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March 30th, 2005 Janine Robben | News Stories
 

Fighting City Hall

     
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Longtime city employee Frank Dufay may be out of a job soon, but he's not leaving without a fight to reverse an earlier two-week suspension from his City Hall boss.

The suspension came after Dufay, one of Portland's City Employees of the Year in 1998, provided information on liens cases to one of City Commissioner Randy Leonard's opponents in the May 2004 primary.

Dufay insisted he was simply fulfilling a public-records request, but Leonard complained to Dufay's boss, City Auditor Gary Blackmer. Dufay was then suspended, without pay, for workplace political activity.

Dufay used a hearing Monday before the city Civil Service Board to argue also that Leonard was giving away the store on collections when money was tight (see "The Lien King," WW, Jan. 19, 2005).

"I received a two-week suspension without pay for doing what I believe to be my job," Dufay told the board, which is expected to rule April 7 on the validity of the suspension. "Despite the things I like about [Leonard], he's pretty rough on people, and I believe he's been pretty rough on me."

But Blackmer, who suspended Dufay, told the board that the fact that this case involves an election-law issue "is the only element of it that is political."

Blackmer said the proposed elimination of Dufay's position-which Dufay says he learned about the day after he prepared his board presentation-was recommended by city consultants considering the creation of a separate Bureau of Revenue. Blackmer's office currently is responsible for the city's collection efforts.

As for Dufay's assertions that the city has irresponsibly written off some $3 million in uncollected liens, Blackmer said Dufay "was good at asking questions, but not at finding answers, good at finding problems, but not at finding solutions."

 
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