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Murmurs: Domestic Violence Allegation Leveled at Lawmaker

In other news: Cameron Smith crosses the aisle for work.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ALLEGATION LEVELED AT LAWMAKER: Andrea Valderrama, chair of the David Douglas School Board and a 2018 Portland City Council candidate, obtained a restraining order earlier this month against state Rep. Diego Hernandez (D-East Portland). Valderrama's March 3 filing in Multnomah County Circuit Court alleges Hernandez, with whom she was living from January through April 2019, got drunk, engaged in threatening behavior and threw things, including his phone, at her. "He usually mixes alcohol, narcotic pills, and marijuana," the filing states. "This use leads to violent outbursts and unpredictability." The filing also includes text-message apologies from him for drinking too much and for hurting her. "I filed this restraining order because I feared for my safety and my daughter's safety," Valderrama says. "The pattern of behavior that I experienced is behavior that he acknowledged." Hernandez denies the allegation. "It's important for me to say unequivocally that I refute the characterizations that are in the petition, both of my actions and my personality," he says. His attorney says the parties have been negotiating over terms for a dismissal of the restraining order. Valderrama has agreed to a dismissal with an agreement for a mutual no-contact order.

CROSSING THE AISLE FOR WORK: Cameron Smith's career has taken another unexpected turn. The former director of the Oregon Departments of Veterans Affairs and Consumer and Business Services quit the latter job this year to pursue a longshot bid for the Democratic nomination for secretary of state. He dropped out of the race earlier this month—and this week signed on as chief of staff for current Secretary of State Bev Clarno, a Republican. "I am honored Secretary of State Clarno has asked me to return to government service," Smith said. "I also appreciate her commitment to bipartisanship."

KNIGHT RISES IN DISTRICT ATTORNEY RACE: In the closely contested election for Multhomah County district attorney, Mike Schmidt, director of the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission and a former prosecutor, has lined up support from reformers and elected officials. But this week, his opponent, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight, scored a number of important endorsements from the law-and-order lobby: the Portland Firefighters Association, the Joint Council of Teamsters 37 (which represents paramedics), the Portland Police Association, the Multnomah County Prosecuting Attorneys Association, and Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill. "I have had the privilege of working with Ethan and his opponent," Underhill said. "I am supporting Ethan because he has the insight and ability to both uphold the rule of law and push for policies to make our community better."

WAPATO AGAIN TOUTED AS SOLUTION: On March 23, Portland real estate magnate Jordan Schnitzer announced his latest plan for the long-vacant Wapato Jail: a recovery center for COVID-19 patients. The jail, which has space for 500 beds, could reduce the strain on the state's congested hospital system. State Sens. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) and Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Portland) voiced support for the plan March 23. (Corrected: Both senators are advisory board members on the project, now called the Bybee Lakes Hope Center.) Schnitzer's group says it's working with the Oregon Health Authority. But OHA tells WW it is not aware of any plans to convert the jail into a recovery center. A spokesman for the project stood by the assertion that the group had spoken to state officials. (An OHA official did attend the group's last meeting at which COVID-19 recovery was discussed.) Schnitzer said he'd personally spoken with former Gov. John Kitzhaber: "In the eyes of medical professionals, they feel it could be repositioned to help with the potentially emerging crisis."