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Michael Leighton

Stories by Michael

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‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin Dies at 76

Former president Obama, NAACP issue condolences

Aretha Franklin, the undisputed "Queen of Soul" has died at age 76 from advance pancreatic cancer.

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Racist Writings Derail Court Pick

Ryan Bounds nomination pulled after black senator objects

A controversial nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals from Oregon had his nomination derailed in the Senate today after the only Republican black member of the Senate made clear he couldn’t vote for him.

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Gun Control Supporters Regroup

Lift Every Voice” campaign set sights on 2020 ballot

An effort led by Portland-area clergy to put a measure on the November ballot to ban the sale of certain semi-automatic guns and large capacity ammunition magazines has been postponed after legal maneuvers by opponents made it nearly impossible to gather enough signatures to meet a July 6 deadline

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Controversial Judge Pick Gets Hearing

Oregon senators call process unfair

A controversial judicial pick from Oregon for the U.S. Ninth Circuit of Appeals will have his nomination considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday despite opposition by Oregon’s two U.S. Senators.

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New School Model Lauded

Faubion-Concordia school partnership a pathway to progress

Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of former Vice President Joe Biden, said a new public and private partnership between Concordia University and Faubion Elementary is a shining example of making powerful changes in education that can lift an entire community.

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Gang Enforcement Team Faulted

Audit finds lack of accountability reduces trust

Portland police gang enforcement carried out traffic stops that disproportionately affected black residents.

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County Commissioners Tap Down on Conflict

Pledge calls on restoring trust

After some recent tensions on the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, a new statement focuses on restoring trust, signed by each member of the governing panel.

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Adrienne Nelson Picked for Supreme Court

Gov. Brown names first African American to highest court

New voice is a widely respected civil rights champion

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Tensions Rise on County Board

Smith gaveled down; Kafoury regrets comment

When Multnomah County Commission Loretta Smith took aim at a housekeeping measure before the board of commissioners last week she was gaveled down by chair Deborah Kafoury who took offense at Smith’s remarks but later had to apologize for making a personal and vulgar attack on Smith’s character.

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Permanently Affordable

Non profit plans condos to create shared equity, stability

Portland community land trust has plans to develop a major affordable condominium project giving priority to displaced residents

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Jury Rules Shooting Justified

Burglary suspect was shot during police chase

Grand Jury determines that a Portland Police Bureau officer was justified when he shot and wounded an unarmed black bank robbery suspect

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Trump behavior cited in resignation calls

But Oregon's U.S. House members don't stand for impeachment

Impeachment vote fails; but But Trump behavior cited in resignation calls

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No Support for Impeachment from Oregon

Entire House delegation voted to kill measure

When a black Democratic lawmaker from Texas introduced a resolution in Congress to impeach President Trump on Wednesday, not one member of Oregon’s congressional delegation supported it.

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The Pen is Funnier than the Sword

His political cartoons tackle issues like Islamophobia, immigration and racial justice in America with insight and humor and have been carried by newspapers around the world, including regularly in the Portland Observer.

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Justice Reform Effort Grows

Grant allows county to target jail misuse and overuse

Multnomah County has added momentum to efforts to reform the local criminal justice system and reduce the county jail population

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Business Leader Settles with State

Mediation ends investigation of Roy Jay and nonprofits

No admission of wrongdoing or fault was made in settlement reached

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Dream Run on Starting Blocks

Still time to sign up and honor Martin Luther King

There’s still time to sign up for the MLK Dream Run coming to northeast Portland on Sunday, Sept. 24.

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Smith to Battle for City Council Seat

Field widens after Saltzman decides not to seek re-election

Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith has thrown her name into a May election for Portland City Council seeking a position that will become vacant when Dan Saltzman steps down at the end of his term next year.

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Dreamers Abandoned

Trump ends program to furious opposition

Critics assail Trump Administration for ending program that has deferred deportations for more than 780,000 people who came to the U.S. illegally as children.

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Memorial Tells Story of Dr. Unthank

Building community pride

A memorial plaque telling the story of the late Dr. DeNorval Unthank, the first black doctor in Portland and a dedicated humanitarian who tirelessly advocated for civil rights while building his medical practice, was dedicated at Unthank Park in north Portland during an Aug. 19 community celebration sponsored by Self Enhancement, Inc.

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Mayor Names New Police Chief

Oakland cop will be first black woman to lead bureau

Citing the national push for police reforms and the opportunity to hire someone with qualities he wants, Mayor Ted Wheeler Monday picked Danielle Outlaw, an experienced assistant police chief from Oakland, Calif., to become Portland’s new police chief and the first black woman to lead the bureau.

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Hash Oil Butane Caused Massive Blast

Cause found of deadly home explosion

A massive house explosion and fire that killed two men in north Portland Monday sending glass shards and debris across the street into Peninsula Park and damaging surrounding homes was caused by using butane to make hash oil, investigators have determined.

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Deadly Blast Levels House

Explosion kills two; other homes damaged

Investigators were on the scene of a deadly house explosion Tuesday trying to determine what caused a Monday afternoon inferno that killed two people at a home on North Kerby Street across from Peninsula Park, causing extensive damage to surrounding homes and sending glass shards and other debris across the street into the park and surrounding area.

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Unwavering Support for Smith

Leaders say county chair led biased investigation

An esteemed group of African American leaders issued a rebuke to Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury Tuesday saying the findings of wrongdoing in a county-led human resources investigation against County Commissioner Loretta Smith were unsubstantiated and instead were a political and racist attack against Smith, the only black member of the county commission.

