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March 17th, 2010 WW Editorial Staff | Rogue of the Week
 

Jana McLellan

Taking over the county, but leaving her cats behind.

     
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IMAGE: Courtesy of Multnomah County

The Rogue Desk wishes Jana McLellan the best of luck in her new—albeit temporary—job as Multnomah County chair.

But we’re naming McLellan this week’s Rogue because one of the county’s jobs is overseeing animal control, and she’s creating more hassles for the department she now oversees. That’s because her ex-neighbors are complaining she’s abandoned her two cats.

McLellan, who was second-in-command at the county, ascended to interim chair last week after Gov. Ted Kulongoski appointed then-county chair Ted Wheeler as state treasurer. (The board of commissioners plans to replace her with County Commissioner Jeff Cogen early next month. See “Off to the Races,” here.)

But at the same time she assumed command March 11, McLellan had left a problem festering in the Southwest Portland home where she lived for more than eight years with then-partner Suzanne Smith. The 2,984-square-foot Colonial house has been empty and up for sale since early last month.

Readers may remember that after McLellan entered a romantic relationship last year with a subordinate, county Library Director Vailey Oehlke, it prompted Wheeler to take over direct supervision of the library from McLellan (see “Internal Affair,” WW, Dec. 23, 2009).

Apparently McLellan also moved out and abandoned responsibility for the family cats, Lewis and Mama. Neighbors say the short-haired tabbies were left alone for several weeks in the house with piles of food. The cats occasionally escaped and roamed the neighborhood. Public records obtained by WW show two neighbors complained to Multnomah County Animal Control a month ago.

One neighbor told animal control McLellan was rude when confronted about the cats. Both neighbors tell WW they fear retribution for reporting the pets left in the empty house.

“It should be an embarrassment to Multnomah County that she oversees animal control,” one neighbor says.

Mike Oswald, head of animal control, told McLellan the cats were not licensed, as county rules require. In an internal report, Oswald says McLellan promised to license them (though records show she did not) and said a neighbor was checking on them daily.

Three neighbors tell WW that’s baloney. The cats were last seen around March 8—the day WW first asked the county about the issue. Neighbors saw McLellan driving rapidly up the street a few hours later, and the cats have not been seen since.

McLellan declined to comment. Maybe the cats had her tongue.

 
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