07-07-2020  5:52 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Oregon DOJ to Hold Listening Sessions on Institutional Racism; Leaders Wary

DOJ will hold 11 virtual listening sessions for underserved Oregonians.

Portland Black Community Frustrated as Violence Mars Protests

Black leaders condemn violence from small group of mostly-white activists as Rose City Justice suspends nightly marches

Protester Dies After Car Hits Two on Closed Freeway

Summer Taylor, 24, of Seattle died and Taylor and Diaz Love of Portland were injured. The driver, Dawit Kelete has been arrested

Police Union Contract Extended, Bargaining to Continue

Negotiations will resume in January 2021.

NEWS BRIEFS

African American Alliance for Home Ownership Announces New Board Member

AAAH has announced the appointment of Carl Anderson, M.D., a staff physician specializing in occupational medicine with Northwest...

Ploughshares Fund announces over $1 million in Grants to Stop Nuclear Threats

The global security foundation’s board of directors awards grants to 15 organizations working on nuclear weapons issues ...

Chip Miller Named Associate Artistic Director of Portland Center Stage

Miller originally joined the company in the spring of 2019, in the role of associate producer. ...

AG Rosenblum Highlights First Report on Oregon’s New Hate and Bias Crimes Laws

In 2019, the Oregon legislature passed Senate Bill 577, which updated Oregon’s hate and bias crimes law for the first time in over...

Trump Blows His Twitter Dog Whistle on America’s Fair Housing Policies in the Suburbs

The president could be Tweeting on unemployment or COVID-19 infections but instead pushes housing discrimination ...

Cases of coronavirus in Idaho spike after businesses reopen

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — For a time in Idaho, it seemed like the worst of the coronavirus pandemic could be over. After an initial onslaught of confirmed cases in the spring, by June numbers had dropped to a point that state leaders felt comfortable allowing businesses to reopen and life to get...

Federal charges filed for 7 protesters in Portland, Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The U.S. Attorney in Oregon announced federal charges Tuesday against seven protesters who are accused in court papers of defacing a federal courthouse and assaulting federal officers during protests in Portland, Oregon against racial injustice and police brutality. The...

Iowa defensive back Jack Koerner hurt in jet ski accident

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa defensive back Jack Koerner sustained serious injuries when he and a passenger on a jet ski collided with a boat on the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.According to a police report, Koerner and Cole Coffin were hurt at about 6:30 p.m. Friday when their watercraft...

Missouri football program pushes again for racial justice

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Ryan Walters had just arrived at the University of Missouri to coach safeties for the football program when a series of protests related to racial injustice led to the resignations of the system president and the chancellor of its flagship campus.The student-led movement...

OPINION

Recent Protests Show Need For More Government Collective Bargaining Transparency

Since taxpayers are ultimately responsible for funding government union contract agreements, they should be allowed to monitor the negotiation process ...

The Language of Vote Suppression

A specific kind of narrative framing is used to justify voter suppression methods and to cover up the racism that motivates their use. ...

Letter to the Community From Eckhart Tolle Foundation

The Eckhart Tolle Foundation is donating more than 250,000 dollars to organizations that are fighting racism ...

Editorial From the Publisher: Vote as Your Life Depends on It

The Republican-controlled Senate won’t pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, no matter how hard Oregon’s senators and others work to push for change. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Andrew Jackson statue loses status in city named for him

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi city named after former U.S. President Andrew Jackson will remove a downtown statue of him and put it in a less prominent spot.The City Council in Jackson, Mississippi, voted 5-1 Tuesday to relocate the bronze figure that has stood outside City Hall since...

FBI investigating reported assault on Black Indiana man

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The FBI said Tuesday it’s investigating the reported assault of a Black man by a group of white men at a southern Indiana lake.Vauhxx Booker, a civil rights activist and member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission, said the men pinned him against a tree,...

Civil rights groups denounce Facebook over hate speech

Facebook keeps telling critics that it is doing everything it can to rid its service of hate, abuse and misinformation. And the company's detractors keep not buying it.On Tuesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg met with a group of civil rights leaders, including the...

ENTERTAINMENT

Dana Canedy named as publisher at Simon & Schuster

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Dana Canedy will take on one of the biggest roles at Simon & Schuster. The New York-based publishing house announced Monday that Canedy has been named as senior vice president and publisher of the imprint — the first African American to hold the position. The...

Hollywood catches up to director Gina Prince-Bythewood

Gina Prince-Bythewood knows what good fighting looks like. The “Love & Basketball” director has been an athlete her entire life, but she also just loves action movies. So when she started dreaming up the template for a bare-knuckle clash between Charlize Theron and KiKi Layne in...

After 35 seasons, MTV's 'The Challenge' still going strong

NEW YORK (AP) — Before “Survivor,” “The Amazing Race” and “American Ninja Warrior,” there was MTV’s “The Challenge.”It’s often brought big ratings and memorable moments for the network, but longtime host T.J. Lavin...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

'Palm Springs' arrives for the Groundhog Days of quarantine

NEW YORK (AP) — Though most of the films that have debuted during the pandemic never got to screen for...

