The county—after a months-long procedural lapse—has offered a conflicted response to claims one of its juvenile probation officers forcibly groped a colleague's vagina last summer.
While one portion of the document explicitly denies Department of Community Justice staffer Leslie Taylor made lewd comments to a county contractor before running his hand up her dress in July 2012, it also mounts another defense: that she asked for the conduct
"Plaintiff consented to all of the touching at issue in Plaintiff's claims," reads one of the county's six affirmative defenses. As is typical, attorneys are asking a judge to toss the entire case.
Such responses are supposed to be filed within 30 days, but as of Wednesday the court had no record of an answer to the August 23 suit. It turns out an assistant county attorney filed one all the way back in early October— she just attached the wrong case number to the document, and didn't realize her mistake until the Mercury pointed it out.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit—who we're not naming because she's the victim of an alleged sexual assault—works for the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center (POIC), which contracts with the county to help juvenile offenders. As the Mercury's reported, she met Taylor through the job early last year. The suit says he immediately "demonstrated inappropriate sexual interest" in comments and touching, and that the woman asked two co-workers to speak with him about his behavior.
Things settled down, but the woman says on July 18, 2012, Taylor groped her as they were returning from visiting a client, saying "I can tell you're clenching your pussy for me."
The woman told her boss the following month, and filed a report with the Portland Police Bureau in October 2012. But she refused cops' wishes that she participate in a "pretext call," in which she'd phone Taylor and elicit a confession. No charges have been filed.
Taylor—who works with troubled juvenile offenders— was put on paid administrative leave from his $64,289-a-year position beginning last November. He was allowed to return in April.
Taylor told cops it is the woman who'd been flirting with him. He says she "grabbed his hand and placed it on her leg," according to a police report, pinning her behavior on office politics.
The lawsuit also says the county was negligent in employing Taylor, claiming he "had for many years engaged in sexually harassing conduct against women who came into contact with him in the workplace." While the county has refused to talk about past complaints against Taylor, the police report backs up the woman's claims.
"I asked Taylor if he is aware of other sexual harassment allegations against him at work and he said he was," officer David Hughes wrote.
Happy Black Friday! And now a reading from the Book of This One Christian-Inflected Advice Column I Just Found on the Internet, Via a Two-Second Google Search: "My 4-year-old son has a one track mind: I Want. Whatever he sees on TV, or on a toy aisle at Walmart, he wants. Like, N.O.W. This behavior is typical of a normal child. They believe the center of the world revolves around them. Our society seems to have digressed to a 4-year-old level, where entitlement and greed trump values such as patience, moderation, and abstinence. Greed and coveting go hand in hand.... What if you can't afford some of the things that your neighbor has. He has a better paying job, a nicer house, a nicer car, bigger TV, cooler garage toys, a pool, do I need to go on? You are still coveting. It is still a sin."
Meanwhile, outside Chicago, the bleary shopping frenzy at a suburban Kohl's was undisturbed, even after police shot a suspected member of shoplifting crew who allegedly tried driving off in a Pontiac Sunfire with a cop's arm stuck in the driver's door.
And how about—so we don't forget about the millions of cash register button-pushers forced to leave their families on a national holiday and its bloated aftermath in exchange for nowhere near enough money to live on— we mention raising the nation's pitiful minimum wage?
Good nuclear news! Iran is letting international inspectors internationally inspect one of its fuel-processing facilities.
Bad nuclear news! Perhaps observing the news on the détente with Iran, North Korea has decided to try restarting its plutonium-producing nuclear reactor.
Afghan civilians, including a toddler, died in a recent NATO airstrike—sowing more angry talk of broken American promises and giving President Hamid Karzai more leverage to delay a pact that would keep US soldiers in the country for several more years.
China has declared war against Japan and the United States. Or something like that? Or not at all? I don't know. It's something about sending jets over the East China Sea, where the Americans and Japanese are about to hold regular joint military exercises.
This time, it was angry workers who set the fire, Bangladeshi authorities learned, after another garment sweatshop supplying Western retailers went ablaze.
The Church of England decides to offer "blessings," but not marriages, for queer couples—maybe qualifying as one of those times when it seems like> a British person is being polite, but that person is actually spitting in your face.
The nominee filibuster is dead. But! Senators can still block, just like always, judicial nominations they don't like—provided those nominations affect the courts in their home state.
RODNEY DANGERFIELD (REST IN PEACE) ALMOST HAD A SITCOM TWO DECADES AGO WITH BRECKIN MEYER AND PUNKY BREWSTER.
The president of the Portland Police Association, the city's rank-and-file police union, took the unusual step of commenting on a story in a private statement to members, the Mercury has learned, responding to our report last week about an officer facing an investigation after he was caught on video using a racial slur commonly aimed at African Americans.
The statement by Daryl Turner, who is African American, was issued Monday. The Mercury has since obtained a copy. It opens with a caveat that "we should reserve judgment until all facts have been gathered and the investigation is complete." But then it goes on, after that nod to due process, to strongly condemn the use of racial epithets in any context.
On Friday, the Portland Mercury posted a story and video regarding a Portland Police officer’s use of a racial epithet when interacting with the public. The police bureau will investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident. As with all pending investigations, we should reserve judgment until all facts have been gathered and the investigation is complete.
It is important for all of us to use this instance as a reminder. As members of the Portland Police Bureau, it is our goal to always interact with the public with the highest level of integrity and professionalism. The PPA and its members do not condone the use of any epithet, whether based on race, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation. We do not condone such language in our homes, and we certainly do not condone such epithets in the line of duty.
As we further report in this week's issue, the slur used by Officer Michael Hall came during a confrontation with three men, two of them African American, outside a club near SW 2nd and Burnside in early October. The men had come down to celebrate a birthday after finishing shifts at Nordstrom, according to Yasmin Talic, one of the participants who spoke with the Mercury.
The video, just 27 seconds long, doesn't make clear whether Hall first used the slur, or if he was parroting someone else who used it first. Talic says he also doesn't remember who used it first. That distinction may not stay any discipline. Bureau rules on "courtesy" do not allow officers to use slurs on the street—only when they're on the stand or quoting someone in a police report.
