05 24 2016
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  • The judge concluded Officer Edward Nero played little role in the arrest and wasn't responsible for the failure by police to buckle Gray in  
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  • Bill Cosby faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday to determine if his criminal sex-assault case in suburban Philadelphia goes to trial.Prosecutors had declined to charge the comedian-actor over the 2005 complaint, but arrested him in December after his explosive deposition in the woman's lawsuit became public. In the testimony given in that deposition, Cosby is grilled about giving drugs and alcohol to women before sex; making secret payments to ex-lovers; and hosting Andrea Constand at his home. They knew each other through Temple University, where he was a trustee and she managed the women's basketball team. Bill Cosby's wife refused to answer dozens of questions during a combative deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by seven women who say the comedian branded them liars after they accused him of sexually assaulting them, according to a transcript released Friday. Camille Cosby was subjected to intense questioning by the women's lawyer, who repeatedly pressed her to say whether she believes her husband "acted with a lack of integrity" during their 52-year marriage. The lawyer also asked if her husband used his position and power "to manipulate young women." Camille Cosby didn't answer those questions and many others after her lawyer cited marital privilege, the legal protection given to communications between spouses. She repeatedly said she had "no opinion" when pressed on whether she viewed her husband's behavior as dishonest and a violation of their marriage vows. About 50 women have publicly accused Bill Cosby of forcing unwanted sexual contact on them decades ago. Cosby has denied the allegations. He faces a criminal case in Pennsylvania, where prosecutors have charged him with sexually violating a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand. He has pleaded not guilty. Camille Cosby answered questions in the deposition Feb. 22 and again April 19 after her lawyers argued unsuccessfully to stop it. A judge ruled she would have to give a deposition but said she could refuse to answer questions about private communications between her and her husband. Camille Cosby's lawyer, Monique Pressley, repeatedly cited that privilege and advised her not to answer many questions asked by the women's lawyer, Joseph Cammarata. The exchanges between Cammarata and Cosby became testy at times, and she admonished him: "Don't lecture me. Just keep going with the questions." Using a transcript of a deposition Bill Cosby gave in a civil lawsuit filed by Constand in 2005 and a transcript of an interview she gave to Oprah Winfrey in 2000, Cammarata asked Camille Cosby about extramarital affairs her husband had. "Were you aware of your husband setting up trusts for the benefit of women that he had a sexual relationship with?" Cammarata asked. She didn't answer after her lawyer cited marital privilege. Cammarata asked her about Shawn Thompson, a woman who said Bill Cosby fathered her daughter, Autumn Jackson, in the 1970s. Jackson was convicted in 1997 of attempting to extort money from Bill Cosby to prevent her from telling a tabloid she's his daughter. He acknowledged he had an affair with her mother and had given her money. "Was it a big deal when this came up in the 1970s that your husband had — big deal to you that your husband had an extramarital affair and potentially had a daughter from that extramarital affair?" Cammarata asked. "It was a big deal then, yes," Camille Cosby replied. She said she had "no opinion" on whether her husband's admission he obtained quaaludes to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex violated their marriage vows. Her lawyer objected and instructed her not to answer when Cammarata asked her if she ever suspected she had been given any type of drug to alter her state of consciousness when she had sex with her husband. A spokesman for the Cosbys declined to comment on her deposition. The Cosbys have a home in Shelburne Falls, an hour's drive from Springfield, where the lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed. An attorney handling a separate lawsuit against Bill Cosby revealed Friday that Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner provided sworn testimony Wednesday. In the sexual battery lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, Judy Huth says Cosby forced her to perform a sex act on him at the Playboy Mansion around 1974, when she was 15. Bill Cosby's former lawyers have accused Huth of attempting to extort him before filing the case and have tried unsuccessfully to have it dismissed. Huth's attorney, Gloria Allred, said Hefner's testimony will remain under seal for now. Hefner also was named as a defendant in a case filed Monday by former model Chloe Goins, who accuses Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually abusing her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008.   The Associated Press generally doesn't identify people who say they're victims of sexual abuse, but the women accusing Cosby have come forward to tell their stories.___AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
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  • Some hope killing will bring peace in Afghanistan     
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Johnell Bell, TriMet Director of Diversity and Transit Equity

TriMet has found itself on the third rail of Portland politics lately, lost in the media buzz over its labor union negotiations and an outcry over driver safety linked to staffing problems.

