Get involved: terrorism task force vote set
The issue: The City Council will vote Wednesday, Feb. 13, on whether to withdraw or remain in the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The context: The task force blends city police resources with those of state and federal law enforcement agencies. Some city leaders have supported being in the task force to deter criminal or terrorist acts and to keep watch over federal law enforcement officials who have been accused of trampling on civil rights.
Others oppose being in the task force because they don't trust the FBI. The most high-profile case was the federal conviction of a Somali-American student who attempted to set off a car bomb at a Christmas tree lighting at Pioneer Courthouse Square, where he was working with FBI informants.
The impact: A resolution to withdraw from the JTTF was submitted by Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. During her 2018 council campaign, Hardesty said she had three votes to pull the city out of the task force. She apparently meant that commissioners Chloe Eudaly and Amanda Fritz agreed with her, although Eudaly has not taken a public stand. Mayor Ted Wheeler wants Portland to stay in and has introduced his resolution reaffirming the city's participation.
The hearing is likely to be long and emotional. The Council Chambers have been packed in the past when the council voted to join, withdraw and then rejoin the task force.
Why you should care: This is a local issue with international implications. You can make sure your voice gets heard.
Want to testify? The hearing is at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, in the Council Chambers, second floor, 1221 S.W. Fourth Ave. It could get crowded; plan to arrive early.
Where do you stand? Go to PortlandTribune.com, scroll to the bottom, and click on Letters to the Editor.
Police settlement approved
The City Council approved a controversial $100,000-plus settlement with a Portland police sergeant who was fired for making racial comments. Hardesty was the only council member to vote against the settlement, although other members deplored the police contract-mandated arbitration process that led to it.
Gregg Lewis was fired Feb. 2, 2018, after reportedly making comments about killing black people during a 2017 roll call. Details of his remarks differed among officers who filed complaints. The Portland Police Association challenged the firing, putting it into the arbitration process. The City Attorney's Office recommended the council approve the settlement.
White supremacy denounced
The City Council last Thursday unanimously passed a resolution denouncing white supremacy and alt-right political groups. The resolution also acknowledged Portland's history of discrimination against minorties and called for training city employees to identify and fight racism.