05 24 2016
  10:23 pm  
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  • On Tuesday, a judge ordered the 78-year-old Cosby to stand trial on sexual assault charges 
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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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Renters SOS

Tensions are running high for tenants in Portland’s rental market.

Rising rents and building-wide evictions dump droves of renters on the street looking for new housing. Apartments listed on Craigslist -- often at prices out of reach for average renters --are snatched up within hours of posting. Rising vitriol on online forums condemn a housing market that has become predatory.  

Wednesday morning, the Portland Mercury reported that housing commissioner Dan Saltzman introduced short-term measures to protect renters in a rapidly changing market. Landlords are now required to give 90 days notice for no-cause lease terminations, and must give the same amount of notice if they intend to raise the rent by more than 10 percent. Mayor Charlie Hales went on record as supporting the new protections.

The proposed protections come on the heels of a Tuesday-night press conference at which the Community Alliance of Tenants declared a renter state of emergency, and a Tuesday-morning stakeholder meeting on the future of affordable housing in Northeast Portland.

Justin Buri, the executive director of CAT, said people in Portland are being displaced at an alarming rate.

“Too many tenants over the summer are being pushed out from unreasonable rent hikes, drastic rent hikes, rent hikes that force them out of their home and into one of the worst rental markets in Portland history -- and they only have 30 days (to move),” Buri said.

He also said that CAT’s renter’s rights hotline is getting an unprecedented number of calls regarding rent hikes and no-cause evictions. The health and social services hotline 211info has seen an 8 percent increase housing-related needs requests over the last year.

According to a recent study of rent prices nationwide, the Portland area is the fourth fastest-growing rent, increasing 8.5 percent from July 2014 to July 2015. The city of Vancouver, Wash., has the fastest-growing rent in the entire country, with a 9.8 percent rise from last summer to this one.

On Tuesday, the renter’s rights organization held a rally in North Portland at Peninsula Park to draw attention to the housing crisis. Across the street from the rally were the Brentwood and Pinecrest Apartments which were closed off with bright yellow caution tape.

It was a fitting backdrop for the gathering as these apartments issued building-wide eviction notices, leaving many families scrambling for affordable rents.

“There are very few affordable housing units in Portland, and they will often be competing with 20 other tenants at the same time,” Buri told The Skanner News.

The rally included stories from Jeri Jimenez and Juan Gonzalez and his family. Jeri and Juan were long-time residents of the Brentwood-Pinecrest Building in North Portland. Both ran into barriers securing new housing, as Jimenez has a felony conviction and Gonzalez said he faced racial discrimination.

Gonzalez said he had lived in North Portland for 12 years and is now doubled up with his four children in his sister’s apartment, still looking for a place to live.  He told his story through choked tears.

Katrina Holland, the deputy director for CAT, announced three stopgap measures for the renter state of emergency. The first was a year-long ban on no-cause evictions. The second demand was a one-year notice period for rent increases that are larger than five percent.

For an average Portland two bedroom apartment renting at $1,550, a five percent rent increase would be $77.50. Buri said distressed renters are experiencing increases far larger than 5 percent.

“We believe that 5 percent is a reasonable amount to raise the rent from year to year, but what we are seeing is rent increases of 30, 40, sometimes even 80 or 100 percent with only 30 days to respond,” Buri said.

Lastly, Holland asked for landlords to sign a pledge to voluntarily commit to those solutions. “We hear from landlords every day. There are some who do not agree to the level of greed and pain that we are seeing,” she told the crowd.

Earlier on Tuesday, the North/Northeast Neighborhood Housing Strategy Community Oversight Committee meeting on Tuesday morning met to discuss affordability and displacement. The meeting gathered community members and Portland Housing Bureau employees to discuss the $20 million urban renewal funds for North and Northeast Portland.

Bishop Steven Holt of the International Fellowship Family moderated the discussions, which included updates on the Grant Warehouse affordable housing project on MLK Boulevard, funds for home repair and renovations -- and land acquisitions to build more affordable housing.

Matthew Tschabold, the Equity and Policy manager for PHB, gave an update on the preference policy for these projects. The policy would give preferential housing to people who once lived in the Interstate corridor but had been displaced by gentrification. The policy also covers those in the area who had property taken by the city for development projects such as the Memorial Coliseum or Emanual Hospital.

Holt told The Skanner News the meeting is an opportunity to ask questions and ensure that promises made to the Black community were being kept.

“The committee members are people of community, people who are invested and we are committed to seeing something happen differently this time around,” Holt said.

Participants at both gatherings challenged Portland to act on its reputation as a progressive city, and to balance development and inclusion. As Holland wrapped up her speech at the rally, she strongly echoed those sentiments.

“Community development and stability can coexist without displacement. Portland can be an inclusive place… a place where people can grow their dreams, contribute to the community, and people can keep a place to call home,” Holland said.

 

For more information on the Community Alliance of Tenants Renters State of Emergency, visit their website or facebook page

For more information on the North/Northeast Neighborhood Housing Strategy Community Oversight Committee, visit their website.

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