Multnomah County this afternoon sent out 687 pages of emails between Chair Jeff Cogen and Sonia Manhas, the county health policy director he had a nearly two-year relationship with. Dirk and I are diving in, but a few things are already clear.
It seems the affair did start up in mid 2011 like Cogen has said.
Also, Cogen and Manhas were in email touch near-daily and used their county email accounts to flirt almost as often as they used it to exchange professional-seeming emails about Manhas' work. Although it's unclear how many other lower-level employees Cogen carried on with over email, even on work-related subjects.
And, interestingly, the day Manhas' current job opened up, 23 minutes after the announcement landed in her inbox, she sent it to Cogen. Cogen has denied to the O and WW that he influenced the hiring process behind Manhas' promotion. But she listed him as a reference in her application. And he clearly was a cheerleader on her behalf.
It's too much to upload 'em all at once to the blog. But we'll keep reading and updating, so keep checking back.
Update 2:25 PM: We're plucking 'em as we find 'em. Dirk found an email from 2011 that suggests some special access and consideration for Manhas from Cogen. She went around her boss, Lillian Shirley, to beseech Cogen for help reinforcing her own position on a policy/workload disagreement. She also said she'd rather work directly for Cogen.
UPDATE 2:40 PM: Manhas and Cogen clearly delighted in their close working relationship, even as they carried on an intimate one. Manhas pretty regularly took her issues and concerns and ideas right to Cogen and dodged the normal chains of command that might have filtered correspondence from a lower-level worker.
At one point, in spring 2012, before her promotion, the two were devising together a plan for how to formally and directly link Manhas' policy work—on food and youth smoking—with Cogen's office. They crafted a plan for how to do it.
She was "excited" and hoped to get to work directly in his office at least once a week.
UPDATE 3 PM: A trip to Atlanta both took in February 2012 for a conference hosted by the Centers for Disease Control seems to have been about romance and work. Manhas in October 2011 pointed out it was her birthday weekend and spoke of a rationale for sending the both of them.
The CDC, she later wrote to him, may have actually wanted Cogen as a speaker.
She then handled the shopping for their plane tickets—saving the county a fair bit of money, it should be noted.
Update 3:20 PM: Here's another example of Manhas going directly to Cogen with a request, on money for a coal-related study grant, that might otherwise have been vetted by someone besides Cogen himself. Her department couldn't afford to fund the grant, so she hoped Cogen would "given your particular interest in coal transportation."
Update 4:25 PM: The Cogen-Manhas emails also show them discussing fluoridation and inclusionary zoning—shining some light on internal deliberations that reach into City Hall and the state Capitol. The Oregonian broke the news in August that fluoridation was a topic of interest in Portland and later noted missing meetings on city calendars—but Cogen's emails make clear the lobbying had begun as early as May 2012. They also suggest former Mayor Sam Adams was also lined up with Randy Leonard in securing support—despite Adams' waiting to announce his backing.
Dan Saltzman, a monthly date for drinks with Cogen, often at the Heathman, also said he was a supporter back then, despite holding his cards close to his chest once the effort became public But he also confessed he didn't think Adams and Leonard would try to muscle fluoridation through.
Manhas also kept in touch with Cogen over a bill on inclusionary zoning—a law that would have forced developers to set aside units in their developments as affordable or provide some other payment or offset if not. That bill died, but Cogen was part of efforts to lobby House Speaker Tina Kotek on its behalf.
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