Here's a seemingly callous and jaw-dropping development in the Jeff Cogen affair, coming out a day after the Multnomah County chair insisted on TV he wouldn't step down even as he acknowledged spending county money on a hotel room in Atlanta used for a tryst with an employee:
The county, the Oregonian has just reported, is trying to get rid of Sonia Manhas, the well-respected health policy director Cogen had a secret relationship with for nearly two years.
The paper, talking to Manhas, says her boss, Lillian Shirley, assured her she still had a job.
But when Manhas called to attempt to set up a meeting with Shirley for next week, when Shirley returns from vacation, she got other information. A county attorney let Manhas’ lawyer know she wasn’t welcome back until she signs a letter of separation.
“I’m confused. I know that ultimately this is the road it might have gone down but the process makes no sense,” Manhas said. “I admit that this affair happened. I made a mistake. I’ve been quiet because I’ve truly tried to work through appropriate channels at the county as an employee. But I’m in this gray area now. I feel like I need to speak, because it’s outrageous.”
Does that mean someone decided Manhas broke county rules? Does that also mean someone will decide the same about Cogen? The O's story didn't mention whether anyone at the county confirmed or disputed Manhas' account. But it's certainly a huge allegation. I've asked county spokesman David Austin for comment.
And in case you missed it last night, the O also turned in the best story yet on Cogen and Manhas' professional relationship and how their personal relationship enhanced it—also how it helped make the county a leader in health policy. The likely halt in that work is one of the more overlooked pieces of fallout in this scandal.