The city's Parks Advisory Board voted this morning against City Commissioner Randy Leonard's plan to arm water bureau security guards. Leonard, however, says he's unfazed, because the parks bureau is nothing to do with him.
"It's the parks board, and I run the water bureau," said Leonard. "We're arming water bureau security staff for water bureau facilities. I'm not even sure why the parks board weighed in on it."
"If it was a parks issue, it would probably be pretty impactful," says Leonard. "But we're not proposing that water bureau security patrol Portland parks."
I raised the issue with Leonard that the parks bureau also has a contract with rent-a-cop firm Portland Patrol, Inc to patrol its parks using armed security with no public oversight. City Commissioner Dan Saltzman struck this contract with PPI, and resisted efforts to get more public oversight over the last couple of years.
Leonard had not heard about this, he said. "People may have a beef with what I do, but it strikes me that I'm always consistent," says Leonard. "That strikes me as the opposite of being consistent."
"I think you should be over at Dan's office asking how can you have armed people in the parks, when you can't support armed security protecting the water bureau," he said.
Commissioner Saltzman was out for bagels when I stopped by. But a staffer is going to pass on my card and hopefully we'll have a response, shortly.
Water bureau boss David Schaff went to the Parks Board meeting this morning, after Saltzman presented at the meeting in November. Saltzman is against Leonard's plan, while Parks Commissioner Nick Fish, who took over from Saltzman as parks commissioner in January 2009, tried to dissuade Saltzman from getting involved. Fish had no comment this morning either.
Leonard says he is "mystified" by Saltzman's position. "Especially given that when I was assigned the water bureau, he was the one who I took over from, and he had armed security guards at all the reservoirs who I fired, because they had inadequate training and were being paid minimum wage."
"It's mysterious to me that Dan would have hired minimum wage people to carry guns around the reservoir, but would oppose my effort to provide training to people who have to meet minimum standards," he says.