Portland Poised to Break Ties With FBI: The Portland City Council is expected to vote this week whether to pull out of a partnership between the Portland Police Bureau and the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. A contentious work session Feb. 12 offers clues to how the council will decide. Commissioner Chloe Eudaly is the likely swing vote to determine whether the city remains engaged with the federal task force. A spokeswoman for Eudaly says the commissioner won't publicly announce her decision until the vote Feb. 13. But Eudaly's questions during the work session suggest she has serious doubts about the Police Bureau's partnership with the FBI. Her first question: "How do we justify the risk of civil and human rights violations by our continued involvement in JTTF?" She also pressed federal officials on whether the FBI had dedicated enough resources to investigating right-wing and white nationalist extremists, whom she called the "real threat to public safety."
Foster Care Director Convicted of Felonies: A long-running scam perpetrated against hundreds of foster children came to a conclusion Feb. 7, when a jury in U.S. District Court in Portland found Mary Holden Ayala guilty of theft, money laundering and filing false tax returns. Holden Ayala, former executive director of the foster care agency Give Us This Day, stole nearly $1 million during the years 2011 to 2015, the jury found, and spent the money on travel, luxury shopping sprees and renovations to her West Linn home. Meanwhile, the foster children in her care lived in squalor, former employees testified, deprived of adequate food, clothing and hygiene supplies. "Mary Holden Ayala grossly neglected her duties and selfishly stole from children in need," said Billy J. Williams, U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon, whose office prosecuted the case. Holden Ayala's behavior was first reported in a WW cover story ("Home Sweet Hustle," Sept. 15, 2015). Sentencing is set for May.
Bad Parking Makes Bad Neighbors: The Richmond Neighborhood Association made headlines in 2016, when members beat back an effort to require official identification to vote in board elections. It continues to be among the most contentious civic groups in the city. Board chairman Matt Otis resigned in a Feb. 11 email, citing "Months and years of abuse. Back-channel bullying. Lies and half-truths thrown around to create unjust anger." That's not all, he writes: "That baseless anger leading to my kid and spouse getting accosted while just going on a walk," he wrote. "And for what?" Multiple technical grievances filed by longtime board member Allen Field raised the temperature as the association moved last month to consider a pilot program for parking permits near Southeast Division Street.
Lawmaker Seeks to End Vaccine Exemptions: As the measles outbreak that began in Vancouver, Wash., cracks 60 potential cases and spills over into Portland, Oregon Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland) is looking to put an end to personal exemptions to vaccine requirements. His proposed bill, first reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting, would eliminate all nonmedical exemptions for vaccines the state requires for children attending schools and some child care facilities. Under existing laws, Oregon residents can opt out of vaccinations for personal, philosophical or religious reasons. "Those parents that have not vaccinated their kids and exposed them to measles should be ashamed," he says. "We're going to end up with more than 100 cases that have really put those kids in danger. There's no excuse for that. There's no need for that to happen."