Nicholas Kristof officially out of the governor’s race
The Oregon Supreme Court released their ruling on Nicholas Kristof’s eligibility to run for governor of Oregon yesterday: Kristof is ineligible because he has not been a resident of the state for the minimum three years required by the state constitution. One of the key factors in the decision was Kristof’s New York voter registration. He voted in New York in the 2020 general election, then switched his registration to Oregon later that year. The Oregon Supreme Court decision also created a clear standard that the Oregon Secretary of State will be able to use in evaluating the eligibility of future candidates.
With his campaign over, Kristof has several options for the estimated $1.6 million his campaign has on hand. He can choose to return funds to donors, although there is no clear requirement he do so, or just leave funds in a bank account indefinitely. Kristof can also roll the funds over into a future campaign, if he chooses to run for another office, or donate the funds to other campaigns. With that kind of money, Kristof could easily influence an election or two. In comparison, Knute Buehler, who ran for governor in 2018, has been donated unused campaign funds to Republican and independent candidates throughout Oregon during this election cycle.
Portland Public Schools estimates an 8% drop for 2022-2023 school year
Portland Public Schools is projecting that 3,400 fewer students will be attending school in the district during the next school year. That change comes on top of losing students through the past two years. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, PPS’ enrollment had been steady for several years. The combined loss is expected to total nearly 7,000 students. Statewide enrollment is also down by close to 30,000 students. The pattern is also playing out across the U.S. as homeschooling rates have risen dramatically as parents attempt to balance safety and education in a system where they receive conflicting information from every level of government.
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The enrollment drop means that PPS’ board suggests it will receive significantly less funding from state and federal sources. While there are some one-time funding sources and pandemic relief funds the district can tap, the change will require PPS to cut its budget. The Portland Association of Teachers issued a statement suggesting that state and federal sources would actually provide PPS with more funding than the district has ever had in the upcoming year. The district’s budget for the 2022-2023 school year will be available in April, which was already likely to include plans to eliminate 121 elementary and middle school teacher positions.
In the meanwhile, we can likely expect more staffing cuts, which in turn will hit teachers and other school staff when their workloads are already overwhelming and morale is incredibly low with PAT estimating 1,400 PPS teachers were considering quitting or taking a leave of absence as of December. PAT is in the process of electing a new board, which may also affect local teachers’ plans for the future. Parents and students remain frustrated with the level of education PPS provides, especially to students of color. Cutting staff seems unlikely to address that issue, so further drops in enrollment seem guaranteed.
A useful look at available housing around Portland
In a Twitter thread earlier this week, Kaia Sand offered a useful way to look at Sam Adams’ proposal that the City of Portland force homeless residents of the city into large militarized camps that would concentrate people without housing away from housed Portland residents. The proposal rightly sparked concern among advocates of both effective housing policy and basic civil rights. But Sands, the executive director of Street Roots, suggested that one of the problems with Adams’ proposal is a failure to think big enough.
Sand’s Twitter thread continued to point out that there are roughly 3,000 people living without shelter in Portland and the community can find 3,000 spaces for people to live, at least until the slow process of building more affordable housing can be completed. Of course, this plan would require a real effort by both housing developers and local government to construct that new housing. But Sand’s #3000challenge has made clear how many spaces are available that could provide at least temporary housing in positive ways:
- Empty hotel rooms, either by renting individual rooms or purchasing entire buildings — Portland has roughly 10,000 hotel rooms, with more than 3,000 of those rooms sitting empty on a given night as travel rates remain much lower than pre-2020 rates.
- One or more of the city’s five golf courses — Using golf courses, at least temporarily, as sites for housing could provide space for more than 3,000 people. Colwood Golf Center, which is owned by Portland Parks and Recreation, is 91.76 acres. Tiny home communities often fit between 8 and 16 homes on a single acre, suggesting that Colwood’s land alone could host a minimum of 700 tiny houses. Volunteers have already offered to help with construction. Of course, that option requires convincing golf players to give up a few of their golfing options until more affordable housing could be constructed.
- Short-term home rentals — AirBnb appears to have 3,668 active rentals listed in Portland. Smaller platforms, like Vacasa, list hundreds of active rentals.
- Unused campuses and other facilities — A number of facilities around Portland are entirely empty. Some even already have some housing facilities in place, including residence halls and apartments. The former home of Concordia University in Portland has sat empty for months because of difficulties in selling it. A governmental buyer might be able to make a deal happen.
If Portland residents have the political willpower, every single one of us could be housed somewhere long enough to build enough free and affordable housing to make sure everyone in the city can live comfortably.