Talic also told the Mercury he first tried complaining about the incident to the police bureau soon after it happened but that, in his opinion, no one took him seriously.
Turner's statement is the strongest one yet against the use of a slur by an officer—eclipsing Police Chief Mike Reese's far more measured promise to investigate and ensure cops treat people with "respect."
But it also wasn't, it seems, meant for public consumption. It does not appear on the union's website under a list of recent press releases and public statements. (Though Turner did recently post a statement complaining that Andrea Damewood—the Willamette Week reporter who's moved on to work for the Bureau of Labor and Industries—had falsely quoted him defending a cop, Jason Lobaugh, facing domestic violence allegations.)
It's obviously important for cops to know what their union president thinks—especially when he's sending a strong message against misconduct. But I'd also say it's important for the rest of us to know, too.
GOOD MORNING, BLOGTOWN! A-ha-ha, a-ha-ha, Gloria, how's it gonna go down?
Will you meet him on the main line, or will you catch him on the rebound? LET'S GO TO PRESS.
China declares a new air defense zone, to which the US responds, "Oh yeah? Fuck your new air zone... we're flying two B-52s right through it. Vrrrrroooooommm!"
Formerly powerful (and still loud mouth) Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has run out of ideas to stop the inevitable—the country's senate has kicked his ass out of office.
Obama's beleaguered health care website is getting close to getting on its feet, but the White House has a message for its users: "Don't use it to much at once! It's like a delicate butterfly and you're gonna crush it!"
That big winter storm has hit much of the eastern US today, so if you're flying there? Take a nice, long novel.
Two girls escape a "knife-wielding stepfather" (the worst kind) and are claiming they've been held captive for months.
A section of the stadium that will host the World Cup collapses, killing three.
Seahawks starting cornerback Walter Thurmond (also a former Oregon Duck) is suspended for four games due to accusations of substance abuse. FOOTBALL!
Now here's what's going on in your neck of the woods: A very sunny and beautiful Thanksgiving day—perfect weather for turkey throat slitting!
And finally—RUN, POLLY, RUN!!!
So much for reports about internal dissent sinking a new contract between the Portland Police Association and the city of Portland.
According to figures obtained by the Mercury, 521 members (77 percent) voted for the new deal, announced tentatively by the PPA and Mayor Charlie Hales during a press conference on federal reforms earlier this month. Overall, three-quarters of the unions' nearly 1,000 rank-and-file members—officers, sergeants, detectives, and criminalists—submitted ballots.
The deal is a money-maker for many cops—restoring cost of living increases and hiking pay patrol sergeants, while adding seniority and night shift bonuses. It also softens provisions regarding drug testing for steroids, a controversial addition to the contract in 2011.
The contract will now head for Portland City Council ratification some time next month.
PPA President Daryl Turner declined to comment on the vote or the contract.
"I'm not talking about the contract," he told me.
Asked when he'd comment, now that his members have approved the terms, he said he'd comment after the council approves the contract.
A FAQ prepared by the union on how the deal breaks down, obtained by the Mercury, and previously reported by the Oregonian, is after the cut.
As precious time ticks away on the United States' UN-sanctioned stint in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai continues to waffle on a deal that would allow around 10,000 American troops to stick around for 10 more years. The proposed agreement is "one of the most-important decisions in Afghanistan's recent history," says the BBC, but Karzai is pushing further provisions. He wants assurances raids on Afghan homes will cease, and for Afghan prisoners to be released from Guantanamo bay.
The Obama administration isn't having it, and Ambassador Susan Rice on Monday warned Karzai in stark terms to sign or be prepared to go it alone at the end of 2014.
And what are British officials harping at Afghanistan about? It's a quaint notion, really. They just want to make sure women aren't stoned to death as a halftime show at Afghani soccer games, is all. That's a throwback to Taliban times that has little likelihood of revival, but no one's taking any chances.
Plenty of people are still angry about a short-term deal reached Sunday to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The Saudis, a central bulwark against US oil shortages in past years, aren't too happy. And Israel has been howling that the agreement amounts to limp appeasement. But the NYT points out that's pretty much hypocrisy—the deal with Iran employs the same strategies Israel is using in its long-term strife with the Palestinians.
TAKE NOTE: Looks like Plan B and similar emergency contraceptives don't work in overweight or obese women. In Europe, boxes of these drugs will now include an explicit warning to that effect. In the US? Perhaps. The FDA is looking into it.
Where does lovely celebrity chef Nigella Lawson get all that talent and poise, anyway? Daily cocaine and pills, according to court testimony. IDEA: There should be a law that all such misdeeds are perfectly fine if you can make a decent bisque. Because what if you stopped using, and then your bisques were just terrible, you know? Bisque should be nine-tenths of the law.
Two weeks of intense climate negotiations in Poland are a wrap, y'all. And is your children's prosperous future assured? Hardly. In some ways, we're worse off than we were before the talks. Japan announced it was pulling back on ambitious emissions goals. Australia didn't even show up. China and India—countries where emissions are rising rapidly—refused to commit to any rollbacks, leading to a sort-of-infuriating segment on NPR this morning posing the question: Well, should the US even bother, then?
There's a new report on the Newtown shootings last year, and this is maybe the most-angered I've ever been by a story lead—from the Los Angeles Times: "The gunman who massacred 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., was obsessed with mass murders and so mentally twisted that his mother planned to move him out of state so he could attend a special school, yet she had him living in a home with firearms and ammunition and gave him money to buy a gun for Christmas."
What do those suckers back East know about a pleasant Thanksgiving? It's going to be lovely around here.
GOOD MORNING, BLOGTOWN! You were born in the city, concrete under your feet. It's in your blood, its in your moves. You're a man of the street. LET'S GO TO PRESS.
Sick of the screaming overreactions that accompanied the healthcare website rollout—President Obama gets a welcome change of subject with a preliminary nuclear agreement with Iran... and the possibility of the best relationship with the middle east in 30 years.
The Christian owned corporation Hobby Lobby is boo-hooing its way to the Supreme Court in a an attempt to convince the court that God doesn't want them to provide employee health insurance. I hope they realize that GOD HATES THEM SO MUCH.
