9/10/2023 News Roundup


<<A Multnomah County grand jury indicted Adrian Austin Cummins Friday on 12 charges, including attempted murder, stemming from the Sept. 2 stabbing that injured two 17-year-olds on a MAX train in Southeast Portland.

The charges are one count of attempted murder in the second degree, one count of assault in the first degree, one count of assault in the second degree, two counts of bias crime in the first degree, one count of robbery in the first degree, three counts of unlawful use of a weapon, one count of interfering with public transportation, one count of attempted assault in the first degree and one count of attempted assault in the second degree. Cummins, 25, is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.

Earlier this week, Judge Steffan Alexander granted a motion from the district attorney’s office that prevents Cummins from being released from custody while the trial is pending.

On Sept. 2, Portland police officers responded to reports of a stabbing on the TriMet platform at 9598 S.E. Flavel St. in the Lents neighborhood just after 5:45 p.m. They found the two 17-year-olds with stab wounds.

The assault began inside the train and then the victims and suspect exited at the Lents platform, police said.

Cummins is also accused of robbing a convenience store at knifepoint just before the stabbings on the train.

Investigators believe Cummins attacked the teenagers “because of his perception of the victims’ race,” police said. Cummins had a warrant out for his arrest for failing to appear in court after being charged with unlawful use of a weapon and menacing someone with a knife in July, court records show. He was previously accused of fighting on a MAX platform in April.>>


<<A Multnomah County grand jury on Friday indicted 25-year-old Adrian Austin Cummins on 12 charges related to last Saturday’s stabbing on a TriMet MAX train in southeast Portland, according to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.

A day earlier, Judge Steffan Alexander granted the state’s motion for preventative detention for Cummins. Judge Alexander found there was a “danger of physical injury” to the victims and the public if Cummins were to be released.

Investigators say Cummins stabbed two Black teenage boys on a MAX train- one in the arm and the other in the chest on Sept. 2 in what they call a racially motivated attack.

According to court documents, one of the two teens told police they were traveling to the Clackamas Transit Center when Cummins, who was sitting in front of them, wearing a sweatshirt that said ‘Villain’ in white letters, jumped up and shouted, “F**k n*****s!”

Then, Cummins allegedly stabbed one in the chest with a three-inch serrated pocketknife and sliced the other on his arm. The teen suffering from a knife wound on his arm told police they did not know Cummins, nor did he know why Cummins yelled and attacked them.

Court documents also state that the second teen was in critical condition as of Sept. 5, suffering from damage to his heart and internal bleeding.

Also in the documents, police say that after they captured and detained Cummins, a local convenience store owner told them that Cummins was the same man who, just before the MAX stabbing, had tried to stab the store-owner’s son.

The man told police that his son, working in the store as a clerk, saw Cummins take items from a snack food display and then make a “beeline” for the front door.

The owner’s son stepped between Cummins and the door, trying to stop him. Another customer came to support the owner’s son, and in response, Cummins allegedly tried to stab him “multiple times.”

Police say store security cameras also captured the incident, and they also identified the man in the footage as Cummins.

During the brief time that Cummins allegedly tried to run from police, officers said they saw him pull a knife from his pocket and toss it on the ground.

Cummins faces the following charges:

    One count of second-degree attempted murder

    One count of first-degree assault

    One count of second-degree assault

    Two counts of first-degree bias crime

    One count of first-degree robbery

    Three counts of unlawful use of a weapon

    One count of interfering with public transportation

    One count of first-degree attempted assault

    One count of second-degree attempted assault>>



<<A memorial honoring Portland firefighters in the line of duty was recently damaged and vandalized. The memorial has stood near Burnside in southwest Portland for almost 100 years.

The David Campbell Memorial has long been forgotten by many Portland residents, and instead been trashed and spray painted. This week, someone removed brass name plates of firefighters who gave their lives.>>

<<The memorial is named after a former Portland Fire Chief. On June 26, 1911, Campbell and other firefighters responded to a fire at the Union Oil Distributing plant. He borrowed a coat from one of his men and went inside the plant to fight the fire.

But an explosion blew off the roof and Campbell died inside. He was the first firefighter in Oregon to die on duty. After his death, the citizens of Portland built the David Campbell memorial in his honor.

After subsequent firefighters died on duty, plaques with their names were added to the memorial.>>

<<Brass name plates have been stolen, Italian limestone was broken and lenses of lanterns were shattered this week. >>


<<David Campbell Memorial Association President Don Porth noticed Thursday the monument had been vandalized.

In a newsletter, Porth wrote the vandal stole 6 brass pieces from the memorial and destroyed another in an attempt to steal it. He also said the 95-year-old limestone floor was ‘significantly damaged’ and the vandals had removed its commemorative name plates.

“Each one of these [nameplates honors someone who] lost their lives in service to the citizens of Portland, and it’s been desecrated,” Porth told KOIN 6 News. “We were doing some assessment of the stonework here for our future renovation project and discovered that the metal nameplates representing the firefighters who died in service to the citizens of Portland had been not only damaged but forcibly removed and stolen.”>>


[KW NOTE: It is probably not true that Campbell was the first firefighter to die.  In the 1880s, several Chinese volunteers went missing during a fire that destroyed much of downtown.]


