September 15th, 2010 | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall

More of What We Learned From the Adams-Nkrumah Lawsuit



Reporting our story today about former mayoral spokesman Wade Nkrumah's lawsuit against the City of Portland revealed some interesting items and new information within the hundreds of pages of court documents in the case.

Nkrumah's lawsuit alleges that his duty to provide open government as the mayor's spokesman in January 2009 was compromised by repeated lies told to him by Adams and his staff. As our story this week notes, the judge's decision on whether to toss the lawsuit could hinge on questions of how much government accountability citizens should expect, and even on the definition of a lie.

According to court documents, Nkrumah claims early on to have told Adams' chief of staff, Tom Miller, "I will not lie."

The lawsuit by Nkrumah (photo above) alleges there were two specific instances where he misinformed the press based on lies told to to him by Adams or Adams' staff. In another instance, Nkrumah says he was berated by Miller for providing information and documents to a reporter in the days following Adams' admission that he lied about his relationship with Beau Breedlove.

Adams went into seclusion in his North Portland home for three days after his admission at a press conference Jan. 20, 2009. According to Nkrumah, Adams' scheduler, Cevero Gonzalez, told him Adams was "very depressed and despondent." And Miller later confirmed Adams was in "no condition" to come to the office. Yet Nkrumah says he was told at the time that Adams was meeting with members of the community and conducting city business.

[In a written statement to the court, Adams claims he met with people "whose opinions I respected (including his former boss, ex-Mayor Vera Katz, the Reverend Bill Lupfer and others) in order to determine whether my continued service in the office of mayor was in the best interests of the city and its citizens."]

According to Nkrumah, the lie came when Miller told Nkrumah to tell the media that Adams' schedule was unavailable. Nkrumah says that's what he told reporters. In truth, Nkrumah said under oath in a deposition, he knew the mayor's schedule was in fact available, because he had a copy.

In the next alleged instance of lying to the press, Nkrumah says reporters from Time magazine and other media were hanging around City Hall the week of Adams' admission asking for an interview with the mayor. Nkrumah says Miller and Adams' deputy chief of staff, Warren Jimenez, told Nkrumah to say Adams wasn't in the office. But a few minutes later, Adams walked straight past the reporter from Time.

Finally, Nkrumah says he was berated by Miller and others on Adams' staff for complying with a request from The Oregonian for the content of calls coming in to Adams' office from the public. Nkrumah handed over data collected by Adams' staff showing most of the public's calls were negative about the Breedlove news.

As a result, Nkrumah said under oath that Miller yelled at him. And Nkrumah says Lisa Libby, Adams' planning and sustainability director, criticized Nkrumah in a staff meeting. "What he did is he criticized me for being honest, forthright, and for full disclosure," Nkrumah said of Miller in his deposition. "He was essentially criticizing me for doing a very simple task of my job."
 
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