Eugene / Springfield’s CAHOOTS-Metro has new, increased hours of operation

CAHOOTS-Metro has new, increased hours of operation beginning April 1st, 2017

We are pleased to announce that White Bird Clinic’s CAHOOTS-Metro program (“Springfield CAHOOTS”) is growing. As of April 1st, 2017, CAHOOTS-Metro will be available from 9am to 3am; that’s 16 hours per day—everyday.

Thanks to a federal grant to Lane County for mobile mental-health crisis-intervention services, CAHOOTS-Metro began serving Springfield and Glenwood in January of 2015. Since then, the program has operated from noon to 11:30pm daily. The increase in service hours beginning on April 1st will be followed by a move to 24-hour service later this year.

CAHOOTS (“Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets”) was formed in 1989 by White Bird Clinic to assist or substitute the Eugene Police Department in situations involving a mental-health crisis, as well as various other types of problems (primarily related to addiction, homelessness, poverty, etc). CAHOOTS is currently available 24-hours per day in Eugene, with two vans operating during peak hours.

Each CAHOOTS team consists of an emergency medical technician (EMT) and a mental-health crisis-worker. Services provided include crisis-counseling, transportation to shelter & treatment facilities, non-emergency medical care, and more—all at no cost.

Eugene’s CAHOOTS program—which responds anywhere in Eugene’s city limits—can be reached by calling the Eugene Police Department non-emergency dispatchers at #541-682-5111.

CAHOOTS-Metro—which covers Glenwood and Springfield—can be reached by calling the Springfield Police Department non-emergency dispatchers at #541-726-3714.

READ – this press release as formatted PDF

READ – Springfield’s mobile mental health clinic poster (PDF)

READ –

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Put the Junction City hospital to better use

GUEST VIEWPOINT: Put the Junction City hospital to better use
By Gary Crum, published in The Register-Guard, April 10, 2017

In a March 9 guest viewpoint, state Rep. Julie Fahey, D-Eugene, argues that we must keep the Junction City hospital open. As one of the most outspoken opponents of the construction of the hospital and a continued critic of its operation, I say we must close the Junction City hospital.
Fahey cites the mission of the state mental health system: “therapeutic, evidence-­based, patient-centered treatment focusing on recovery and community reintegration.” She does not mention that a key mandate for mental health treatment requires that it be provided in “the least restrictive treatment setting available.” The Junction City state hospital, a high-security, locked-ward facility, is the most restrictive treatment setting available.

I, along with every professional psychiatric group in the state and every patients’ advocacy group, favored the state investing in earlier intervention with 16-bed community-based facilities, walk-in clinics, short term intervention and diagnosis facilities, out-patient support systems, and mobile intervention crisis teams such as CAHOOTS. The Legislature, instead, chose to spend more than $100 million to build the Junction City hospital with an annual cost of over $400,000 per patient At full capacity, that per-patient cost would drop to $280,000 per year.

At the time Gov. Kate Brown proposed the closure of the Junction City hospital, there were enough open beds at the Salem hospital to serve all the patients from Junction City. The statement that the closure would result in overcrowding, an unsafe environment for employees and a reduction in patients’ overall quality of care is a scare tactic. Additionally, if we keep that “least restrictive treatment setting available” in mind, it’s quite likely that some (perhaps many) of the patients now in locked-ward facilities could be safely, more humanely and more effectively served in community-based facilities.

The Catch-22 is that construction and staffing of the Junction City hospital has monopolized available funding, leaving a void where those less restrictive treatment settings should be on the continuum of services. Those community-based 16 bed facilities cost about $70,000 per patient per year. Additionally, the federal government has been reimbursing states about 50 percent of the cost of such services.

Locked-ward placement does not qualify for such reimbursement. This means that, even at that full-capacity cost of $280,000 per patient per year at the Junction City hospital, the state could provide for eight patients’ placement and treatment in a community-based facility for each locked-ward patient. At the hospital’s current cost of $400,000 per patient, it’s more than an 11-to-1 ratio. The state has put all its mental health care dollars in one basket — the wrong basket.

The $100 million to build the Junction City hospital has been spent. That’s the strongest argument for continuing to fund it. There’s no doubt in my mind that, given current patient populations, fiscal realities and the need for community-­based services, that hospital would not be built today. But it has been built, so what does the state do with the facility if it’s closed?

