05-21-2018  9:40 pm      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Family Friendly Talent Show, May 18

Family Fun Night series continues at Matt Dishman Community Center ...

Settlement reached in LGBT school harassment

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — An openly gay couple was walking in their Oregon high school parking lot when the principal's son drove up, veered away at the last second and shouted an anti-gay slur at the two girls. In class, a teacher equated same-sex marriage with bestiality.The girls complained to...

The Latest: Settlement reached in LGBT school harassment

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Latest on the case of LGBTQ discrimination at an Oregon high school.6:30 p.m.:The principal of an Oregon high school will resign and its school district will commit to improving the climate for LGBTQ students as part of a settlement reached between the American Civil...

Paul Allen donates jumiM to Washington gun initiative

SEATTLE (AP) — Microsoft co-founder and Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen has donated jumi million to a campaign seeking to raise the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21 in Washington state.Allen made the announcement on Twitter Monday.The Alliance for Gun Responsibility says...

Man accused of trying to kill woman with opioid spray

MUKILTEO, Wash. (AP) — An Everett man is accused of holding down his ex-girlfriend at a Mukilteo hotel, shoving Xanax down her throat and forcing a fentanyl spray up her nose in what police say was attempted murder.The Daily Herald reports the woman survived and was able to escape and alert...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

China sentences Tibetan activist to 5 years for separatism

BEIJING (AP) — China has sentenced a Tibetan language activist to five years in prison for inciting separatism after he appeared in a documentary video produced by The New York Times.Tashi Wangchuk's lawyer Liang Xiaojun told The Associated Press that a judge in Qinghai province passed down...

Settlement reached in LGBT school harassment

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — An openly gay couple was walking in their Oregon high school parking lot when the principal's son drove up, veered away at the last second and shouted an anti-gay slur at the two girls. In class, a teacher equated same-sex marriage with bestiality.The girls complained to...

Correction: 2018 Midterms-Endorsements story

ATLANTA (AP) — In a story May 20 about potential Democratic presidential candidates and their campaign activity in 2018, The Associated Press reported erroneously that former Vice President Joe Biden was planning to campaign in North Carolina on behalf of a congressional candidate Dan...

ENTERTAINMENT

Actress who accused Weinstein needs money to finish film

NEW YORK (AP) — Actress Paz de la Huerta has started a crowdfunding campaign to finish a movie she began making years before she publicly accused Harvey Weinstein of rape.The movie "Valley of Tears" is her take on the Hans Christian Andersen story "The Red Shoes," about a little girl with a...

Sony invests in image sensors, acquires more of EMI Music

TOKYO (AP) — Electronics and entertainment company Sony Corp. said Tuesday it plans to invest 1 trillion yen ( billion) mostly in image sensors over the next three years, under a revamped strategy to strengthen both hardware and creative content.Sony also plans to buy for [scripts/homepage/home.php].3 billion a 60...

At Cannes, a #MeToo upheaval up and down the Croisette

CANNES, France (AP) — Fifty years after filmmakers shut down the Cannes Film Festival, the prestigious Cote d'Azur extravaganza was again shook by upheaval.From the start to the finish, the 71st Cannes was dominated by protest and petition for gender equality, culminating in the...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Artist Robert Indiana, known for 'LOVE' series, dies at 89

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Pop artist Robert Indiana, best known for his 1960s "LOVE" series, has died at his...

All tied up: LeBron's 44 helps Cavs even series with Celtics

CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James knows the path to the NBA Finals better than anyone in today's game.And...

Miss Nebraska wins Miss USA competition

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — Sarah Rose Summers from Nebraska beat out 50 other women Monday to win this year's...

Congo Ebola vaccination campaign begins with health workers

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Congo began an Ebola vaccination campaign Monday in a northwest provincial capital...

Social media under microscope in emotive Irish abortion vote

DUBLIN (AP) — In homes and pubs, on leaflets and lampposts, debate is raging in Ireland over whether to...

Aide: Palestinian leader making swift recovery in hospital

JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is alert and making a swift recovery after being...

By Helen Silvis of The Skanner News

Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen delivered an upbeat State of the County speech Feb. 1 at the City Club of Portland's Friday Forum at the Governor Hotel in downtown Portland.  He started by thanking a host  of colleagues, partners, and the county's 4,500 staff. 

"These are people who are giving back each and every day, and we owe them our gratitude and support," he said.

And  he made the county commissioners present stand to applause, saying they were "known for getting things done."

Talking with just a couple of note cards, Cogen said the perception that government can't make our lives and communities better is false and damaging.

"That allegation, which has festered and grown in our country, has led to tremendous cynicism  and mistrust because it says there is no way to improve our community. We need to battle that perception, by showing inspirational examples of government making a difference."

Sucesses
Cogen said the county's greatest successes, the Gateway Domestic Violence Safety Center and the Mental Health Crisis Center, both have been a result of partnerships.

He went on to list the county's biggest initiatives during the past year, and gave details of cost-cutting efforts that staff had used to make the county's annual $1 to $1.5 billion budget go further.

The James Beard Food Market will open on the East side of the Morrison  Bridge, on land sold this year to the market's organizers and backers.  That will give Portland an all-year market  for local produce and put the building back on the tax rolls, he said.

