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July 2017 -- Vol. 111, No. 11

Memories of THE BEE's first 100 years!
In 2006, THE BEE celebrated its centennial of serving Southeast Portland!  A special four-page retrospective of Inner Southeast Portland's century, written by Eileen Fitzsimons, and drawn from the pages of THE BEE over the previous 100 years, appeared in our September, 2006, issue.
Click here to read this special retrospective!


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Barista Tasha Addington-Ferris, smash and grab, burglary, Rose City Coffee, Westmoreland, Portland, Oregon
Barista Tasha Addington-Ferris displays the rock that a burglar threw through Rose City Coffee’s Westmoreland front door, and a jar of the collected broken glass it scattered on the floor. She’s hopeful the June 22 arrests in North Portland will put an end to such burglaries in Southeast. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Burglary arrests possibly linked to local crimes

By RITA A. LEONARD
For THE BEE

In the early morning hours of Thursday June 22, 2017, North and East Precinct officers responded to numerous reports of smash-and-grab commercial burglaries to businesses. As officers were investigating numerous break-ins along North Mississippi Avenue, officers responded to a burglary alarm at Binks at approximately 4:30 a.m. Binks, a neighborhood pub, is located at 2715 Northeast Alberta Street.

Officers spotted two people in the area of Binks that ran from police and hid in the neighborhood. A third person in a dark-colored smaller SUV drove out of the area and has not been identified or located. A neighborhood perimeter was established, and the two suspects were located and taken into custody without incident near Northeast 26th Avenue and Alberta Street.

19-year-old Alec Ryan Cameron Johnson and 16-year-old Julian Miguel Gallardo were charged with multiple counts of Burglary, Theft, and Criminal Mischief, in connection with numerous commercial burglaries reported in Northeast Portland.

Detectives are now investigating some 35 other similar smash-and-grab business burglary reports in various parts of the city – including Inner Southeast – during the previous month, seeking any link to the two people in custody.

Officers from Central, East, and North Precincts, as well as the K-9 and Air Support Units, assisted with the investigation and the capture of the two suspects.

Johnson was booked into the Multnomah County Jail and Gallardo was lodged at the Donald E. Long Juvenile Detention Home (JDH).

Detectives are continuing to investigate many other burglary reports, and the suspects may face additional charges at a later time.

The relevance to Inner Southeast would be that in the last month or so there have been a number of smash-and-grab overnight burglaries here too. As reported in last month’s BEE, Opa Pizzaria in Sellwood and Buttercraft in Westmoreland were recent victims.

And, around 4 a.m. on Friday, June 16, someone hurled a rock through the front door of Rose City Coffee Co. at 7325 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue. Barista Tasha Addington-Ferris later told THE BEE, “The alarm company notified owner Christie Gryphon at home, and she came right down to check the damage and start clean-up. The thief knocked over some of our counter supplies, and stole our whole cash register.”

Although 9-1-1 call levels to the Bureau of Emergency Services show that Inner Southeast is generally one of the lower crime areas in the City of Portland, on this same morning, June 16, police were also investigating a burglary at about the same time in the vicinity of S.E. Holgate and 28th.

As to the impact of such crimes on local merchants – smash-and-grab burglaries and subsequent repairs are expensive; but Gryphon, who is assuming ownership of a second coffee shop in the Brooklyn neighborhood, is philosophical. “With the help of our amazing team and our local community, we were open for business again at about 7:30 a.m.,” she said. “We are so thankful that nobody was hurt, and we appreciate the outpouring of heartfelt community support.”

As a sign of further commitment to Inner Southeast, the Westmoreland site recently expanded business hours, and is now open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and the Brooklyn site, the former “True Brew Coffee House” at 3370 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, advertises hours of 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and weekends from 8 a.m. till 2 p.m.

True Brew also carried books. “We're having a book sale of the thousands of books left here, at 75 cents each,” Gryphon remarked.

