Three months before Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen began an affair with Sonia Manhas, he presented her with one of the highest honors for a county employee: the Chair's Excellence Award.
The county workers who packed the board chambers on May 4, 2011 couldn't have known how the relationship between Cogen and Manhas would shake county government.
Today, Manhas resigned from the county health department, saying she was forced to quit by county officials before she was allowed to talk to her boss, Lillian Shirley, who reports to Cogen.
Cogen has pledged not to step down despite holes in his story, describing himself as a "fighter."
His four colleagues on the Multnomah County Commission—Deborah Kafoury, Diane McKeel, Judy Shiprack and Loretta Smith—have not responded to WW's requests for comment on Manhas' departure.
In May 2011—months before the affair began—Cogen's praise for Manhas' work was effusive.
"Sonia's dedication and the results that she has demonstrated embody the values of Multnomah County and show how all of us can make a difference," Cogen said. "And she does it with good humor, a wonderful smile, and amazingly effective results."
Here is the video of that awards ceremony.