Daily Archives: July 23, 2013

Multnomah County Commissioners Demand Investigation of Chair Cogen

Cogen SonyaFour of the Multnomah County Commissioners have called for an outside investigation of Chair Jeff Cogen. Commissioners Deborah Kafoury, Diane McKeel, Judy Shiprack and Loretta Smith are asking for an outside investigation to look into whether Cogen used County funds to bankroll his affair with underling, Sonia Manhas. 

Willamette Week got a look at a letter the Commissioners released,

“As a result of the county attorney’s initial inquiry and after consulting with Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill, we,  the Multnomah County Commissioners will be asking for an outside investigation. The investigation will seek to determine whether Jeff Cogen misused county funds or other county resources. Additionally, this investigation will seek to determine whether any county personnel rules were violated by chair Cogen. We want to assure the people of Multnomah County that the chair’s actions are being thoroughly examined. This investigation will allow the county to continue moving forward in its mission—to serve the most vulnerable populations in our community.”

loews grand king roomAnd it doesn’t come a moment too soon. Both Willamette Week and the Mercury  are scrutinizing a second trip Cogen took on the public dime to Atlanta…

Members of the Portland delegation were all booked to stay at the same hotel, the Renaissance Atlanta Midtown, where they’d pay $199 per room per night. 
But records show Cogen canceled his reservation in March and rebooked a $249 room at the Loews Atlanta Hotel six blocks away, specifying that he wanted a king-size bed. Manhas’ calendar shows she took vacation time for April 9-11, the three days Cogen was in Atlanta. 

The Smirk fills in some holes in the narrative,

A review of Manhas’ calendar shows she was on vacation the same days Cogen was gone, April 9 through April 11. Maybe it’s a coincidence. But suddenly. Cogen using county money to check a second bag, upgrade his room, and change his flight itinerary—each one a move that required extra explanation, according to records—doesn’t seem as harmless.Was Cogen alone throughout the trip? Did he spend county money on Manhas’ travel costs or on a room they used for a tryst? The timing falls within when Cogen said the two would still be seeing one another. [emph added]

It’s a good thing that Bruce McCain has done some reporting on succession strategies for Multnomah County. Find that post here.


McCain: The Cogen Affair Produces a Royal Mess

While Great Britain and much of the world celebrates the birth of the Fresh Prince of Cambridge – third in line to the

MultCo’s Royal Couple: Jeff Cogen and Sonia Manhas
MultCo’s Royal Couple: Jeff Cogen and Sonia Manhas

British crown – what happens if embattled Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen vacates his office, either by resigning or in the unlikely event of a successful recall? Cogen’s sex scandal with his subordinate squeeze, Sonia Manhas, has either ended his political career or – in the spirit of Neil Goldschmidt and Sam Adams – all but assured his election as Portland’s next mayor. With The Oregonian’s editorial board now calling for Cogen’s resignation, the pressure is mounting on the Multnomah County Chair to show he is cut from different cloth than Goldschmidt, Adams and David Wu, despite being supported by many of the same Democrats who turned a blind eye from and covered for the escapades of the aforementioned trio of perverts.

But the technical and legal answer to the county’s succession question is spelled out in Multnomah County’s home rule charter. If Cogen resigns from office, it will likely occur soon and before the year is out. In that event, say hello to the new Multnomah County Chair, Marissa Madrigal, chief of staff for Cogen himself.

The county’s charter contains a provision in §4.50 that addresses vacancies in county elective offices. The remedy for filling a vacancy depends on when the vacancy occurs in the officer’s current term of office, which typically expire December 31. There are three time-sensitive scenarios. First, if the vacancy occurs within the last 90 days of the term (e.g. in October, November or December), then the vacancy is not filled, presumably because it will be filled at the November general election or was filled at the previous May primary.

If the vacancy occurs within the final year, but with more than 90 days left (e.g. January – September) then the board of county commissioners will appoint a person to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the year. Again, the assumption is that a successor will be elected in November, or possibly even in May. But if the vacancy occurs with more than one year remaining in the term, then that’s when things get interesting.

If a vacancy occurs with one year or more remaining, “then a person shall be elected at the next May or November election date to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term of office. If no candidate receives a majority of votes cast at that election, the board of county commissioners shall call for a special election in which the names of the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes shall appear on the ballot. The candidate receiving a majority of votes cast will be deemed elected to fill the balance of the unexpired term.”