“We'll continue to support the community. Our plan is to host local artists, and hang their work on our walls for display and purchase. We can seat about eighty at our Brooklyn location, and there is also a kids’ toy area here.”

Only time will tell if the June 22 arrests in North Portland will signal an end such burglaries in Southeast as well. Local merchants are hopeful that they will.



TV show, Librarians, Wilhelms Portland Memorial, filming, Portland, Oregon
A production assistant outside Wilhelm’s Portland Mortuary calms a dog, while its owner waits for the cameras filming a segment of “The Librarians” to stop rolling. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Television crew films ‘Librarians’ at Westmoreland mortuary

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Except for Wednesday afternoons, when it’s taken over by the Moreland Farmers Market, Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial parking lot is usually pretty empty.

So, many neighbors and passers-by were curious, when huge semi-trailers showed up along S.E. Bybee Boulevard and in the parking lot. Turns out, they were there for filming taking place in and around Portland Memorial’s buildings on June 15 and 16.

Neighbors out taking a stroll, or walking their dogs along S.E. 14th Avenue, patiently stood aside while cameras rolled, and then were ushered down the street between takes.

Insiders at the Oregon Film Office told us that this would be the crew that’s filming segments for the Turner Network Television series “The Librarians”.

This show is produced by Electric Entertainment Productions, the same company that previously produced another long-running series filmed in Portland, “Leverage”. 

The pretext of “The Librarians” is that its central characters are part of an ancient organization dedicated to protecting an “unknowing world” from “a secret magical reality” hidden all around us.

With “Grimm” having concluded its successful network run, “The Librarians” – now in its fourth season – is the only major TV series currently being filmed in Portland.



Wells Fargo, bank robber, Woodstock, Portland, Oregon
The investigation took officers and F.B.I. agents on to the intersection of S.E. 62nd Avenue and Foster Road. Portland Police, K-9 officers, F.B.I. agents, and an airborne unit were active in the search for the Woodstock bank robber. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Police, K-9s, FBI, airplane track Woodstock Wells Fargo armed robber

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Shoppers stopping by the Woodstock Safeway store to pick up groceries for the weekend said they were surprised by a commotion in the Wells Fargo Bank branch inside the store late Friday afternoon, June 23.

“It looked like security guards in the area, but I guess they were actually police officers,” a shopper told THE BEE on her way out of the store.

In fact, the 9-1-1 Center reported a robbery taking place there at 5:37 p.m. that afternoon.

Other witnesses said a man – with a full gray beard, large white hat, light shirt, and blue jeans; about 6’ tall, and 200 pounds – looked to have a semiautomatic pistol tucked in his waistband which he showed the tellers during the robbery.

The suspect left the store with money stuffed in a white plastic shopping bag, and was last seen heading up Woodstock Boulevard.

In minutes, a dozen Portland Police Bureau units were crisscrossing the neighborhood, in ever-widening circles – including the bureau’s “eye in the sky” air unit.

Officers tracked the robber to near the intersection of S.E. 62nd and Foster Road.

Since Portland Police and F.B.I. agents were still actively working the case, and THE BEE was being assembled for printing at the same time, no further information was available to us before going to press. We hope they got the guy.



Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association, new Board, new Directors, Portland, Oregon
Here are the new ENA Board of Directors: President Rod Merrick, VP Kristiana Nelson, Secretary George Bengtson, and Treasurer Heidi Levy. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Eastmorelanders peaceably elect ENA’s Officers

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

While discord abounds regarding a large section of Eastmoreland potentially becoming an official Historic District, new officers for the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association (ENA) were unanimously elected at their board meeting held the evening of June 1 at Duniway Elementary School.

More than 45 neighbors had filled the school’s library, including 20 of the 21 board members, when the ENA Board of Director’s meeting was called to order by outgoing Vice President Meg Merrick.

“This is the finalization of the election process held on May 18, where there was an extraordinary voter turnout,” Merrick pointed out.

