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Sources Say: Cogen probe stalls at gate

It’s about three months and counting since the first investigation into former Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen’s affair with a county employee was launched.

That’s not as long as the five months it took before the Oregon Department of Justice released the results of its investigation into former Portland Mayor Sam Adams’ relationship with Beau Breedlove. But it’s a pretty long time considering Cogen already has resigned after admitting the relationship with former county health administrator Sonia Manhas.

Cogen first admitted the affair on July 23. The Multnomah County counsel then announced an investigation into whether any county rules or policies were broken because of it. That investigation was halted, however, after the state Justice Department started its own investigation a short time later.

Contacted by Sources, department spokesman Jeff Manning said the investigation is ongoing. “No telling when it will wrap up at this point,” Manning added.

Politicos jockey for position

In the meantime, Cogen’s resignation has triggered a round of musical chairs in local political services. Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury resigned her seat Friday to run for the chair position, as required by the county charter. She joins former City Commissioner Jim Francesconi, who announced his candidacy the week before.

As expected, state Rep. Jules Bailey (D-Dist. 24) formally declared for Kafoury’s seat last week. So has Brian Wilson, a Portland businessman and consultant who has worked to support Portland Public Schools ballot measures.

Candidates already are announcing for Bailey’s seat. So far they include labor organizer Rob Nosse and former Multnomah County Democratic chairman Teddy Keizer. More are expected to jump in.

And state Sen. Jackie Dingfelder’s unexpected decision to resign her seat to work for Mayor Charlie Hales has created another open seat in the Oregon Legislature. The commission must now choose someone to replace Dingfelder for the rest of her term. State Rep. Michael Dembrow, who represents half the district, announced he will seek the appointment on Monday. If he gets it, the commission will then have to fill his House District 45 vacancy.

Hearings would be more special

Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney now has come out against a special session of the Oregon Legislature for the Columbia River Crossing. But that doesn’t mean Gov. John Kitzhaber has taken it off the table.

Courtney issued a statement last week saying he believes public hearings should be held on the latest CRC proposal before the Legislature takes it up next year. Asked to respond, Kitzhaber spokesman Tim Raphael would only say, “We agree that hearings are the appropriate next step. Taking it one step at a time.”

And a majority of the state Senate and Oregon House could vote the Legislature into special session, even if Courtney opposed it. That seems unlikely, however, because it would be such a slap in his face.