Horrifying California Crash Appears Intentional: The Pacific Northwest has been transfixed and appalled for the past week by the fate of a Woodland, Wash., family whose SUV was found March 26 after plunging off a Northern California cliff. The California Highway Patrol now says it believes all eight members of the Hart family were killed in the crash—and it was probably no accident. Officials say the family's SUV came to a stop at a highway turnoff, then sped another 70 feet to the cliff's edge without skid marks showing anyone hit the brakes. Jennifer Hart, 38, was found in the driver's seat. Her wife, Sarah, was also in the vehicle. The bodies of three of their adopted children were recovered; three more remain missing.
Tenants Want Housing Bureau to Buy Apartment Complex: Tenants facing buyout and potentially eviction from a Southeast Portland apartment complex are asking city officials for help. Last week, WW examined how tenant protections passed by the City Council—including a mandate to pay moving costs in many evictions—weren't enough to help immigrant tenants being offered cash payments to move out ("No Vacancy," WW, March 28, 2018). Now tenants of Holgate Manor in Creston-Kenilworth are asking the Portland Housing Bureau to buy the complex with proceeds from the $258 million housing bond approved by voters in 2016. The Housing Bureau is "open to communicating with the new owner to discuss what the terms of a sale might be," says spokeswoman Martha Calhoon.
Prosecutors Crack Down on Car Thieves: Oregon lawmakers failed last month to fix a loophole in state law that makes car thefts difficult to prosecute ("Car Jack City," WW, Nov. 29, 2017). Last week, Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill quietly ordered his own solution: refusing to offer probation in most cases involving repeat car thieves. Defense lawyers are crying foul. "The question here is whether the threat of longer prison sentences is going to act as a general deterrent to would-be car thieves, and I am not sure it will," says Mary Sofia, lobbyist for the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. Underhill says the Legislature left him no choice. "We prefer not to use a more punitive tool," Underhill says, "but we want and need to reduce the status of the stolen car problem in Multnomah County."
KATU Criticized for Reading Sinclair Statement: Anchors from Portland station KATU-TV were among those to read a statement last month denouncing "the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country." The statement, which carries echoes of President Donald Trump's attacks on the press and was mandated by station owner Sinclair Broadcast Group, has raised national ire since a compilation video was released last week by sports website Deadspin. (KATU is WW's TV news partner, and the paper does a weekly segment on the air with the station.) Managers at KATU declined to comment, and pointed WW to a statement from Sinclair's corporate office.