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June 12th, 2013 12:01 am WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs

Murmurs: Testing Hales, On Civil Rights And Police Reform.


  • Mayor Charlie Hales faces a decision about what to do regarding Baruti Artharee, his chief public safety adviser and liaison to the Police Bureau. As first reported on wweek.com, Artharee has acknowledged making inappropriate, suggestive remarks to County Commissioner Loretta Smith in front of 40 community leaders June 6. The remarks—which appear to violate city policies against harassment—were also witnessed by Hales’ director of Equity and Human Rights, Dante James. As also reported on wweek.com, three sources said Artharee had made similar remarks about Smith on three previous occasions. Tuesday afternoon, Hales’ office announced city human resources director Anna Kanwit would conduct an investigation of the incident and that Hales and Artharee would make no further comment until the probe is complete. In the meantime, Artharee remains on the job.

  •   Negotiations between the city and the Portland Police Association over federally mandated reforms are at an impasse, and newly released documents from the Police Bureau point to one big reason why: the police union contract provision allowing an officer involved in a shooting or in-custody death to decline to answer investigators’ questions for 48 hours. The U.S. Department of Justice singled out the provision in its scathing report last fall that found Portland police have a “pattern and practice” of using excessive force against the mentally ill. Mayor Hales has said he wants to get rid of the 48-hour rule. The Police Bureau released a matrix June 11 showing the rule is flagged as the one point—out of 80 DOJ reform items—that faces the biggest barrier in implementation. PPA president Daryl Turner declined to comment. “We agreed to confidentiality, and the PPA will adhere to that,” Turner says. “The city can put out whatever they want to.”

  •   It will soon be easier in Oregon to rescue someone overdosing on heroin. Gov. John Kitzhaber last week signed a bill passed by the Legislature that will allow trained laypeople to inject naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, which can revive a person who has slipped into an opiate overdose. In March, WW reported other states have had success by widening access to Narcan (“Who Wants to Save a Junkie?” WW, March 6, 2013). The bill was introduced by Sen. Alan Bates (D-Ashland), a physician. “The bottom line,” says Rep. Jennifer Williamson (D-Portland), a co-sponsor, “is this new law will save lives.”

  •   A long-running legal ethics battle will go another round. High-profile securities lawyers Barnes Ellis and Lois Rosenbaum have appealed an Oregon State Bar trial verdict that they violated state ethics rules at the Stoel Rives firm while representing FLIR Corp. and its executives in federal civil and criminal cases. The Oregon Supreme Court will hear the appeal from one of its own, former Supreme Court Justice Mick Gillette, who retired from the court in 2011 and will represent Rosenbaum and Ellis.
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