Since staff from the neighborhood coalition, Southeast Uplift, had gathered the ballots for counting, and counting and tabulation would take considerable time, just who the new Board Members were wouldn’t be known for several days – so the association couldn’t also decide on the officers at the same meeting, as had been the practice in the past, making the May 18 meeting necessary.

After self-introductions around the room, Merrick called for nominations for the ENA officer positions of President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. Following the ENA Bylaws, only Board Members were allowed to nominate and vote for their officers.

The four nominees spoke about their willingness to serve in the position. After that, ENA Secretary George Bengtson called for the vote: Each of the nominated officers was unanimously elected.

The results: Rod Merrick, President; Kristiana Nelson, Vice President; George Bengtson was re-elected Secretary, and Heidi Levy, Treasurer.

Newly-minted ENA President Rod Merrick thanked Meg, his wife, for having serving as Vice President – and, for the last couple of years, having putting together the neighborhood’s newsletter.

“I think we have a strong Board, based on what I’ve read about each of you,” President Merrick smiled. “I couldn’t be happier work with you. We’ve got a lot of challenges ahead in the neighborhood.”



Drug raid, Sellwood, Sellwood Park, Portland, Oregon
After serving a search warrant, officers load evidence from this Sellwood house into a waiting police vehicle. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Neighbors’ concerns lead to Sellwood drug raid

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Concerns about drugs being manufactured or distributed at a house located at 704 S.E. Lexington Street – directly across the street from Sellwood Park – led to a police raid on the morning of June 16.

A large police presence, including a Portland Police Bureau (PPB) K-9 team, were in the area early that morning; officers were seen loading material out of the residence into an unmarked police SUV.

PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Chris Burley told THE BEE, “Officers were serving a warrant, initiated by neighborhood complaints regarding activity at the house, to the Central Precinct Neighborhood Response Team.”

Because illegal drugs were potentially involved, the Neighborhood Response Team called on the services of the Bureau’s Special Emergency Reaction Team to serve the warrant, and search the premises.

PPB Officer Shaun Sahli, who was lead investigative officer for this warrant, told how the mission came about.  “We looked into this being a possible drug house. Based on our observations, we corroborated what neighbors were reporting, and obtained a warrant to search the house.”

Inside, Sahli said, it appeared as if the residents had been making “hash oil”. Officers also found what they believed to be methamphetamine.

41-year-old Joseph Andrew Schmeer was booked into Multnomah County Detention Center at 12:53 p.m. on charges of Methamphetamine Possession, Manufacturing Marijuana, and two other unspecified felony charges.

After appearing before a Multnomah County judge, Schmeer was set free on the afternoon of his arrest, “on his Own Recognizance, with Pretrial Supervision”, pending his trial on the charges.



Pothole repairs, contracted street repair, Portland, Oregon
A crew from “Just Bucket Excavating” of Albany, which contracts with PDOT to repair potholes in Southeast Portland, starts filling a very large rectangular pothole on S.E. 37th between Insley and Steele, on the afternoon of June 7. (Photo by Eric Norberg)

City contracts outside help for ‘winter potholes’ repair in Southeast

By ERIC NORBERG
Editor, THE BEE

When the morning dawned on eight inches of snow across Portland on January 12, under the glistening coat of white the streets were suffering damage that would soon become very clear to motorists.  Potholes were everywhere, and driving on even such a major street as S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses felt like jolting down a rutty country road.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation fills potholes year ’round, but this year it was hard pressed to keep up with the need. The worst ones were rapidly and temporarily packed with asphalt, pending a proper repair as time and facilities allowed. Twelve thousand potholes had been filled as of the first of June, but easily four thousand remained to be done.

To speed up the process, PBOT put out word it wanted to hire private contractors to repair potholes – and got, surprisingly, only two bids. Both companies were hired and put to work. Concentrating on Southeast Portland is “Just Bucket Excavating, Inc.” of Albany, Oregon – the other firm is working on the west side of the Willamette River.