Another indication that the GOP is getting left behind by the rest of the nation: 63 percent of Americans believe in helping illegal immigrants find a pathway to citizenship.
In a less positive poll, Obama's popularity numbers are not so great—especially when it comes to how people perceive he manages the government.
A massive winter storm is sweeping eastward threatening holiday travel. (Better have your can opener and a can of Ocean Spray standing by!)
Four more are indicted in the Steubenville rape case, including a school superintendent, teacher, principal, and assistant football coach.
Today in internet backlash: A tourist hitches a ride on the back of a shark, and the internet is not pleased.
In sporty sports, the Timbers lose to Real Salt Lake—but go down fighting. Read all the juicy details from Mercury footy correspondent Brian Gjurgevich!
Now here's what's going on in your neck of the woods: Sunny and 52 today, with lots of sun and some clouds for the rest of the week.
And finally, BEHOLD! A man who can wash 50 dishes in ten seconds! (Man, I can't wait to eat at that restaurant.)
Everyone's talking about Iran this morning, as a deal over the sanction-battered nation's nuclear activities remains just out of reach in Geneva. An agreement with Iran, on the one hand, would amount to historic diplomacy. On the other, there's a lot of grumbling sentiment—from Israel, Republicans and others—that an approach involving the carrot of lighter sanctions is wrongheaded and may backfire.
Which is probably good, because there's otherwise not a great deal of productivity happening in DC.
BREAKING: Walmart, Sears and a bunch of other American retailers don't give even a single fuck about the impoverished families of workers who—toiling to make the companies windfall profits—were burned to death in a Bangladesh factory last year.
It's the day after your son got married, and you're having dinner with family. There's a strange whirring outside. You see a flash, hear explosions, and all of a sudden your ardently non-terrorist brother-in-law and nephew are dead. You grieve, and you calmly travel 7,000 miles to ask for answers from the people who did it. And what do you get for your grievous trouble? Crickets, essentially.
Does the "knockout game," where teenagers attempt to render strangers unconscious with a single, random blow, actually exist? Or do we perhaps need to calm down?
Just in case you needed a balanced critical response to the antics of Rob Ford, the Associated Press has reached out to the man he bested to become Toronto's mayor.
Today in ill omens for a withering middle class: Colleges the country over are having trouble attracting enough students for their budgets to pencil out.
A Latvian supermarket that collapsed Thursday, killing at least 54 people, continues to crumble, imperiling rescue workers.
The Scotland Yard is puzzling over the case of three women apparently kept in slavery, in London, for three decades.
Well Thanksgiving week is looking awesome.
Here: Because I know you've all been dying to know what happens since Tuesday:
In Portland, when water's involved, things are seldom cut and dried.
Activists pushing new oversight of the Portland Water Bureau say the city did an imperfect
shoddy job crafting language that would explain their effort to voters.
A member of the group, the Cascadian Water Trust Initiative, has formally challenged the city's ballot verbiage in court. Nicholas Caleb, a law school grad and instructor at Concordia College, filed the appeal today, claiming the title is biased, sloppy and unspecific.
"Highly legally significant content is underemphasized or described non-specifically while provisions that could be succinctly listed are overemphasized and appear redundantly in the text," Caleb writes in the seven page petition [pdf]. "Additionally, some terms are misleading."
Aimed at the November 2014 election, the trust effort is something of a water activist's wish list. It would force a public vote before chemicals like fluoride are added to the water supply, create stringent public records requirement rules for the water bureau, and force the city to do all it can to stave off closing Portland's open-air water reservoirs in Mount Tabor and Washington parks.
It would also formalize a "public trust" of the water system, creating leverage for citizens to sue for perceived mismanagement.
Caleb says the ballot language proposed by the city attorney's office doesn't capture enough of those subtleties. And he contend's the repeated use of "imposes" paints the proposal in a negative light.
"The word 'Imposes' is a loaded term and creates the impression that the City perceives Petition ID PDX 6 as an unwelcome force burdening City officials," Caleb writes. "The word is biased and is thus unfair."
If Caleb had his druthers, the ballot would read like this:
"It's mostly just trying to get the City to emphasize portions that I feel are most important," Caleb tells the Mercury.
Recent history's shown ballot title challenges can result in significant judicial facelifts. When a group trying to create a new "public water district" fought the city's interpretation of its proposal last month, the judge assigned to the case inserted new language laying bare some of the measure's ambiguities.
A Portland police officer recorded using a racial slur during a confrontation with an unidentified group of men and women will be investigated by the police bureau's Professional Standards Division, Police Chief Mike Reese announced this afternoon—after the Mercury obtained a copy of the video and sent it to police officials for comment.
The 27-second video shows Officers Michael Hall and Heather Martley trying to clear out some people who might have been drinking. The location of the confrontation or whether it led to any arrests isn't clear. But during that back-and-forth, one thing was clear. Hall at some point utters a very obvious racial slur used against African Americans. When another of the men says "you ain't supposed to say that shit," and repeats the word, Hall defends his use of the word by saying, "but you said it to me."
“My expectation as chief is that all Portland police officers treat people with respect and dignity,” Police Chief Mike Reese tells the Mercury. “The video warrants an internal review to determine when, where and what occurred.”
The video is short enough and hazy enough that it's not exactly clear if Hall was responding to someone using the word first, or if he was the first person to use it. That distinction is important, and it may help guide a police investigation. Or not. The bureau's own courtesy policy on epithets, unlike its policy on curse words, does not allow for context. It says officers may use racial epithets only when quoting them in official police reports or when testifying in court.
No member shall use epithets or terms that tend to denigrate any particular gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation, ethnic or religious group, except when necessary to quote another person in reports or in testimony.
The police bureau says Martley and Hall are both assigned to the night shift at Central Precinct and that each have more than two years experience.
Race relations, in particular with Portland's African American community, have been a difficult subject for the Portland Police Bureau and something it's spent years trying to improve. It's even admitted publicly that racial bias affects some of its officers—a major step toward working on those improvements.
But the subject lingers as a sore spot in the light of several reports and studies showing persistent racial disparities in local police work, from enforcement of gun crime hotspots, to drug zone enforcement, to gang enforcement, to use of force reports, to basic stops and searches.
