POLICE CALLED TO RYAN'S HOME FOUR TIMES SINCE OCTOBER: Portland police have been dispatched to City Commissioner Dan Ryan's home at least four times since October, according to public records obtained by WW. The incidents surrounded Ryan's Nov. 5 vote against cutting the Portland Police Bureau's budget by $18 million. The first dispatch occurred Oct. 28, when protesters arrived at the commissioner's home one week prior to the vote. On Nov. 1, police responded to a report of "vandalism" there, records say. Then, on Nov. 5, the day of the vote, police were called to an incident labeled as "arson" and another described as an open investigation. (It is unclear whether the two Nov. 5 calls stemmed from the same incident.) The most recent dispatch occurred Jan. 10, according to records. "To date, there have been no suspects located or arrested in cases associated with the crimes (vandalism or otherwise) at the commissioner's home," says Portland police spokesman Lt. Greg Pashley. Ryan's office confirmed to WW that police had been called to his home multiple times, but it is unclear whether the calls were made by Ryan or neighbors. "Over the past few months, there were circumstances in which the police were called to Commissioner Ryan's home," his spokeswoman Gwen Thompson said. "Commissioner Ryan is focused on our city's most pressing issues—protecting our unsheltered neighbors from the coming winter storm…and working with his colleagues to build a community safety system that works for everyone."
VANDALS HIT JADE DISTRICT: Asian-owned businesses along Southeast 82nd Avenue are cleaning up after a wave of smashed windows. In the last week of January, 13 businesses in East Portland, centered in the Jade District along Southeast 82nd, were vandalized and had windows broken. At least nine of the businesses were Asian-owned, according to the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon. The vandalized businesses include My Brother's Crawfish, Hanoi Kitchen, Utopia Restaurant and Lounge, and Buddy's Lounge. Duncan Hwang, associate director of APANO, says there's no direct evidence the vandalism was motivated by racism—but the high number of Asian-owned businesses hit by vandals suggests a connection. "East Portland's BIPOC- and immigrant-owned businesses are already facing incredible challenges due to the pandemic," Hwang says. "Having to make repairs is an unnecessary challenge making their livelihoods more difficult."
BROWN RELAXES COVID RESTRICTIONS: On Friday, Feb. 12, indoor dining returns to Portland before most schools are expected to begin only limited reopenings. The change comes as Multnomah County and surrounding metro counties had fewer than 200 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the previous two weeks. Restaurants can host 25% of their usual capacity (up to a maximum of 50 people). "Reopening schools is not a light switch that can be turned off and on at a moment's notice, but the local processes to return students to classrooms are happening right now and have been for several weeks," says Charles Boyle, spokesman for Gov. Kate Brown. Health officials in the Portland area urged people to continue to practice caution: "The metro region is still in the high-risk category, which means the virus is still circulating widely in our communities," said Washington County health officer Dr. Christina Baumann in a statement. "Until more people are vaccinated, we must continue to practice safety measures to protect our most vulnerable residents." Gyms and entertainment venues can begin to open as well. Nursing homes may allow visitors.
BAR MOVES TO BOOST PROTECTIONS: Two years ago, WW reported how former personal injury attorney Lori Deveny allegedly stole millions of dollars from her clients by cashing their settlement checks from insurers ("Game Over," Jan. 16, 2019). Now the Oregon State Bar has requested legislation that would require insurers to notify beneficiaries in writing when they send checks for $5,000 or more. Senate Bill 180 is currently parked at the Senate Judiciary Committee and is not scheduled for a hearing. Also in response to the Deveny scandal, the Oregon State Bar Board of Governors will consider Feb. 12 whether to raise the cap on the amount victims of dishonest lawyers can claim from the bar's client security fund—from $50,000 to $100,000. Portland lawyer Sean Riddell, who represents a client from whom Deveny allegedly stole a six-figure settlement, says it's appropriate for insurers to communicate directly with beneficiaries. "The more transparency and notice the better," Riddell says. "And if anyone in the insurance industry says it adds a burden—it doesn't." Deveny is set for criminal trial in Multnomah County Circuit Court in July.
HERNANDEZ FACES EXPULSION VOTE: After four days of hearings, including testimony by women who alleged state Rep. Diego Hernandez (D-East Portland) harassed them, the House Conduct Committee voted unanimously Feb. 5 to expel Hernandez for 18 violations of House rules prohibiting harassment and creating a hostile workplace. Numerous Democratic groups, including some that represent people of color, called on Hernandez to resign, as did Gov. Kate Brown, State Treasurer Tobias Read, and the Democratic leaders of both the House and the Senate. Hernandez's attorney, Kevin Lafky, told WW the proceedings against his client were unfair because Conduct Committee members did not get to see all the evidence he had submitted. "The conduct he's been accused of does not merit the loss of his seat," Lafky adds. No Oregon legislator has ever been expelled by a vote of his peers, so the process is new, but officials tentatively expect a floor vote Feb. 16.