Cogen’s sex scandal with his subordinate squeeze, Sonia Manhas, has either ended his political career or – in the spirit of Neil Goldschmidt and Sam Adams – all but assured his election as Portland’s next mayor.

Cogen was first elected county chair in 2010 after serving four years as county commissioner from District 2. His first term as county chair expires December 31, 2013. He is limited by the charter to no more than two full consecutive four-year terms in any one elective county office within any 12-year period. Cogen’s initial term as District 2 commissioner was a different office than the chair, and thus the term limits do not apply to the combination of the two offices. If Cogen resigns in 2013 – with more than a year remaining on his term – then the next chair could be elected as early as November 2013, but no later than May or November 2014. So, who is Marissa Madrigal and why would she become Cogen’s immediate replacement?

The county charter requires all county elected officials to designate a person to serve as “interim occupant” to serve as acting chair, commissioner, sheriff or auditor until the office is filled by election or appointment. Chair Cogen has nominated Madrigal, his chief of staff, to serve as interim county chair until a replacement is elected. If that happens, it would not be the first time, as Cogen himself knows firsthand.

A Death in Office

Former Multnomah County Chair Gladys McCoy
Former Multnomah County Chair Gladys McCoy

Former County Chair Gladys McCoy

On April 11, 1993 then county chair Gladys McCoy succumbed to thyroid cancer. McCoy’s death created a vacancy in the office of chair and triggered the county charter interim occupant provision. McCoy had named her chief of staff, Henry C. “Hank” Miggins, to be her interim occupant. Miggins took over as interim county chair and liked the job so much, he decided to run for the office himself. The county board declared the vacancy and called for a special election to be held on June 29, 1993.

Despite having a running start as an appointed incumbent, Miggins lost his race to Beverly Stein, who took over as chair in August 1993 and went on to serve two more terms of her own until replaced by Diane Linn in 2002. Stein’s policy advisor at the time was Jeff Cogen. However, after one term with The Mean Girls in control, Linn was trounced in her re-election bid by Ted Wheeler. But Wheeler’s sudden and unanticipated departure in March 2010 triggered a political domino fall that ultimately left Jeff Cogen where he is today.

On March 7, 2010, then Treasurer Ben Westlund died of lung cancer. Two days later, then Governor Ted Kulongoski tapped Wheeler as Westlund’s replacement, and that giant sucking sound was wannabe candidates drawn to filling a slew of vacancies triggered by Westlund’s death and Wheeler’s departure from Multnomah County. Following the county charter, Wheeler’s designated interim occupant, Jana McLellan, temporarily filled the chair’s role. McLellan served as the county’s chief operating officer, but she was no politician. With several high profile candidates, including Cogen, salivating over replacing Wheeler, McLellan wanted no part of becoming another Hank Miggins and dutifully served out her role an appointed place holder.

In politics, timing is often everything. Wheeler’s departure in March 2010 occurred in the final year of his first four-year term, but also had more than 90 left in that term. So under the county charter, the special election provision, used only when more than one year remains, was not available because a regularly scheduled May primary and November general election were already fast approaching. Cogen wasted no time announcing his intention of running to replace Wheeler in the May primary. But that still left the county without a replacement for Wheeler.

Ted Wheeler, Former Multnomah County Chair and current State Treasurer

Under the charter, the board was required to appoint a person to fill out the remaining term, which was the balance of 2010. The board had several options. It could have simply left McLellan in place for the remainder of 2010 while actual candidates battled it out in May and possibly in November. But instead, on April 1, 2010, the four remaining commissioners, including Cogen himself, adoptedResolution 2010-032, declaring the chair’s office vacant and appointed Cogen to fill the vacancy. The king had been crowned. A month later, Cogen rolled to an easy May primary victory to begin his first and current term as chair, beginning January 1, 2011 and ending December 31, 2013.

Cogen’s appointment as chair in turn created a vacancy in his previous commissioner seat, which was initially filled with Cogen’s interim designee Barbara Willer. Eight candidates (not including Willer) filed to run in the May 2010 primary. In such a crowded field, no candidate could expect to capture a majority outright. Karol Collymore, who worked as Cogen’s policy advisor, captured 36% of the vote, easily outdistancing the second place finisher, Loretta Smith, who came in with 18%. Those top two primary finishers met in a November runoff, which produced a stunning result. Collymore’s 36% primary showing hardly budged in November, while Smith essentially captured all the other primary votes, rolling to an easier-than-expected 62%-37% victory.