The bureau has begun training sergeants and command staff on racial sensitivity and awareness. That training has not yet started, if it does at all, for rank and file officers.
"Clearly, yes," says Dan Handelman of Portland Copwatch, "we need to have all officers participate in institutional racism training."
It's still about six months until voters select who'll replace Jeff Cogen as Multnomah County Chair, but the race between the most-credible two candidates is clearly under way.
Yesterday, former-county commissioner Deborah Kafoury (who had to resign to run for Cogen's spot) revealed a roster of supporters , including governors and most of the current county commission.
Now her greatest potential rival, former city commissioner Jim Francesconi, is signalling fresh support of his own. Francesconi's campaign today announced he's got the backing of the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, a union representing 989 members in Multnomah County.
"We support Jim because Jim is a champion of working people," the release quotes union Executive Secretary Treasurer Doug Tweedy as saying. "Over the years he has worked tirelessly to aid working people dating back to his work with the Portland Organizing Project, his advocacy for workers throughout his legal career, and to his present dedication to the Community Benefits Agreement which creates opportunities for careers for those who need it most. Jim Francesconi is the friend of working people."
Francesconi, in this race, has made clear he'll steer clear of a strategy he believes sunk him in his 2004 mayoral bid against Tom Potter: raising a lot of money.
"I made the mistake of creating a false impression that I only cared about downtown business interests," Francesconi told the Mercury last month. "The way that I created that false impression was by raising large amounts of money from downtown business interests. I’m not doing that again."
Housing and social justice advocates—troubled by this summer's tense and difficult conversation around homelessness and poverty—have launched a new social media storytelling campaign meant, in part, to help reframe and recontextualize what's been a particularly polarized debate.
It's dressed in a Twitter hashtag—#MyHomePDX. And after several days of a soft rollout on Twitter and elsewhere, it's getting a full-on start next Tuesday, November 26. For now, the idea is to get regular people talking on social media about our shared values on homelessness and compassion, with the hopes of building a coalition, some day, around raising new money for helping ease the plight of people living on the streets.
The work is being led by Street Roots, but will be shared by several organizations and individuals recruited specifically for their social media acumen. Beyond SR, participating groups include Neighborhood Partnerships and Northwest Pilot Project, which provides housing for seniors.
Storytelling is a huge part of the campaign—reminding people how many of their neighbors are already doing work to help people and that the reality of homelessness looks nothing like some of the sensational headlines and myths some people cling to. But it's also about encouraging more people who aren't volunteering or donating what they can or spending time with the homeless to get personally involved.
The Mercury has obtained a copy of the campaign's work plan (pdf), which covers most of those ideas, in four "pillars," and also breaks down its long- and short-term aspirations.
This campaign feels like a continuation of two successful and similar efforts, over the past two years, to protect and enhance safety net funding in the city of Portland's budget. But it's also influenced by, if not quite a direct response to, new initiatives this year to bring back "sit-lie" laws, sweep city sidewalks amid Mayor Charlie Hales' heavy-handed talk of "lawlessness," and hold "civility" forums that struck many observers as achieving precisely the opposite.
"We want people to capture why they give to people on the streets or to local organizations, to recognize that there's a lot of doom and gloom around this issue, but that at the end of the day, our community cares and is compassionate," says Israel Bayer, Street Roots' executive director. "There's a silent majority of Portlanders who care about homelessness and poverty issues. What happens is that these incendiary conversations and debates sometimes that blocks out the good stuff being done."
Bayer actually is understating his last point. The latest Oregon Values & Beliefs Project, conducted this spring, suggests it might actually be a silent supermajority. Something like 84 percent of respondents said they support job training for low-income people—with 79 percent support social services programs aimed at preventing hunger and homelessness.
"We welcome all of the groups who care about this issue," Bayer says, "and who want to take part in something positive."
Before all the other news this morning, about things that aren't exactly unimportant... Suffering citizens in the otherwise forgotten Central African Republic are enduring a humanitarian crisis of violence and reprisals (massacres, child soldiers, executions, and the like) that may, according to some observers, have already mushroomed into full-blown genocide.
Ukraine was all set to sign a deal joining up with the European Union. Until Russian leader Vladimir Putin showed up, all smiles, and put a gun against Ukraine's head, daring it to defy his steely, KGB-hardened will.
Putin's still trying to put his stamp on a deal to end Syria's civil war, insisting the "West" prevail upon Syria's fractious rebel groups to show up in Switzerland next spring for another round of likely failed peace talks.
Hamid Karzai, our man in Afghanistan, stunned and surprised American diplomats yesterday with a sudden insistence that a military pact everyone's been going bonkers to get signed ASAP maybe now wait until after he's re-elected president. In case everyone hates it. And, by proxy, him.
Senate Democrats showed spine, finally, and did away with extra-constitutional rules allowing the chamber's minority party (an ironic appellation—because, Republicans...) to filibuster presidential nominations to judicial and cabinet posts. Something like half of all blocked presidential nominees ever have come since 2009. Thanks, Senator Merkley—Oregon's own—for giving your betters a nudge.
THANKS, OBAMA. Higher-than-anticipated demand and other technical glitches overloaded and blew up launch day websites for the Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One. (And now read along as I tell jokes like television's J. Leno: "Maybe the web address ps4.healthcare.gov should have given people a clue." Get it? Good. Because it's SO FUNNY. NOT! [Remember that one? From the early 1990s? (I do! [Obviously!])])
But not all Obamacare sites are as mucked up as Oregon's or the federal government's! California has been recording thousands of daily enrollments all month, after a slow start in October. It's also blowing off Obama's rule change allowing people to keep their lousy current insurance plans because they're too agog over the prospect of change to find something better.
The indignity and anti-glamour of modern air travel—Kafkaesque lines, cavity searches, shoes off, tight seats, no more chicken Kiev—is about to hit a new low. The FCC is ready to allow cell phone calls at low altitudes, the first step on the way to ripping out plane seats altogether and putting in bars hung with hand straps.
The next stock crash is probably nigh. The Dow Jones index, with pretty much a yawn, just topped 16,000 for the first time.
