07 30 2016
  2:18 am  
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The Wake of Vanport
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  • Russian hackers likely responsible for hacking attack on Clinton HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Giddy if exhausted, Hillary Clinton embarked on a post-convention Rust Belt bus tour just hours after becoming the first female presidential nominee of a major political party. The celebratory mood quickly evaporated amid fresh revelations that hackers had breached a program used by her campaign and Republican nominee Donald Trump promised to sharpen his barbs. "Remember this," Trump said during a rally Friday in Colorado Springs, Colorado. "Trump is going to be no more Mr. Nice Guy." And for the first time he encouraged his supporters' anti-Clinton chants of "lock her up." "I've been saying let's just beat her on Nov. 8," Trump said, "but you know what? I'm starting to agree with you." About an hour later, Clinton aides acknowledged that a hacking attack that exposed Democratic Party emails also reached into a computer system used by her own campaign. The FBI said it was working to determine the "accuracy, nature and scope" of the cyberattacks. Campaign spokesman Nick Merrill said the newly disclosed breach affected a Democratic National Committee data analytics program used by the campaign and other organizations. Outside experts found no evidence that the campaign's "internal systems have been compromised," Merrill said, but he gave no details on the program or nature of the attacks. Partnerships with modern e-commerce companies can allow sophisticated tracking, categorization and identification of website visitors and voters. President Barack Obama and cybersecurity experts have said Russia was almost certainly responsible for the DNC hack. The House Democratic campaign committee reported Friday that its information had been accessed. The developments followed the leaking of DNC emails earlier in the week that pointed to a pro-Clinton bias by party officials during her primary contest against Bernie Sanders. In the furor that followed, party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz resigned just as Democrats launched their convention. Clinton and her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, will attempt to return attention to their positive economic message on Saturday, with campaign stops through economically struggling areas of Pennsylvania and Ohio. "When we take that oath of office next January, we know we can make life better. We know we can create more good jobs," she told voters gathered at an outside market in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Clinton cited an economic analysis by economist Mark Zandi, a former economic adviser to 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, that found more than 10 million jobs could be created in her first term if her economic proposals were put in place. Zandi's analysis of Trump's plans found they would cost the country 3.5 million jobs and lead to a "lengthy recession." Joined on the bus tour by her husband, Bill Clinton, Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, Clinton stopped at a toy and plastics manufacturer in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, where she and Kaine cast Trump as a con artist out for his own gain. "We don't resent success in America but we do resent people who take advantage of others in order to line their own pockets," Clinton said. Trump is also focusing on Ohio and Pennsylvania, two states where he might make headway with blue-collar white men. That group of voters has eluded Clinton and may be a hard sell after a Democratic convention that heavily celebrated racial and gender diversity. Clinton is playing up economic opportunity, diversity and national security. Democrats hammered home those themes this week with an array of politicians, celebrities, gun-violence victims, law enforcement officers and activists of all races and sexual orientation. Their goal is to turn out the coalition of minority, female and young voters that twice elected Obama while offsetting expected losses among the white men drawn to Trump's message. Democrats continued contrasting their optimistic message with the more troubled vision of the state of the nation presented by Trump and others at the GOP convention a week earlier. Kaine called the "very dark and negative" event a "journey through Donald Trump's mind." "That's a very frightening place," he told thousands of supporters in Philadelphia. Clinton told voters that they faced a "stark choice," calling the coming election the most important one in her lifetime. "This is a moment of reckoning for our country. I don't recognize the country that Donald Trump describes," she said.___Lemire reported from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Associated Press writer Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.
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  • SEATTLE (AP) — Genetically modified wheat not approved for sale or commercial production in the United States has been found growing in a field in Washington state, agriculture officials said Friday, posing a possible risk to trade with countries concerned about engineered food. The Food and Drug Administration says genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are safe and little scientific concern exists about the safety of those on the market. But critics say not enough is known about their risks, and they want GMOs labeled so people know what's in their food. Several Asian countries temporarily banned U.S. wheat imports after genetically modified wheat was found unexpectedly in a field on an Oregon farm in 2013. It also popped up in a field at a university research center in Montana in 2014. It wasn't immediately clear how altered wheat cropped up in Washington. But the U.S. Agriculture Department said there is no evidence it has entered the market. If it did, the FDA concluded that "it is unlikely that the wheat would present any safety concerns if present in the food supply," the department said. A farmer discovered 22 plants in an unplanted field, and the wheat was developed to be resistant to the herbicide known as Roundup, created by seed giant Monsanto, the USDA said. An agency spokeswoman did not know where in the state it was found. Federal officials said they were working with the farmer to ensure that none of the modified wheat is sold. Out of caution, the agency said it is holding and testing the farmer's full wheat harvest, but so far it has not found GMOs. The plants are a type of wheat that had been evaluated in limited field trials in the Pacific Northwest from 1998 to 2001 but never commercialized, Monsanto said in a statement. It said the type found in Washington state is similar to the one discovered in Oregon three years ago; it has the same inserted DNA but in a different location. No variety of genetically engineered wheat has been approved for commercial use or production in the U.S. GMOs are plants or animals that have had genes copied from other plants or animals inserted into their DNA. Most genetically engineered crops are corn and soybeans eaten by livestock or made into popular processed food ingredients like cornstarch, soybean oil or high fructose corn syrup. Only a handful of modified fruits and vegetables are available, including Hawaiian papaya, some zucchini and squash and a small percentage of sweet corn. The FDA also has approved for consumption a genetically engineered salmon that would grow faster than traditional salmon, but it's not yet available in grocery stores. South Korea said Friday that it will inspect U.S. wheat imports for genetically modified wheat, the Yonhap News Agency reported. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said it has asked the USDA for information on the unapproved wheat and inspection methods. The USDA said it has validated a test that Monsanto developed for the herbicide-resistant wheat, which would be available to trading partners. "Trading partners will get the tests. I believe that once they have those in place, they'll continue buying," said Glen Squires, CEO of the Washington Grain Commission, a state agency that represents wheat farmers. "We don't anticipate any major disruptions." The USDA also said it has beefed up oversight of genetically engineered field trials and now requires developers to apply for a permit for those involving GMO wheat starting this year. In 2014, genetically modified wheat plants were found at a university research center in Huntley, Montana, where it was legally tested by Monsanto in the early 2000s. The plants in eastern Oregon were found in a field that had never conducted such tests, and the USDA closed its investigation two years ago unable to determine how the wheat got there. Different strains were found in each state. The Washington Association of Wheat Growers and the Washington State Agriculture Department referred questions to federal authorities.
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  • Six current or former state employees were charged Friday with misconduct and other crimes in the Flint water crisis 
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  • Hillary Clinton cast herself as a unifier for divided times, an experienced leader steeled for a volatile world 
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Jack Graham legal document