As Hank Miggins, and later Jana McLellan, demonstrated, not all chiefs of staff are necessarily cut out to fill the role of candidate or elected official. They are often the typical policy wonks or campaign staffers rewarded for their efforts with a short-term public sector job with a shelf life often tied to that of the coat of their benefactor. If few people outside of local government know of Marissa Mardrigal, if or when Cogen resigns over his sex scandal, yet another insider will step onto the throne – at least until the next round of elections.

Marissa Madrigalmarissa madrigal

Marissa Madrigal. Next County Chair?
Marissa Madrigal. Next County Chair?

According to her official county biography, Madrigal rode Cogen’s coattails into office by doing what many staffers do – work on a winning election campaign. For Madrigal, her reward for serving as his campaign manager was a six-figure job as chief of staff to the county’s top executive officer.As Hank Miggins, and later Jana McLellan, demonstrated, not all chiefs of staff are necessarily cut out to fill the role of candidate or elected official. They are often the typical policy wonks or campaign staffers rewarded for their efforts with a short-term public sector job with a shelf life often tied to that of the coat of their benefactor. If few people outside of local government know of Marissa Mardrigal, if Cogen resigns over his sex scandal, yet another insider will step into the throne – at least until the next round of elections start the dominos tumbling again.

Madrigal may be more McLellan than Miggins and prefers working for an elected official, but wants no part of actually being an elected official. That leaves political junkies already lining up their short lists of usual suspects to replace Cogen if or when he departs “to spend time with his family.” That list would have to include one or more of the current remaining commissioners.

What Term Limits?

Three of the four district commissioners are term limited, and may be looking for another county gig. Because the county chair is considered a distinct and separate county elective office, any or all of them could conceivably and legally run to replace Cogen. Those three are Diane McKeel, who represents east county, Judy Shiprack, who represents SE and most of mid-county, and Deborah Kafoury, who represents primarily North Portland up to Columbia County. Of those three, Kafoury has the most political firepower, based in part on her own tenure and her status as the daughter of Gretchen Kafoury, a former state representative, county commissioner and Portland city commissioner. But Kafoury’s recent sponsorship of the county’s anti-gun ordinance, which the county is attempting to impose on east county cities against their will, all but dooms Kafoury’s support east of I-205.

One could also expect one or more current state legislators to trade the part-time salary and Salem commute for an office at the Multnomah Building. And of course, one cannot overlook or underestimate Commissioner Loretta Smith, who displayed her own political clout with her come-from-behind demolition of Cogen’s own protégé, Karol Collymore. If nothing else, if Smith were to replace Cogen as chair, her swearing-in ceremony could be preceded by Portland’s Baruti Artharee announcing to those in attendance,“Here’s our beautiful county chair, Loretta Smith – mmm, mmm, mmm – she looks good tonight!”

Bruce McCain’s is a practicing attorney, retired Captain of the Multnomah County Sheriffs Office, Reynolds School Board member and a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce. This post was originally posted at his blog Oregon Oracle.


Roseanne Barr Blames Detroit Bankruptcy on “Repiglicans”

Detroit RoseanneThe actress/comedian, Occupy Wall Street enthusiast and former Presidential candidate blames Republicans for the utter failure of the City of Detroit. 

Considering that Detroit has had a member of the Democrat party at the helm in every year since 1962, her rantings don’t make much sense, but such is living in the parallel universe of Roseanne.

Barr doesn’t mention the ‘leadership’ with its  profligate spending that took Detroit to fiscal insolvency in the first place, so, for your reading pleasure, I will. See the illustration near by. I’ve spiced up a Wikipedia page to call your attention to the last half century of ‘leadership’ in Detroit.

Detroit Mayors

Detroit’s finances were officially taken over by over by Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, last March. The decision to take Detroit to Chapter 9 bankruptcty was made last week by Snyder and the man who’s been charged with reorganizingDetroit emergency city manager the city finances, Kevyn Orr.  As Snyder put it, the City will probably run much more smoothly now,

Snyder, the man who authorized the filing, said city services should not immediately be affected. In fact, he suggested that the bankruptcy could actually improve city services in the future, because less of the city’s budget will have to be spent on “legacy costs” such as pensions, retiree health care and debt service. “I know many will see this as a low point for in the city’s history,” he said. “If anything, this gets us on the path towards improved services.”

