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<i>The Night Before</i>'s Three Wise Men


The Night Before's Three Wise Men

Wait, That Should Read "Three Dumbasses"

Hall Monitor


Hall Monitor

Kitzhaber in Camp

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sam Adams: Not So Fast on Rejoining Terrorism Task Force

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Mon, Nov 29, 2010 at 4:23 PM

A couple of hours after Commissioner Dan Saltzman said Portland should rejoin the federal government's Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force, calling for city council vote on the controversial issue next week, December 8, Mayor Sam Adams poured all kinds of cold water on the idea.

When asked outside the federal courthouse if he supported Saltzman's timeline, Adams' response was fairly curt: "Not at this point." Although, soon after, the mayor did allow: "That doesn't mean that I won't in the future."

Saltzman issued his call in a news release this afternoon, following a casual talk about the task force with the mayor—although Adams apparently wasn't warned a release was forthcoming. Saltzman told me that the FBI-assisted terror plot by Mohamed Osman Mohamud "drives home the idea that we are a potential target," and that Portland's citizens expect city leaders to work with federal authorities to keep the city safe.

“We need to move forward, we must not delay when the safety of our residents is at stake,” he said in his release.

Portland in 2005 became the first city to pull its police officers from a task force—partly because of constitutional concerns arising over how the Bush administration was sidestepping courts, and also because of jurisdictional officersconcerns in lending out its officers. (Then-Mayor Tom Potter also apparently was peeved he only got "secret" clearance, instead of cooler-sounding "top secret.") But at the time, Saltzman was the only commissioner to say no.

Ironically, it was Adams this weekend—firmly in the majority in 2005—who first raised the issue of rejoining, noting he had had talks with Police Chief Mike Reese after Reese expressed an interest. Adams today said those talks were "sporadic," and that he had other issues to focus on when he became police commissioner: guns, human trafficking, and hiring more cops.

Adams said he's got "a whole cadre" of city attorneys looking at the issue in light of Friday night's arrest, specifically at whether the conditions that fueled his concerns about the FBI and its approach to jurisprudence have eased under the Obama administration.

"I'm going at this with an open mind," he said, but added he'd consider it only after a "fact-based" analysis of whether it makes sense. Noting the passions on both sides of the issue, he said: "I want to add to those passions some facts."

I haven't heard back from Saltzman's office with a response, although earlier he told me he thinks many of the issues behind the 2005 vote this time could be "overcome." He did admit that although he wants "seamless communication" between local and federal authorities, he wasn't sure what would change if Portland rejoined. As Friday's arrest showed, he also acknowledged, "we have done a good work-around."

Of course, the exchange between the two is thick with electoral politics. Saltzman has tipped his hand that he might consider challenging Adams in 2012, and pushing this issue—either by being seen as taking the lead if Adams goes along eventually, or by attempting to frame Adams as soft on crime if he doesn't not—could be a good way to frame part of any race. And never mind that Saltzman remains bitter over the way Adams snatched away the police commissioner job in May.

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