02-19-2017  6:23 am      •     

The Portland City Council last night approved Commissioner Randy Leonard and City Auditor Yvonne Griffin-Valade's proposal to tighten civilian oversight of the police bureau.
The proposal established a new oversight board and would give the Independent Police Review Committee director subpoena power to compel witness testimony in investigating complaints against police officers; would require her to evaluate internal affairs investigations; and would also reaffirm the IPR director's power to hold an independent investigation; among other things.

Watch a video podcast of the meeting from home on your computer here: http://www.portlandonline.com/index.cfm?c=28258


Many Developments
A lot has happened since the first City Council hearing on a police review board was held about two weeks ago.
The second fatal police shooting this year was March 22, when Officer Jason Walters shot and killed Jack Collins, 58, when Collins advanced on him with a razor knife.
Collins had, 11 days before his death, tried to have himself arrested at a local precinct by confessing to a crime that could not be verified. A police report released to the media indicated he asked for mental health assistance, the officer in charge gave him information about health services at a local facility, and Collins left the police department.
The first fatal police action this year, Jan. 29, was the shooting of Aaron Campbell, 25, who died from an AR-15 shotgun blast to his back after an acquaintance called 9-1-1 to report a suicidal man with a gun. No weapon was found on or near his body.
Meanwhile, the police officers' union suffered an estimated $20,000 in damage early Tuesday morning, according to Portland Police Association President Scott Westerman, hours after a few hundred black-clad demonstrators protested against the police in downtown Portland.
Eight protestors were injured in that melee, which police say resulted in three injured officers and smashed windows at the Bank of America on Southwest Fifth Avenue.
It was the fifth public demonstration against police violence in the past five weeks, including two "anarchist" street actions, a Palm Sunday procession to death sites of police-involved violence, a downtown march from Pioneer Square to Portland State University against the shooting of Aaron Campbell, and a Justice Center demonstration by members of the Albina Ministerial Alliance Social Justice Committee.

Kroger Calls It
At an address to community leaders about civil rights enforcement Feb. 18 at Portland State University, Oregon Attorney General John Kroger's criticism of police accountability was prophetic.
"Someone asked me today – are people mad about this because of the incident itself, or because it's the process of a long number of incidents over many years? And the answer I gave is actually, people aren't mad yet," Kroger said. "We're going to see the city explode in the next incident. I mean that is definite."
Currently the Campbell case is under preliminary investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI. In a separate case, PCC student Delease Carter has filed a tort claim against the City of Portland in the Jan. 28 police incident where she and two friends where stopped by police ostensibly for walking in the middle of a deserted street at night.
Carter was thrown to the ground, handcuffed, placed in a patrol car, then released without charges.
In another separate case, the City of Portland has retained three outside attorneys – including Fox TV and MSNBC legal commentator Anne Bremner -- to argue on its behalf in the James Chasse Jr. case, in which officers in 2006 allegedly inflicted fatal blunt force trauma injuries to a schizophrenic man they accused of public urination.
That case is now expected to go to court in June.

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All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
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