Oregon Lawmakers to Take Another Crack at Auto Thefts: Oregon legislators will try again in 2019 to make motor vehicle theft easier to prosecute in hopes of slowing car thefts. A previous bill in the 2018 short session died without a vote. Rep. Jeff Barker (D-Aloha), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, confirmed plans to bring the bill back next year. "I would like to see it made clear that if you steal a car you're going to be in trouble," Barker says. In 2017, Portland saw the city's highest number of stolen vehicles in 20 years—in part thanks to an appeals court ruling that makes car thefts hard to convict—and this year's numbers are on par with last year's.
Coffee Creek Adopts Flu Reforms: Oregon's women's prison has adopted substantial reforms to its vaccination practices after a flu outbreak last year killed an inmate and revealed deficiencies in the institution's medical practices. WW first reported the death of Tina Ferri in March, after investigating the influenza outbreak at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility ("A Bug in the System," WW, March 21, 2018). This year, Coffee Creek is taking strides to better inform inmates about the flu vaccine. A new "cold and flu" bulletin board includes posters about preventing and treating flu. Every housing unit has a letter posted explaining the benefits of the vaccine. And blurbs in the prison's biweekly newsletter, Coffee Talk, provide clear instructions to women who want to be vaccinated. Similar steps have been taken at the men's prisons, a state spokeswoman says.
Mayor Not Spending on Housing Bond: Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler oversees the Housing Bureau and says affordable housing is a priority of his office. But on a key measure on the ballot this fall, the mayor has been thrifty. Wheeler serves on the political action committee supporting Metro's housing bond, but he's given just $2,000 from his own PAC. Multnomah County Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury has donated $15,000 from hers. Metro Chairman Tom Hughes has donated $6,234. "The mayor is on the PAC board for the campaign and is a voracious fundraiser for the effort," says Wheeler chief of staff Michael Cox.
Sex Abuse Defendants Back in Court: Former Multnomah County Commission candidate Charles McGee and banker Aubré Dickson will appear in Multnomah County Circuit Court on Oct. 5 for a settlement conference. It's the last scheduled chance for the men's attorneys to reach a plea deal with the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office. If a deal doesn't happen, the cases against both men are set for trial next March. The two were indicted in May on sex abuse charges after WW reported they allegedly assaulted Portland woman Erica Naito-Campbell in 2012 ("No Way Out, WW, Feb. 7, 2018). McGee, founder and CEO of the nonprofit Black Parent Initiative. He quit the county race and was fired by BPI. Dickson, who worked for Key Bank, then served as the chairman of the Oregon Housing Stability Council, which funds affordable housing. He also lost his job. Both men pleaded not guilty.