Less remarked upon has been the success of their Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program in generating jobs through light rail construction.

The National Organization of Minority Contractors of Oregon last month named TriMet Agency of the Year by an "overwhelming" margin of its members.

"TriMet has a strong and committed DBE program, which has steadily grown with each rail project over the past decade," says NAMC-O board member Faye Burch.

(Stacy and Witbeck construction company, the TriMet's prime contractor on the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project, was also honored by the group).

Helmed since 2011 by TriMet Director of Diversity and Transit Equity Johnell Bell, the agency reports that nearly 4,500 jobs have been created so far through the 7.3-mile project extending from downtown Portland to Clackamas County.

By the time it opens in 2015, TriMet says they're on track to create 14,500 jobs in total. And for the first time, the agency says, one-third of the contracts have been awarded to firms owned by people of color and women.

TriMet says nearly 24 percent of the construction jobs so far have gone to people of color and about 16 percent to apprentices; the project is only 30 percent complete and agency officials say $76 million in DBE contracts have been generated to date

"With this influx of new labor, the DBE program is not only providing jobs now, but creating the workforce of the future," said spokeswoman Mary Fetsch.

These 102 Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) firms have reached a new record of contracting for any regional project.

"A core tenet of TriMet's Transit Equity effort is creating opportunities in low-income and communities of color. These jobs are making a real difference in our community, and are helping to reduce transit inequities through economic empowerment," Bell says. "DBE firms are growing and expanding into new areas because we're providing the opportunity to take on new work."

The goal of TriMet's DBE program -- like others in the field -- is to promote a level playing field, remove barriers and increase contracting opportunities for people of color and women in both the professional and construction fields.

TriMet's main innovation started out simple: Find ways to hire more disadvantaged companies by breaking the contracts up into smaller jobs; over time, as more DBE companies build their capacity and grow, those companies should be in a better position to become prime contractors that can land bigger jobs.

"Breaking the contracts up into smaller contracts is just part of it; I think the greater vision is you find ways to eliminate barriers," Fetsch says.

"It could be smaller contracts. It could be that the emerging business needs help with insurance and bonding – just some technical assistance.

So it's in every way possible, how you eliminate barriers to help DBE firms succeed in the field."

"We're proud to have expanded our outreach to the DBE community and have reached a record high participation rate," said Dan Blocher, executive director of TriMet Capital Projects Division. "And we will continue to hire more DBE firms as construction continues."

TriMet created its DBE program in 2000 as it planned the Interstate MAX Yellow Line construction. The agency held a series of public meetings which were packed with North Portland residents demanding, in part, job opportunities for disadvantaged communities.

Today, other cities hold up TriMet as a model – even as other transportation jurisdictions in Oregon have endured criticism and even federal scrutiny of their DBE operations.

Edmund Tawiah's engineering and surveying firm, TCC & Associates, Inc., has garnered close to $275,000 in contracts on the light rail project.

"Previously, most of our work was with new housing, either subdivisions or infill," he said. "When all of that came to a stop at the height of the recession, the Portland-Milwaukie light rail project kept us in business."

With approximately $100,000 in Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project contracts so far, Azuri Construction has supplied and installed fencing at project sites along the 7.3-mile alignment.

"Having the DBE certification allows me to compete," firm owner Jose Figueroa says.


Learn more about TriMet's DBE program by clicking here.

These organizations can also help with DBE certification and contracting opportunities:

Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber


Metropolitan Contractor Improvement Partnership



National Association of Minority Contractors Oregon








Carpentry Professionals


Artists Rep Grand Concourse