July 19th, 2013 | by Nigel Jaquiss and Aaron Mesh News | Posted In: PDX Votes, Multnomah County, Politics

County Emails Show Jeff Cogen and Sonia Manhas Discussed Her Promotion

Update: Cogen promised he'd run interference with Manhas' boss

cogenhealthJeff Cogen - Multnomah County

ORIGINAL POST, 1:46 pm: Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen used government email to discuss a job promotion with county employee Sonia Manhas while the two were having an affair, documents released today by the county show.

Cogen admitted on Tuesday that he had a lengthy affair with Manhas, but denied helping her advance to a job paying $103,000 a year. But WW reported last night Manhas listed Cogen as one of two references in her job application.

The emails, exchanged using their county accounts, show they discussed her possible promotion, and Manhas told him how much she wishes to work more closely with him.

They also discussed Cogen taking blame for slowing an anti-tobacco program with Manhas' direct supervisor, health department director Lillian Shirley.


On July 2, 2012—eight days before she applied for the job—Manhas forwarded Cogen the county health department notice for hiring a director of policy and planning.

Her email consisted only of a smiley face emoticon. He replied 36 minutes letter, also with a smiley emoticon.

On Aug. 21, after she had applied, Manhas forwarded Cogen another internal county update about the hiring process.  

"Only as FYI—kind of odd, I’ve not seen an update like this about a particular recruitment go out to the whole dept.," she wrote.

Cogen replied: "Maybe it’s an indication if an indication of how important this work is."

UPDATE, 4:40 pm: On Aug. 30, they continued to discuss office politics. She warned him that her direct supervisor, health department director Lillian Shirley, might visit him with concerns that department staff were "slowing down the process" on anti-tobacco policy.

"You know we'll make it happen when you want to do it…next month or next spring," Manhas wrote. "Maybe when she brings it up, you can reinforce (as I also said) that you want to pace with BPA [sippy-cup ban] first - nothing to do with our capacity. Is that okay?"

Cogen replied he was happy to tell her boss he was to blame.

"Don't worry," he wrote, "I'll make it clear to Lillian that the decision to slow down was my political instinct not the fabulous program staff who made it clear they would meet whatever crazy timeline I imposed on them! :)"

She wrote him back to say thanks.

"Sometimes this stuff gets weird…." Manhas wrote to Cogen. "another reason I would rather work directly for you :))”

The Multnomah County Health Department selected Manhas for promotion on Sept. 11. The next day, she forwarded Cogen the news from director Lillian Shirley, and added:

“I’m thinking she’ll share this with you but I wanted to send it along as well :)"

He replied with a smiley emoticon.

"Damn," Cogen wrote, "that Sonia woman sounds great!"

 
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