Portland, OR

Thursday in Portland: Oregon appeals court upholds commutations granted by Gov. Kate Brown and more

Emily Scarvie

(Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

By Emily Scarvie

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Thursday, Aug. 11 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. Oregon appeals court upholds commutations granted by Gov. Kate Brown

On Wednesday, the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld commutations granted by Gov. Kate Brown to 1,026 convicted felons in 2020 and 2021. The state’s second-highest court rejected the legal challenge from two district attorneys, Doug Marteeny and Patricia Perlow, and the families of four crime victims, who argued that the governor’s acts of mercy were flawed.

Most of those granted clemency by Brown were either medically at risk during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic or had helped fight wildfires during the historic Labor Day fires in 2020. The legal challenge alleged that these people hadn’t sought early release through the proper legal process.

Following the ruling, the governor’s press secretary, Liz Merah, said, “We are a state and a nation of second chances - sentencing children to life sentences and near-life sentences without a second chance is not the kind of justice that most Oregonians believe in.”

2. Catalytic converter trafficking bust ends with 14 individuals charged

The Beaverton Police Department announced Thursday that a catalytic converter trafficking bust ended with more than a dozen people being indicted late last month. The yearlong investigation was launched in 2021 when detectives learned that Tanner Hellbusch, one of the 14 individuals charged, was running an illegal operation. Hellbusch and others were charged with racketeering, aggravated theft and money laundering.

Police said during a March 2022 traffic stop, they found more than 100 catalytic converters in Hellbusch’s vehicle. Around the same time, investigators confirmed that Brennan Doyle was the ring leader, suspected to have trafficked over 44,000 catalytic converters since early last year.

Most of the catalytic converter thefts occurred in Washington County, but spanned across six Oregon counties, along with areas in Washington, California, Nevada, Texas and New York. BPD will discuss the investigation during a press conference at 2 p.m. on Thursday.

3. Staff, patients at North Portland's Legacy Emanuel Medical Center say they don't feel safe

Employees at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in North Portland’s Eliot neighborhood are on high alert following a string of incidents they say have put them in close proximity to danger. Recently, an employee at the Randall Children’s Pediatric Care clinic, was assaulted and robbed on their way into work.

Jacob Wicks, a social worker, said he’s seen drug use and violence right outside the clinic over the last three years. The hospital has hired security guards to patrol the building closest to Dawson Park, but Wicks said security only goes so far.

“I think this is a larger problem than Legacy can handle… everybody is just shaken, we’re losing providers, we’re losing clinic staff - everybody’s worried,” Wicks told KGW.

The hospital’s interim president, Cindy Hill, said they are installing bulletproof glass at one of the children’s clinics and fences around other parts of the hospital grounds. They’re also considering moving the clinic closest to Dawson Park.

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