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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

BREAKING: Police Union Negotiations Start Friday—And They'll Be (Partly) Public!

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Tue, Sep 14, 2010 at 12:10 PM

After a six-month "hiatus"—to put it kindly—Portland Police Association (PPA) negotiations with the city will start back up again this Friday, September 17.

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  • Patrick Long

And, in response to public outrage over the previous negotiations being closed-door affairs, this new round of haggling will be open to the public. Well, half the time anyway.

City hall and the PPA worked out a deal where the two groups will host alternating meetings. When the city hosts the meetings, they will be public. When PPA is hosting, they confirmed this morning, the negotiations won't be open to the public. This feels like "two steps forward, one step back" kind of progress.

Because the police union is a private group (even though its members are paid with public money), they don't legally have to make their meetings public. BUT if a majority of city council shows up to the negotiations, then the meeting would have to be open to the public, under Oregon public meetings law (handy reference guide here). If city commissioners really cared about transparency of negotiations, all they would have to do is agree to show up to the table during every meeting.

So what is it the city leaders are going to be talking about with the union? Back in March, soon-to-be-axed police commissioner Dan Saltzman said he would address annual performance reviews and drug testing of officers. Under Sam's watch, drug testing is off of the top priority list.

"The priorities that Sam has verbalized to this date are annual review and overtime issues," says mayoral spokesman Roy Kaufmann. The police overspent their overtime budget by $272,000 last year last year.

What about drug testing officers after shootings, a key issue for oversight activists like Portland Copwatch? "It’s on the radar. It’s something that we expect to talk about in negotiations," says Kaufmann.

And issues about Portland police not living in Portland? "No, we really need to be focusing on the performance review question and the overtime issue and see what the union comes to the table with," says Kaufmann.

Pack the house at the meeting this Friday, 9 AM to noon in room C of the Portland Building (SW 5th and Madison).

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