REPORT FROM PORTLAND, WEEK ENDING 12/21/2013
REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 12/21/2013
Another busy week, seems like we would slow down for the holidays, nope! My week started out by going to a meeting of the willing, as RH calls us, we gather to prepare for the upcoming presentation by the public to a federal judge to rethink the process of the now settled agreement between the city and Dept. of Justice. We are still discussing what and how we will try to get you and as many people to the hearing as possible, we just learned that the hearing will be at 0900 on the 18th of February so time is of the essence; more on this later. . http://albinaministerialcoalition.org/Analysis.html
Wednesday was a long day at the city's den of treachery.
The 4+1 s---s were in the mood to do things and that they did; not good things but things that go bump in the night. I felt like Scrooge waiting for Christmas future to arrive and show me what will happen. They had split up two very important issues, and that is not an accident, it is by design. The first issue was scheduled at 0930 and many of the people who did take the time to testify about the police union contract and the future of the IPR could not stay all day, so they had to choose which of the two they would offer some public input. Being a stubborn Irishman, I tried to stay for both only to almost pass out first at the table in the Council Chambers about 3:00 PM and then near the elevators on our way out of the den. If Kathy had not helped me out I would have been in big trouble. I had spent too many hours in the den and it just got me, the place was spinning.
The issues in the morning were items 1190 &1191 which were both to ratify and agree to what the city, police and even the feds decided was fair and good for us. We said no, they said go to hell and passed them anyway. You can go to the link below and find the video of what happened. It was once again a sham. http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=26997&
The afternoon session was comical, the main reason for us pushing to stay was item 1209. The IPR, Independent Police Review Board, wanted to question the cops on their own, they want more independence. This is a very complicated issue, much more than the council ever considered and I think the city attorneys are not too swift, they seems to recommend things that are illegal. The big problem here is when you question a cop he/she may say something that will enter into the criminal realm. I am not a big defender of the cops, but you cannot force someone to impeach themselves unless you grant them full immunity. Once you grant full immunity you cannot prosecute them later. This was "put over" again and maybe we will get a vote in January on this issue. There will have to be some changes to make this happen. Our opinion is that we should scrap the IPR and have a totally independent body investigate all complaints. This body should have its own budget, investigators, and staff; be located away from the politicians and the police management. Maybe the senior members should be elected by the people of Portland. The original three member board could be appointed by the County Board for the County of Multnomah. I trust this board and have watched them work for almost 6 months and would feel comfortable letting them decide who would be on the original 3 member board to investigate complaints against the police. We will have to see what happens next year. Thursday was once again the highlight of my week; well except for Saturday, more on that coming up.
Thursday started off with attending the County Board and explaining to them the troubles in Portland. We have a new concept in Community Policing; a cop will now get out of his car for short periods of time and talk to the people of the neighborhood. This must have started out a good idea, but you know the cops, if they can screw something good up, they will. The cops will talk to the people in the neighborhood, but then they will ask them permission to pat them down. Can you just see this in action, "Hey Joe, how you doing, can I search your person to make sure you are one of the good guys?" Sometimes I think there is something in the water at city hall, how do they come up with this stuff. Lightning gave a presentation about the homeless and his ideas on how to finance his concepts; better than most I listened to. At 1230, we were off to see the judge at the federal courthouse.
Waiting for the Judge, it was very quiet in the courtroom, not a person did move, except the "OJ Team" from City of Portland, Oregon, they were making some kind of noise, maybe there were too many, four in all. Why were there four of them, did they think that would impress the judge? We asked their leader, the (acting?) City Attorney him-self, "Why are there four of you here?" Mr. Harry Auerback looked a bit startled, but did reply, that it took all four to make sure they understood the judge's decisions, each had to handle only 25% of the judge's words, and the CA decides how many lawyers are needed. The Albina Ministers only had one lawyer, the cop's only one; the feds maybe three but I think only two. We laughed and suggested the next time maybe the city could just invest in a recorder and they could come down to one lawyer. The meeting was interesting, not so much in the details, this was just a procedural hearing, but in the way the federal judge addressed the lawyers and the public who took the time to attend this meeting. I was sitting next to my friend and brother Roberto, and in back of us were two police union reps that were there without their guns, (I hoped.) The Oregonian was there and there was an article but I think she missed most of what was happening, she was clued into the judge. The AMA was there and Dan from Cop Watch, they have been battling this accountability question for a long time and have earned our respect and gratitude. JoAnn and RH were also there and that was cool.
The big moment for me came when Judge Michael Simon asked the people who took the time to attend to "weigh in" and comment on the procedure so far. He was instructing the lawyers to acknowledge what he had decided, but did involve the rest of us and that my friend is something I have never heard a judge do--for anything. This seems to be a man of honor, a man who will do the right thing, it has been a long time since I met a federal judge I admired, and this judge could be the one. This judge could be the person to set things right, this judge could be the man who changes the police force in Portland, Oregon and that brought tears to my eyes; just like the kids who played such wonderful music during the County Board's last meeting of the year 2013.
Friday was raining and cold but we went to Chapman Park to try to find friends for gloves, hats, scarfs, sweaters, hand warmers etc. etc. We got to see Cheeto and her friend Jose, Donna was there and others, we do have a time. Kathy and I lasted about 40 minutes and headed for a hot cup of Jo---I had a mocha. This usually ends my week but there was one other thing I wanted to do and that was happening on Saturday afternoon. "Joy to the World, a flash festival of gifting." This was a great idea and I had so much fun, thank you Sam for putting this together. We went to the Saturday Market and exchanged gifts with strangers; it was in the spirit of what Christmas should be about. Think of the story of the Wise-men who showed up at the stable where lots of people believe the Son of God was born. If you believe this story, why was Jesus born in a place where animals were kept to get out of the cold and rain during winter? Well, again this report is long and we did want to say "Merry Christmas" and we hope someday we do have peace on earth. Enjoy!
May 2014 be a year of love, sharing and understanding "The Other."
INDIVIDUALS FOR JUSTICE,
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