Murmurs: Dan Ryan Draws Challenge From Former Lawmaker Akasha Lawrence Spence

In other news: Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty a “convert” to body cams.

Akasha Lawrence Spence

RYAN DRAWS CHALLENGE FROM FORMER LAWMAKER: Former state Rep. Akasha Lawrence Spence (D-Portland) will challenge Commissioner Dan Ryan for his seat on the Portland City Council in 2022. A Black woman who runs a real estate development company, Lawrence Spence was appointed to the Oregon House in 2020 after Rep. Jennifer Williamson (D-Portland) resigned. She had planned to seek a seat in the state Senate before redistricting drew her out of a competitive district. She says supporters drafted her instead to run for City Council. “I see both an urgent need and an opportunity to make sure that our city’s recovery is just,” Lawrence Spence says, “centering those who have been most impacted by the health and economic crises of the last two years.”

HARDESTY A “CONVERT” TO BODY CAMS: A longtime body camera skeptic, City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty now favors the devices, she said, during a Nov. 9 hearing with the city and the U.S. Department of Justice. “You and I have had intensive conversations about body-worn cameras over the last 12 years,” Hardesty told U.S. District Judge Michael Simon, “and I want you to know I am now a convert.” Hardesty told Simon she had been averse to equipping Portland police with body cameras because of issues surrounding privacy and ownership of the data. But thanks to advancements in technology and the ability to contract with third-party vendors to manage that data, Hardesty said, she is now on board. Body cameras are one of nine proposed remedies to get the city back in compliance with a 2014 settlement agreement with the DOJ regarding police use of force. Tuesday’s hearing represented the first time since mediation began this fall that stakeholders spoke publicly about the proposed remedies.

ENVIROS FLOAT BRIDGE CRITIQUE: City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and Metro President Lynn Peterson say a new I-5 bridge over the Columbia River needs further analysis. In an Oct. 21 letter to state officials, they argued the project should not make the same assumptions as the decade-old Columbia River Crossing plan, and should examine the effects of transit and tolling. “We need to see analysis that looks at what is possible if we fully invest in transit capacity and access and integrate equitable congestion pricing,” they wrote. Now environmental and social justice groups have weighed in—opposing any increase in the number of cars that use the bridge. The Interstate Bridge Replacement Project “must not expand the number of vehicle travel lanes, including auxiliary lanes: additional lanes will induce private vehicle demand and will increase climate emissions,” writes Brett Morgan of 1000 Friends of Oregon in a Nov. 8 letter signed by more than a dozen other groups. IBRP program administrator Greg Johnson defended the effort and its popularity: “it is essential that we all work together and not let perfect be the enemy of very good.”

TERRY BEAN SUES STATE BAR: The long-running legal saga of Terry Bean, the gay rights advocate and real estate investor, took another turn last week when Bean sued the Oregon State Bar in U.S. District Court to block an investigation of his former attorney. Bean faces criminal trial in Eugene in January on charges he sexually abused a teenage boy in 2013. He says in the lawsuit that a bar investigation of his former attorney, Derek Ashton, could reveal privileged attorney-client communication that would prejudice his criminal trial. (The bar is investigating Ashton for his actions in seeking a civil compromise with the young man Bean is accused of abusing.) Bean is asking the court for an injunction against the bar to block what he says would be the “unfair and unconstitutional advantage that the prosecutor would gain” from disclosure of his communications with Ashton. Bar spokeswoman Kateri Walsh says the bar isn’t seeking any privileged information and plans to continue its investigation of Ashton.

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