Among the best JFK footnotes you'll read today, if you haven't read it already, is this first-person account from an Associated Press writer pressed into service as a pallbearer for Lee Harvey Oswald.
Voter-approved pot sales in Colorado, and assurances from the feds about tolerance, apparently won't keep the feds from sweeping through and raiding dispensaries whenever they see fit.
"Uncle" Joe Biden made a big offer to treat everyone for lunch at this "one new sandwich joint" he wanted to check out. Which was nice except he was short on cash. So he sheepishly had to ask to "borrow a sawbuck," promising he'd repay "every cent, just as soon I cash my paycheck at the liquor store tomorrow night."
A self-righteous charlatan who preyed upon people at their lowest and neediest moments has died. Sylvia Browne was 77.
DANCING CHICKEN SPERMS AND EGGS. DANCING CHICKEN SPERMS AND EGGS. DANCING CHICKEN SPERMS AND EGGS. A PH.D THESIS IN SEVERAL PARTS.
Deborah Kafoury, the former Multnomah County commissioner vying for Jeff Cogen's abdicated county chairship, unveiled a list of supporters earlier today, and it's formidable.
That's mainly because the roster includes both former Gov. Barbara Roberts and current Gov. John Kitzhaber. But Kafoury also name drops social services advocates, former County Chair Bev Stein and almost the entirety of the current county board of commissioners.
A conspicuous absence on the list: Diane McKeel, the two-term county commissioner who represents an enormous swath of East County.
So what's holding McKeel back, when all her co-commissioners seem to think Kafoury would be a good choice? Concern for her district, according to Eric Zimmerman, McKeel's chief of staff.
"She's definitely making sure that, whatever happens in the race, the people or person who runs for that seat thinks about East County in their campaign," said Zimmerman. McKeel, he points out, has indicated she'd consider launching her own bid for Cogen's seat. That's a decision that won't be clear until the first of the year.
If McKeel did decide to toss in her hat, Multnomah County would be looking at yet a third short-term designee assuming the mantle of county leadership.
When Cogen stepped down under a cloud of suspicion (he was cleared of criminal wrongdoing), his designee and chief of staff Marissa Madrigal became county chair. When Kafoury resigned to run for Cogen's spot, Oregon Department of Human Services manager Leisl Wendt took her seat. McKeel's designee is a Gresham real estate broker Sue O'Halloran.
As it stands, Kafoury's primary opposition in the race to fill out Cogen's term is former city commissioner and mayoral candidate Jim Francesconi. Two other men also are running—a former US Army Officer and entrepreneur named Steven Reynolds and a high school dropout and former View-Master employee (he has insisted on being described as such via voicemail and a handwritten note ) named James Rowell.
Officer Dane Reister, fired last month for mistakenly shooting a mentally ill man with live shotgun rounds, had a history of slip-ups and accidents involving police property, according to a copy of his termination letter obtained by the Mercury—including a 2006 incident in which he'd injured a fellow cop with a smoke grenade he'd forgotten to unload.
Beyond that glaring mistake, Reister was counseled for failing to keep adequate control of police property and for getting into an accident he could have prevented. He also was suspended early in his career for misuse of overtime.
That record factored heavily in the decision to fire Reister, who, in 19 years as a cop, had served as a crisis intervention officer and a training instructor for young cops. Chief Mike Reese was scathingly blunt in explaining his thinking in the six-page termination letter (pdf) he'd given to Reister on October 2. While Reese acknowledged that some changes could be made in bureau procedure on handling ammunition (and, indeed, have been made), the fault was all Reister's.
But Reese also made clear the horror of what happened to the man Reister shot in the summer of 2011, William Kyle Monroe, who survived but with permanent injuries, was equally important.
There is not an excuse sufficient enough to relieve you of responsiblity for not knowing what rounds you loaded in a weapon before firing it, particularly when that weapon is fired at another person with serious—and potentially deadly—consequences.
Reese's letter also confirmed he wasn't going out of his way to punish Reister. He said the city's Police Review Board, a panel made up of civilians, the city's Independent Police Review Director, and several officers—unanimously agreed that Reister deserved to be fired.
The bureau initially declined to release the termination letter when asked by the Mercury and the Oregonian. The papers appealed to the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office, which referred the matter to its counterparts in Clackamas County in part because criminal charges against Reister, for negligent wounding, are still pending. The criminal case holdup involves, in part, the 2006 incident Reese cited in his letter.
The Clackamas County DA's Office ruled last week that the police bureau had to turn over the letter. It also ruled favorably (pdf) on three other document requests made, in this case, solely by the Mercury: the bureau's training review (pdf) of the shooting, the commander's findings memo (pdf), and the internal investigation (pdf) of the case.
The city had tried to argue that releasing the documents would embarrass Reister, who was just a low-level cop and not a commanding officer. It also argued that enough about the shooting had already been made public. The Clackamas County DA's office agreed with us, especially given the criminal case, that more information about the case—including a look at the bureau's response—was clearly in the public's interest.
Update 2:48 PM: So here's a quick recap of what's in those other documents. Reister worked an overtime shift in Old Town the night before, until 4 am, where he carried for reasons he wasn't clear about, a loaded lethal shotgun—a departure from his usual choice of an AR-15 rifle. He doesn't remember how he loaded lethal rounds into his less-lethal shotgun the next day. He also said he didn't realize, despite briefly pausing between trigger pulls, he was firing lethal rounds—which kick and sound differently than beanbag rounds.
This is relevant, because the bureau's investigation also found Reister was never actually certified to carry a less-lethal shotgun. He missed the two-day course for certified carriers and attended, instead, a class generally on less-lethal weapons as part of his training in 2002 before joining the bureau's riot squad. Reister was among a handful of cops who fell into that loophole, thinking that class certified them. It did not. And it wasn't clear beanbag guns were ever demonstrated in the class.
Lesson plans are missing—which the bureau's training division has identified as a broader problem among the police bureau's various specialty units. In essence, the training division currently can't vouch that officers' training records are as they seem.
The decision to use force, however, was blessed by bureau commanders. Central Precinct Commander Bob Day and witness cops all said this was a textbook case of when a beanbag gun should be used. Provided the right bullets had been loaded inside.