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Clean Up Alberta Street

Earth Day event planned rain or shine

Friends and neighbors and other volunteers will focus on cleaning up litter, clearing storm drains, weeding and mulching at bus stops and removing graffiti along Northeast Alberta Street between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Northeast 33rd Avenue.

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No Satisfaction

Grieving mom and reform advocates push back

Advocates for police reforms have added their voices to the mother of a teenage son killed in an officer-involved shooting to criticize and reject a grand jury decision finding no criminal wrongdoing.

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Build Better Futures

‘Believe to Achieve’ founder marquees scholarship drive

Local community leaders working to lift black and minority students to future careers and promising lives by helping them achieve a college education will get some star power at their annual United Negro College Fund gala Friday.

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Women in Film

POWfest puts spotlight on gender disparities

Showcasing the work of women directors from around the globe while strengthening the community of women making films here at home.

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Big Melt Begins

Ice and snow to give way to rain and more rain

One of the largest snowfalls in Portland history started to give way to a big melt on Tuesday that brought freezing rain. Heavy rain was in the forecast overnight and into Wednesday to keep travel extremely hazardous before the big accumulation of ice and snow could be expected to slowly melt away.

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Let’s Get Healthy Together

Wellness Village rescheduled after snow event

The African American Health Coalition will celebrate its annual Health Disparities Luncheon on Friday, Jan. 20 and Wellness Village on Saturday, Jan. 21, after the previous December dates for the events were postponed when Portland was hit by snow and ice.

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Making Noise in the Northwest

All-girls music festival makes return

Girl Fest, Portland's own, all-girls and all-ages mini-music festival returns to Lola’s Room at the Crystal Ballroom, downtown, on Saturday, Jan. 14.

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Mayor to Speak at King Observance

Mayor to Speak at King Observance

Mayor Ted Wheeler will be the featured speaker at the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. observance on Sunday, Jan. 15 at 4 p.m. at Maranatha Church, 4222 N.E. 12th Ave.

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Traditions of Giving Back

Concordia exhibit explores black philanthropy

A groundbreaking touring exhibit that explores the giving traditions of African Americans through history and the contributions of black Americans in transforming society will open this weekend for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday at Concordia University.

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Flu Hits Oregon Strong and Early

Still time for flu shot protection

Influenza cases are rising in Oregon, and although the increase is expected this time of year, Oregon Health Authority officials say it shows flu season is off to a strong and early start. Most of the cases have been influenza A, this season's predominant flu type.

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Historic Choice for PSU Athletic Director

Viking program gets a new leader

Valerie Cleary to become one of the rare female college executives at the NCAA Division I level

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Portland Fitness Model Crowned

Andrea Green wins a first place trophy for natural bodybuilding at the recent Pro Elite World Championship

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Scrapbook Selections

Sharing Portland’s history in family exhibit

Clifford Walker is enjoying his retirement by remaining engaged in his community and making a difference in the direction of the city.

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Construction begins on PDC-backed project

Alberta Commons to bring economic benefits

Construction has begun on Alberta Commons, a Portland Development Commission backed project to bring economic benefits to the heart of the historic black community at Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Alberta Street.

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Jumping into the Fire

Sharing the story of black paratroopers in Oregon

Unique story of patriotism, race and service will be shared during a free and open “history pub” series event at McMenamins Kenendy School in northeast Portland

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Supporting School Sanctuaries

Helping kids regardless of immigration status

Portland School Board Member Julie Esparza Brown has rallied and won support for a new school district policy to affirm the protection of civil liberties and the rights of undocumented students.

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Rattled by Trump

Turmoil erupts on Portland’s streets after election

Thousands of people stunned by Donald Trump’s win in the presidential election set off on a week of daily protests.

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Life in Vanport

New documentary features stores from survivors

A new OPB one-hour documentary tells the story of Vanport, a city with roots for Portland's African American population.

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McCollum Dream Center Introduced

Blazer makes space for kids to learn, explore

Blazer CJ McCollum project brings innovative learning room outfitted with new computers, books, art and learning tools to the Blazers Boys & Girls Club.

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War Stories to Heal and Reflect

Alberta American Legion post reaches out

Portland-area veterans, family members of veterans, and civilians are invited to join War Stories, a free, six-month reading, writing, and discussion group at American Legion Post 134, located at 2104 N.E. Alberta St.

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PCC Cascade Campus Transformed

Library completes second major expansion

Friends and neighbors are invited to celebrate the campus transformation

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Arson Fire Displaces Families

Man tells police he started the blaze

Red Cross helps with temporary housing and food

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Neighbors Against Violence

Ex-gang member forms group to help kids

Nicole Taylor has formed a mentoring group for youth to find jobs and give them a safe place in the community.

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Equity on Employment in Courthouse Build

Aggressive goals set for a diverse workforce

Multnomah County has set a high bar for hiring a diverse group of workers to build a downtown courthouse to replace the existing county courthouse which is more than 100 years old.

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Natural Foods Plans Approved

Project will be low scale development

The Natural Grocers project coming to Northeast Alberta Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard will be a single-story retail strip mall project.

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New Approach on Drugs

Civil rights groups applaud call for reforms

Two major civil rights groups are applauding a call by law enforcement officers in the state to decriminalize drug possession crimes.

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