I liked your article on Homer Williams ["Homer's Odyssey," July 30, 2003]. There is an error, however, that should be corrected. Scissor stairs, Homer's magic solution to his Macadam project, have been successfully used before in Portland in high-rise residential buildings. The Portland Center Development built in the '60s has towers that utilize scissor stairs to reduce their floor plates and are therefore relatively slim. Homer could have saved the airfare to B.C. by looking around in his own neighborhood.
Giffin Bolte Jurgens
Southwest 2nd Avenue
S. Renee Mitchell spots the mote in WW's eye, but misses the beam in her own [Mailbox, WW, July 23, 2003]. She instructs you in journalistic etiquette and ethics, but sins far worse in her July 23 [Oregonian] column.
Asking "the helped to help [the] utility," she gives PacifiCorp's Sheila Holden a free PR ride.
The help PacifiCorp wants? To undermine a grassroots, all-volunteer effort to create a Multnomah County People's Utility District.
S. Renee limns Holden as a "Mississippi-born...change agent...pushing for social services for low-income people." Mother Teresa in River City? No, an employee of a self-interested, foreign-owned company trying to avoid having a public-power competitor.
Holden "is fighting to keep the low...rates paid by 68,000 Northeast residents" from "a hurricane of bias against bankrupt Enron."
Where is the risk to PacifiCorp? If Albertson's bought Safeway, would Fred Meyer's prices go up?
Mitchell instructs WW's writer to:
"Think critically: [A] soundbite does not a story make." But Holden's soundbites do?
"Be ethical," she continues, noting "a reporter's responsibility to...check with people mentioned by name." The Oregon Public Power Coalition, mentioned by name, never heard from Mitchell about the self-serving comments of PacifiCorp's Holden.
"Do your research," says Mitchell, yet she didn't discover that Albina Bank was "created" because PacifiCorp was ordered to do so in a rate-case settlement.
A PacifiCorp executive, we are told, is working on the governor's business initiative. Could that (possibly?) create an advantage for Pacific Power? Mitchell apparently has not considered this.
Would Sheila Holden be unable to continue her good works if a P.U.D. were formed? Only if PacifiCorp "punishes" Portland for not following the selfish desires of her PacifiCorp/ Scottish Power bosses.
Mitchell has allowed herself to be used, and has failed to "Get [her] facts straight," "Be ethical," "Think critically" or "Do [her] research."
Southwest Clay Street
WATCHDOG OR LAPDOG?
I regularly monitor the Independent Police Review division's Citizen Review Committee (CRC) and noticed that WW's article about the CRC ["Muzzling the Watchdog," July 23, 2003] missed some essential points. There appear to be implications in the article that CRC member T.J. Browning unfairly makes decisions against the police (when hearing appeals of police-misconduct complaints), even though she often votes for Police Bureau findings that exonerate officers. Browning and other assertive CRC members vote for harsher findings only when the evidence calls for such decisions. Browning confronts the issues, but remains respectful whenever addressing the multitude of officers participating at the hearings.
IPR Director [Richard] Rosenthal suggests that her
"faction" tries to illegally go beyond city code. However, the city auditor, Rosenthal and city attorney deputies (who represent officers in civil litigation) interpret the IPR ordinance in a manner that tries to prohibit the CRC from doing anything not specifically stated, but the officials fail to apply this standard to IPR staff. Rosenthal doesn't mention his withdrawal of staff support for matters relating to CRC choices he doesn't like such as the committee's decision to review the police investigation of the alleged beating of Jose Mejia Poot during Poot's initial arrest (days before the police fatally shot him). Rosenthal claims he wants members who can make fair decisions, even though he, [City Auditor Gary] Blackmer and one CRC member continually support bureau findings without adequate justification to do so.
Apparently, Blackmer and Rosenthal's attempts to hide the fact that the bureau lost data from deadly-force cases demonstrate how they maintain a "good working relationship with the police."
Southeast 85th Avenue
BALANCING THE SCALES
Thank you for the article regarding the dysfunctional CRC process. City Auditor Gary Blackmer and IPR Director Richard Rosenthal's comments were clear indications of just how much this supposed "citizen review" system is controlled and manipulated by City Hall. The present system
clearly lacks the independence necessary for effective police accountability. The article made reference to my ideology without ever stating what it was. I'd like the opportunity to share it now.
The CRC has the responsibility to hear appeals from citizens regarding complaints against Portland police officers. It is my opinion that this process must be fair to both sides of the dispute, the police and the citizen. Rosenthal and Blackmer spend a great deal of their efforts insuring that the process is fair to one side--the police. The protocols and even the training they set in motion are intended to guarantee that the CRC understands the police side of issues. This, in my opinion, is at the expense of the citizen participant.
Rosenthal and Blackmer have both repeatedly stressed to the CRC members that the hearings process must be perceived as fair to the police in order for them to participate. However, they never address the need for the citizen to feel equally guaranteed of a fair process. It is my belief that in any judicial setting, even the quasi-judicial setting of the CRC, that the scales of justice should not be tipped in one direction. Just as the police will not participate in a system tilted against them, neither will the citizen if they feel the system is skewed. All participants in any police-accountability system should be treated fairly or the system fails.
Southeast Ankeny Street