Chapter 9 Bankruptcy includes these changes according to the Federal Bankruptcy Bankruptcy webpage:

The purpose of chapter 9 is to provide a financially-distressed municipality protection from its creditors while it develops and negotiates a plan for adjusting its debts. Reorganization of the debts of a municipality is typically accomplished either by extending debt maturities, reducing the amount of principal or interest, or refinancing the debt by obtaining a new loan.

Although similar to other chapters in some respects, chapter 9 is significantly different in that there is no provision in the law for liquidation of the assets of the municipality and distribution of the proceeds to creditors. 

Forty percent of the street lights don’t work, a former Mayor is headed to prison for corruption, the City has lost 2/3 of its population in Detroit neighborhoodthe last 60 years with 25% of that occurring just since 2000. Entire neighborhoods have been razed so as not to become an attractive nuisance to squatters and gangsters. Detroit can’t pay its bills or promises to pensioners. As a National Review columnist Kevin D. Williamson put it the other day, 

Detroit’s ruling class is a parasite that has outgrown its host.

Barr would appear to prefer profligacy, insolvency and Detroit’s  destitution  to giving the City a new start. She claims “Repiglicans” don’t want to save Detroit because they don’t want to pay taxes. 

A word to Roseanne: The people of Detroit paid their taxes and got ripped off. Why would we bail out a City riven by corruption without rooting it out? It’s the least they can do for what tax payers there are left. 


Scott St. Clair: Listening to an Adult in the Room Discuss Trayvon and George

Zimmerman BarkleyAbout Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, can we talk? Coming off the not-guilty verdict in the case, everybody claims to want an honest national conversation on race, so might as well throw in my two-cents, which can pretty much be summed up by saying I’m down with what Sir Charles said.

Former NBA star Charles Barkley, in an interview with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo, nailed it:

In two and a half minutes, he cuts through the bull, gets to the heart of the matter and outs skullduggery and hidden agendas – refreshing to have an adult in the room.

In saying he agreed with the verdict, Barkley focused on the evidence, which is what trials are about, while acknowledging the tragedy of a young man’s death and the grief his parents feel.

He correctly called out as villains hucksters, both black and white, and the media:

“I don’t like when race gets out in the media because I don’t think the media has a pure heart, as I call it. There are very few people have a pure heart when it comes to race. Racism is wrong in any,  shape, form — a lot of black people are racist too. I think sometimes when people talk about racism, they say only white people are racist. There are a lot of black people who are racist. I don’t like when it gets out there in the media because I don’t think the media has clean hands.”

Plain-speaking truth. And he’s not alone in that – not by a long shot.

The 24/7/365 social-media info-bomb culture prizes sensation over good sense. Everybody points a finger, but few think orzimmerman trayvon hoodie listen.   I doubt whether an “honest conversation” will take place because there are painful and ugly truths that must be acknowledged. And the conversation will have to include holding certain members of the reverend clergy and others accountable.

Face it: racism exists. Abner Louima and Rodney King were racially targeted and attacked (by police, no less) even as O.J. got off scot-free.

As one observer noted, race hustlers gin up anger in the black community over allegations of racism against George Zimmerman not because there’s evidence of it – on the contrary, there absolutely is none (even Bill Cosby said so)— but because there’s evidence of it throughout history.

African-American Charles Ramsey put it another way after he rescued three girls from a decade-long kidnapping in Cleveland:

“Bro, I knew something is wrong when a little pretty white girl run into a black man’s arms – Something is wrong here”:

Why would he say that? And why did everybody laugh knowingly when he did?

Conservatives can be justifiably upset about being targeted by the IRS for their political beliefs, the exercise of their free-speech rights and feeling like they’ll never get an honest break, so maybe they can understand how blacks feel after 200 years of slavery, 100 years of Jim Crow and their sundry baggage.

Funny Obama Trayvon distractionA lot of folks on the right will hate to admit it, but President Obama was correct in saying the reaction of many black Americans stems from “a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.”

Just don’t limit the conversation to black Americans. We all have experiences and history, and it’s a tragedy when any young person irrespective of race is killed. They deserve a shout out too.

He was right when he said the case and the verdict shouldn’t be used to “heighten divisions,” advice the president should instruct his own people to follow as well as follow himself.

