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ELF migrations, fast food strikes, funeral fees and junkyard thieves

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Organic Transit to conquer Portland: The Bull City's hipster reputation has prompted "some people" (likely residents of Raleigh and Chapel Hill) to kvetch about the Portlandization of Durham, but we'd prefer to think of it as the Durhamization of Portland.

Case in point, ELF, the solar-and-pedal-powered vehicle made by Durham-based Organic Transit, is opening a factory in Portland, Ore., The Triangle Business Journal blog reported this week. The company already has a facility in San Jose, Calif., that manufactures the ELFs, which sell for $4,000 each.

It's an ideal place for ELFs: Portland has been named America's Best Bike City by Bicycling magazine. Six percent of all work commutes in the city are made by bicycle.

Organic Transit recently moved from East Chapel Hill Street to 311 W. Corporation St., near Central Park. And on Tuesday, Dec. 17, at 10 p.m., the company will appear in an episode of "Shipping Wars" on the A&E channel.

The INDY published an extensive article about Organic Transit last May. "We saw the space available between the bicycle and the car," Rob Cotter, founder and CEO of Organic Transit, told the INDY. "It's a great big hole in there."

Have it their way: Fast food workers in Raleigh and Durham are expected to walk off the job Thursday as part of a 100-city strike protesting low pay. Strikers are asking for pay increases to $15 an hour and the right to unionize without retaliation.

There are an estimated 22,240 fast food workers in the Triangle. Tearn a median wage of $8.57 an hour. According to an MIT study, the living wage in Raleigh for one adult is $10.15 an hour; for one adult and one child, it's $20.07.

It's slightly cheaper to live in Durham, with living wages of $9.04 for one adult and $19.89 an hour for one adult and one child.

Rallies are scheduled near two McDonald's franchises: at 6304 Capital Blvd. in Raleigh at 6 a.m., and at 2115 Avondale Drive in Durham at 11:30 a.m.

An issue that will not die: Lawmakers with the cumbersomely named Joint Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee discussed the financial issues concerning the N.C. Board of Funeral Service Tuesday. As the INDY reported in October, the board has requested hiking fees on funeral homes and crematoriums ostensibly to pay for additional staffing. However, several former board members questioned the current leadership's spending, including salary hikes and travel expenses. Check out the INDY's news blog for more details.

That '99 Pontiac Grand Am needs papers: Beginning this week, metal recyclers and salvage yards will require sellers of older model cars to show proof of ownership before a purchase. In July, the General Assembly enacted House Bill 26, Strengthen Laws/Vehicle Theft, which went into effect Dec. 1.

In June, the INDY wrote about a legal loophole allowing car thieves to sell vehicles that are at least 10 years old to scrap yards without providing a title or registration documents. The article detailed a two-week binge in which Terryon McEachin, a 23-year-old from Durham, hired local tow truck companies to haul 11 old cars from his victims' residences to scrap yards. In each case, McEachin represented himself as the car owner and collected money from the sale.

The North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles has introduced a system requiring metal recyclers and salvage yards to verify whether a vehicle more than 10 years that is brought to them without a title has been reported stolen.

All North Carolina salvage yards and recyclers are being notified that they must register with the Department of Transportation to access the new system. If a vehicle is reported stolen, the system will notify the salvage yard or recycling business to verify the vehicle identification number and stop the purchase of the vehicle. The business must also notify its local law enforcement agency.

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