8/19/2023 News Roundup


<<A Portland police officer was justified in fatally shooting Immanueal Jaquez Clark-Johnson, 30, last year, a grand jury ruled Wednesday.

Officer Chris Sathoff responded to a call about an armed robbery shortly after midnight on Nov. 19, 2022, near Southeast 50th Street and Powell Boulevard. Officers followed a car matching the description of the suspect’s vehicle to a parking lot near Reed College, then tried to talk to the people in the car, resulting in the shooting that killed Clark-Johnson, Portland police have said.

Neither the Portland Police Bureau nor the Multnomah County District Attorney have provided any details about the shooting. The grand jury transcripts will be made public if the court approves the district attorney’s request to release them.

The grand jury heard evidence about the case from the Oregon Department of Justice and county prosecutors before returning a “not true bill,” meaning the jury concluded Sathoff had acted legally.>>



<<Former city commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty agreed to settle her lawsuit against the city of Portland for $5,000 and an apology from the mayor.

In December 2021, Hardesty sued the city, the police union, the former union head and a police officer, alleging they leaked information that falsely implicated her in a hit-and-run.

On Monday, an attorney representing the city of Portland offered to settle the case for $5,000, attorney’s fees for Hardesty’s lawyers and a signed apology from Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, according to court documents. That same day, Hardesty agreed to the deal, according to court documents.

The mayor’s written apology reads:

“Portland Police Bureau employees acting outside the course and scope of their employment leaked confidential information about Commissioner Hardesty. The leaks negatively impacted Commissioner Hardesty’s public image and undermined her efforts to bring about police transformation and reform. The City does not condone these actions. On behalf of the City, I apologize for the conduct.”

The settlement offer only applies to the city and no other defendants in the case.

Hardesty had asked for $3 million from the Portland Police Association, $1 million from its former president Brian Hunzeker and $1 million from Officer Kerri Ottoman. The former commissioner sought to collect an “award of nominal damages,” $1 from the city of Portland.

The lawsuit stems from the political fallout following a car crash that occurred in March 2021. A woman told an emergency dispatcher she was confident Hardesty had rear-ended her vehicle in Southeast Portland, then left the scene. Police quickly determined Hardesty was not involved. Instead, officers identified the hit-and-run suspect as a woman from Vancouver. By that point, the false allegation against Hardesty had already gotten out.

The lawsuit claims Hunzeker, the former union head, leaked incorrect information to a reporter at The Oregonian. The suit also alleges that officer Ottoman reached out to a political action committee and its director who released the false information on a live-streamed show. The suit alleges the leaks were racially and politically motivated. >>

<<As of May 2022, the city of Portland had paid more than $58,000 in legal fees to an outside firm defending itself against Hardesty’s lawsuit.

The trial for Hardesty’s lawsuit against the Portland Police Association, Hunzeker and Ottoman is scheduled to begin Sept. 25.>>


<<Former Portland City Council member Jo Ann Hardesty agreed to settle a lawsuit against the City of Portland on Monday, according to court documents accessed Friday by FOX 12.

On Monday, the City offered $5,000, attorney fees and a signed apology from the Portland mayor. Hardesty agreed to the offer the same day.

The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 13, 2021 and alleges that employees of the City and Portland Police Association spread an unfounded accusation against Hardesty as retaliation for her criticism of the PPA and the Portland Police Bureau.

According to the initial lawsuit filing, a white woman was in a minor car accident with a Black woman who was not Hardesty on March 3, 2021.

Later that day, the woman reported to the City that she had been a victim of a hit-and-run, and accused Hardesty, also a Black woman, of being the driver.

Following that report, the initial filing outlines a series of events in which City and PPA employees allegedly told others about the accusation, including the press.

“…[I]n bad faith and in violation of its own policies, and engaging in an overreactive, excessive and unreasonable investigation of Plaintiff, City of Portland, through its employees acting within the course of their employment, engaged in race-based distinctions, discrimination or restrictions,” Hardesty states in the document.>>

<<According to the City’s settlement offer, the offer, “is not to be construed as an admission either that the City Defendant is liable to Plaintiff or that Plaintiff has suffered any damage.”

