Harsh Words for Police Union in Unanimous Vote to Fight Frashour Reinstatement
Denis C. TheriaultPPA attorney Will Aitchison, left, and Portland Copwatch mainstay Dan Handelman prepare to testify.As promised, after hearing from outraged activists and an equally impassioned police union lawyer, the Portland City Council today unanimously answered Mayor Sam Adams' call to take his fight against reinstating Ron Frashour to the Oregon Court of Appeals. The city now has just a few weeks to formally appeal an Oregon Employment Relations Board ruling from last month that orders Adams to give Frashour his job back. Adams and Police Chief Mike Reese fired Frashour in 2010 for killing Aaron Campbell, a distraught and unarmed man whose attempted surrender to police was botched by an epic communications breakdown. But Frashour was later ordered reinstated this spring by a state labor arbitrator—and the city unsuccessfully tried to persuade the ERB to throw that ruling away. But while the vote itself was expected, it came with a heaping helping of council vitriol over the influential Portland Police Association and the occasionally pugnacious tone it's taken under its president of two years, Daryl Turner. Commissioner Randy Leonard, a former firefighters union president and staunch labor ally, phoned into the meeting and launched into a long statement recounting the facts of the Campbell case, as he saw them, and then ripping into Turner for taking shots questioning Adams' integrity and also for ignoring community outrage. He highlighted testimony in a recent auditor's report, reported by the Mercury on Monday, in which an assistant police chief complained about "rehearsed" testimony during Frashour's arbitration hearing. And he recalled that while a grand jury absolved Frashour of criminal liability, it also took the unusual step of castigating the bureau itself, in a letter, for the many lapses that led to Campbell's death. "There really is a bigger picture I need to consider. When the PPA president ignores community outrage, unprecedented grand jury outrage, a $1.2 million settlement, and even ignored unprecedented outrage by one of the Portland Police Bureau's own top commanders, but instead makes outrageous personal attacks on the mayor and a highly respected former PPA president [now-Lieutenant Robert King, who co-wrote a review that helped lead to Frashour's dismissal]," Leonard said, "I felt like, as I do now, that I needed to change my focus. Something needs to change in the Portland Police Bureau. And maybe this is the path we have to take to get there. If that's the case, then so be it." Not long after, Nick Fish, a former labor lawyer, said he wished Leonard was in the chambers so he could personally tell him how "eloquent" his statement was. Fish said he wanted to make clear that the vote wasn't about the collective bargaining process. "Much of what he said, I not only agree with, but the way in which he stated it was very eloquent and extremely thoughtful," Fish said, noting "we have both been involved in labor relations." "This is not an attack on the collective bargaining process. That's a diversion." [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]
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Oct. 04, 2012
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