We know that many of those incarcerated in our prisons today are young, have drug or alcohol abuse issues that were associated with their crimes, and do not do well in the general prison population. We’ve heard repeatedly that such people need treatment, not prison. I agree. The Junction City hospital facility is built to the security level of a minimum- or medium-­security prison.

I suggest the hospital be converted to a minimum- or medium-security state corrections facility dedicated for the incarceration and treatment placement of people identified by the courts as appropriate candidates for such placement. I suggest the rehabilitation programs at the facility be specifically focused on substance and alcohol abuse treatment, job skills and personal development to promote employment and successful reintegration into the community upon release. This could be a model program, truly focused on rehabilitation and reintegration.

The governor’s proposed budget includes $20 million to reopen a mothballed women’s prison near the Oregon State Penitentiary. An easy, cost-effective move would be to, instead, move the current Junction City hospital patients to the Salem hospital (there is room) and transfer ownership of the Junction City facility to the Department of Corrections to meet that need for expanded capacity. This would release millions of mental health dollars for community support, save the Department of Corrections the cost of refitting and reopening a shuttered facility, provide a state-of-the-art facility for the women’s prison, and keep the employment base provided by the Junction City facility.

We have built the hospital. It’s not necessary for its current use. We have a need which can be met by putting it to another use, promoting community mental health care, saving the state tens of millions of dollars, and protecting local jobs. Let’s consider an opportunity that would benefit all of us.

Gary Crum of Junction City is a retired teacher and counselor.

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The Zaitz / Brown Medical Privacy Problem – updated

The Zaitz / Brown problem started when Eastern Oregon rancher and former Oregonian reporter Les Zaitz published a lengthy article in the Malheur Enterprise (which Zaitz owns) about how killer Tony Montwheeler says now that he fooled the Oregon mental health system for twenty years to avoid being sent to prison.

The problem is separate from Montwheeler. How he took advantage of the mental health system is important to know about and resolve, but the Les Zaitz inquiry asked for Montwheeler’s patient-protected medical information – which Montwheeler exposed in testimony. That information should be protected by PSRB staff, state policy, Oregon law and courts, and impervious to media scrutiny or political pressure, regardless of who it is about or what they have done.

The scenario is unusual from a privacy perspective. And PSRB was correct to ask for a judicial ruling prior to releasing Montwheeler’s medical records. The DOJ opinion by Fred Boss, asked for by Les Zaitz, is interesting, but not sufficient to release medical records. By applying political pressure and forcing PSRB to release Montwheeler’s records, Governor Kate Brown undermines medical records and privacy law, Oregon healthcare policy, and our confidence in her administration’s ability to create a patient-centered healthcare system. We fully expect Montwheeler to sue the state of Oregon for violation of his medical privacy, and win.

He wasn’t insane, he says — he faked it to avoid prison

Published by The Oregonian March 29, 2017 and the Malheur Enterprise on March 29.
By Les Zaitz

He got away with it.

After feigning insanity for years to stay out of a prison cell, Tony Montwheeler finally confessed his scheme. Now, no longer judged mentally ill, he would walk free from the Oregon State Hospital even though officials were told he was dangerous.

That day, state psychologist Brian Hartman warned the state board considering Montwheeler’s release what might happen.

“His risk of violence would be high and it would be most likely to target his intimate partner or other family member,” Hartman testified in December.

Click the links above for the remainder of the story.


    In preparation of the article, Zaitz requested information about Montwheeler from the Oregon State Psychiatric Security Review Board about when he was a patient at the Oregon State Hospital. The PSRB refused.

State agency refuses AG order to turn over Montwheeler records

Malhuer Enterprise, March 29, 2017

The state Psychiatric Security Review Board is defying a state order that it release public records to the Malheur Enterprise and intends to sue the weekly newspaper to keep the records secret.

Such a suit would be only the third time in the past 30 years a state agency has gone to court to keep its records secret.

The state board wants to keep confidential certain records it used in deciding last December to discharge from state custody Anthony W. Montwheeler, 49. Three weeks after that decision, police say Montwheeler kidnapped and killed his ex-wife and then killed a Vale man and injured his wife in a collision as he was eluding police.

He has been under Security Review Board’s jurisdiction since 1996 after being found guilty but insane in an earlier kidnapping case. The board released Montwheeler after learning in December that he had been faking his mental illness for 20 years.

Click the links above for the remainder of the story.