The settlement will not be finalized until it is signed by a judge.>>



<<A City Council-appointed commission all but approved a final plan Wednesday night to divide Portland into four geographic voting districts. A final vote Monday is expected to kick off a particularly unique election season.

The resulting map illustrates how Portland’s coming government makeover may truly weaken the long-held political influence certain wealthier neighborhoods have enjoyed for decades — while empowering people in other parts of Portland that have historically held little sway over City Hall.

Portlanders voted a year ago to overhaul their form of government, which elects commissioners citywide and gives them the power to be legislators — crafting policy — and to run city agencies — executing those policies.

The new plan expands the City Council to 12 members and divides Portland into four political districts. Under the new structure, voters will elect three council members to represent each district. These council members, who must live in their district, will solely serve as legislators and will no longer be responsible for overseeing city departments.>>

<<The map places neighborhoods largely east of Interstate 205 and Portland International Airport in District 1. District 2 encompasses most of the North and Northeast Portland neighborhoods north of Sandy Boulevard. Inner Southeast Portland — those areas west of Interstate 205 and south of Sandy Boulevard — are clumped into District 3. And District 4 is made up of the city’s entire west side and Southeast Portland’s Sellwood, Eastmoreland and Reed neighborhoods.

The map has to meet a number of specific criteria approved by voters:

The four districts must be equal in population size, contiguous, be connected by road, and take into account existing geographic and political boundaries. They cannot divide “communities of common interest” and cannot be drawn “for the purpose of favoring any political party” or “for the purpose of diluting the voting strength of any language or ethnic minority group.”

The population limit means each district must have around 163,000 residents — a rule that fueled the commission’s most disputed decision.

Because only 144,000 Portlanders live west of the Willamette River, commissioners needed to stretch beyond existing geographic boundaries to loop part of Portland’s east side into a west-side district. Both west-side and east-side residents challenged this requirement, arguing that their communities had little in common with their neighbors across the river. After several public hearings, commission members decided that pairing the west side with Sellwood and nearby neighborhoods was the least objectionable approach.>>

<<The group pointed to socioeconomic and demographic similarities between the west side and the far southeast neighborhoods. For example, in 2020, the median income for people living in Southwest Portland’s Raleigh Hills neighborhood was $128,000, not far from the median income of $101,879 in Southeast Portland’s Woodstock neighborhood. Other neighborhoods they had considered pairing with the west-side district, like St. Johns or Buckman, report considerably lower incomes on average.

West-side and far southeast neighborhoods are also home to the largest populations of white residents per capita in the city, according to U.S. census data.

If at least nine of the 13 commission members approve the map on Monday, it will go into effect. If fewer than nine support it, the decision will go to City Council for a final vote. The map is expected to pass.>>

<<The decision to adopt district representation was meant to improve diversity on the City Council and better reflect the needs of Portlanders across the city rather than in a few particularly influential parts of town.

Due to the high price of a citywide election, Portland council members have historically come from wealthier, whiter neighborhoods, which tend to be in the city’s west side. More affluent neighborhoods have also had the most influence over city elections.

This long-held influence may be coming to an end. By dividing the city into four districts — each assigned three representatives — Portland is expected to see more politicians in office that represent the interests of lower-income and racially diverse neighborhoods.

Portlanders will vote in the first election under this new framework in November 2024.>>



<< Praise for Oregon’s Measure 110 rang out of a home turned detox center deep in Southeast Portland on Friday. People who work in the addiction recovery field packed into the lobby, alongside members of the state legislature and Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt.

Come September, the new detox facility off Southeast Foster Road will open its doors with Recovery Works Northwest to run it. It’ll be the third detox facility in Portland to accept people insured through the Oregon Health Plan, working to fill what has become a deadly gap in services.

“The sharp increase in overdose deaths has been driven by the proliferation of the illicitly produced fentanyl,” said Joe Bazeghi, engagement director at Recovery Works Northwest.

Unlike Portland’s larger detox centers — Hooper Detox Stabilization Center and Fora Health — this one will not take walk-ins.

Another difference is that it’s the first detox facility in the state funded through Measure 110, the controversial law passed by voters back in 2020. It decriminalized certain amounts of hard drugs and funneled marijuana tax revenue into opening treatment centers.>>

<<Three years later, Recovery Works is about to open 16 new detox beds for people to stay for between three and five days. The beds are only for those addicted to certain substances: fentanyl, opiods and alcohol. That’s due to insurance reasons. >>


<<While the Portland area continues to grapple with the opioid epidemic, there’s also progress: Oregon’s first medical detox center is set to open later this month.