My mind is just sp- sp- spinning and I walk down the hill to where I believe I was standing and I see a spent 12 gage lethal round. And my heart sinks. And it makes sense. And my feelings of uh, of uh, relief that it was over, that it had, that we had safely uh, uh, stopped this guy before harming somebody went from relief to, oh my god, what just happened? A horrible mistake has been made. And uh - I see that round and it happens to be that a sergeant is standing right there, Sergeant MARTY SCHELL. And I look at the sergeant and I say immediately, I said Sergeant, I fired lethal rounds. That's a lethal round, I fired lethal rounds. I wanted him to know right away so that he knew what the deal, what was going on so he -I wanted that guy to get medical help."
Day looked into the confusion over Reister's certification and said the allegation that he violated bureau policy on less-lethal munitions was unproven. He counted the ammunition mistake as a matter of basic competency and said that allegation was sustained. Reese agreed with the first, but not the second. When the bureau announced Reister's dismissal last month, both directives—on competency and less-lethal procedures—were mentioned.
GOOD MORNING, BLOGTOWN! I love myself, I want you to love me. When I'm feelin' down, I want you above me. LET'S GO TO PRESS.
Tired of Republican obstructionist bullshit, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is working to limit the use of the filibuster when it comes to deciding on nominees for cabinet posts and the federal judiciary. To which the GOP will undoubtedly reply, "WAH WAH WAH."
Speaking of crybaby losers who hate America, the GOP has planned an organized assault (in other words, a pack of lies) to battle Obamacare.
Also crying like big crybaby losers about Obamacare: Insurance companies. Surprise, surprise, surprise.
More crybaby GOP bickering—this time against each other in a heated South Carolina race.
In much better news, Illinois got marriage equality today—making it the 16th state to do the right thing!
Alabama grants pardons to the Scottsboro Boys who were falsely accused in 1931 of raping two white women. I'm sure their ghosts are so very grateful.
A couple in Britain have been arrested under suspicion of holding three women captive for... gulp... 30 YEARS.
Today in "whoopsy": A huge cargo plane lands at the wrong, tiny airport—and it's going to be very interesting today when the plane tries to take off from a runway that's far too short. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!
A soldier in Colorado who's accused of sex crimes is using a tried and true defense: "My evil twin did it!!"
AT&T and Verizon may be looking at a shareholder revolution for being so buddy-buddy with government spies, the NSA.
Nerds rejoice: aged comedians Monty Python are reuniting for a live stage show that goes, "neep."
Now here's what's going on in your neck of the woods: Hey, would'ja look at that... SUNNY all week with highs in the upper 40s, lower 50s.
And finally, in defense of Gary Grey (sitting to the right in Australia's parliament) I eat my own hair in boring meetings, too.
The Oregonian's steady reporting on a succession of scandals roiling the city's Office of Management and Finance—the über city bureau that oversees things like investments, human resources, technology, and procurements—has apparently forced Mayor Charlie Hales into firing the city's chief administrative officer, Jack Graham.
Hales' office announced the decision to reporters around 4:30 pm, sending out a statement blaming the "distraction" caused by several "controversies," but not mentioning any of them by name.
As leader of the city of Portland, and Commissioner of OMF, I want this city to do its work without distraction. Controversies involving OMF have become a distraction. As the commissioner in charge of OMF, I believe it is now time to make a change. I am therefore ending Jack Graham’s employment agreement with the City of Portland.
Graham's troubles began when city whistle-blowers flagged a dubious $200,000 transfer of utility rate money in 2012. They grew larger when one of those whistle-blowers, Rich Goward, was let go as the city's chief financial officer—with Goward complaining it was because of his role. (That flap got Hales to launch a top-to-bottom review of OMF, after Nick Fish threatened to get his colleagues on the council to vote to restore the CFO position.)
Graham has since spatted with the city's controller. And he's also been criticized for some large freelance contracts to former HR director Yvonne Deckard. But Hales apparently hit his breaking point in the past few days after the O broke the news of another improper fund transfer that did go through—to help purchase a building for the police bureau in 2011. It was lightly investigated this year—with Graham, according to reports, casting blame against another whistle-blower from the 2012 transfer, budget director Andrew Scott.
Hales says he'll kick off a national search for a replacement.
The full statement from Hales' office is after the cut.
It's been another busy (and fruitful!) few weeks on the phones for Commissioner Dan Saltzman and his crack campaign staff—proving, once more, that the four-term dean of city hall is still very much taking seriously his bid at serving through (almost) the end of the decade.
Since I last posted about Saltzman's early fundraising efforts, back on October 28, he and his staff have reported an additional $12,500 in new contributions, according to state campaign finance records. That three-week burst amounts to more than a third of the $33,719 he's raised so far this year.
That new money also has come via big checks from just a relative handful of wealthy households and their businesses—shedding some interesting light on Saltzman's early fundraising strategy. By building as big a pile of cash as he can right now, he'll scare off all but the most long-shot opponents. (It's immensely difficult to unseat incumbents in Portland, and it's gotten even more difficult with the demise of public campaign financing.)
For example? A quarter of that new cash—$3,000—has come from two households and their businesses.
The MEI Group (a company that had a multimillion-dollar contract with the Bureau of Environmental Services when Saltzman ran it) wrote Saltzman a $500 check. And so did two of its principles, Roy and Kathy Moore. Saltzman also got a $500 check from Oregon Pacific Investment and Development, a real estate firm with holdings in the metro area and beyond, and another from each of its principles, Julie Leuvrey, and her husband, Eric.
That strategy's also been in play, to a lesser degree, with some other moneyed Portlanders and their businesses. Harold Pollin, owner of the Sheraton out by the airport, gave $1,000 under his name and his hotel holding company's name. Philanthropist Irwin Holzman did the same, giving $1,000 between himself and his car loan credit company, Reliable Credit Association. And so did Robert Walsh of Walsh Construction.
Saltzman's other big donors are no slouches either: Terry Bean, Robert Ball of Ball Janik (not Bob Ball the developer), Standard Insurance, and United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 555.
