Weekly roundup

Is TriMet the new OPAL? Plus, the May primaries, business taxes and another new cannabis startup.

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Most people agree civic organizations and institutions are not keeping up with our fast changing world.  Skyrocketing housing costs, worsening traffic and a rapidly changing local and state culture have many Oregon denizens feeling left behind.

The month of May promises to bring institutional change, and not just because the primaries will shake things up. To wit:

Gov. Brown has signaled her desire to diversify the TriMet board. Her announcement signals among other things the considerable political clout of Opal Environmental Justice, a once scrappy activist group that is now a bona fide transportation power player.  In fact, if Brown’s nominees are approved, the TriMet board will look an awful lot like Opal’s leadership.

The board that oversees ride hailing companies, cabs and other personal for hire transportation businesses is also expected to get a revamp, with a focus on representation from drivers.

Julia Degraw is a longshot contender for Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish’ seat. But her BRASS tax proposal, which would levy fees on top tier earners, may be part of an unexpected trend favoring business taxes. The Portland Business Alliance has signaled its support for an increase in the business license tax, to be used for homeless services and underrepresented business owners.

And taxes will likely be part of the solution as momentum builds to finally address the PERS elephant in the 2019 legislative session.

One of the great mysteries behind the Knute Buehler gubernatorial bid is why the Republican frontrunner fails to show up on the campaign trail.  If you didn’t catch our profile last month, read it here.

Sen. Peter Courtney is another no show.  To be sure, the longtime Senate president is a shoe in, as his first contender in years, Joyce Judy, has virtually no chance of winning.  Courtney’s staff did not respond to repeated requests for interviews.

I breakfasted this morning with Ron Buel, founder of Willamette Week and former business strategist for Nike.  He tells me about his new cannabis operation here.

OB research director Kim Moore explores the role of corporate directors in preventing workplace culture problems that can upend business operations.  Exhibit A is Nike.

Our package on the new vegan economy has generated lots of lively discussion:  Are Vegans and Paleos kindred spirits or bitter enemies? Are conservatives less likely to go vegans than liberals? Is meat eating an inherently conservative act?

Oregonlive reporter Mike Rogoway has a great accounting of the rise and fall of Jive Software. 

Meanwhile, CEO Travis Mauch hopes to turn a rural Oregon town into a trendy entrepreneurial paradise.  Read OB writer Erika Bolstad’s profile here. 

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