May 12th, 2010 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall

Reaction to Mayor's Decision to Fire Sizer and Replace Saltzman As Police Commissioner

Chief Mike Reese's swearing in at Portland City Hall

The person everyone wants to hear from, following this morning's major police shakeup, is Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

But Saltzman wasn't at City Hall after Mayor Sam Adams announced at noon he was both taking over the Police Bureau (16 months after taking the unusual step for a mayor of assigning it to Saltzman) and firing Chief Rosie Sizer. Meanwhile, one of Saltzman's main opponents in the May 18 primary is already making political hay out of the move.

"For several months, I have called on Mayor Adams to remove Dan Saltzman as Police Commissioner," Cornett writes in a press release. "Today, the Mayor made the right move. It's about time. Commissioner Saltzman was clearly in over his head and unable to manage the police effectively."

Mary Volm, a former city employee who is also running against Saltzman, expressed disappointment about the mayor's actions today. "Whether you like Rosie or not, the Mayor is vindictive - he's mad because she called him on his lie," she wrote on Facebook. "She has been ramping up to full force at Council's demand, and told the mayor she had accomplished this and he said she never told him...anyone who reads the paper knows this! I know how the mayor uses others as his scapegoat."

Other non-candidates are also reacting to Adams' decision (which comes one day after the announcement of a $1.6 million settlement in the James Chasse Jr. case) to make East Precinct Commander Mike Reese the new police chief effective immediately.

Rev. T. Allen Bethel, president of the Albina Ministerial Alliance, says he sent a letter to Saltzman and Adams by snail mail that should have arrived Monday. Anticipating Sizer's retirement this summer, the letter asked Adams and Saltzman to make AMA representatives part of the process of selecting a new police chief. The group, long critical of the police bureau, wanted a new chief who could make the sort of reforms to the bureau that they wanted. As of today, they hadn't heard back from City Hall.

"If he made a permanent appointment of someone with no community involvement or input, it just says you really aren't concerned about what's best for this community," Bethel told WW.

Commissioner Randy Leonard, a close ally of now Chief Reese, is on vacation today. He is expected to release a statement later this afternoon.

Commissioner Nick Fish said shortly after the press conference that he has been a consistent proponent of keeping the Police Bureau in the mayor's portfolio but that Saltzman "has done a commendable job as police commissioner." He echoed some of Bethel's sentiment however, saying there was some community expectation that the public would be involved in the selection of the next police chief even though he "can't think of a better person from within the bureau to lead it."

(Photo above of Adams with Reese in the office of Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade to swear Reese in as chief)
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