The fall-out from Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard's
Housing Interdiction Squad (also known as the "HIT Team") continues. The HIT Team's enforcement actions contributed to the closure of at least two controversial downtown businesses: Cindy's Adult Bookstore and the Greek Cusina.
Last November, the owners of Cindy's sued Leonard and the City of Portland. On May 13, Ted Papas, (below) the former owner of the Greek Cusina filed suit
[PDF] in U.S. District Court, blaming the HIT Team for the loss of his business, which closed in January.
Here's the substance of the lawsuit, which also names other members of the HIT Team and seeks $13.25 million in damages.
Defendant Leonard organized and promoted The HIT Squad. The HIT Squad is an ad hoc group of Defendant Portland's employees which targets businesses which Defendant Leonard believes to be undesirable. There are no criteria, standards or regulations by which Defendant Leonard determines which businesses to target. Defendant Leonard's targeting of businesses bears no rational relationship to any legitimate governmental purpose, and is based on his whim and unsupported beliefs and attitudes. The HIT Squad then takes whatever action it chooses in order to put the targeted businesses out of business. These actions also bear no rational relationship to any legitimate governmental purpose.
The city attorney's office does not comment on pending lawsuits. Leonard was not immediately available for comment.
Updated at 6:45 pm
Leonard says he has not yet seen the lawsuit but provided this response via email:
"At a minimum, Mr. Papas consistently ignored requirements to get building permits to alter his building and to correct basic fire and life safety deficiencies. The violations caused by Mr. Papa's refusal to get building permits or to comply with basic fire code regulations presented a great risk of injury or even loss of life to his employees, patrons and responding Portland Firefighters.
The only concern I have is that Mr. Papas somehow was able to skirt enforcement action much longer than he should have," Leonard writes.