    Two documents are included in Zaitz’ second article. The first is a nine-page letter from Frederick Boss of the Oregon Department of Justice to Zaitz and the Executive Director of the PSRB, Juliet Britton. The letter states some information requested by Zaitz is not confidential and not protected records.

READ – letter from Fred Boss to Zaitz and Britton, March 21 (PDF)

    The second document is a legal complaint by Britton against Zaitz. It states Zaitz made public records requests about Montwheeler on January 17 and again on January 24. Britton responded on January 20 and again on February 6. The complaint asked for the court to make a ruling on Zaitz’ requests.

READ – complaint to Marion County Circuit Court by Juliet Britton in her role as Executive Director of the PSRB against Malheur Media (the Malheur Enterprise) and Les Zaitz, March 29 (PDF)

Free press? State hits tiny paper with pricey lawsuit after it seeks public records
Commentary from Seattle Times, March 31, 2017

Here’s to the tiny, two-reporter newspaper that’s waging one of the most important but little-discussed fights of our times: The government wants to do its business in secret, and increasingly there’s no press left to stop them.


Gov. Kate Brown secures release of records for small, rural newspaper

The Oregonian – April 4, 2017

A state agency agreed Tuesday to drop its lawsuit against an Oregon newspaper and has released records sought by journalists after Gov. Kate Brown took the rare step of intervening.

[SNIP]

Instead of complying, the board sued the newspaper.

The Enterprise had started a fundraising campaign and hired a lawyer by the time the governor intervened and the board dropped its lawsuit.

Though Brown appoints the board’s members, the governor has no direct power over its decisions.

In a statement Tuesday, Brown said Oregonians deserve a transparent government.

“No one requesting public records should be at risk of being sued by a state agency,” she said. “I believe the public is best served by bringing this matter to an end now, rather than after a lengthy and costly litigation.”

Click the link above for the remainder of the story.


Former O investigative reporter aims to supercharge small town journalism

From Oregon Business – April 4, 2017

A Q&A with Les Zaitz, publisher and editor of the Malheur Enterprise.

Les Zaitz has racked up a lot of accolades. The former investigative reporter for the Oregonian has received the Bruce Baer Award five times, and twice been a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. He also led the Oregonian’s coverage of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation.

Today, six months after Zaitz became editor and publisher of the Malheur Enterprise, he scored another big win. As the paper reported today:

“Under pressure from Gov. Kate Brown, a state agency dropped its suit against the weekly newspaper and will turn over public records concerning accused murderer Anthony W. Montwheeler. The governor’s intercession comes the day after the Enterprise started a $20,000 legal fund campaign to defend itself against the suit brought last week by the state Psychiatric Security Review Board.”

Click the link above for the remainder of the story.


The press release below was distributed on April 4 after the Governor’s announcement.

PSRB Statement Regarding Anthony Montwheeler Public Records Request

The PSRB responded to the Malheur Enterprise public records request by releasing a majority of the requested documents except for medical records. The decision to withhold medical records, which are submitted to the Board by medical providers, and to pursue an appeal of the AG’s decision, was done in good faith to ensure we complied with federal and state laws regarding the re-disclosure of medical records. The Board does not take any pleasure in litigating with a requestor, however, we took the only available avenue currently allowed under Oregon law to seek clarification on the matter. After careful deliberation, the PSRB has withdrawn the appeal and complied with the Attorney General’s Disclosure Order.

The Board looks forward to the continued discussion around the much needed improvements to the public records law that places our agency in a no-win position of either suing a requester or facing potential legal liability.

READ – PSRB Statement Regarding Anthony Montwheeler Public Records Request (Formatted PDF)


State board drops lawsuit against E. Oregon newspaper

From KTVZ.com – April 4, 2017

A state agency has dropped its lawsuit against a weekly Eastern Oregon newspaper that sought public records about a man charged in the kidnapping and killing of his ex-wife.

The records pertain to Anthony Montwheeler, who was discharged from the state mental hospital in December after telling the Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board he had faked mental illness for 20 years to stay out of prison following a 1996 crime.

Montwheeler is now charged with aggravated murder after police say he killed his ex-wife in January and then collided head-on with a vehicle while fleeing police, killing the driver.

The Malheur Enterprise broke the story of Montwheeler’s ruse and sought additional public records about the board’s decision to release him.

After Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum ordered the review board to release the records, the board responded by suing the newspaper. The suit was dropped Tuesday after Gov. Kate Brown intervened.


