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December 1st, 2010 WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs
 

Murmurs

     
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  • The sister of a man slain in 2005 by a Portland cop is asking Mayor Sam Adams and Police Chief Mike Reese not to promote the officer involved. Raymond Gwerder, 30, was reported armed and suicidal when Officer Leo Besner shot him in the back while Gwerder was on the phone with a police negotiator. The city settled a lawsuit with Gwerder’s family in 2007 for $500,000. As reported in last week’s Murmurs, Besner is now atop the Police Bureau’s list for promotion to sergeant. “I would be outraged should this occur as would many others,” writes Gwerder’s sister, Bobbie Jo Foster of Sammamish, Wash., in a Nov. 30 letter to Adams and Reese. Read Foster’s entire letter at wweek.com.

  • Although Mayor Sam Adams knew nothing about the feds’ probe into last week’s alleged bomb plot, at least one elected official was clued in beforehand. The Oregon State Police—which, unlike the Portland Police Bureau, belongs to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force—briefed Gov. Ted Kulongoski three days before Mohamed Osman Mohamud was arrested Nov. 26, as well as updating him the morning before the arrest. Meantime, there’s fresh debate at City Council about Portland’s role in the JTTF. Five years ago, under then-Mayor Tom Potter, the city pulled its cops from the task force because of a lack of civilian oversight. Now Commissioner Dan Saltzman, the only council member in 2005 to oppose the withdrawal, wants a Dec. 8 council vote on returning to the task force. Adams has said he would review that idea. For much more on the arrest and its fallout, see here.

  • Pissed-off residents on West Hayden Island and the Audubon Society of Portland are suing the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for allegedly OK-ing contaminated-waste dumping without telling neighbors. The suit says DEQ approved two permits letting the Port of Portland dump 105,000 cubic yards of dredge spoils contaminated with zinc, lead, DDT and other chemicals, some of which exceed levels for ecological and human health. The suit claims DEQ approved the permits without informing neighbors or assessing health impacts and environmental justice. The Nov. 23 suit in Multnomah County Circuit Court asks a judge to void those permits and stop DEQ from issuing more until the City of Portland finishes its own contentious planning process for the island’s future. DEQ spokeswoman Nina DeConcini declined comment.

  • Oregon voters’ approval last month of Measure 73 means about 500 additional sex offenders and repeat drunken drivers will be incarcerated in coming years. Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen hopes the mothballed Wapato Jail, empty since its 2004 completion due to no money for operations, can compete for that population or other uses. The county has persuaded city bureaucrats to loosen land-use restrictions on Wapato, allowing all detention uses, rather than just jail. For instance, says Cogen’s spokesman, David Austin, Wapato could be a prison or a secure facility for drug and alcohol rehab.

  • A reminder that Portland Public Schools’ pitch to voters for a $548 million construction bond gets its first public airing Wednesday, Dec. 1. At a 5:30 pm hearing at the district’s headquarters, School Board members will hear residents’ responses to Superintendent Carole Smith’s idea, which would go to voters in May.
 
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