Hill to Hall May 27–June 4

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May 29: Bayer Monsanto merger

The Justice Department approved the merger of Bayer and Monsanto, a deal amounting to $66 billion on May 29. Nine billion dollars worth of assets will be sold as part of the merger, with Bayer selling its seed and herbicide business, as well as its digital farming business, to a third party.

May 30: City of Salem announces toxic algae in water four days after test results

City of Salem, Ore. officials confirmed on Saturday, May 26 dangerous levels of cyanotoxins in Salem drinking water originating from an algae bloom in Detroit Lake, but according to Statesman Journal did not alert the public until four days later. Officials said they are allowed a 10-day buffer period to carry out additional tests and make treatment adjustments to purify the water. However, the city obtained no further test results, and cautionary steps like boiling water or using filters do not kill cyanotoxins. Residents of Salem and Santiam Canyon have been advised only to ingest bottled water, but some grocery stores report running short and Portland freelance journalist Mike Bivins obtained complaints to the Justice Department that some stores may be charging more than $40 per case of water. Salem has lifted the advisory as of Sunday, June 3 but will continue testing the water.

May 31: Portland Police breaks promise to delete photos of protesters’ IDs

As first reported by Willamette Week, an Independent Police Review audit found the Portland Police Bureau failed to delete photos of activists and local and national press obtained during a mass detention at a June 4, 2017 protest against a right-wing Patriot Prayer “Freedom March.” PPB’s “kettling” of 389 people drew criticism from watch groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed suit against PPB in November. Former PPB Chief Mike Marshman and a PPB spokesperson both said last year the bureau would purge photos of detainees’ IDs not being used in ongoing investigations, but the IPR found PPB does not currently have a system for destroying such materials. Community members told IPR they were afraid their photos would be used by the government to document their political affiliations. IPR has suggested PPB draft new policies on mass detention and evidence documentation.

May 31: Virginia Congressional candidate is a pedophile

Nathan Larson, a 37-year-old Congressional candidate from Charlottesville, Va., admitted to HuffPost he is a pedophile and raped his late ex-wife who committed suicide in 2015. Larson calls himself a “quasi-neoreactionary libertarian” according to his campaign manifesto, which also says he wants to legalize incestuous marriage and child pornography and that Adolph Hitler is a “white supremacist hero.” Larson sent an email threatening to kill the president in 2008 for which he spent 14 months in federal prison. Larson was barred from seeking public office until 2016, when Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe restored some civil rights to felons. Larson secured a little over one percent for his run in the Virginia House of Delegates District 31 in 2017 and is now running for a seat in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District.

June 1: Portland Marathon returns with different host

After the Portland Marathon board of directors canceled the 2018 race following findings that former Portland Marathon Director Les Smith illegally borrowed more than $865,000 from the organization, a new host has rescued plans for this year’s race. Mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland Bureau of Transportation chose nonprofit Run With Paula, which hosts races across Oregon, to host the October 7 marathon. The bidding process is open for hosts for the 2019 race.

June 4: Supreme Court rules in favor of baker denying cake to same-sex couple

The United States Supreme Court ruled the 2017 Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruling—which ruled in favor of a same-sex couple that was denied a wedding cake by Colorado-based baker Jack Phillips—unconstitutional. According to The New York Times, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the 2017 decision violated Phillips’ freedom of religious expression.

Instead of ruling on discrimination of same-sex couples, the court decided to only rule on whether the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated Phillip’s rights, which Kennedy argued would not affect future court rulings on discrimination. LGBTQ+ rights activists argue the decision would undermine the court’s 2015 ruling that guaranteed constitutional rights to those in same-sex marriages.

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