The center is funded through Measure 110, a 2020 law that decriminalizes small amounts of hard drugs — and pays for treatment.

“There’s been a lag time between the decision to move forward with Measure 110 with Oregon voters and services coming online, so a lot of folks have understandably been frustrated with the process,” said Joe Bazeghi, director of engagement for Recovery Works NW.

Two years later, the measure’s cannabis tax revenue will fund the detox center, along with an additional $1.5 million from Clackamas County, as the county is located a half a mile from the new facility. Although it will be located on Southeast Foster Road, the center is set to serve folks from the entire area.

“Everyone who comes through here is going to be connected with case management services and will be offered a continuation of their care, whether that’s in a residential treatment setting, or, one thing Recovery Works NW operates is housed outpatient services, so folks can live 4-6 months rent free in a residential house so as long as they continue to engage in an outpatient basis with our substance use disorder services — medicine as well as mental health,” Bazeghi said.

Operated by Recovery Works NW, the short-term facility is set to serve hundreds each year suffering from fentanyl, opioid, and alcohol addictions.

“Sixteen beds doesn’t sound like a whole lot but people are here 3-5 days, so that’s 1,200 treatments over the course of a year,” Bazeghi said. “Altogether, we estimate that these 16 beds actually represent an increase of about 15% in our medically monitored withdrawal capacity in the City of Portland, even in the greater Portland area.”>>



<<The Clackamas County Fair this week is packed with family-friendly events and activities. Fairgoers throw darts, lick ice cream cones, ride camels around a dusty ring.

Amid the excitement, a small, quiet booth is family-friendly in a different way. Its staffers are handing out blue-and-black biodegradable pouches called Deterra.

The pouches help people keep unused prescription pills away from anyone who shouldn’t have them by deactivating the drugs.

“Our goal is to offer an alternative to other approaches being tried in other communities, specifically to rid our streets of opioids,” District Attorney John Wentworth said in a phone interview with The Oregonian/OregonLive. “We’re hopeful that these products are one solution.”

Deterra safely deactivates drugs, Wentworth said. You simply add water to the packet of carbon that comes in the pouch; then you drop unwanted drugs inside the packet, seal the bag and give it a gentle shake.

When the carbon binds to the medication, the drugs are rendered permanently useless, according to the District Attorney’s Office.>>



<<Multnomah County has started using EMT crews to respond to lower-acuity 911 calls, part of the county’s efforts to improve poor ambulance performance and lagging response times.

The response time issue has put a spotlight on a county rule that requires two paramedics per ambulance, despite requests from ambulance provider AMR to lower the requirement to one paramedic and one EMT. The county isn’t backing off from the two-paramedic rule for mainline “Advanced Life Support” ambulances, but the new strategy of sending EMT-only crews — dubbed “Basic Life Support” ambulances — is an attempt to find another way to reduce the workload for paramedics.

Starting this week, AMR began sending BLS units directly to low-risk calls for service. EMT crews responded to 12 calls on Tuesday, the first full day of BLS direct dispatch, according to county spokesperson Sarah Dean. Until now, the county required an ALS crew to arrive first at a scene, assess a patient, and then call for a BLS crew if applicable.

County leaders said they’re hoping that a modified triage and dispatch system and growing utilization of the BLS response can ease the staffing strain that’s led to thousands of delayed and unavailable ambulances for emergency calls so far in 2023.>>

<<When a bureau responder triages a 911 call as a lower-acuity call under the news system, the call gets routed to an AMR paramedic who calls the patient and “reassesses and manages the call” — which could include sending a BLS team or waiting until an ambulance crew is available.>>

<<Prior to the pilot program, 911 calls were immediately dispatched out to ambulances as they came in, which could often create a system where all ambulances were unavailable to respond to new emergency calls, including a man in a wheelchair who was hit and killed in the street, and a federal officer who was attacked in downtown Portland.

Multnomah County officials said they’re hoping to lower the frequency of these “Level Zero” calls — the code for when no ambulances are available.>>