On June 7, PBOT – and the City Commissioner who oversees it, Dan Saltzman – held a press event in the Reed neighborhood to show off the public-private partnership against potholes. The site was S.E. 37th just south of Steele Street, at Insley, and arriving press found several rectangular holes in the pavement, right down to the dirt.

It turns out that a pothole repair, done properly, requires removing the road around the pothole and repairing the surface underneath, after which asphalt is reintroduced into the square or rectangular excavation and then packed down. The process was explained by Saltzman and the Project Coordinator for Just Bucket Excavating, Don Davis.

But, if you are sitting reading your BEE and wondering when they will ever get to the pothole that is bothering you, if you haven’t reported it to PBOT, it’s partly your fault that it hasn’t been done! Turns out the city does not prowl for potholes – they work from a list, year ’round, every year, addressing potholes that have been reported to them.

You can get more information, and report potholes yourself, online at: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/319627#Report – there’s even a map showing in red the reported potholes they haven’t gotten to yet, and in green, the ones they’ve fixed – and a link to a larger, more updated, and very detailed scalable map of the same thing.

So if you need to have a pothole or incipient sinkhole repaired, now you know how to get it done.



Norma Gabriel, Sellwood, City of Milwaukie, FedEx, traffic collision, Oregon
This is the downtown City of Milwaukie crosswalk in which Sellwood resident Norma Gabriel was struck by a small FedEx Sprinter Van on April 26. She died at OHSU on May 10 of her injuries. The driver of the van pleaded “no contest” and was fined $260. (Photo by Raymond Rendleman)

Driver pleads ‘no contest’ in death of Sellwood resident

By RAYMOND RENDLEMAN
Special to THE BEE

On June 25, FexEx driver Jason James Fletcher pleaded “no contest”, and paid a $260 traffic ticket, for failing to yield to Norma Gabriel, who was using her walker at an intersection on April 26 while trying to catch a bus at the Milwaukie Transit Center.

Gabriel, 83, a longtime Sellwood resident, was rushed by American Medical Response ambulance to Oregon Health & Science University, where she died from her injuries on May 10.

“I can’t believe you could take someone’s life and walk away from it with only a $260 fine,” said Nelson’s Nautilus Plus Milwaukie manager Angie Reynolds, an Oregon City resident who saw Gabriel every week as a patron of the exercise facility.

Oregon court records show that Fletcher has previously paid a total of $2,073 for 44 parking tickets in the past 10 years.

“It appears that paying tickets is just part of the cost of doing business for FedEx,” remarked former State Rep. Carolyn Tomei, D-Milwaukie.

It wasn’t just the fine amount that has shaken the local community. A news release was never issued regarding the case, so the circumstances surrounding Gabriel’s death had remained mostly rumor until the publication of this news story.

According to the corporate office, FedEx talked with the Milwaukie Police Department soon after the incident, and officers initially declined to issue a traffic ticket. It was only after Gabriel died in the hospital that police reconstructed the scene of the crash and issued the citation.

FedEx apparently wasn’t notified when Fletcher was charged, nor when he paid the fine, and a FedEx corporate spokesperson said she found out about these developments from the Clackamas Review newspaper on June 28. FedEx’s office declined to say whether corporate policy could call for the firing a FedEx driver who hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

“Our deepest sympathy is extended to the family over the loss of their loved one,” said FedEx spokesperson Heather Wilson. “We are looking into additional information about this incident and will withhold further comment pending the outcome of our investigation.”

City of Milwaukie resident Benedicta Foley witnessed the FedEx van about to hit Gabriel, but Foley told police that she couldn’t bear to watch the van make contact, so Foley turned away before the van actually hit Gabriel. Foley told police that she saw Gabriel having trouble getting off the curb and moving very slowly with her walker into the crosswalk. After Foley turned away, she heard a “thump”, and when she turned back around, she saw Gabriel on the ground bleeding.