An attorney was asked to investigate not whether Graham's proposed funds transfer was legitimate, but whether he was "warned" about improprieties in the schools fund money transfer and whether he “engaged in potentially retaliatory conduct against Mr. Scott and Mr. Gower for complaining about his handling of the funds,” according to the first page of the report; Graham and his legal team says he was presumed guilty at the outset.


Former City of  Portland Chief Administrative Officer Jack Graham this week filed a tort claim alleging that racial discrimination drove him out of his job at the Office of Management and Finance, where he was the top-ranked African American administrator  in city government.

The notice of intent to sue the city also charges that officials denied him the right to due process in answering allegations against him; and that Commissioners Amanda Fritz, Steve Novick and Nick Fish publicly defamed his character when they spoke of his situation to newspaper reporters.

According to the legal documents delivered to city officials yesterday by Graham’s attorney, Dana L. Sullivan, Graham was subject to a higher degree of scrutiny in his actions than others in his position have been.

“City employees and managers questioned his qualifications because of his race and repeatedly complained about Mr. Graham’s decision to make diversity hiring a priority in OMF.

“Mr. Graham also faced an effort, motivated in part by his race, to remove the City’s budget operations from his purview and establish an independent Budget Office,” the tort claim says. “Mr. Graham complained that he was being subjected to discrimination based upon his race, but the City ignored his concerns.”