Statement by Gov. Kate Brown:

Governor Kate Brown issued the following statement regarding the Attorney General’s order to the Psychiatric Review Board (PSRB) to release public records related to the Tony Montwheeler case. The PSRB, while appointed by the Governor, is an independent board.

“Due to the extraordinary circumstances of the Tony Montwheeler case, I have asked the PSRB to dismiss its public records lawsuit, to fully comply with the Attorney General’s order, and to release the public records requested by the Malheur County Enterprise. The PSRB has agreed to take these actions immediately.

“Oregonians deserve a government that is transparent to the fullest extent permitted by law. No one requesting public records should be at risk of being sued by a state agency. I believe the public is best served by bringing this matter to an end now, rather than after a lengthy and costly litigation.

“This issue highlights improvements that need to be made to the public records law when it comes to getting a legal determination from a court when the law is ambiguous. An agency that has legal concerns about an Attorney General’s Order is currently forced under state law to sue the requestor. This is plain wrong. I have directed my staff to explore solutions that would provide for swift judicial resolution without filing a lawsuit against a requester.”


Psychiatric Board Drops Lawsuit Against Oregon Newspaper

The Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board has dropped its fight against a newspaper’s request for records about a former patient charged with murder.
April 4, 2017 – AP Wire Service / US News & World Report

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown ordered a state agency Tuesday to drop its lawsuit against a newspaper that sought public records about a man charged in the kidnapping and killing of his ex-wife.

The records pertain to Anthony Montwheeler, who was discharged from the state mental hospital in December after telling the Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board that he faked mental illness for 20 years to stay out of prison following the 1996 kidnapping of his first wife and son.

Montwheeler, 49, is now charged with murder after police say he killed a different ex-wife in January after kidnapping her in Idaho. He then collided head-on with a vehicle while fleeing police in Oregon, killing the driver.

The Malheur Enterprise, a weekly paper based in Vale, Oregon, broke the story of Montwheeler’s ruse last month and sought additional public records about the board’s decision to release him, including risk assessments made by staff at Oregon State Hospital.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum had ordered the review board to release the records. The board disagreed with Rosenblum’s order and, because of a quirk in state law, sued the newspaper to block the release.

The governor cited the “extraordinary circumstances” of the Montwheeler case in telling the review board to drop the lawsuit Tuesday afternoon.

“This issue highlights improvements that need to be made to the public records law when it comes to getting a legal determination from a court when the law is ambiguous,” Brown said. “An agency that has legal concerns about an Attorney General’s order is currently forced under state law to sue the requestor. This is plain wrong.”

Jim Mountain, the attorney for the review board, declined comment on the case. The now-dropped lawsuit said releasing the documents would violate Montwheeler’s medical-privacy rights.

Les Zaitz, who publishes the Malheur Enterprise and wrote the article, said he expects to have the records by Tuesday night.

“It’s a victory for public records. But frankly it’s more about the right of people to know what their government is doing,” he said. “This is such a grievous case; there are so many questions.”

A Malheur County grand jury indicted Montwheeler on charges of aggravated murder, kidnapping and assault.

The incident unfolded in Weiser, Idaho, where ex-wife Annita Harmon’s car was found abandoned in the middle of the road. Later, across the state line in Ontario, Oregon, a convenience store clerk reported that a woman in a pickup had been kidnapped and was being stabbed.

During the ensuing police chase, Montwheeler’s Dodge pickup crossed a centerline and collided with a SUV, killing a 38-year-old man.

A month earlier, Montwheeler told the review board he faked mental illness in the 1990s because going to the state hospital and, later, outpatient treatment was better than the prison term he would have otherwise received.

“And all I got to do is make myself sound like I’m crazy. And that’s the route I took,” Montwheeler testified, according to the Malheur Enterprise, which obtained a recording of the December 2016 hearing.

Montwheeler, who was injured in the crash, is scheduled to enter a plea April 17. His attorney, David Falls, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.


E. Oregon newspaper battles state agency for public records

from KTVB.com – April 4, 2017

A story making waves across the country, sparking outrage over a lack of government transparency: a mom-and-pop newspaper in Eastern Oregon dug into the history of a Nampa man after he was accused of killing two people in Malheur County in January.

What the Malheur Enterprise discovered is troubling: They found 49-year-old Anthony Montwheeler had just been released from a state psychiatric hospital in Oregon after feigning insanity for decades to avoid prison for a kidnapping charge in 1996.