FedEx driver Fletcher, a 48-year-old Lake Oswego resident, was turning left from Southeast 21st Avenue into the transit center on Jackson Street when he hit Gabriel, a resident of Sellwood. In a 911 call a minute later, he admitted to hitting Gabriel in the crosswalk. When the 911 dispatcher asked Fletcher what happened, he said, “She’s very short. I didn’t see her over the ... hood of my truck.”

Tomei not only knew Gabriel as a fellow Nelson’s Nautilus member, but Tomei also saw the incident as something that should forever remain in the memory of citizens and local public-safety advocates. Tomei walks with her 4-year-old great-grandson to the library every Friday, and crosses using the same crosswalk in which Gabriel was killed. Tomei now worries that her great-grandson might be as vulnerable as Gabriel in terms of being small and unseen.

“In my 51 years living in Milwaukie I have never heard of anyone being killed downtown in the transit center, much less in a crosswalk,” Tomei remarked. “Frankly I can’t understand how this has been handled so quietly and casually, nor why the disability community has not been alerted and involved.”

Gabriel’s death may have a lasting impact on the City of Milwaukie. Oregon City doesn’t allow passenger cars in its TriMet transit center, and now Milwaukie is considering enacting the same rule.

Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba said that he will advocate that the city close the transit center to non-bus through traffic, in light of this news. Gamba also is working on a Vision Zero plan with the Milwaukie City Council to develop funding sources and construction projects to make streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, with the goal of zero pedestrian fatalities in the future.

Possibility of a lawsuit
The FexEx Mercedes Sprinter Van hit Gabriel in broad daylight, and she died from injuries she sustained in the 10:41 a.m. mishap. Fletcher would have had to stop at a stop sign, at the three-way intersection across from the Waldorf School, before proceeding left across the intersection – and he would have had to yield to any vehicles at the intersection’s other two stop signs. In addition, Oregon law also states that he should have yielded to any pedestrians in the two crosswalks he was attempting to cross over.

Mercedes Sprinter vans have large windows and short hoods, and many people familiar with the case have trouble believing that anyone would have been unable to see Gabriel while using such a vehicle to make a left-hand turn across a lane of traffic. However, police did not find any evidence that Fletcher was driving while using a cell phone, nor did Fletcher appear to be driving under the influence of intoxicants. According to a copy of the police report originally obtained by Tomei, officers decided to cite Fletcher for failure to yield, and police declined to take further action.

Josh Lamborn, a former Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney who currently runs an injury law firm in Portland, said that it was “pretty typical” of law enforcement to issue a citation for failing to yield in a case like this. “This isn’t a high-speed area; it’s a place where you’d expect to find pedestrians,” Lamborn said. “But it would be very hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, here, a criminal act.”

It would be a waste of taxpayer money to try to prosecute Fletcher for a criminally negligent homicide, Lamborn said. Milwaukie Police Chief Steve Bartol told Gamba that Fletcher apologized for killing Gabriel and was sorry about what he had done.

“Juries understand that people make mistakes, and they can all think about times when they have been driving and have not seen someone in a crosswalk, but luckily didn’t hit anyone,” Lamborn said. “So they tend to relate to the driver absent some other egregious factor.”While he won’t face any additional criminal charges now that he’s paid the $260 fine for failing to yield, Fletcher and FedEx can still be sued for the pain and suffering that Gabriel experienced during two weeks in the hospital until she died from the injuries she suffered during the crash. If she had just been hurt, she could have brought a lawsuit on her own behalf – but the person who would now be able to sue would be the personal representative of her will, or her next of kin. Her son, Michael Gabriel, who lived with her, also could sue Fletcher and FedEx’s insurance company, Protective Insurance, for the loss of companionship that he is now experiencing with his mother’s death.

Criminal cases have to be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt,” but the standard for proof would be lower in a civil lawsuit.