The East County Courthouse has been completed and is open for business.

The Sellwood Bridge, overdue for replacement 90 years ago, will soon be the only bridge over the Willamette designed to stay put in an earthquake.

Sheriff Dan Staton has made Multnomah County jail a model of sustainability, and cut costs by half a million dollars, earning himself the nickname, The Green Sheriff.



Saving Millions with Better Results

The Department of Community Justice under its director, Scott Taylor, launched an effort to bring the best evidence-based practices into parole and probation services, Cogen said. And what the evidence says is that long jail stays for parole violations don't reduce rearrests. In fact, they can make people worse.

"What really matters the most is not the length of the stay, it's that the sanctions should be swift and certain," he said.

As a result, community corrections staff reduced the length of stay for violators from 19 to 15 days.

"Parole and probation are now using 150 fewer beds than before, which is saving us millions of dollars," Cogen said. "What we've found is not only that we are saving money, but the rearrest rate has dropped 20 percent."



Wapato Plans

Asked later about Wapato, the empty jail that was built for a jail population  that never materialized, Cogen noted that with the drop in crime rates, it is not needed. Efforts to find a use for the building are now focused on either a secure Alcohol and Drug treatment facility or as a re-entry program for prisoners returning to the community.



Our Hungry Children

In our fifth year of slow recovery from recession, hunger remains a serious problem in Oregon, Cogen said. What's worse, the more people are suffering, the less money the county has to help them.  Setting out to do more with less, the County has developed innovative ways to help feed children and families, he said.

The acclaimed SUN School programs, which put academic support, enrichment programs and social service resources into elementary schools were an ideal place to make sure students don't go hungry, he said.

"A lot of low-income kids, the only regular meals they get are the breakfast and lunch they get at school."

The county added a supper program, so students don't go home hungry, a backpack food program, for weekends, and summer food programs, through partnerships with the Oregon Food Bank, and the City of Portland.

"If you've got hungry kids, what have you got behind them? Hungry families," Cogen said. "So this was a way to deliver hundreds of thousands of meals to hungry kids in our community, piggybacking off resources we already had in place."



Food From the Farm

Another innovative food program is the County's Crops Farm in Troutdale. The farm grows produce for the Snow-Cap food bank in East Portland, providing half of all the fresh food distributed there.  The farm is training new farmers, which is important because Oregon's farmers are aging, and it also sets aside half an acre where juvenile offenders can grow crops. The crops are sold and the proceeds go to victim restitution.

"That's a win-win," Cogen said.



Out Front in Health Care

In health care the county has been a leader in prevention initiatives. So instead of paying to treat people in health crises, community health workers support people to stay healthy.

Multnomah County was one of the first places in the nation to require fast food restaurants to list the nutrition value of meals. Soon that will become a national requirement, Cogen said.

"I feel very positive that Multnomah County is absolutely on the cutting edge nationally," he said.

Cogen also said he was ready to seek changes in state law to increase the cigarette tax, because higher costs are one of the best ways to prevent children from smoking.



An Excellent Library Funded

Permanent funding for the Library was achieved when voters passed the Library District. Hours had been repeatedly cut as funds dwindled year after year. Schools have the same problem, he said. But when voters passed the District levy, they made it possible to plan and maintain the Library service.

"We have a responsibility if we want excellence," Cogen said. "Let's use the library as an inspiration to restore excellence in public services in Oregon.



Foreclosures and a Lawsuit

Foreclosures have put 100s of county residents out of their homes, and made many people homeless, Cogen said. And while state law makes it impossible for the sheriffs to refuse to evict people, the county is ready to challenge some of these laws.

In fact, the county already has initiated a lawsuit against the controversial Mortgage Electronic Registration System, usually known as MERS. During the housing bubble, banks began using  MERS to exchange property that had been chopped up bundled and packaged with other properties, as investment tool. The move has made it almost impossible for homeowners to find out who owns their mortgage.

In doing so, Cogen said, they also bypassed the 100-year old county property registration recording system, and failed to pay property transfer fees.

"Millions of dollars, maybe multimillions it's hard to tell – that the public is owed have not been paid," he said. "Our entire property system has been under assault."

The county has initiated a lawsuit against MERS that has yet to be decided.



Arrest Those Yahoos

Cogen also took on the issue of gun violence. Condemning the NRA for blocking gun control efforts, he said the Second Amendment is like all constitutional rights: it's not absolute. Just as you can't shout fire in a crowded theater, gun owners should not be able to menace citizens.

Cogen cited the two "yahoos" who recently walked around Sellwood with loaded assault weapons. Sixty people called 911, he said, a school went into lockdown and people were terrified.

"To me this is practically terrorism," Cogen said. "The Second Amendment does not give the right to terrorize your neighbors, and give kids nightmares. I believe this was an act of criminal menacing."

Cogen urged the audience to support Sen. Ginny Burdick's gun control efforts in the Oregon State Legislature.



Mental Health First Aid

Finally he spoke about efforts to improve mental health care, including the introduction of a Mental Health First Aid training program for first responders, but also the general public. That program will train people in how to recognize and help people with mental illness. But Cogen acknowledge that lack of resources is holding the county back from having adequate community services for mentally ill people. "The truth of the matter is we're farther away now from where we should be than we were two years ago."

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