And then there's his landlord, at least for his campaign operation. It's property management firm Melvin Mark, whose president, Scott Andrews, is chairman of the Portland Development Commission and has to answer to Saltzman and other city commissioners when it comes to votes on the city budget and urban renewal policy. (Saltzman, as housing bureau commissioner, has been keenly listening to the concerns of developers and others worried about the fate of the PDC.)
Is Saltzman paying Melvin Mark? Not quite. Melvin Mark is another contributor, kindly donating office space and parking to Saltzman's campaign staff. So far, that "in-kind" contribution has been worth more than $2,700.
Portland State University’s administration is once again looking to slim down the school’s budget. Needless to say students, faculty and the faculty union aren’t happy.
Yesterday at noon, around 260 individuals, many from the PSU chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP)—the union representing the university’s faculty—along with students and other supporters, marched from PSU at SW Broadway to the Market Center Building, where PSU President Wim Wiewel keeps an office.
The protesters’ beef was with the university’s administration, their high salaries, and the budget-cutting knife they’re now wielding.
University higher-ups recently issued an administrative directive ordering all “academic units” identify eight percent of their budgets for possible cuts. The cuts are expected to take another bite out of student services. But the rub, says AAUP reps, is that this starvation diet might not be necessary at all.
“There’s this history of uneven investment on the campus,” Mary King, economics professor and president of the PSU chapter of the AAUP, told the Mercury.
On King’s wish list of possible cuts are what she says are some of PSU’s more ill-conceived investments. Not the least of these is the University Place Hotel—the former Double Tree at 310 SW Lincoln Street that PSU bought and has been running since 2004. King says the hotel has sucked money from student tuition and should be sold.
Of course, union members have their own more personal complaints against their bosses, and—surprise! surprise—it’s over money. But before you think the teachers are greedy bastards not pulling their own weight, consider their argument. (Which, if you wanted to incite class resentment, isn’t a bad one).
The AAUP claims there’s a lot of fat at the top of PSU’s food chain. According to numbers compiled by the union, over the last decade, the average administrator’s salary has gone up substantially. The provost’s salary shot up 46 percent. For vice provosts it was 43 percent. For vice presidents it was around 29 percent. To give this some perspective, consider PSU President Wim Wiewel’s salary.
A public apology—the one thing America really goddamn hates doing—has become the primary sticking point in talks with Afghanistan, sort of its version of making us beg by saying pretty-please-with-cherries-and-ice-cream on top, over whether the Pentagon will still get to keep at least a few troops in the country after next year's massive withdrawal.
UN climate-change talks have gone to seed—per usual. This time, the host country, Poland, summarily fired its environmental minister in the middle of the sessions. And, way more importantly, poor countries—the countries that will disproportionately bear the brunt of calamity—are bolting in droves to protest rich countries' unwillingness to promptly pay up to help offset those looming climate-related ills.
Iran's supreme cleric (Level 17, CN, 96HP) politely reminded everyone, in the midst of earnest nuclear power negotiations with the West, that he's still the man to please.
He derided US government policies but insisted Iran had no animosity towards the American people and seeks "friendly" relations.
The remarks were met with the traditional revolutionary chant of: "Death to America."
In liberated America, meanwhile, our supreme
clerics court justices decided it was perfectly cool—and not a violation of women's rights—for Texas to enforce draconian laws forcing many of its abortion providers to close.
The Obamacare jihad will now be fought in statehouses. Corporate lobbyists from the front group ALEC are working with the GOP to seed the nation with centrally written clone bills meant to wreck healthcare exchanges by punishing the insurers who participate in them.
The Justice Department, in policing financial improprieties has finally mustered up the will to something obvious: Levy fines and penalties against multinational banks so drastically high they might actually serve as a deterrent. Witness a recently announced $13 billion fine for JPMorgan Chase—a sum worth half of the bank's annual profit.
A space-obsessed billionaire, Dennis Tito, has big plans for rocketing humans into orbit around Mars, if not quite landing there, the end of 2017. He's aiming for a six-month window when Mars and Earth will be as close as they've been in forever, to cut down on rocket fuel.
The National Security Agency remains terrible at respecting whatever negligible limits it's already supposed to abide.
Warrantless wiretapping overseas, it turns out, helped build the FBI's case against would-be Pioneer Courthouse Square bomber Mohamed Osman Mohamud. The Justice Department, under a new policy change, admitted the tactic in recently filed court papers.
The white supremacist serial killer who shot and paralyzed Larry Flynt in the midst of a cross-country murder rampage targeting Jews and African Americans nearly 40 years go, has been executed.
Stress over the government shutdown drove a freshman Republican congressman from Florida straight into the arms of a waiting Washington, DC, cocaine dealer. He used to handle his stress by tweeting out reviews of the garbage for sale in SkyMall catalogs.
A state representative in Hawaii thinks he'll end homelessness by strutting around Honolulu with a sledgehammer and bashing apart homeless people's property.
Oregon's economy isn't doing terribly. The unemployment rate, now at 7.7 percent, is as low as its been since the Great Recession dawned forever ago. And like every employment report in the country, that slow jobs rebound is happening despite cutbacks in the government sector, which historically has been at the front of every other recovery parade.
Something like 500 cars parked in inner Northeast and Southeast have now had their tires slashed by a prolific vandal or vandals no doubt enjoying all the media coverage of their pain-in-the-ass handiwork.
DO NOT WATCH THIS, IF WATCHING VIDEO OF A PATHOLOGIST HOLDING AND MANIPULATING A FRESHLY AUTOPSIED BRAIN ("WITH A NICE BLUSH") WILL GROSS YOU THE EFF OUT.
If anyone's got a few bucks to throw around, it's Nike. Sometimes, that money goes toward appalling third-world abuses. Other times, toward human rights initiatives on the home front.
Today, at least, the news involves the latter. Nike's given $280,000 to Oregon United for Marriage, the group pushing a constitutional amendment legalizing same sex marriage for the November 2014 ballot. A newly created Nike Equality PAC (political action committee) reportedly snagged donations of $100,000 and $180,000 from the company and its executives, respectively.
