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Good Afternoon, News: Clean & Safe Gets Pushback, Schools and COVID Confusion, and Another Portland Heat Record

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by Blair Stenvick

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Portland Public Schools

Good afternoon, Portland! Here’s the latest on local news, national news, and a little bit of fun.

In local news:

• On Thursday, City Council will vote on a contract that will shape the future of Portland’s downtown as it reemerges from the pandemic. The vote will renew and tweak a contract the city currently holds with Downtown Clean & Safe, an organization that charges property owners located within its 213-block boundary to fund additional, or “enhanced,” services not already provided by the city—like graffiti removal, expanded trash pick-up, and augmented police and security patrols. Clean & Safe is a subcontractor of Portland Business Alliance (PBA), with many of its staff on the business lobbyist group’s payroll. The proposed contract falls short of overhauling critics’ top issues with the program.

In related news: Weird flex, but okay.

• As Oregon students cautiously return to in-person learning, school districts, teachers, and families are asking Multnomah County health officials what could trigger a reversal to remote learning. As it turns out, the county doesn’t have concrete metrics that would determine such a switch—our own Isabella Garcia has more.

• Meanwhile, the demand is outpacing the supply for COVID-19 tests in Portland—and it’s especially frustrating for parents trying to get their school-aged, unvaccinated kids tested.

• Portland already saw deadly, record-shattering temperatures this summer, thanks to June’s heat dome. But we’re about to break a slightly less dramatic, though terribly insidious, record: This year will likely have the highest number of 80+ degree days of any year on record.

In national news:

• More bad news for COVID and schools: The pandemic is creating a nationwide teacher shortage, from California to Michigan to Tennessee. Some schools are forced to choose between hiring unqualified substitute teachers, or holding online-only classes to make up for the shortage.

• There are thousands of Haitian migrants currently waiting at the Texas border (you may have seen upsetting images of them being whipped by border patrol agents on horseback earlier this week.) Now, President Joe Biden is aiming to have some of them relocated to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) facility as they await their asylum hearings—and that DHS facility is located at Guantanamo Bay, the notorious US prison and torture camp in Cuba.

• According to the Campaign Legal Center—an independent government ethics group—seven representatives in the US House have failed to disclose recent stock trades, a legal requirement for all members of Congress. The lawmakers comprise four Democrats and three Republicans.

• If you’ve been following the #FreeBritney saga, then you’ve probably learned a lot about legal conservatorships recently—but while Britney Spears’ circumstances have gotten the blockbuster media treatment, there are a lot of people out there who are suffering in unjust conservatorships in silence. This great piece from BuzzFeed News tracks one of those cases.

And just for fun:

• Get ready for one of the most delicious weeks of the year! The Mercury’s WING WEEK returns Oct 4-10 with 24 creative wing dishes from your fave restaurants and bars—and they’re only $6 per plate! YES, PLEASE!

• Finally, here are your weekend plans:

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