When the paper requested more public records on why Montwheeler was set free to walk the streets of Oregon and Idaho, the state Psychiatric Security Review Board (PSRB) denied them access. Thus, the paper appealed to Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, who ordered the agency to turn over the records sought by the Malheur Enterprise.

That’s when the small town weekly newspaper in Vale was slapped with a lawsuit.

That brings us to Tuesday’s events: after pressure from Oregon Governor Kate Brown, the PSRB says they released a majority of the requested documents, except for medical records, to the Malheur Enterprise. Gov. Brown asked the PSRB to release those public records, as well as drop its lawsuit against the small newspaper.

The Board agreed to that ask after denying the paper a plethora of critical records earlier this year, citing privacy laws.

This story is multi-faceted – it represents the need for information to be made public when it affects the safety of the community, as well as the need for journalists to dig deep and hold the government accountable.

No longer deemed mentally ill by the State of Oregon, Montwheeler was released from the Oregon State Hospital, despite the fact that PSRB officials were told he was a threat. According to records obtained by the Malheur Enterprise, a state psychologist noted that Montwheeler’s risk of violence would be high once released and he would likely target his intimate partner or a family member, which he allegedly did.

Today, Montwheeler is sitting in the Malheur County Jail, accused of kidnapping and killing his third ex-wife, and killing a Vale man in a head-on collision while fleeing police.

It was after that episode that the Malheur Enterprise pursued information on Montwheeler’s past.

“We came across the fact that this man had been under jurisdiction of the Psychiatric Security Review Board,” Malheur Enterprise Publisher and Editor, Les Zaitz, told KTVB.

Zaitz says they found records from Dec. 7, 2016. showing the board gathered to consider a hospital staff recommendation to release Montwheeler. The paper requested public records, and the board eventually released their orders regarding Montwheeler and the audio recording of the December hearing.

“It was quite haunting, it really was,” Zaitz added. “The audio was really the clincher.”

Montwheeler admitted to officials he ran a medical con for 20 years, insisting to a string of state psychiatrists and psychologists that he was mentally ill.

“That testimony alone was startling. Then you have a state psychiatrist saying, I’ve done a complete exam of this man’s files back to 1997, there’s no evidence of mental illness,” Zaitz said.

Documents show Montwheeler was found guilty but insane all those years ago and was able to avoid prison, where he would have landed if he was convicted of kidnapping his first wife and son in Baker City, Ore., in 1996.

The paper requested more public records about the case and Montwheeler’s release, but the PSRB didn’t respond.

“I asked the agency [to] give me the index to every exhibit that was entered and then I cross-referenced that with what was mentioned in the hearing and requested the documents. And that’s what started the fight,” Zaitz said. “There was absolutely no response or any effort whatsoever to explain this case and I find that rather appalling.”

So the Malheur Enterprise filed with the Oregon attorney general and asked her to review the agency’s decision and determine whether they should or shouldn’t be withholding the public records.

The AG sided with the paper and ordered the board to turn over public records sought by the Malheur Enterprise.

“I’m still trying to figure out what the state knew, when state officials knew it, and what they did about it. Those are the unanswered questions,” Zaitz added.

In response, the PSRB turned around and sued the newspaper, as state agencies can do when they have legal concerns about an order from the AG.

“As best I can tell, this is only the third time in 30 years that a state agency has defied the attorney general,” Zaitz said. “This is a very rare thing for the State to sue.”

But on Tuesday, after meeting with Gov. Brown, the board responded to the public records request, withdrew their appeal, and dismissed the lawsuit, complying with the attorney general’s Disclosure Order.

Gov. Brown issued the following statement regarding the AG’s order to the PSRB to release public records related to the Montwheeler case. (The board, while appointed by the governor, is an independent board.):

“Due to the extraordinary circumstances of the Tony Montwheeler case, I have asked the PSRB to dismiss its public records lawsuit, to fully comply with the Attorney General’s order, and to release the public records requested by the Malheur County Enterprise. The PSRB has agreed to take these actions immediately.

“Oregonians deserve a government that is transparent to the fullest extent permitted by law. No one requesting public records should be at risk of being sued by a state agency. I believe the public is best served by bringing this matter to an end now, rather than after a lengthy and costly litigation.

