07-03-2022  1:33 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Eugene Woman Attacked With Acid for Third Time Since March

A Eugene, Oregon, woman who had acid thrown on her while walking her dog in March has been the target of two additional acid attacks at her home

Minimum Wage Increase Initiative Qualifies in WA City

An initiative to increase the minimum hourly wage in Tukwila, Washington, by more than has qualified for the November ballot.

Sydney McLaughlin Does It Again, Breaks Own World Record

When asked how she was going to celebrated afterward, McLaughlin joked: “Eating some real food besides vegetables. Like a cheeseburger or something, some pancakes.”

Inslee Seeks Abortion Rights Amendment to State Constitution

Gov. Jay Inslee will push for a state constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights within the state, and laws that make it difficult for other states to investigate whether their own residents have visited Washington for abortion care.

NEWS BRIEFS

On View This Weekend: Afro-American Heritage Bicentennial Commemorative Quilt

A History Spotlight from Boyle Family Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk ...

State Continues Paying Out Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program Applications to Renters and Landlords Across Oregon

More than 60,000 Oregon households facing pandemic hardship receive over 6 million in rental assistance relief ...

KGW and TEGNA Foundation Award $40k in Community Grants to Aid Four Oregon Nonprofit Organizations

Among the grant recipients are Urban Nature Partners PDX, Self Enhancement, Inc (SEI), Portland YouthBuilders (PYB), and p:ear. ...

Hawthorne, Morrison Bridges Will Close to Motorized Vehicles for July 4 Fireworks Show

The bridges will remain open for bicyclists and pedestrians. ...

Increased Emergency Snap Benefits Continue in July

Approximately 422,000 households will receive an estimated million in extra food benefits ...

US testing new fire retardant, critics push other methods

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — U.S. officials are testing a new wildfire retardant after two decades of buying millions of gallons annually from one supplier, but watchdogs say the expensive strategy is overly fixated on aerial attacks at the expense of hiring more fire-line digging ground crews. ...

Acres of Whidbey Island farmland, forest, beach, preserved

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — Staff at the Whidbey Camano Land Trust in Washington state knew they had to act quickly when a 226-acre (91-hectare) beachfront property south of Coupeville came on the market last December. From the water, boaters may have seen the red house, old windmill, and...

OPINION

Choice Without Shackles

The constitutional originalists do what they must to keep ignorance viable, to keep us anchored to the certainties of the old days ...

Biden’s Menthol Ban Follows the ‘Racist Law’ Playbook

The ban on menthol threatens to do more harm than good for the Black people these activists purport to want to protect ...

Black Women Will Suffer the Harshest Consequences After the Overturn of Roe

Black women are nearly three times more likely to die during childbirth than white women and are more likely to face maternal health issues. ...

Justice Clarence Thomas and the Conservative Supreme Court Have Fanned the Flames of Racism in America

Former President Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again cry proved an easy between-the-lines moniker, but even that stood as a dog whistle – until now. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

The long, ongoing debate over ‘All men are created equal’

NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Jennings is CEO of the Lambda Legal organization, a prominent advocate for LGBTQ rights. He sees his mission in part as fulfilling that hallowed American principle: “All men are created equal.” “Those words say to me, ‘Do better, America.’ And what I...

First Black woman named as Connecticut's top public defender

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The first Black woman has been appointed as Connecticut's chief public defender. TaShun Bowden-Lewis, who officially began her job on Friday overseeing the Division of Public Defender Services, said she hopes to provide minority clients with a greater sense of...

NY overhauls handgun rules in effort to preserve some limits

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York lawmakers approved a sweeping overhaul Friday of the state’s handgun licensing rules, seeking to preserve some limits on firearms after the Supreme Court ruled that most people have a right to carry a handgun for personal protection. The measure,...

ENTERTAINMENT

Sonny Barger, figurehead of Hells Angels, dies at 83

LIVERMORE, Calif. (AP) — Sonny Barger, the leather-clad fixture of 1960s counterculture and figurehead of the Hells Angels motorcycle club who was at the notorious Rolling Stones concert at Altamont Speedway, has died. He was 83. Barger's death was announced on his Facebook page...

Review: Austen-era schemes, dreams fill 'Mr. Malcolm's List'

“It is a truth universally acknowledged,” goes one of the more famous opening lines in English literature, “that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” That’s Jane Austen, beginning her 1813 “Pride and Prejudice.” Austen herself has...

Review: Imagine Dragons offer light at the end of the tunnel

“Mercury — Act 2,” Imagine Dragons (Interscope) If you were hiding under your bed after listening to the last album by Imagine Dragons, it's time to come out. The second volume of “Mercury” is upbeat, often Caribbean-spiced and throbbing. It's the sound of a band getting its...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Popular Pakistani restaurant stands test of time in Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — In a city boasting champagne brunches with views of the sea, Michelin star...

Parkland jurors must manage trial stress on their own

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The jurors chosen this past week to decide whether Florida school shooter Nikolas...

High court marshal seeks enforcement of anti-picketing laws

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The marshal of the U.S. Supreme Court has asked Maryland and Virginia officials to enforce...

Russia's messages with missiles tell West to back off

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The latest in a litany of horrors in Ukraine came this week as Russian firepower rained...

1 migrant killed, 7 injured near Serbia-Hungary border

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — A clash between two groups of migrants near the Serbia-Hungary border left one person...

Stuck bags add to tangles at Paris airports amid travel boom

Airlines worked Saturday to deliver luggage to passengers around the world after a technical breakdown left at...

O'Nesha Cochran, the former program director at he newly opened Diane Wade House in Portland, speaks at a May 9 Multnomah County Commission meeting.
By Saundra Sorensen For The Skanner News

The former director of Portland’s first Afro-Centric women’s transition home addressed the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners on May 9 to object to her abrupt firing in April, which came soon after positive performance reviews and glowing media coverage that touted her lived experience with the criminal justice system.