It was cynical pandering for Attorney General Eric Holder to jump in with a promise to look for civil rights violations when the ink on the Zimmerman verdict wasn’t even dry. Ditto for the president to complain about stand-your-ground laws when (1) they weren’t at issue in the Zimmerman case, and (2) there’s strong evidence to suggest they benefit blacks more than whites.

An “honest conversation” must include hard talk on black-on-black gun crime, fatherless black families and the drug wars.Zimmerman reaction  But raise these issues and you get attacked by the soft bigotry of low expectations of white liberals who refuse to admit they exist and who have their own stereotypical biases toward black men.

It would have been a great for the president to mention that young men of all races are valuable, not just the Trayvon Martin’s of the world. And he could have acknowledged that sometimes it’s a black man who’s found “not guilty” in the shooting of a white teenager.

Yet it is legitimate to ask why Zimmerman carried a firearm while on a neighborhood watch patrol. But he was on patrol because there was a crime problem ineffectively addressed by the police, and the perps wore hoodies. Were you in his shoes at night potentially facing a criminal, wouldn’t you at least consider being armed? If you answer no, you’re not being honest.

Zimmerman cartoon hoodieI’m freaked out when I see a hoodie – on ANYONE. Who wears something designed to conceal unless they have something to conceal?

Then we have the self-aggrandizing reverends who flock to these cases like flies to carrion while encouraging you to have your VISA or Discover card ready.  Serial race-baiter Al Sharpton has a decades-long history of faking racially-based grievances – he has yet to pay damages and make the apology he was ordered to by a court in the infamous Tawana Brawley case. Almost since the day Martin was shot, he’s been braying at every opportunity and post-verdict he’s stoking racial-animosity fires across the country with a series of demonstrations demanding federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman that were, from early reports, sparsely attended.

At the same time, Jesse Jackson insulted every woman in America, white and black, when he complained that Zimmerman’s jury wasn’t made up of black MEN (maybe like his felon son?). That didn’t sound like he was interested in evidence or justice – only that the person who was shot was black, and the person who shot him wasn’t, ergo the non-black person would go to jail if, and apparently ONLY if, the jury was comprised of black men.

Adding insult to injury were Jackson’s calling Florida an “apartheid state” and demanding that the U.N. Human Rights zimmerman_wanted_posterCouncil, with such stalwart devotees of civil liberties as Venezuela and Pakistan, investigate the Martin killing.

There’s more: A local black politician blames Chicago police for the swath of murders of young black men. Some are giving a pass to blacks using language whites regard as racist while parsing their use of the “N” word. Rioters went on a Hollywood wilding as Martin’s death and the verdict as an excuse to loot .

It’s as if the whole thing was a clichéd made-for-TV movie, which is how much to most of the national media scripted it from the get go.  Never mind the facts, let’s make this about a pure and innocent boy set upon by a white racist with hatred in his heart then ignore whatever inconveniently contradicts that narrative.

While we’re at it if we’re NBC let’s doctor some audio to make the bad white guy, who isn’t white at all but Hispanic, look despicable and racist.

From the beginning, the story of Martin’s death and Zimmerman’s trial had the potential to exacerbate tensions and inflame passions. “That made it all the more incumbent on the media to be scrupulously truthful and responsible in their coverage. At this, they have spectacularly failed, with deplorable consequences,“ said one commentator at RealClearPolitics.com

It’s the same thinking that put alleged Boston Marathon terrorist and murderer Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on a Rolling Stone cover. Screw the truth and the impression we make – let’s just look cool to each other at cocktail parties.

The media is keeping it up by over-hyping the Sharpton demonstrations as something akin the 1963 march on Washington, D.C. that featured Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I have a dream” speech and saw 250,000 in attendance.

It’s doubtful, seriously doubtful, that the total number of people who attended Sharpton’s “National Day of Action” demonstrations in the 100 cities he claimed would have them approached five percent of the total of 1963’s single march.

Honest national conversation? Not with Al or Jesse hawking their personal agendas, an administration playing politics instead of being even handed and a refusal see how the other guy sees things.  In sum, until there’s more listen and think.

Scott St. Clair is a journalist, rhetorical pugilist, agent provocateur, aider and abbetor of Liberty Lovers and a former competitive Highland piper. He says what he thinks, means what he says and doesn’t suffer fools. He’s also a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce. His opinions are entirely his own, and you shouldn’t expect them to mirror yours.