“In a civil case, they’d just have to prove that he didn’t use the reasonable care he was supposed to use in driving the FexEx van,” Lamborn explained.

“A family who loses someone like this needs an attorney on a wrongful-death case,” Lamborn added. “Wrongful-death cases are complicated, insurance companies can manipulate laypeople (because of the average citizen’s lack of experience with the process and the legal system) and wrongful-death cases cannot be settled without court approval.

“In a case like this, which is pretty clear that the driver was negligent, I tend to put all my cards on the table to show them they are in trouble and encourage them to make a decent offer,” Lamborn observed. “It is only after I negotiate the case to the point that the adjuster says there is no more money, does my client have a real decision to make: File the lawsuit or take the offer. I almost always encourage them to file the lawsuit. I have never seen the offer go down after filing, only up. With few exceptions, the only way you get the full value of the case is to take it to trial. Unfortunately most clients do not want to risk or endure a trial.”

In wrongful death cases in Oregon, there’s a cap on noneconomic damages, so $500,000 is probably the most that the Gabriel family could hope to obtain from FedEx. If Gabriel had been killed when she was 50 years younger and while still raising her children, her family would be eligible for economic damages, in addition to up to $500,000 in noneconomic damages.

“Someone who is 83 years old wouldn’t probably have any economic damages,” Lamborn said. “The biggest measure for economic damages is what you would have made during the rest your lifetime, minus what you consume. You can attach a value to doing the dishes, taking care of the children and the home.”

With the support of victim advocates such as Tomei, Oregon Trial Lawyers Association is lobbying to increase the cap on noneconomic damages so that killing people who are old and/or disabled is considered to be just as potentially financially damaging as killing someone who is young and healthy.

“That’s pretty shocking, and the current law is very, very cold-hearted,” Tomei said.



Scandinavian Festival, Majstång, Midsummer Pole, Oaks Park, Portland, Oregon .
With a mighty “heave-ho”, volunteers and organizers raised the Majstång (Midsummer Pole) at Oaks Park. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Scandinavians and residents again celebrate summer at The Oaks

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

In the “northern lands of the midnight sun”, Scandinavians celebrate the warmth of summer by gathering with friends to enjoy food and drinks, decorate a Maypole, play games on the lawn – and enjoy the longest day of the year.

This tradition continued in Portland, as the 89th annual Scandinavian Midsummer Festival took over historic Oaks Amusement Park on Saturday, June 10.

“This location seems to work out really well for us, and it’s really grown over the last few years,” smiled the chief organizer, “Nordic Northwest” Executive Director Greg Smith.

“Last year we saw a record crowds here, and even with clouds rolling over, it looks like we already have a terrific crowd enjoying Scandinavian foods, crafts, and arts – and the kids are having a great time as are the adults,” Smith told THE BEE.

Beyond simply offering a good time, there’s a deeper meaning to the festival, Smith remarked. “We present both the historical and contemporary aspects of Scandinavian culture for the about 12% of the population of Oregon and Washington who share roots from the Nordic countries.

“This festival brings people back together, and reminds them of where they came from, and the wonderful traditions of their ancestors,” elaborated Smith. “But at the same time they get to explore what’s happened in the contemporary Scandinavian communities – learning from the exhibits, participating in arts and crafts, and celebrating things that are coming out of Scandinavia today.”

As we spoke, volunteers were helping lift the traditional Majstång into place. “Remember, this isn’t a ‘Maypole’ – it’s the ‘Midsummer Pole’!” said the announcer – directing the raising of the totem, which was decorated from top to bottom with greenery and flowers to signify the beginning of the summer season.

Although the festival was presented by Nordic Northwest and the League of Swedish Societies, the countries of Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Iceland were also well-represented in the entertainment, dances, specialty food, and games.

“We’re proud that this festival continues to be a fun and family-friendly important day – one with centuries-old traditions for everyone to enjoy, whether or not they have a Nordic heritage!” said Smith.





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