- The leader of one of Portland’s most prominent churches is out—and parishioners say they don’t know why. The Rev. Stephen Newton—a supporter of the Portland Pride Festival & Parade—was abruptly removed as pastor of St. André Bessette Catholic Church
at 601 W Burnside St. after a decade there without so much as a
goodbye. A new priest gave mass June 23. In an email, Newton denied he
was ousted for his support of Pride Week, which ran June 14-21, but
declined to say why he was reassigned. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Portland says the decision was made by Newton’s order, the Congregation of Holy Cross. Mike Bergmann, a member of the volunteer pastoral council, says no one was informed about Newton’s abrupt departure. “It’s really unfortunate if there’s no answers for this community,” Bergmann says. The order did not return requests for comment.
- Portland police Capt. Sara Westbrook was promoted to commander June 21 and put in charge of running the East Precinct—the Police Bureau’s busiest. Westbrook, a 27-year veteran, led the Central Precinct’s response to the often-tense Occupy Portland protests in 2011. Police Bureau sources say Westbrook’s work during Occupy—and on federal civil rights mandates that the bureau clean up its act—helped her get the promotion. Dana Haynes, spokesman for Mayor Charlie Hales, says Hales asked Chief Mike Reese to pick reformers when he made his staff changes. “Given that we feel community policing has been ignored, we wanted the right person for the right time and right position,” Haynes says. “We asked the chief, ‘Can you look through that lens, and not just on number of years served when you promote?’”
- The state’s largest landline telephone provider, CenturyLink, has withdrawn an audacious request to delay utility-pole maintenance for up to 10 years (“Down to the Wire,” WW, May 22, 2013). Smaller utilities and utility and electrical workers hated the proposal, which they said was a dangerous attempt to save money. “We are sensitive to the economic issues that employers such as CenturyLink are facing,” says Marcy Grail, assistant business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 125. “However, you cannot balance your budget on the back of worker safety.”
- Former Oregon Republican Party Chairman and 1994 GOP gubernatorial candidate Craig Berkman pleaded guilty June 25 to felony counts of wire and securities fraud in federal court in New York. Once known as Oregon’s top venture capitalist and a top political contributor, Berkman left Oregon in 2005 for Florida after dozens of investors here sued him (“The Talented Mr. Berkman,” WW, Jan. 25, 2006).