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October 29th, 2008 COREY PEIN | News Stories
 

Relative Risk

The real reason Randy Leonard didn’t get the Police Bureau.

     
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COMPROMISE CHOICE: Leonard urged Adams (left) to make Dan Saltzman police commissioner.
IMAGE: chrisryanphoto.com

On Oct. 27, Sam Adams announced the most important decision he has made so far as Portland’s mayor-elect.

He announced that Commissioner Dan Saltzman would oversee the Police Bureau when Adams becomes mayor in January.

Adams said Saltzman and Police Chief Rosie Sizer “will be an effective team,” overseeing a force of nearly 1,000 sworn officers and a budget of $135 million.

The decision ended a tumultuous several months, during which Adams had indicated he wanted Commissioner Randy Leonard to run the cop shop, and Leonard got in a public pissing match with Sizer.

Last week, Leonard reversed course and said he wouldn’t seek or accept the police commissioner job. His decision saved Adams from a dicey bit of politics, since it appeared that Sizer, who is very popular in Portland, would quit if Leonard became her boss.

But one big question remains: Why did Leonard bow out after showing such interest in supervising the bureau?

After announcing his withdrawal, Leonard said his decision was informed by a desire to end personally damaging leaks from Sizer’s allies on the force.

“I’m a big guy. I’m in politics. When it starts to involve…members of my family, I draw the line. I just don’t need it that bad,” Leonard told WW. “My family’s getting thrown under the bus.”

Leonard did not offer any details, however, about how his family had been “thrown under the bus,” as he repeatedly put it.

But it’s an open secret at City Hall that Leonard is talking about his daughter, 29-year-old Kara Marie Leonard, who was arrested and charged with theft earlier this year and jumped bail in April. In August, she notified the court that she had entered a drug treatment center.

Was Leonard suggesting the cops were leaking info about his daughter to pressure him to drop his bid for the Police Bureau?

“I don’t want to talk about her, but yeah,” Leonard said by phone Monday from New York City where he was courting Major League Soccer officials with Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson.

Leonard has commented on his daughter’s recovery efforts at least once in public—at a documentary screening early this year at Central City Concern, also reportedly attended by his daughter and Mayor Tom Potter. But clearly, as the Randy-Rosie feud escalated, someone wanted the press to dig into Leonard’s family.

In August, an anonymous comment about Leonard’s family was apparently removed from a post Leonard made to Democratic website BlueOregon.com.

Then, on Sept. 26 at 7:44 am, a person writing as “Low Level System Worker” posted a comment on the Portland Mercury’s website, calling attention to “Leonard’s conflict of interest” on police issues, “given that his own daughter has warrants out for her arrest here and in Washington State.” The commenter included the case numbers involving Leonard’s daughter.

Were the postings made by some anti-Leonard faction within the Police Bureau?

Sizer revealed to WW that the bureau had conducted an internal affairs investigation and found no police involvement. WW could not obtain the report by press time.

And Leonard says he had not seen the internal affairs investigation, but calls Sizer’s quote “not a denial, in my reading.”

Leonard also claims Sizer has a pattern of targeted leaking.

Granted, Leonard’s suspicions are a punch line in some City Hall circles. In some cases, though, they may have merit.

“Back in June, [Sizer] and I were having this back-and-forth on duct tape,” Leonard recalls, referring to the public practice of staking claim to Rose Festival parade seating with such tape. “An hour and a half after I talked to her, [Oregonian police reporter] Maxine Bernstein did a public information request for all emails within the last 24 hours related to duct tape.”

The request resulted in the Oregonian headline, “Leonard fires angry e-mail over sticky enforcement issue.” That nicely set up the O’s editorial page to assert that Leonard was “volatile and abrasive” and to call Sizer “deft, diplomatic and popular.”

Rosie Sizer’s husband is former Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Noelle. In the mid-1990s, when he was running for the seat against acting Sheriff John Bunnell, someone leaked a story about Bunnell to The Oregonian, revealing “serious allegations of misconduct that were never proved but in some cases never fully investigated.”

Bunnell told WW that some charges in the story were “never substantiated and quite ridiculous.”

“As far as who leaked the stuff, I have my suspicions,” Bunnell says. “There was nothing I could really put a finger on.”

All that’s history, of course. And some in City Hall would like to see the Randy-Rosie feud fade into memory, as well.

“This is a distraction from the enormous challenges we face in this city,” says Commissioner Nick Fish. At the same time, Fish says, he was troubled by the prospect of improper leaks by the Police Bureau.

“I do know something of his family history,” Fish says. “If [improper leaks] did happen, I would expect that someone would be held accountable for that.”


FACT: The last time the mayor did not keep the Police Bureau was 1981, when Commissioner Mildred Schwab supervised it under Mayor Frank Ivancie.
 
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