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Without the security of a house, there is no home (Guest opinion)

By Patti Jay

As a veteran of the Oregon Air National Guard, I have been trained to manage dangerous and challenging situations without fear. As a mother of three successful children, I also know how to care for my family and my home. As a former aide to Oregon State Senator Rod Monroe, I developed the skills to manage the high-stress and fast-paced political process. And yet the fear and desperation of a no-cause eviction last year almost brought me and my family to our knees. My landlord treated me unfairly, in a way that destroyed my family’s stability. Our state’s no-cause eviction laws are a loophole that allows bad behavior to go unchecked. I write to stand up for all those who are afraid to speak about their experiences for fear of retaliation. In this market, with high prices and non-existent vacancy rates, most people can’t afford to speak up. In the early spring of last year, I was recovering from surgery. One day during my recovery, I went to get the mail and noticed a piece of paper tacked to the wall outside my door. It was a 60-day notice to vacate my home. There was no cause listed. I had never heard any concerns from my landlord or my neighbors. This notice arrived completely out of the blue.

The notice threw me into desperation. I am a hardworking mother and my sons and I are responsible tenants. The only reason for this notice I could think of was that I received it the day after the contractor completed repairs I had requested to remediate black mold in the bathroom. I immediately began the frantic attempt to find new housing and gather the funds to pay for moving expenses and the deposit on a new place. I am thankful to the Clackamas County Veterans Services Division for their financial and emotional assistance during that terrible time. It was difficult to find alternate housing. It was the middle of my son’s freshman year at Milwaukie High School, and we wanted to stay within the school district. While we finally found an apartment, the monthly rent was $400 more than we were paying before.

Nearly a year later, I have a wonderful new job and we are stable again. But the fear that this could happen again, at any time and with no warning or reason, remains with my family. We are good tenants who pay our rent on time and follow the rules. We deserve stability and fairness. Share your opinion

Submit your essay of 500 words or less to [email protected] Please include your email and phone number for verification. When I told my son I planned to speak up, he asked me to share his words: “For me, eviction, especially without cause, has had an alienating effect. Without the security of a house, there is no home. Without the security of a neighborhood, there is no community. And without the need for justification before an eviction, there is no justice.”

The legislature has an opportunity to ensure stability for Oregon families. I urge our legislators to stand up for fairness and justice, and pass House Bill 2004.

Patti Jay lives in Milwaukie.

SEE IT: Braves security guard grabs ball away from little kid

If Major League Baseball is trying to appeal to a new generation, this isn’t helping.

Video from Wednesday night’s Atlanta Braves game[1] shows a Braves security guard hurdle into the crowd to eject a fan for interference. The fan had reached over the wall to retrieve a Rio Ruiz groundball down the first-base line in order to give it to a nearby kid. The only problem – it was a fair ball.

The security guard proceeds to take the ball from the kid s hand in the midst of the ejection. Yikes.

Was the ejection justified? Yeah interfering with a game will more than likely lead to ejection (unless your name is Jeffrey Maier). But did the guard really need to yank the ball from the kid? Bad call.

Baseball is notorious for its unwritten rules and taking a ball from a kid in the stands should be at the top of the list.

The story has a happy ending, though, as the Braves ended up giving the boy a ball autographed by Freddie Freeman, per an ESPN report. The team also issued an invite for the kid to return to a game in June to celebrate his birthday.

Fired Pittsburgh sergeant on stand in civil rights trial

A federal prosecutor is trying to convince a jury that a Pittsburgh police sergeant fired for pushing and punching a drunken man has since tried to “tailor” his statements about the incident so they’d fit a surveillance video the prosecutor contends doesn’t support the former officer’s version of events. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cindy Chung asked Stephen Matakovich during his federal civil rights trial Thursday if he was familiar with the concept of defendants “tailoring a statement to the known evidence.”

Chung is trying to convince a jury that Matakovich did just that after he became aware that Heinz Field surveillance cameras recorded his encounter with Gabriel Despres, then 19, during a high school championship football game on Nov. 28, 2015. Matakovich is charged with deprivation of civil rights for twice pushing and once punching Despres, allegedly without provocation, and falsification of a document for filing a police report that, Chung contends, falsely portrayed Despres as the aggressor.

“I’m sure it happens, yes,” the 48-year-old former officer replied Thursday. The jury is expected to hear closing arguments after testimony concludes Friday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, who run the stadium, sent the video to then-police Chief Cameron McLay early last year. McClay then fired Matakovich and ordered the investigation that resulted in related state court criminal charges and, later, an FBI investigation and federal charges. The federal civil rights charge carries up to 10 years in prison upon conviction, and the falsification charge up to 20 years. Matakovich also faces a state court trial next month on charges including simple assault, official oppression that is, the misuse of his official police powers and perjury stemming from his testimony at an earlier court hearing. Stadium security officers summoned police when they tried to kick Despres out of the stadium and he refused to leave. He has since pleaded guilty to citations for public drunkenness and defiant trespass, and was ordered to pay more than $900 in fines and court costs, although more serious charges that he assaulted Matakovich were dropped.

Matakovich has testified in state court and again at this trial that Despres adopted an “aggressive” posture and appeared ready to attack when Matakovich tried to get Despres to leave the stadium. Surveillance video from the stadium shows Despres with his hands at his sides and not advancing when the officer suddenly pushes him down and then strikes Despres in the face as he tries to get to his feet. Another security guard involved in the incident testified Wednesday that Despres didn’t attack or menace Matakovich and that any moves Despres made with his hands toward the officer were in panicked self-defense. That echoes the assessment of Master Police Officer David Wright, Pittsburgh’s in-house expert on the use of force. Wright previously has testified that the force used by Matakovich was “excessive” and that Despres reacted in self-preservation. Wright was in the courtroom Thursday waiting to be called by Chung to rebut the testimony of Clifford Jobe Jr. Matakovich’s defense team is paying $175 an hour to Jobe, a retired state police officer, instructor and use of force expert who testified that Matakovich’s actions were “objectively reasonable.”

If the jury agrees with Matakovich’s expert, they’ll be instructed by U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon to find him not guilty on the civil rights charge.