The UberEATS App is Launching in Portland Today

If you want Vietnamese fish sauce wings from Pok Pok delivered to your house or office, you’re in luck: Uber is launching its UberEATS app in Portland for the first time.

The app, which is already offered in over 50 cities, became available at 10 am and will allow Uber customers to order food from over 100 Portland restaurants including Ecliptic, Deschutes Brewery and yes, Pok Pok Noi. Uber’s $3.99 delivery fee is added to all purchases.

“We’ve had overwhelming enthusiasm from our restaurant partners,” says Uber’s Pacific Northwest communications manager Nathan Hambley. He also adds that UberEATS wants to expand its Portland operation. “We hope to continue growing,” he says.

UberEATS joins a glut of restaurant-delivery startups that have operated in Portland over the past year: Caviar, Postmates, GrubHub and Amazon PrimeNow.

While Hambley is optimistic about the future of UberEATS in Portland, the app is being launched at what could be viewed as a polarizing time for the company in this city.

On the one hand, Uber recently received some heartening news when a Portland judge ruled that the company’s “trade secrets” would be protected from disclosure. On the other hand, a KGW story about a Portland man whose Uber account was hijacked raised questions about the company’s security.

Of course betting against UberEATS is probably a mistake. It’s not wise to underestimate an app that was launched in Taiwan in defiance of legal difficulties with the Taiwanese government.

Uber, Lyft Enter Round Two of Public Records Battle Next Week, in Seattle

Multnomah County Circuit Judge Judith H. Matarazzo ruled Friday in favor of Uber and Lyft in their quest to keep secret data that The Oregonian sought in a public records request.

Next week, a judge in Seattle is expected to issue a ruling in a similar case involving public records and the ride-hailing companies in King County.

Will a Washington judge side with the ride-share juggernauts? It’s hard to say. But last year Uber and Lyft lost a King County court battle over whether they could keep secret their number of drivers. (There were more than 9,200 combined, The Seattle Times reported.)

And unlike in Portland, where city officials stayed neutral in The Oregonian‘s case against Uber and Lyft, attorneys working for the city of Seattle are siding with the public to ask the court to release the companies’ information.

In Portland, Judge Matarazzo broke with Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill, who in September ordered the city of Portland to turn over records that showed the number of rides provided by Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing companies since May 1, 2015; how many wheelchair-accessible vehicle services Uber and Lyft provided, canceled and completed by month; and average monthly wait times for UberWAV, the wheelchair accessible vehicles.

Uber and Lyft shared that data with regulators at the Portland Bureau of Transportation but claimed the information constituted trade secrets that were protected from release under an exemption to Oregon public records law.

Underhill argued that public interest in the information—which could show how well Uber and Lyft accommodated passengers with disabilities, for example—outweighed the companies’ interests in secrecy.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that the King County court case stems from a public records request by an Austin, Texas man. He’s seeking information on where rides began and ended in 2015.

Last week’s ruling in Portland has an unusual side effect. It means a recent city of Portland audit of transportation networks that Auditor Mary Hull Caballero published with redactions won’t be unredacted to show how many rides Uber and Lyft reported in 2016. Uber has previously claimed to have had 4,000 drivers in Portland.

Murmurs: Cowlitz Casino Battle May Be Over

Federal Audit Makes Trouble for Schroeder

Amanda Schroeder, a candidate for the Multnomah County Commission, has come under scrutiny from her labor union, owing to a U.S. Department of Labor audit of the union’s finances when Schroeder served as president. That audit, concluded in June, showed inadequate documentation for at least $65,314.82 in spending. Schroeder served as president of the American Federation of Government Employees Union Local 2157 off and on from July 2013 to May 2016, during which time she also battled breast cancer. In a June 21 letter, the Labor Department said it would take “no further enforcement action,” but questions about the spending exploded in an Oct. 7 special meeting of the union. Marcia Blaine, the local’s current president, says the union is considering launching its own investigation because the federal agency has declined to provide more details. Schroeder, who attended the meeting, says she did nothing wrong. She says she inadvertently used her union debit card three times for minor personal purchases but repaid the $50 after the purchases came to light. “It’s been probably one of the ugliest experiences of my life,” she says.

Amanda Schroeder (WW Staff)
Amanda Schroeder (WW Staff)

Cowlitz Casino Battle Ends

The epic battle over the Cowlitz Casino in La Center, Wash., may finally be over. The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, owner of Oregon’s largest casino, has challenged for years whether the Cowlitz tribe has the right to build a $510 million casino in La Center. Now, however, the Grand Ronde has abandoned plans to appeal its case to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a statement the tribe provided WW. “Although La Center is outside the historic lands of the Cowlitz Tribe,” the statement says, “Grand Ronde has decided to direct its current resources to completing the remodeling of Spirit Mountain Casino on its reservation and future resources to the development of projects in Grand Ronde’s homelands around Portland.” Those projects include redeveloping Multnomah Greyhound Park in Wood Village.

Timber Giant Harry Merlo Dies

Oregon timber titan Harry Merlo died Oct. 24 at age 91. From 1973 to 1995, Merlo ran lumber company Louisiana-Pacific Corp. in a swashbuckling fashion that stood out in Portland’s staid corporate culture, and was a booster of the city’s burgeoning soccer scene. In his later years, he held a majority ownership of Portland Bottling Co., a longtime foil for City Hall. The company was sold Nov. 1 to Limnes Bottling Acquisition Co., owned by Ed Maletis, former owner and CEO of Columbia Distributing, one of the country’s largest beer distributors.

Portland Bottling Co. (Adam Wickham)
Portland Bottling Co. (Adam Wickham)

Give!Guide Kicks Off

Willamette Week’s annual Give!Guide is live and accepting donations at giveguide.org. This year’s goal is to raise $3.6 million from 10,000 people. And the rewards go beyond knowing you’ve done good. If you give to a charitable cause on Nov. 3, you’ll have a chance to win Trail Blazers tickets and a jersey signed by C.J. McCollum. If you give on Nov. 10, you’ll have a chance to win a $500 shopping spree at Powell’s City of Books.

Portland Bottling Co. Sold After Death of Owner

One of Portland’s most iconic and politically combative companies has been sold.

Portland Bottling Co. has long been one of the city’s most recognizable businesses, using about 47 million gallons a year to mix and bottle soda pop and energy drinks. A giant 7-Up bottle, since repainted, has stood for more than 70 years as an icon among the blue-collar businesses along Northeast Sandy Boulevard.