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April 22, 2010

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Metsger calls for Treasury reform

As furor builds over the behavior of state Treasury investors, state senator Rick Metsger is calling for extensive reforms.

Metsger, who is running to become Oregon's next treasurer, told the Oregonian he wants to reform the state's travel and ethics laws. His opponent, interim treasurer Ted Wheeler, cautioned that complex changes should not be rushed through.

Both candidates are responding to a public records investigation by Oregonian reporters Les Zaitz and Ted Sickinger.

The newspaper found that state investment officers often travel in luxury at the expense of the investment firms they are overseeing, claim state reimbursement for meals they've been provided for free, and use lodging that exceeds state spending limits.

"You don't need a months-long study of current practices to know that some things are just plain wrong and unacceptable," Metsger said in a statement.

Read the latest at Oregon Live.

CenturyTel buys Qwest

Two of the nation's largest land-line telecom companies are merging to streamline operations.

Both companies have been weakened by the rise in popularity of the mobile phone.

The deal would shore up the combined company by helping it reduce expenses and improve its ability to compete with cable. But it would still be in the grip of a dismal trend: The number of landlines in the U.S. shrinks by about 10 percent per year as consumers chose to rely on their wireless phones or service from cable companies.

Read more at Oregon Live.

Soothing Touch sues Golden Temple

It's Sat Kartar S. Bird's word against Karam Singh Khalsa's as the Soothing Touch body care company goes after the Golden Temple natural foods empire for alleged fraud.

Golden Temple is also facing legal challenges in two Oregon counties and in California.

The lawsuit alleges that:

Many of the raw materials Golden Temple delivered were spoiled and had expired years before the asset sale closed.

Three formulas for muds included in the assets listed in the prospectus and said to be already created and tested did not exist and were not provided.

Golden Temple delivered a large number of goods and material unrelated to Soothing Touch’s business, and billed Soothing Touch for them.

Read more at the Register-Guard.

Astoria port nears log export deal

The Port of Astoria and Westerlund Log Handlers are closing in on an agreement to develop a log export facility at the mouth of the Columbia River.

Local businesses and residents have criticized the plan, which would create local jobs but shift the milling of Northwest timber from Oregon to Asia, cutting labor costs.

Log exports were a staple of the Port's business plans for decades, but they weren't included in the 2003 master plan, which was focused on developing a marine services center, tourism and seafood processing on the central waterfront.

Bornstein Seafood managers have complained loudly about possible conflicts between their business and the Port's plan to lease Pier 1, Pier 3 and a roadway in between to ship logs to Asia.

Read Cassandra Profita's full report at the Daily Astorian.

Druker honored as first citizen

Cancer researcher Brian Druker is Portland's new "first citizen," the latest of many awards for the head of OHSU's Knight Cancer Institute.

Druker was the lead researcher in developing the drug Gleevec, which has saved countless lives over the past decade.

Before Gleevec was approved for sale in 2001, close to a third of CML patients died within five years of diagnosis. Now, that death rate is closer to one in 10, and many die from causes unrelated to cancer. Gleevec is also being used against several other cancers.

Read more at Oregon Live.

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