Morning Roundup: Aequitas comes up short; Nestle bottling plant protest

In today’s news, Aequitas will struggle to pay back clients, Nestle bottling plant protests continue and lawmakers consider PERS options.

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1. Financial update from Aequitas shows full-client repayment is unlikely

A new status report says the sale of Aequitas Capital’s assets will only generate between $120 and $200 million. Clients are owed about $600 million. Aequitas collapsed in February after the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged the investment firm took clients’ money to save itself. The Oregonian reports this is the first significant update from court-appointed receiver Ron Greenspan since he took over the situation in March. (While clients await further news, law firms are grappling with the fallout, reports OB writer Andrew Bulkeley). 

2. Nestle water bottling plant draws continued protest

A member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs is fasting at the state capitol in protest of Nestle’s water bottle plant at Cascade Locks. Voters supported a water-bottling ban in May, essentially preventing Nestle from opening its controversial plant. But the Statesman Journal reports state agencies are still processing the water rights transfer to Nestle. It’s unclear why the state is proceeding with the transfer. Nestle has been actively seeking alternative water bottling sites, including Waitsburg, Wash.

3. Speaking of protests, Roseburg Forest Products employees are protesting their labor contract. 

About 30 people took to the streets Wednesday in Springfield to protest contract terms at the lumber mill. The Register Guard reports the employment contract expired June 1. Workers threatened strike during the protest.

4. Lawmakers host forum to find PERS budget solution

Two Oregon senators held their own hearing on the public employee pension system this week to discuss options moving forward. The state previously attempted to pass cost-savings reforms, but the Oregon Supreme Court ruled last April that those reforms were unconstitutional. At this point, PERS has a $22 billion shortfall. The Bend Bulletin reports Sens. Tim Knopp and Betsy Johnson have resumed efforts to find a reform option.

5. Zidell Marine Corporation announces end to barge business

The barge construction company says the current barge under construction will be its last in an email to employees. President Jay Zidell told employees the decision came faster than he expected. The Portland Business Journal reports about 60 employees will be impacted. Zidell says the company will still lease its barges.

6. Bend moves to solve housing shortage

Bend has expanded its city boundary by 2,300 acres. At the same time, the city council approved a measure to encourage multifamily development in the new sector. Both of these moves are intended to provide relief to Bend’s housing shortage. The Bend Bulletin reports the developer incentive will allow those constructing multifamily units to defer system development charges until the buildings are complete. With the urban growth boundary expansion, the city plans for about 13,000 new housing units.

7. The Business of Books

OB Research Editor Kim Moore talked to Literary Arts Executive Director Andrew Proctor, who transformed a failing book fair into a vibrant community event.

8. Reader forum

Readers respond to Editor Linda Baker’s reflections on the South and Columnist Matt Alford’s call for fish & wildlife funding.