The City Auditor, Gary Blackmer, just told this Mercury reporter: “I think you’re despicable,” and “fuck you,” in the corridor at City Hall, in front of a witness. To say Blackmer was verging on violence would be going too far, but his manner was certainly unprofessional and bizarre. Indeed, I was concerned I might be called upon to defend myself. BLACKMER: “FUCK YOU…”
What’s he so upset about? Specifically, this line in our news lede about racial disparity in the cops’ use of force numbers:
Handelman is concerned that a report on use of force released last spring by the Independent Police Review (IPR) chose not to include data on race for this reason.Meanwhile Blackmer’s colleague, IPR director Leslie Stevens, sent this email:
“I just hope the IPR and the police bureau didn’t keep hold of this data for so long because the numbers are so skewed,” he says.
IPR Director Leslie Stevens and City Auditor Gary Blackmer declined to comment.
It is an outright lie to write to that I declined to comment to Handleman’s irresponsible and dishonest insinuations that I had data and chose not to release it. The Use of Force Report clearly states and I confirmed to you that we never RECEIVED the data. You will be getting no comments from me in the future.It’s frustrating to receive such a forthright response to one’s reporting after having made extensive efforts to get comments from both parties on the eve of publication of this story, and been met with a wall of silence. Read more after the jump.
Messages were left via voice mail and through an assistant for both Auditor Blackmer and IPR director Leslie Stevens, to which the only response we received was the following non-comment from IPR Director Stevens, quoting 2 lines of an earlier use of force report. At 5:36pm on January 14, she wrote:
Hi Matt. I understand you wanted to know why there was no racial breakdown on force statistics and whether IPR was sitting on those numbers. The answer is on page 3 of the report:If I wanted a quote from the report, I could lift it from there. So I responded, sending this email at 5:52:
"The Task Force did not receive or analyze suspect data such as gender, race, or age. The Task Force agreed a meaningful analysis in this area would not be possible within the time or funding provided for this project."
Nothing more than that. Let me know if that does not answer your questions.
Hi LeslieWhen Auditor Blackmer confronted me in the corridor he said "we did give you a comment," to which I responded, "no you did not. you gave me two lines quoted from the original report." That was when he said: "Fuck you."
The racial profiling committee has just started looking at the use of force numbers broken down by race.
They show a trend—30% of those who had guns pointed at them between 2004-6 were African American.
Handelman says he sincerely hopes the IPR didn't decide to sit on these numbers back in the Spring for fear of the controversy they might provoke.
I was hoping you could hit back.
I don't feel I've got anything to apologize for. I told Stevens I wasn't happy with her response and didn't receive a phone call to discuss my follow-up email. To say the auditor and IPR director declined comment is fair, and I would challenge them to state publicly, here, why they did not. Defensive non-cooperation is not what I expect of our civil servants. Blackmer has just emailed all elected officials, and our editor, as follows:
I will not respond to any communications from Matt Davis of the Portland Mercury in the future. The email from Leslie Stevens below clearly responds to the question he asked, and asks if his question is answered. I was copied in her response. His subsequent hope that she would "hit" Dan Handelman did not constitute a clear request for more information in either of our minds.This strikes me as at worst a misunderstanding. I cannot comprehend the reasons for Blackmer's over-zealous response. What do you think, readers? Am I a piece of shit journalist? Incidentally, this is the best email I have ever gotten from a city official. I will frame it.
His story in the Mercury stated, "IPR Director Leslie Stevens and City
Auditor Gary Blackmer declined to comment." When I saw him in City Hall a
few minutes ago I called him despicable and he said two lines from Leslie
Stevens do not constitute a comment. I then lost my temper and swore at
him. In the future Leslie Stevens and I will only respond to him through
one of my staff.
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