From the Washington County District Attorney, there’s news of a prison conviction for a woman who may well be the poster child for the street-oriented problems that the Rose City just cannot seem to solve – or even properly to address.
Her name is Christina Lynn Cordon, age 38.
According to the Washington County D.A., in the first week of February she pleaded guilty to six counts of burglary in the second degree. Deputy District Attorney David Pitcher prosecuted the case before Judge Andrew Erwin.
To quote the D.A., “From March through September 2022, the defendant burglarized more than ten businesses throughout Washington County, including removing a bolted safe containing more than $1,500, and ramming a stolen vehicle into the door of a convenience store at another location. Cordon targeted small businesses including restaurants, ice cream shops, delis, coffee shops, and dry cleaners, by breaking store windows, picking locks, prying facility doors, and even removing the lock at several locations.
“A witness contacted the Hillsboro Police Department after witnessing Cordon break a glass door window and enter the Copper River Restaurant in Hillsboro, Oregon. Authorities arrived as Cordon exited the parking lot in a white Honda Accord, resulting in a high-speed chase. The defendant abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot before she was quickly apprehended. Hillsboro Police located tools, bear spray, and a wig inside of the [stolen] vehicle.”
Okay, that’s Washington County, and specifically Hillsboro. How could that possibly reflect Portland’s problems…?
Here’s how: “At the time of these offenses, the defendant was residing in a homeless shelter in Portland, Oregon, and had three open criminal cases in Multnomah County. Cordon was granted pretrial release by the Multnomah County Circuit Court after failing to appear in court, just months before burglarizing the first of several business in Washington County.”
The lady’s mug shot is on this page, making her the poster child for this report, and also for the problems in Portland that this story represents. Judge Erwin sentenced Cordon to 108 months in prison, with one year of post-prison supervision on each of the six counts.
Before we get to Portland’s citywide problems that this story signifies, let’s make something clear. Portland criminals do not make a practice of avoiding committing crimes here, in order to commit crimes in Washington County – where apparently criminals actually get prosecuted! So you can take it as obvious that if she was viciously burglarizing and vandalizing businesses there, she was certainly doing it here too. And, as noted, she had already had brushes with the law in Multnomah County, but seemingly kept getting released on her own recognizance. That happens a lot here.
On to the problems! Well, the single biggest one, and it is not unique to Portland – the larger cities on the West Coast are all grappling with it – is called the “homeless crisis”. Yes, this lady was taking advantage of a homeless shelter, but the real issue is that neither Portland, nor any of the other big cities contending with homelessness, will be able to make significant progress on solving this problem, unless – as we pointed out on this page a few years ago – they come to grips with the fact that there are at least five different types of people under that umbrella of “homelessness”, and each group must be addressed individually in a manner appropriate to that group, to make any progress. We cannot continue to pretend that they are all in “category one”.
Yes, the first category is the one Portland and other cities pretend is what most of the homeless are: Good folks down on their luck, who want and need a hand up to get back on their feet with a job, and in a home.
People in “category one” certainly do deserve our sympathy, respect, and full support, but some of the other categories of homeless are making it difficult or nearly impossible for the deserving ones to get the community support and assistance they need and should have. So who’s in the other categories?
The second category is drug-addicted “thieves of opportunity”. Whether it’s alcohol, or the many harmful drugs our citizens chose to decriminalize in a recent election, these folks are hooked on something addictive and need money to feed their habit. They break into cars, businesses, and homes, seeking anything they can turn into quick cash to buy more of what they are addicted to.
The third category in the homeless community is “career criminals”. They care little for others, and their profession is and always has been stealing from and taking advantage of everybody else, homeless or not. And, under that “homeless” umbrella, they know they will be tolerated as they steal us all blind. Until they face consequences – as it appears they just may, in Washington County – they don’t even worry about getting arrested, because if they are, odds are they will be freed from jail by the judge they are arraigned by – just being admonished to come back for their court date.
Are you surprised that often – maybe usually – this group does not show up for their court date? They have no reason to, since they have no address at which they may be found, and they are free to do what they want on the street. They often continue their life of crime, undeterred by an arrest, the very next day.
From the information in the Washington County press release, it’s not clear which of those two categories Christina Lynn Cordon fits into, but it sounds to us like it was the third one. She seems to be acting like a career criminal. But that’s just our guess. We have two more categories to go…
The fourth category in “the homeless” is widely recognized even by government, but we seem to have no solution for it: They’re the mentally ill – who should be hospitalized for medical care and, if possible, a cure; but whom the State of Oregon has turned out onto our streets to fend for themselves. These people are a danger to themselves and everybody else. They damage, they attack and hurt others, and they turn what they touch into rubble, because they are mentally ill and need treatment. Here’s our thought: Why not do what we used to do, and provide to them the treatment they need? They won’t get better on the streets; they can only get worse.
The fifth category is relatively harmless, but is resistant to conventional homeless solutions – they are people who just like living a vagabond life without a home. They are not new; they’ve always been with us. They are not victims of homelessness; they prefer it. And often they are honorable people who do no harm; they are not camped in the middle of the sidewalk, they more likely live on a hillside somewhere in solitude. But. they are not interested in being housed; just in being left alone.
Here’s our point: The starting point for fixing problems of the homeless is determining which category each homeless person fits into, and then providing each just what they need (or, in the case of the criminal categories, what they deserve).
And concerning the rampant crime and vandalism in Portland – there do need to be consequences when our way-understaffed police officers track down the offenders, arrest them, and book them into the Multnomah County Detention Center downtown (MCDC).
Because when they are arraigned for serious crimes – even shooting crimes, and grand theft crimes, and wanton vandalism crimes – they must be detained until trial. Here, so often, they are released without bail by a judge, and just keep on pursuing a life of crime.
The citizens of our city deserve to be confident that those arrested for violent and ruthless crimes are not simply “released on their own recognizance”, but actually are kept from continuing their crimes until the trial they probably otherwise won’t show up for.
All problems have solutions, IF we are able to identify them – and IF we will pony up the money to pay for them.
We in Portland certainly do pony up a lot of money for city services, and it’s hard to think of a service more important than public safety for the city leaders to spend more of it on. Maybe it’s time they did?