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May 12th, 2010 12:00 am WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs

More Explosive Than St. Helens 30 Years Ago.


  • The investigation by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries into the actions of John Minnis, former Department of Public Safety Standards and Training director, toward a subordinate has concluded. Its findings? There was “substantial evidence of an unlawful employment practice.” An ex-Portland Police detective and Republican state senator, Minnis retired abruptly from DPSST last November after a subordinate identified only as Jane Doe accused him of sexual harassment (see “Minnis: ‘My Wife’s Gonna Freakin’ Shoot Me,’” WW, Dec. 9, 2009). At a hearing July 27 in front of the Workers’ Compensation Board, BOLI will argue the case for Jane Doe—who’s seeking $2 million from the state for “emotional, mental and physical suffering.” Minnis’ attorney, Karen O’Kasey, wasn’t immediately available for comment.

  • More legal problems for Brent Foster, the former top environmental lawyer for Attorney General John Kroger. Jim Welsh, a Manzanita resident, filed a bar complaint on May 7 against Foster that alleges Foster is guilty of a conflict of interest for continuing to represent the interests of his former employer, Columbia Riverkeeper, while in the state’s employ (see “Gas Attack,” WW, Feb. 24, 2010); Welch also alleges Foster misrepresented his role in a Hood River investigation into an alleged polluter. That Hood River case caused Kroger to ask for Foster’s resignation. The bar has forwarded the complaint to disciplinary counsel for “further consideration.” Foster’s attorney, Roy Pulvers, hadn’t seen the complaint but says his client will cooperate fully with the bar.

  • At least 400 students from Benson Polytechnic High marched to the board meeting of Portland Public Schools on Monday night to protest the proposed closure of their 92-year-old school. As part of her high-school redesign, Superintendent Carole Smith wants to convert Benson, a four-year school, into a two-year career and technical program for students in the 11th and 12th grades only. Principal Steve Olczak also addressed the school board Monday. “This school had gone through a period of mourning,” he told the board. “It feels with all its heart and soul it’s going in the wrong direction [under the redesign].” But neither teachers nor students feel their principal is doing enough to stop the closure. This week, students initiated a vote of no-confidence against Olczak.

  • Chip Terhune, chief of staff to Gov. Ted Kulongoski, is moving on with about seven months left in his boss’s final term. A former car salesman and union lobbyist, Terhune is heading to where used cars end their lives: Schnitzer Steel, the state’s largest scrap metal business. Terhune will head government relations for the Northwest Portland firm. Kulongoski named Deputy Chief of Staff Tim Nesbitt to replace Terhune.

  • After the Portland Police Bureau took more than three years on its internal investigation into the 2006 death of James Chasse Jr. (see page 6 for news about the settlement of a lawsuit filed by Chasse’s family), Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman promised reforms. Saltzman told WW the cop shop’s internal probes should take “no more than six months” (see Hotseat, WW, Feb. 17, 2010). Well, this week marks six months since Officer Christopher Humphreys, who was also involved in Chasse’s death, shot a 12-year-old girl with a beanbag gun on Nov. 14, 2009. So where does the beanbag investigation stand? The Police Bureau says the case is “still under review.”

  • Bikini Coffee Co., whose business plan included scantily clad servers aiming to jolt grumpy caffeine junkies in Salem and Portland, now faces its own jolt of legal troubles. Company co-founders Adam Marshall and Steven Rotan told WW less than two years ago (see “Java Jugs,” WW, July 9, 2008) that Bikini Coffee had franchise agreements in 36 states and was planning to open five locations in Bangkok. But Salem’s Statesman Journal reported May 9 that the two brothers now have each filed for bankruptcy, and face a civil suit alleging breach of contract and fiduciary duty as well as fraud. The newspaper reports that the brothers deny the allegations and accuse investors of trying to ruin them. Meantime, the Portland outlet and one of the two in Salem are closed. And the brothers are prohibited from visiting the site of their Portland location, and face burglary charges in Portland.
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