The O has an editorial:

<<The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners’ 5-0 vote last week to give $1.5 million to the Bybee Lakes Hope Center represents a victory far bigger than that sum would suggest. After a decade of county opposition to the notion of siting a homeless shelter in the never-used Wapato Jail, the vote offers hope that pragmatism can ­win out over ideological obstinance.>>

<<While the center’s long-term outlook remains uncertain, the county’s willingness to provide any money to the venture is a welcome and long overdue change. Numerous leaders have argued over the years for transforming the North Portland jail, built in 2004 but never opened, into a homeless shelter with services. But key players, most notably former Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, staunchly opposed the idea. In addition to Kafoury’s general philosophy that money should go to permanent housing over temporary shelter, she and others argued that the shelter was too far from existing support services and that housing homeless people in a facility originally intended as a jail was inhumane.>>

<<But even as more tax dollars for homeless services flowed to the county, leaders continued to sneer at efforts under developer Jordan Schnitzer to site a homeless shelter there. When Schnitzer nearly gave up on the idea of opening a homeless shelter in 2019, county leaders were practically gleeful about the difficulties he faced, crowing in a statement that they were “glad that Jordan Schnitzer reached the conclusion that he can’t afford to warehouse people in this remote jail.”>>

<<But Schnitzer ended up partnering with Alan Evans, who himself had been homeless for years before founding Helping Hands ReEntry Outreach Centers, which provides housing and support services for homeless people at several locations. Private donations and state dollars have also helped fund Bybee Lakes. The center offers both emergency shelter for short-term stays with few requirements of clients as well as longer-term transitional housing and recovery and support services for individuals and families willing to commit to sobriety.

State funding, however, is plummeting with multiple entities now competing for the same dollars, Bybee Lakes chief executive Mike Davis said. Private donations are also drying up, he added, now that many of those donors are paying Metro’s homeless services tax, which is levied on businesses and high-income earners.

At the same time, county leaders, who have profoundly mismanaged the homeless services response despite receiving hundreds of millions of dollars a year dedicated to the crisis, are swimming in money that they have not been able to spend. Insisting on reserving money for permanent housing or ignoring the undeniable demand for the Bybee Lakes model – the facility has a waitlist of 96, including 19 moms and 45 kids – would have been indefensible.>>


Also an op-ed, from the chair of the Joint Office of Homeless Services Community Budget Advisory Committee:

<<Last October, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners selected me and four others to join a new budget advisory committee for the Joint Office of Homeless Services, the entity that coordinates the area’s homelessness response on behalf of Portland and Multnomah County.

Selected as the committee’s chair, I anticipated learning more about our crisis and reporting back to the public on the Joint Office’s advancements.

Unfortunately, despite intensive efforts by myself and the rest of my committee, I cannot vouch for the effectiveness or accountability of the Joint Office. Although county code states that budget advisory committees must be provided “technical and clerical support” so we may fulfill our mandate to “actively participate in county budget development and review, give advice on policy considerations, and participate in operational and strategic planning,” county officials have obstructed our efforts throughout the past year.

Our committee has repeatedly informed the board of commissioners that we do not have the data to state with confidence whether the Joint Office’s $279 million budget, approved in June, will result in any real change in the number of people living on our streets. The little data that we do have confirms what many in Portland have witnessed firsthand: in spite of the Joint Office’s budget almost tripling in a short span of five years, our housing and homelessness crises have only deepened.

Our committee ran into problems from the very start. After County Auditor Jennifer McGuirk helpfully identified datasets I should request from the county, it took months to get access to even basic spending data. Despite our repeated requests for additional committee members, our five volunteers must do the work that county code requires of seven.

After committing to answering a carefully-crafted list of questions we sent, the Joint Office answered only a handful with brief, curt sentences, three weeks beyond their self-imposed deadline.

We asked about the county’s cost per shelter bed and received only a vague estimate: $55-$70 per night for a traditional shelter bed. We spent hours seeking information to support its decision to allocate $75 for each use of a “hygiene station,” a service ranging from hand-washing to showers. When we questioned which landlords and property management companies were the top recipients of rental assistance vouchers, the county remained silent.

Perhaps the most telling answer came when we asked whether the budget, if devoted solely to sheltering, could accommodate every person presently unsheltered. The county responded curtly: “This type of analysis has not been conducted by JOHS.”

However, in scrutinizing Joint Office documents, we later found an internal note attached to our question, asking: “Should we describe the bottleneck? i.e., people staying in shelter if we only invest in shelter?” That the county dishonestly brushed off our direct inquiry casts doubt on its commitment to public engagement. In doing so, it arrogantly undermines every Portlander’s resolve to end our homelessness crisis, highlighting an urgent need for transparency and accountability.

Even as news stories earlier this year highlighted the office’s underspending of homeless services tax dollars, the office refused to answer our questions. Despite language in the county code that suggests otherwise, the Joint Office insisted our committee focus only on their budget plans and ignore actual spending. And in June, Joint Office staff stopped providing updates on Joint Office work and stated they would not assist us in our upcoming meetings, citing a letter from Chair Jessica Vega Pederson that dryly asserts our committee reached “the conclusion of this cycle’s engagement process.”>>

<<As Multnomah County deliberates on deploying over $100 million in unexpected and unspent revenue to tackle our homelessness crisis, our committee remains largely in the dark. >>

<<If Multnomah County will not follow its own laws concerning community input and cannot provide transparent answers about its expenditures, it will continue to lose public faith.>>