Greek Cusina owner Ted Papas has slammed City Commissioner Randy Leonard and downtown cop Jeff Myers at council this morning for operating a "hit squad" whose sole mission has been "to put me out of business."
TED PAPAS: Makes case to City Council, as Portland cop Jeff Myers looks on...
Leonard wanted council to charge a lien on Papas today of $79,925, to pay for the cost of a city fire inspector to sit in the Greek Cusina for the last few months. Papas has already vented his concerns about the hit squad to the Oregonian.
"You want to hang me? You want to shut down my business?" Papas asked council.
Papas' supporters have accused Myers of fabricating evidence against the business—even going so far as to file a complaint with the Independent Police Review.
"It's unfair that someone like that can lie because of a blatant hatred he has for my boss," said Greek Cusina bar manager Amber Blazon.
City Commissioner Amanda Fritz asked Blazon whether the IPR complaint had been followed up on.
"They sent another member of Randy Leonard's hit squad to interview me so I don't feel like my complaints or concerns were really taken seriously," Blazon replied.
The hit squad isn't the first project on which Myers and Leonard have collaborated, and over which due process concerns have been raised. Myers was implicitly compared to a Nazi in court on February 25 by an ACLU attorney arguing that his "secret list" of downtown offenders is unconstitutional. Presumably on the advice of the city attorney's office, Leonard has since distanced himself publicly from that scheme.
"The fact that you can be a leader of this hit squad and also be a member of city council, I think you have a real bias," said Papas' son Theo, addressing Leonard.
Leonard and Papas junior had an argument about his having previously lived in an apartment on the fifth floor of the Cusina. "That was an illegal occupancy," said the commissioner.
"Throughout the whole process, nobody wanted to work to the point of telling us 'what do you need done'," said Jimmy Drakos, another Papas supporter. "We could not get an answer from the city throughout the whole process. It was just 'we're putting a padlock on this door,' and 'we're imposing a fire watch'. Ted will do what needs to be done, if you'll just tell him."
"I'd really like to be able to read the fire code board of appeals record," said Fritz. "I'd like to read the IPR report investigating the allegation that was made about unfairness, and I'm wondering if it would be possible to remove the emergency clause so that we can vote on this next week."
"I would just like another week to think about it," said Fritz, who moved for Leonard's emergency ordinance about the sign to move to a non-emergency vote next week.
It remains to be seen whether Nick Fish, Fritz, or Dan Saltzman will vote in support of the lien next week, but Leonard has firm support from Mayor Sam Adams.
"I appreciate the comments today on both sides," said Adams. "The way I look at this is if it had been a business that did not contribute so much to the uncertainty of the situation, then I might have come to a different conclusion. But I look at the totality of the situation, whether imposing a lien is unfair. If you think the watch is unjust then your course of action is the fire board. But I will vote next week for the lien to be imposed."
"You've taken a lot of shots today," said Adams, to Leonard, at the conclusion of the discussion. "I think unfounded."
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