Graham last month was granted a name-clearing hearing to allow him to give his side on what really happened when he was accused of fiscal mismanagement in 2012 – but, his attorney says, city officials would not allow any of his supporters to participate nor would they allow City Human Resources Director Anna Kanwit to testify on her own investigation into the case.

Graham testified at the name-clearing that he’d been tasked by former Mayor Sam Adams to help find financial resources that could be used to support Portland Public Schools operations, which were in severe deficit that year.

Graham says he asked his top management staff – the Office of Management and Finance’s Financial Planning Division Manager Andrew Scott and Chief Financial Officer Richard Goward – whether it could be possible to redirect reserve funds from the Water and Bureau of Environmental Services budgets for that purpose.

Ultimately nothing happened with the funds, which Graham argues were “unrestricted reserve funds” used for such purposes; his attorney charges that the fund transfer Graham suggested was openly debated as part of the city’s budget process and ultimately taken off the table.

However Goward and Scott allege that Graham “tried” to pursue the funds transfer, which – also an important part of the lawsuit – is just like an even bigger transfer that Scott did the year before without censure or public comment, thus creating the appearance of a double-standard in accountability, according to Kanwit’s investigation.

A key part of Graham’s tort claim involves a report on his activities commissioned through the City Attorney’s office, a copy of which has been obtained by The Skanner News.

It was prepared in 2012 by Yael Livny, a lawyer for Jackson Lewis law firm, who was asked to investigate whether Graham was warned about improprieties in the schools fund money transfer and whether he “engaged in potentially retaliatory conduct against Mr. Scott and Mr. Gower for complaining about his handling of the funds,” according to the first page of the report.

Graham’s tort claim argues the investigator was never asked to determine whether the transfer proposal was itself legitimate, but rather was directed to assume he was guilty of wrongdoing; Graham says the investigator herself did not understand the terminology or processes she was examining.

A number of comments made by Scott and Gower regarding what they say Graham said to them appear to be repeated in Livny’s report without additional proof or corroboration.

Further, comments in Livny’s report attributed to former City Attorney James Van Dyke appear to suggest that officials judged Graham’s honesty based on whether he became “emotional” in discussing the case with former City Attorney James Van Dyke.

“This investigator found it significant that Mr. Van Dyke reported that Mr. Scott and Mr. Goward appeared very credible to him when they first reported the conversations – e.g. they were upset and very troubled when they recalled the events,” Livny writes. “Mr. Van Dyke recalled thinking that if Mr. Graham truly thought Mr. Scott and Mr. Goward were lying, a more natural response would have been anger, not commendation.

“We agree with Mr. Van Dyke’s assessment,” Livny concluded.

Ultimately, Livny’s report discounts Graham’s stated concern that he was being made a victim of racial harassment at the hands of white administrators.

City of Portland’s Human Resources Director Anna Kanwit did her own investigation in late 2013, issuing a confidential memo to current Mayor Charlie Hales finding that Smith – with the certain knowledge of Gower -- did an even bigger funds transfer in May of 2011, moving more than $500,000 from the Facilities reserve fund into the General Fund to pay part of the cost of the Portland Police Bureau’s new training facility at the Kelly Building.

It’s unclear whether Graham’s predecessor, former Chief Administrative Officer Ken Rust, spoke out against or knew about that transfer at the time.

Kanwit’s memo, obtained by The Skanner News, shows she is critical of Livny’s efforts in the case.

“Her report states that Graham attempted to transfer Water/BES funds to the general fund,” Kanwit’s report says. “This is an inaccurate statement of what occurred as Graham does not have access to those bureaus’ budgets.”

Later in her report, Kanwit writes, “While there may be an explanation, based on the facts found to date the two events appear identical except that in 2012 the transfer never actually occurred.”

Goward left his position last year because, he said publicly, he suffered retaliation for being a “whistleblower” in the Graham case. He reportedly left office with a payout of more than $160,000 and an agreement he would not sue the city.

Kanwit’s report ends with a suggestion for further review of the case – and a suggestion that she should herself be included in the probe.

“Rust and Goward are retired but I recommend interviewing Scott regarding the 2011 action,” she writes. “The mayor or his designee should conduct the interview with the [Bureau of Human Resources] Director present.”

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