How long? Depending on the city's appetite for a fight, and the Portland Police Association's newly beefed-up budget for legal fees, maybe several months. Or more.
That's according to one scenario laid out by Sue Rossiter, chairwoman of the Oregon Employment Relations Board (ERB), when I called her this afternoon—not long after Mayor Sam Adams reiterated his promise to do whatever he could to challenge an arbitrator's ruling that would otherwise give Frashour his job back.
Rossiter, speaking only generally, said a challenge by the city (she stuck to words like "employer" and "employee") could work like this:
1.) The city would refuse to hire back Frashour. 2.) The PPA, citing ORS 243.672.1(g), the state law that says employers have to honor contracts, would then file an unfair labor practices complaint with the ERB. 3.) An ERB judge would investigate, hold a hearing, and make a ruling. 4.) If either side doesn't like that ruling, it could appeal to the full ERB. 5.) If someone doesn't like that ruling, then the Court of Appeals would get involved... and, well, anyone whose drooled through a high school civics class can follow what might happen next.
"It's tough to give a projection of how long it can be, but it could be several months," Rossiter says, explaining that the process doesn't always work so smoothly and that she "doesn't know what the city has planned."
I asked Adams' office if that's roughly what they're thinking. His spokeswoman, Caryn Brooks, says the deputy city attorney who led the arbitration legal work, Stephanie Harper, is poring over several different approaches. Rossiter's scenario might work, Brooks says, but there may yet be other ways to fight.
"It's uncharted territory for us," she says.
I've also asked the PPA to comment on the chance that this stretches for months, and I'll update if and when I hear back.
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