The contribution, which doesn't yet appear in online campaign finance records, amounts to more than half all the other money the group's raised to-date. The donation also isn't much of a surprise. Nike supported last year's same-sex marriage push in Washington State, and signed onto two briefs in the Supreme Court case that defanged the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8.
Nonetheless: Good show.
From a news release:
Nike has a long history of supporting equality. It was one of the first companies nearly 20 years ago to extend benefits to partners of either gender. In 2000, the company extended those benefits to the dependents of domestic partners.
In 2005, Nike was a national business trailblazer in supporting Oregon’s groundbreaking legislation to secure employment non-discrimination for the LGBT community and civil unions for same sex partners. In 2007, Nike built an Oregon business coalition to help successfully pass the state-level non-discrimination and civil unions legislation.
Nike has been a long-time supporter of federal employment non-discrimination legislation, and was also one of the lead companies to sign onto the business community amicus brief earlier this year before the US Supreme Court supporting the end of federal marriage discrimination and enabling recognition of same-sex civil marriage at the U.S. federal government level.
A very-possible agreement with Iran over rollbacks of its nuclear ambitions sounds like new and heartening progress, right? Not to Israel, which has repeatedly made the case getting the alienated nation to scale back its programs in exchange for loosened sanctions is "a mistake of historic proportions," and "an exceedingly bad deal."
Remember when America used to make stuff? Quality stuff? Parts of Mexico are living that dream right now, and have a burgeoning middle class to show for it. Eat your heart out, withering American middle class!
Meet Robert Wilkins, a federal judge who President Obama would like to raise to the nation's most prominent appeals court. Like others Obama's nominated to the court recently, no one's got much beef with his history or qualifications. But it's Washington and it's 2013, so he'll be blocked like the others.
Ever wonder what judges were thinking when they approved extraordinary National Security Agency parsing of Americans' communications? At least one of them was very clear it was a big, potentially dubious deal.
"Hey!" you're thinking, "we've made it this far into GMN with nary a scent of Obamacare woes?! Maybe the tide is turning at long last. Maybe I'll be able to afford health care and finally assume my destiny." Nope, though that sounded mysterious and sweet. Healthcare.gov is still a problem, and it turns out White House officials have known about its potential for gaping flaws since "early this year."
And the president, in trying to rollout the signature policy of his presidency to date, is less popular than ever.
Shady business down in Virginia, where a state senator is in critical condition with stab wounds, while his son is dead by a gunshot. No word yet on what transpired.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford: Still no resigning. “You think American-style politics is nasty?” he said yesterday as the city council further stripped him of money and authority. “This is going to be outright war.”
If I told you George Zimmerman was arrested again yesterday and asked you to guess why, I'm confident 70-plus percent of you could divine the exact circumstance.
Like many Tuesdays, this one's going to be vaguely unpleasant.
Guy On A Buffalo is my Breaking Bad.
It's not incredibly rare in this town for a cop to deploy a Taser. Officers hit eight suspects with more than one cycle of the debilitating device from July through September alone, according to a recent report.
Far rarer is a press release to explain a Tasering incident, which is what hit Portland's collective media inboxes this afternoon. The release details a brief standoff Friday morning at the Pearl District Whole Foods, after a man with "significant mental health issues" grabbed an unspecific number of knives and refused to leave.
The reason for the release, apparently, is this (partly NSFW) video, which a breakfasting witness posted to YouTube.
The footage is pertinent given recent scrutiny over the Portland Police Bureau's dealings with people suffering mental illness. Just two weeks ago, bigwigs gathered in Portland City Hall to announce an agreement with the city's top police union over federally mandated reforms spurred by cops' inadequate handling of these encounters.
It's pretty clear officers in this instance gave the suspect ample warning and opportunity to de-escalate the situation (not that that necessarily matters when a person's in crisis)—and also that they were ready to use far more force than a Taser. It appears at least two officers have their handguns out, and a third has a bean bag shotgun.
Cops say they've had past run-ins with the man, including an incident where he was wearing a tactical vest and holstered replica pistol. In all, an officer hit the suspect with four cycles of the Taser— "due to his continuing struggle, his swatting and grabbing at the Taser probes and putting his hands underneath his body," according to the press release. He was charged with menacing and second-degree disorderly conduct.
More from the release after jump.
If you required further evidence the term "hipster" is bandied about too much these days, the Portland Police Bureau just sent it out in a press release.
Cops are looking for a guy they've dubbed "The Nerdy Bandit," but it's a misnomer. He'd absolutely be a lead candidate for the title "The Hipster Bandit," if that name weren't already used recently.
See, the "Hipster Bandit" rode a bike and robbed banks. Meh. But the "Nerdy Bandit," has been a scourge to clerks at American Apparels and Urban Outfitters throughout the city since early October. He likes to browse the racks casually for a number of minutes before slipping the cashier a note saying he's got a handgun. Then he either strolls away on foot, or dashes off full speed.
Fault for the naming travesty, it should be said, lies with you, the crime-witnessing public. Someone who saw one of the bank jobs was a little too trigger happy with the "hipster" descriptor. And I guess a witness said this latest perp was "nerdyish" (either due to a well-cultivated aversion to using the h-word, or because, as a client or employee of American Apparel or Urban Outfitters, he himself/she herself is a hipster. We'll likely never know).
Here's a sketch, with the full press release appended after the jump. For the love of god someone catch this nerdy, yellow-toothed hipster.
Mayor Charlie Hales' Twitter feed has always been a relatively dull, trickling contrast to that of his predecessor. Sam Adams made Twitter a part of his daily duties, posting reflections, chatting with citizens, and, occasionally, nearly breaking national news. Hales mostly posts short headlines with attached links—often to stories or press releases that have been circulating for hours.
It's been a matter of some discussion, here, actually, so it was interesting when The Atlantic Cities sent along this video this morning. Staffers for the site interviewed mayors from around the world at a conference in New York about a bevy of topics— including Twitter—offering a handy opportunity to see how a city leader's attitude toward the site translates in the Twittersphere (I hate myself for writing it, too). First, here's that video:
So how do these outlooks play out the web? You be the judge. We took two tweets, all
from the last week relatively recent, posted to the featured mayors' Twitter accounts:
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