City Cast

The OLCC Scandal Now Hits Gov. Kotek, and Permitting Conflict at Portland City Hall

City Cast Portland staff
City Cast Portland staff
Posted on August 7
cars parked in foreground, crane in background

City Hall's conversations over development continue. (Rachel Monahan/City Cast Portland)

There are a couple of interesting stories that could have some ongoing political implications, both in the state capitol and at City Hall.

Liquor Scandal Continued

In February, the Oregonian revealed that top officials with the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission selected bottles of sought-after bourbon for themselves and their friends. Since then, top bureaucrats have been fired and the OLCC chair resigned.

That scandal involved appointees of past governors, but now there’s trouble for Gov. Tina Kotek. The new chair she picked is now implicated in seeking pricey bourbon for his own contacts, too. Marvin Révoal sought Elmer T. Lee, a rare bourbon, for a friend in 2016. It’s not clear yet what the governor was aware of before the Oregonian’s story. And it’s not clear what she’ll do about it.

Permitting Fight

City Commissioner Carmen Rubio floated a proposal for a consolidated permitting office so that developers need only get approval in one place. Her fellow commissioner Mingus Mapps, who is also running for mayor next year, opposed the proposal, in favor of simplifying the code. It’s a rather technical policy fight, but one that addresses the critical issue of reducing the time and cost of developing housing in Portland.

But now Willamette Week reports that Rubio has the backing of powerful groups, many with an interest in speeding up the permitting process. Notably, the Portland Metro Chamber (formerly the Portland Business Alliance), which has worked with Mapps in the past, is supporting Rubio.

If Rubio enters the race for mayor as well, it’ll be interesting to see how this policy debate shapes support for Mapps and for Rubio.

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