“This issue highlights improvements that need to be made to the public records law when it comes to getting a legal determination from a court when the law is ambiguous. An agency that has legal concerns about an Attorney General’s order is currently forced under state law to sue the requestor. This is plain wrong. I have directed my staff to explore solutions that would provide for swift judicial resolution without filing a lawsuit against a requester.”

The board issued the following statement to KTVB on Tuesday evening:

“The PSRB responded to the Malheur Enterprise public records request by releasing a majority of the requested documents except for medical records. The decision to withhold medical records, which are submitted to the Board by medical providers, and to pursue an appeal of the AG’s decision, was done in good faith to ensure we complied with federal and state laws regarding the re-disclosure of medical records. The Board does not take any pleasure in litigating with a requestor, however, we took the only available avenue currently allowed under Oregon law to seek clarification on the matter. After careful deliberation, the PSRB has withdrawn the appeal and complied with the Attorney General’s Disclosure Order.

“The Board looks forward to the continued discussion around the much needed improvements to the public records law that places our agency in a no-win position of either suing a requester or facing potential legal liability.”

“It is always invariably that public officials, state agencies and local governments will resist disclosure of documents when there’s been some misconduct or a misstep by government or they’re either going to be embarrassed or indicted,” Zaitz said.

He says he anticipated receiving those records Tuesday night.

“I’m hoping that they will fill in the gaps to answer those questions,” Zaitz added.

Since the lawsuit was filed last week, the paper started a fundraiser to fight back and pay for legal fees.

“I also knew that if we did a fundraising campaign that it would signal to the state the public’s unhappiness with this,” Zaitz told KTVB. “People were so upset across the country. I was getting pledges from New York, Illinois, Mississippi, California, Idaho, Washington, plus all over Oregon. And that was in one day!”

Zaitz says this shows sweeping and increasing concern about government secrecy, and the decline in reporters to hold them accountable.

“They forget that we represent the average citizen who doesn’t have the time to go to city council meetings or to request records,” Zaitz said. “One of the things I hope to do here is to show what a small newspaper can do and be an inspiration to other small news organizations that maybe we can do better. Because we need to.”

Montwheeler is scheduled to enter a plea to charges of aggravated murder, assault and kidnapping on April 17.

KTVB also filed public records requests with the PSRB for access to public records about Montwheeler and his release, as there is a strong public interest in both Idaho and Oregon about this case.

We will continue updating this story as those records become available.


We all lose when public records are hidden

unsigned editorial by The Oregonian – April 7, 2017

In a rare move this past week, Gov. Kate Brown reined in a state board that had sued a tiny Eastern Oregon newspaper over public records the agency wanted to keep secret. It was the right move by Brown at just the right time.

She pressured the Psychiatric Security Review Board to drop its lawsuit against the Malheur Enterprise and its publisher Les Zaitz, who’d sought records related to an Oregon State Hospital patient. The patient, Tony Montwheeler, who had been under the board’s jurisdiction and stands accused of killing two people within weeks after being released from the facility in January. Brown followed up with stern words for the board, which had attempted to duck the records request by twisting beyond reason one of the 500-plus exemptions to Oregon’s public records law.

“Oregonians deserve a government that is transparent to the fullest extent permitted by law,” she wrote in a statement released Tuesday. “No one requesting public records should be at risk of being sued by a state agency.”


Decades before ex-wife’s January death, Nampa man carried out another kidnapping

From the Idaho Statemen, February 2017

Annita Harmon died last month in a terrifying flurry of crime, reportedly abducted and stabbed by her ex-husband, who then drove headlong into an oncoming SUV and killed the other driver.

Family members, reeling from the loss and their realized fears about the man she married, want people to know how the woman they called Nita lived.
Anthony Montwheeler

“She was surprising. She was fun. She had a goofy laugh,” said her sister, Stacey Harmon-Roeber. “She loved to read. If she had a book in hand, you couldn’t get her attention.”

The 40-year-old Weiser mom was a hard worker and kind-hearted optimist who took in a menagerie of stray animals and believed that troubled men could be healed.

Click the link above for the remainder of the article.


Oregon doctors warned man was faking mental illness 20 years before new murder charges

From the Idaho Statemen, April 12, 2017

Newly disclosed records show that Anthony Montwheeler, a Nampa man charged with murdering his ex-wife and an Oregon motorist in a January stabbing and crash, was suspected nearly 20 years ago of feigning mental illness to avoid prison, the Malheur Enterprise reports.