Dream owner Loeffler objects to WNBA's social justice plans

NEW YORK (AP) — Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler is not in favor of the WNBA's social justice plans...

Missouri summer camp virus outbreak raises safety questions

Missouri leaders knew the risk of convening thousands of kids at summer camps across the state during a pandemic,...

Dutch police arrest 6 men, uncover makeshift torture chamber

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch police arrested six men after discovering sea containers that had been...

Death toll from flooding in Japan reaches 55, dozen missing

TOKYO (AP) — Soldiers used boats to rescue residents as floodwaters flowed down streets in southern...

Twins joined at head separated at Vatican pediatric hospital

ROME (AP) — Doctors at the Vatican’s pediatric hospital said Tuesday they have successfully...

McMenamins
Ryan J. Foley the Associated Press

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- After years of litigation, a judge will soon decide whether to grant thousands of black employees and job applicants monetary damages for hiring practices used by every agency of Iowa state government that they say has disadvantaged them for decades.

Experts say the case is the largest class-action lawsuit of its kind against an entire state government's civil service system, and tests a legal theory that social science and statistics alone can prove widespread discrimination.

The plaintiffs - up to 6,000 African-Americans passed over for state jobs and promotions dating back to 2003 - do not say they faced overt racism or discriminatory hiring tests in Iowa, a state that is 91 percent white. Instead, their lawyers argue that managers subconsciously favored whites across state government, leaving blacks at a disadvantage in decisions over who got interviewed, hired and promoted.

Judge Robert Blink's decision, expected in coming weeks, could award damages and mandate changes in state personnel policies or dismiss a case that represents a growing front of discrimination litigation.

Similar cases against local governments have failed because proving broad bias is extraordinarily difficult, with a myriad of possible factors to explain disparities, said David Friedland, a California human resources consultant who is an expert on discrimination in hiring. Success in Iowa could encourage similar lawsuits elsewhere, he said.

"If they are successful in getting the court to agree to that, it probably will come up more," Friedland said. "A monetary award in a case like this is likely to be pretty substantial. ... It will be interesting to see how it comes out."

University of Washington psychology professor Anthony Greenwald, an expert on implicit bias who testified on behalf of the plaintiffs, said the decision would be one of the first of its kind because similar cases against corporations have usually been dismissed or settled before trial.

"The decision will be important. It will be certainly looked at outside of Iowa," he said.

Scholars and employment lawyers have shown a growing interest in implicit bias in the last several years, after Greenwald and other scientists developed the Implicit Association Test to test racial stereotypes. Their research found an inherent preference for whites over blacks - in up to 80 percent of test-takers and among many people who do not consider themselves racist.

The theory hit a legal obstacle last year when the U.S. Supreme Court disqualified a class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart's pay and promotion practices for women. The court found the class was too broad and failed to challenge a specific hiring practice as discriminatory.

Lawyers defending the state have cited that decision in asking Blink to dismiss the case. But the high court's decision did not specifically reject the theory of implicit bias, and dissenting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that such claims can be allowed.

Class attorney Thomas Newkirk said the science and other evidence that shows disadvantaged groups such as blacks face employment discrimination in subtle ways "is becoming overwhelming."

"Clearly, the problem is not in Iowa alone, but we believe Iowa is the exactly the right place to ask society to take control of this important issue fairly for all races, and to seek a better future for all as a result," he said.

During a monthlong trial last fall, experts called by the plaintiffs' lawyers testified that blacks are hired at lower rates than whites with similar qualifications and receive less favorable evaluations and lower starting salaries. An employment consultant hired by the administration of Gov. Tom Vilsack, who served from 1999 to 2007, warned of hiring disparities between whites and minorities in a report issued after he left office.

Vilsack's successor, Democratic Gov. Chet Culver, issued an executive order requiring agencies to improve the diversity of the workforce. State officials called that evidence of progress, but class lawyers argued it turned out to be ineffective because rules meant to prevent bias still were not followed.

Republican Gov. Terry Branstrad said last fall his administration had ensured agencies were following uniform rules to stop any abuse - but a top state employment official testified days later he'd seen no substantive changes to hiring practices in years. Blacks represented 2.9 percent of the state's population in 2010 and 2.4 percent of the state workforce.

Among those who testified was Charles Zanders, of Waterloo, who was passed over for an interview for a position with the Iowa Communications Network in 2008 despite having worked 29 years in the telecommunications industry.

"I was very angry at that time and felt like I'd been stepped on," Zanders, 60, said.

In a brief submitted in December, plaintiffs' lawyers sought lost wages of about $67 million minus what they earned in the meantime. But in court documents, Newkirk said it was even more important that Blink order changes in the way state officials train managers, screen candidates and track disparities in hiring.

Lawyers working for Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat, argued that the plaintiffs failed to show bias across state government.

"The record simply does not support Plaintiffs' charge that some monolithic, immutable force of bias infected the decisions made by every department, at every step, for every job, for every year of the class period," they wrote in a final brief last month.

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