O’Nesha Cochran was promoted to program director at the Diane Wade House in Gresham in December. Overseen by Bridges to Change and funded by a $2 million grant from the MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge, the house formally opened in early April. The program offers culturally specific counseling, education, employment, mental health, and addiction services for Black women, but according to Cochran had been derailed by empty commitments from a White-run organization that did not include Black leaders in decisions about budget and programming.

“Bridges to Change has been run by cis White men from 2004 to 2015,” Cochran told the board on Thursday. “Shelly Mead was the first White female they gave a leadership position to. It’s been 15 years. They’re the only re-entry program that’s as large as this in Portland. In Multnomah County, Blacks are 5 percent of the population. We are 29 percent of the prison and jail population. Why doesn’t the re-entry program leadership and employees match the people that are coming out of jails and prison? We have no support.”

Cochran said she hadn’t had a direct supervisor since stepping into her role in December, when operations director Mead, whom Cochran regarded as a mentor, resigned after a period of protected leave. Cochran felt shut out of the resulting interview process and said that Bridges to Change executive director Monta Knudson was vague about when Mead’s replacement would be hired.

Mead said she could not comment to The Skanner, and Knudson did not respond to The Skanner’s requests for comment.

Cochran was dismissed from her $47,840-a-year position on April 29, which she says was not even a week into a six-week performance improvement plan implemented by her supervisors at Bridges to Change. Even that pushback had caught her by surprise.

We’re putting you on a performance improvement plan. We feel you lack leadership skills

“On April 10, I’m on the front page of The Oregonian,” Cochran told The Skanner. “On the 11th, (Bridges to Change executive director Monta Knudson and director of treatment services Katelyn Bessette) called me into their office and said ‘We’re putting you on a performance improvement plan. We feel you lack leadership skills.’”

Cochran said that plan was put into place on April 25, when she returned from an approved vacation. In a copy of the signed plan Cochran showed to The Skanner, Bridges to Change administrators advise Cochran to be more conservative in her personal social media postings, and criticize Cochran for an incident in which she allegedly spoke negatively about a probation officer to a client. She was also reprimanded for the way she handled a client discharge -- a process she says she had not yet been trained for.

Cochran agreed in writing to the terms of the performance improvement plan. On April 29, she was dismissed "due to an ongoing pattern of failure to demonstrate effective leadership and professionalism,” according to the termination letter she provided to The Skanner.

Cochran says there had been no incident that would have constituted a fireable offense.

“They didn’t even give me a week to do anything,” Cochran told The Skanner. “I was tokenized for a purpose.”

Diane Wade House resident assistant Shalontelle White-Preston agreed, telling the board that “after the ribbon-cutting, it seemed like the glitz and glamor left, and the real faces came out. And I just want to say it’s unfair. I’m still an employee there, and I see that all the struggle that the women are still facing without the care and the support that O’Nesha has been bringing to the table.”

The house is named for a beloved parole and probation officer who served Multnomah County until her death in 2010, and who worked with Cochran during the latter’s incarceration. Wade’s mother told the board by phone that she was “dumbfounded” to hear of Cochran’s firing, saying it did not seem true to the spirit of her daughter’s namesake program, or to her daughter’s work.

Cochran sees her firing as retaliation for her complaints to Bridges to Change administrators about “implicit bias, racism, and not having senior leadership” in the program.

Diane Wade House resident Philisha Davis said that Cochran’s sudden absence, and a lack of explanation from Bridges to Change, were re-traumatizing to her and other clients.

“I feel nervous since O’Nesha left,” Davis told The Skanner. “We’ve got severe PTSD, we feel safe, then we feel like a tornado ripped through. And they’re treating us like how we were when we were little, when we got molested or raped or something like that. We didn’t talk about it and you swept it under the rug. That’s how it’s being treated.”

Cochran also found the experience to be re-traumatizing.

It was just the trauma that I went through as a Black woman, and it’s the trauma so many people in the community go though. By trusting the system one more time.

“I was suicidal,” she told The Skanner. “I haven’t felt suicidal since I was 18 years old. It was just the trauma that I went through as a Black woman, and it’s the trauma so many people in the community go though. By trusting the system one more time. Not only did I trust the system, I vouched for it.”

Allegations of Cochran’s lack of professionalism do not sit well with her supporters, many of whom include Black women who have worked for Multnomah County in the past and found it to be an uneasy fit. Many testified to the board that “professionalism” is coded language that gets to the heart of the program’s purpose: a culturally competent place of healing for Black women who have often been accused of being aggressive, or otherwise incompatible with predominantly White institutions.

Cochran and her supporters called for an audit of the program and asked the board to ensure the program had Black leadership.

“What was done to me was wrong, Chair Kafoury,” Cochran said. “And me and you stood together, we held hands and we said we were going to fight together. Fight with me now.”

Kafoury offered to meet with Cochran after the meeting. According to Kafoury’s office, no meeting has yet been scheduled.

“The Chair’s office is undertaking a deep examination of what happened at Bridges and what needs to occur so that women at Diane Wade are successful in their re-entry to the community and to their continued recovery,” Multnomah County communications director Julie Sullivan-Springhetti said.

“I am 110 percent dedicated to the Diane Wade House and its Afro-centric focus,” Kafoury told The Skanner by email. “I am committed to wrapping resources around the program staff and the women living there. I believe in the spirit of Diane Wade and the impact this house will have on individual women and on our entire community.’’

Jan. 6 Committe Hearings - Day 6

A suprise hearing with newly discovered evidence will be held Tuesday, June 28 at 9:45 a.m. PT (12:45 p.m. ET).

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