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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In 2012 Oregon Ballet Theater produced this
performance of The Nutracker 

 


Last November, Portland voters passed an arts tax that says every adult with a family income above poverty, must pay $35 by April 15 this year. Critics say the tax may not be constitutional and unfairly burdens lower-income households. As a result, two City Council resolutions and a legal challenge could eliminate or alter the tax.

What's the problem with the tax? 

Mayor Hales says it has consequences that voters never intended.  Everyone over 18 who lives in a household above poverty level would have to pay –even if they earned less than $35.

"As written, any Portland resident with any income -- living in a household above the poverty line -- has to pay the $35 annual arts tax," Hales' said in a statement. "So in a household that is above the poverty line, a teenager who made $10 last year dog-sitting is expected to pay $25 of that $10 to the arts tax.

"No one crafting this tax intended this to be the rule. This is just silly. And we need to move right now to address the Law of Unintended Consequences."

That's why Hales will propose an emergency ordinance, Wednesday, March 27, saying that nobody who earned less than $1,000 the previous year should pay. Anyone in this position who already has paid will get a refund.  

Hales also says he is troubled by the unfair burden placed on low-income families. For the majority of voters who favored it, the tax may have appeared so low it couldn't hurt anybody.

"Lots of people are paying," said Dana Haynes, the mayor's director of communications. "Most people are paying even if they don't like it."  

But the tax is regressive, meaning low-income people pay substantially more of their income. Most programs set up to help low-income people, recognize that the official poverty level is far too low. That's why most anti-poverty programs extend benefits to people earning twice and three times that level. This tax makes these struggling families pay as much as wealthy people.

So Hales also is proposing a resolution to send the tax to the Revenue Bureau for a review.  That too will go to the council for a vote Wednesday.

It's possible that the arts tax will be found unconstitutional. Lewis & Clark Law School professor Jack Bogdanski, who teaches tax law and also writes a blog, has filed a suit charging that the tax violates Article IX, Section 1a of the Oregon Constitution.

Why?  Each person above the poverty income threshold must pay the same flat amount of $35. In Bogdanski's view that amounts to a head or poll tax, forbidden under the constitution.

For the moment, however, the arts tax is a go. Haynes says the mayor wants to respect voters' intentions, but also wants to see if there are legitimate ways to soften the blow on families least able to pay.

"The mayor inherited this tax, and he doesn't like the idea of fixing things that were part of what voters intended," Haynes said, "So what he's doing is addressing the unintended consequences. And then we'll look at whether we can make changes that are in good faith with voters, the education community and the arts community."

A well-funded campaign in favor touted the benefits to schools and to Portland's Arts organizations. About $9 million in arts tax revenue is projected for 2013, rising to $12 million in 2014. Around 56 percent of that would pay for arts teachers in elementary schools in Portland School districts: Centennial, David Douglas, Parkrose, Portland Public, Reynolds, and Riverdale.  The rest will go to the Regional Arts & Culture Council.  The council distributes funds to arts organizations, including Oregon Ballet Theater, the Metropolitan Youth Symphony and dozens of other groups that can show they work to some extent with students.

Outreach to make sure everyone who is required to pay knows about it, also has faltered. Advocates say a substantial number of people—families who don't speak English at home, for example, still have not heard about the tax and may not realize they are supposed to pay it.

Asked about rumors that the tax won't be enforced because of the problems, Haynes said he knows of no such decision.  "This won't be any different from anything else that happens in Multnomah County," he said.

Pay the tax online here.

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