The records, released after Oregon’s governor intervened in support of the Vale weekly’s public record request, show doctors’ suspicions in the late 1990s but give no indication that officials acted until Montwheeler admitted his ruse two years ago.

Montwheeler was under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board from 1997 until last December. A few weeks later, he allegedly stabbed Annita Harmon of Weiser to death in his pickup truck, then sped away to elude police, veering into oncoming traffic near Ontario to hit a car head-on. The Jan. 9 crash killed driver David Bates of Vale and severely injured his wife, Jessica.

Click the link above for the remainder of the article.


State records show doctors early on suspected Montwheeler was faking illness

Malheur Enterprise, April 12, 2017

State doctors suspected nearly 20 years ago that Anthony W. Montwheeler was feigning mental illness to avoid prison, newly disclosed records show.

The records, a portion of state files on Montwheeler, give no indication that officials acted on that suspicion until Montwheeler admitted his ruse two years ago.

Montwheeler, 49, told doctors that he hoped his ploy would get him in and out of the Oregon State Hospital in six months, sparing him at least seven years in prison.

Instead, he remained under the jurisdiction of the state Psychiatric Security Review Board, including years in custody at the state hospital, from 1997 until last December.

That’s when the board released Montwheeler, concluding he was no longer mentally ill and despite warnings that he was a danger to the community. He was subsequently indicted for kidnapping and stabbing to death his fourth ex-wife and killing a Vale man and injuring the man’s wife while fleeing from police Jan. 9. He is scheduled to plead to the charges next week in Malheur County Circuit Court.

Click the link above for the remainder of the article.


Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Oregon psychologist and licensed counselor certifying boards to merge, grow

Capital Press – Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The combined staff will grow by two full time equivalents, and need larger offices.

In what has been touted as an efficiency measure, the staffs of two state boards the oversee Oregon’s mental health professionals plan to merge in the coming budget cycle.

But under Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s proposed budget, spending for the merged organization will be greater than for the two separate staffs.

The state’s nine-member Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners — which was recently renamed the Oregon Board of Psychology through legislation — is the licensing, investigative and disciplinary board for psychologists, who have doctorates. Likewise, the eight-member Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists regulates licensed counselors and therapists, who typically have masters’ degrees.

The Board of Psychologist Examiners and the Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists have shared one executive director since late 2013, after two years of significant staff turnover. In the 2011-2013 budget biennium, the Board of Psychologist Examiners saw five executive directors.

Brown’s proposed budget of about $3.48 million is a 21 percent increase from the budget approved by the Legislature for both boards’ staffs in 2015-17. The governor’s budget also says it “invests in an upgraded online database system and co-located office for the two boards.”

The governor’s budget proposes giving the combined organization a staff of 11 full-time equivalents, compared to 4.5 each now.

If the Legislature approves the merger, the boards will keep separate their funding streams and expenditures.

The current executive director of both boards, Charles Hall, told lawmakers during a budget hearing last month that the number counselors and therapists licensees and interns “continues to soar.”

Over the past decade, the number of counseling and therapy licenses has grown an average of about 14 percent per year. The number of psychologist licensees, about 12 percent. Three additional FTEs would be assigned to licensing issues.

Complaints have increased as well — for the board of counselors and therapists, about 15 percent per year, and psychologists, 9.5 percent.

Total investigations jumped 33 percent between 2011 and 2016, Hall said.

Hall told members of the Legislature’s Joint Subcommittee on Education that the board had been using temporary employees to fill the gaps.

Personnel costs drive about half of the boards’ expenses.

Predicting the budget for the boards can be difficult, Hall told lawmakers, because expenses such as attorneys’ fees for contested cases can range from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars per case.

The governor also proposed increasing licensee and intern renewal fees for counselors and therapists by $40.

Licensure fees for counselors and therapists have not increased since 2002, according to the board.

Hall did not respond to a request for further comment Monday.

The two boards get most of their revenue from fees — including those assessed for licenses — and receive no money from the state’s general fund or lottery funds.

Sen. Rod Monroe, D-Portland, said at the subcommittee meeting last month that the Legislature’s role is to provide some oversight, despite the boards’ limited impact on the state’s overall budget.

“It’s really easy to say, well, that’s other-funded, so it doesn’t matter,” Monroe said. “But it does matter. It matters to those professionals that are paying those license fees every year that they’re getting the service they need. It matters to the general public that investigations are being properly carried out, so that the agencies are meeting people’s needs. And so that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

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