hire an architect to participate in the project in coming months.
Protest policy passes first test
U.S. District Judge Michael Simon has refused to declare Portland’s new policy to reduce disruptions at public meetings unconstitutional. The council adopted the new policy that includes proactively excluding repeat violators from future meetings after Simon declared the previous one violated the First Amendment. Frequent protester Joe Walsh sued the city in Simon’s court after being excluded for future meetings for one of many outbursts. Walsh challenged the new policy after it was adopted, saying it also violated his rights. But Simon dismissed the challenge because the city has not used it against him or anyone else yet. The City Attorney’s Office is preparing to argue in federal court that the new policy is constitutional because it includes warnings to repeat offenders, among other safeguards.
Protests at council meetings have fallen since the policy was adopted, and the city hired an additional security officer.