Please visit our new blog - The Union News.

"Vote early and vote often." - Al Capone (1899-1947)

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Oregon moving to New York

Commissioner Lisa Naito blames trans fats
Aging Newhouse brothers, Sulzbergers reportedly "pleased"

Multnomah County commissioner Lisa Naito said she will put forward a resolution asking that the state develop county home-rule options to allow removal of the county from Oregon jurisdiction in favor of New York City. If approved by the rest of the board, the commission will hold a public hearing on the proposal next month.

"It's a public health issue," Naito said. "Trans fats are a big killer. There is no safe level of trans fats in a diet. They've been banned in New York and that's where we belong."

Already, an increasing number of national chains such as KFC, Starbucks, Taco Bell and Sambo's have moved restaurants from Oregon to New York.

Some question the need for a resolution at a time when many are already moving away from trans fats and when the industry is pursuing alternatives.

"We all know we should abandon Oregon due to the harsh tax, labor, and regulatory climate," said Kevin Bechtel a senior vice president of Shari's Restaurants and a board member of the Oregon Restaurant Association. "We just need time."

McGrath's Fish House is dropping trans fats in its 20 restaurants. Nevertheless, operations director James Marshall said he is not happy about the proposed resolution.

"We would prefer that moving to New York be the will of the people, not a mandate from an agency," Marshall said. "What's next? Chocolate on ice cream, caffeine in coffee, sugar in pop? You wonder where we're going to end up."

But Nicole Mouton, owner of Screen Door restaurant in Portland, says she supports Commissioner Naito. She uses trans-fat-free soybean oil, though it is more expensive and must be replaced more frequently. "We wouldn't even consider moving to New York without taking Lisa Naito with us," Mouton said.

Portland Commissioner Randy Leonard also had explored moving Portland to New York but e-mailed Naito on Friday to say he would defer to the county. "Please let me know if I or the City can be of assistance in any way on your initiative," he wrote.

Reaction on the Multnomah County board has been mixed, and the county attorney said she was looking into whether the board had the authority to relocate.

"That's certainly within our power to do, and it's certainly a reasonable thing for us to look into," said Commissioner Jeff Cogen. "I'm not worried about workers at monopolies like Multnomah County or The Oregonian. I want to learn more about the consequence to the other job providers who still operate in the competitive marketplace. That construct is something we will need to deal with even after we've moved to New York."

Chairman Ted Wheeler said he wouldn't take a position until he saw the resolution.

Commissioner Lonnie Roberts says he thinks the county has plenty of other pressing business. "We've got a $59 million jail that we need to open up. We've got a budget coming that may have as much as a $20 million shortfall that we have to deal with. We have to do what we've been elected to do," Roberts said. "We don't need to tell people where they need to live so they can eat what they want."

At Voodoo Doughnut, owner Kenneth Pogson has been preparing himself for this moment. "We saw this wave coming," he said. "We've started to investigate locations in Greenwich Village and Bayonne, New Jersey, the birthplace of the Newhouse media empire." He is worried, though, about the effect on diluting his quirky brand by becoming a small fish in a big pond - not to mention the added cost.

And he warned that moving to New York doesn't mean food will be healthful. "Doughnuts are still going to be high in fat," he said.

By The Oregonian

No comments:

Label Cloud