HARDESTY AND WHEELER SPEAKING AGAIN: The friction that flared up last week between Mayor Ted Wheeler and his closest City Council ally, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, appears to be cooling. After Hardesty demanded Wheeler rein in the Portland Police Bureau or turn it over to her, Wheeler stopped speaking to Hardesty and then rebuked her after she falsely levied—and quickly retracted—a claim that Portland police were setting fires at protests. The two began communicating again over the weekend and issued a joint statement July 27 seeking dialogue with federal law enforcement occupiers. Portland Police Association president Daryl Turner proved far less forgiving than Wheeler, the police commissioner. Turner, who wants to scuttle Hardesty's plan to place a new police oversight agency on the November ballot, issued a scathing demand July 28 for an official investigation of Hardesty's incendiary claims. "As police officers, we are held to the highest levels of integrity," Turner wrote. "If we fail to meet those standards, we lose our jobs. Our elected officials should be held to those same standards." The City Council will consider Hardesty's proposal for the new agency July 29.
JUDGE COULD HAUL WOLF INTO COURT: The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon asked U.S. District Judge Michael Simon on July 28 to find federal agents in contempt of court for violating a July 23 restraining order that prohibited the federal officers from attacking journalists and legal observers covering Portland protests. "Every day it has existed, federal agents have intentionally violated the court's [order]," the court filing says. The ACLU also asked Simon to order acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli to "personally appear before the court and show cause as to why they should not be sanctioned for contempt," and for every federal agent who violated the order to identify themselves and appear personally before the court. Ten reporters and legal observers submitted written testimony Tuesday describing federal agents assaulting them or blocking them from reporting on protests after the court issued the July 23 restraining order." "I saw [the agent] raise his weapon, deliberately point it at me, and fire several rounds," Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter Jonathan Levinson said in his testimony. "My camera and lens were splattered with paint."
PORTLAND SCHOOLS CAN'T REOPEN UNLESS HEALTH IMPROVES: Portland Public Schools will hold online classes through at least Nov. 5, the district announced July 28, shortly after it became clear that Portland schools—public and private—are unlikely to open anytime soon. To resume in-person classes, at least for kindergarten through third-grade students, Multnomah County would need to reduce its number of COVID-19 cases by more than 40 percent, and for a full reopening, the cases would need to decline more significantly under state criteria. Oregon does not currently meet the health benchmarks for school reopening set by Gov. Kate Brown. "I have to tell you closing schools in the spring was one of the most difficult decisions I have made during the pandemic," said Brown, before announcing criteria likely to keep most schools closed for now. "It's clear that this school year will not look like any other."
WHEELER CAMPAIGN WOES CONTINUE: The City Elections Office fined Ted Wheeler's campaign $2,000 this week: The campaign failed to include required disclosures about contributors in a May 14 email and accepted more than $500 from an individual contributor, developer Dan Petrusich, after new limits went into place in May. Wheeler's campaign has now been cited six times by the elections office, which Greg McKelvey, campaign manager for Wheeler's November opponent, Sarah Iannarone, says shows the mayor "believes he is above the law." Wheeler's campaign manager, Amy Rathfelder, counters that critics' scrutiny of Wheeler's donors is "borderline harassment," and that the mayor is being held to an unfair standard: "The fact that there is neither a grace period or safe harbor allowed under a new, complex set of rules that requires significant time and expertise is without precedent in our city."
FILL OUT THOSE BALLOTS: Mail-in ballots for the special runoff election to fill the vacancy created by the death of City Commissioner Nick Fish must be returned by 8 pm on Aug. 11. The sole race on the ballot features former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith and Dan Ryan, onetime executive director of the educational nonprofit All Hands Raised. WW endorses Ryan. Read why at wweek.com.