1/14/23 News Update


<<The Portland Police Bureau received improved grades on last year’s annual report from the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission analyzing racial bias in traffic stops by law enforcement agencies across the state.

In prior years, the CJC found Black drivers were more likely to be arrested following a traffic stop by PPB officers. No longer.

But the bureau’s data continued to show statistically significant disparities in searches of Black drivers, according to the report.

The report, which analyzed stop data collected prior to July, 2022, comes as city leaders have moved to address racial disparities in policing. In June, 2021, Mayor Ted Wheeler and Police Chief Chuck Lovell announced the bureau was discontinuing low-level traffic stops to help address the issue.

Judging simply by the racial demographics of traffic stops, the bureau hasn’t improved. The city is 74% white. But in the second quarter of 2021, white people made up only 64% of traffic stops. And despite the city’s interventions, the disparity only got worse. By the third quarter of 2022, the most recent data available, it had fallen to 61%.

But the bureau has long argued that comparing stop demographics to citywide demographics is a mistake, due to the fact that “not all drivers are equally likely to be stopped by police,” according to a 2022 report from the PPB addressing the issue. They suggest using collision statistics as a benchmark, rather than census data, because it better represents drivers on the road. Around 65% of collisions involved a white driver in 2021.

The CJC uses a different method to detect bias that doesn’t rely on benchmarks. It used what it calls the gold standard in detecting racial bias, a “Veil of Darkness” analysis, which “is based on the basic assumption that officers can better detect a driver’s race during daylight hours as compared to darkness.”

To ensure a consistent sample of drivers, the CJC compared data at the same time of day: the “inter-twilight window” of dawn or dusk.

Researchers then looked for differences in the racial demographics of stopped drivers in winter (when it is dark) and in summer (when it is light).

The Portland Police Bureau has passed that test every year since the CJC began producing these reports in 2019.

But the CJC has also examined disparities in stop outcomes—in other words, who gets searched, arrested or cited as a result. PPB hasn’t done as well on these tests, at least when it comes to Black drivers. But this year, it did a little better. Here’s how the bureau has fared over the last four years:

2019: Disparity in searches and arrests of Black drivers. Searches of Black people were less likely to produce contraband. CJC recommends PPB “receive technical assistance” to address the issues.

2020: Disparity in searches and arrests of Black drivers.

2021: Disparity in searches and arrests of Black drivers.

2022: Disparity in searches of Black drivers.

For the second year in a row, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, on the other hand, had no disparities at all. “It is a testament to our deputies and a reflection of the values of our agency,” Sheriff Mike Reese said last month.>>



<<Former Portland Mayor Sam Adams was aware he was facing complaints about his behavior before he resigned, city officials confirmed Friday.

In a sudden departure on Tuesday from his role as current Mayor Ted Wheeler’s director of strategic innovations, Adams said he stepped down for health issues, but Wheeler and city officials said that was a lie.

In a statement to KOIN 6 News Friday, Adams recalled how things ended with Wheeler.

“I provided a quick summary of my health issues and offered to resign, which he said, ‘OK,’” Adams said.

However, Wheeler said that’s not how things ended.

Instead, city officials said Wheeler forced Adams to resign from city hall after Adams had been accused of bullying and intimidating several female city employees.

Adams told KOIN 6 News on Friday he was aware of complaints that had been made against him — but said Wheeler had informed him about the complaints.

The City of Portland’s Chief Human Resource Officer Cathy Bless said in fact, Adams had been contacted by the Bureau of Human Resources on at least two occasions during his most recent employment with the city, which lasted from Feb. 1, 2021 to Jan. 11, 2023.

In a statement to KOIN 6 News, Adams said he hasn’t seen the official reports of the complaints and called the developments a “knife in the back.”

When Adams announced his resignation Tuesday, he implied he was leaving the position due to chronic anemia. >>


<<After resigning this week citing medical issues, new details are being released about Sam Adams’ sudden departure from Portland City Hall as Director of Strategic Innovations for Mayor Ted Wheeler.

In an announcement Tuesday, the former Mayor of Portland cited his resignation was due to chronic anemia. However, speaking Friday with Willamette Week, Mayor Ted Wheeler said the departure comes after his office was notified by HR of multiple complaints into Adams’ behavior.

Mayor Wheeler told WW the complaints centered around “bullying and intimidation” of female employees and Wheeler demanded Adams’ resignation.

Speaking with FOX 12 Friday, Adams said he had never seen the reports referenced by Wheeler.

“He mentioned that there had been some complaints but didn’t provide details. I provided a quick summary of my health issues and offered to resign, which he said ‘OK,’” Adams told FOX 12 over email Friday. “This is a knife in the back.”

Adams, who was Portland’s mayor from 2009 to 2012, became Director of Strategic Innovations in 2021.>>


<<Mayor Ted Wheeler alleged Friday afternoon that former aide Sam Adams, who resigned from the mayor’s office Tuesday citing health concerns and nothing else, engaged in a pattern of bullying behavior toward female City Hall employees—and that Wheeler had demanded his resignation after learning of “several” complaints filed by female employees.

Adams denies Wheeler ever asked for his resignation and says instead that he offered to resign due to increasing fatigue. He called Wheeler’s allegations “a knife in the back” and said he would “like to see the complaints the mayor is referencing.”

WW received heavily redacted copies of the complaints from the city Friday afternoon. The packet includes complaints about Adams from at least seven employees over a 16-month period. What the complaints allege is that Adams treated employees in several city offices rudely since returning to public life—but that he only suffered consequences after allegedly demeaning two city attorneys last month.

The documents provided to WW also indicate that the mayor’s office informed Adams he was being fired—something Adams denied as recently as this morning.

The city’s response to the allegations of bullying, which date back to August 2021, appears to have moved rapidly in the days following an email from City Attorney Robert Taylor to Adams that details a hostile interaction between him and two female deputy city attorneys.

“I understand you were frustrated today with my office, and you took that frustration out on two of the professional attorneys on my staff. They are among the hardest working and most professional lawyers in my office,” Taylor wrote to Adams. “They described the interactions to me, and I want to express to you that how you handled it was not acceptable. They do not want an apology from you. They just do not want it to happen again. I share that expectation.”

One of the two unnamed attorneys had written to Taylor the day before, recounting two meetings with Adams that she considered “unprofessional in a way that I have not previously experienced either at the city or in other workplaces.”

The attorney described Adams as visibly angry for a lengthy period at a morning meeting to discuss city legal strategy that he felt insufficiently consulted on. The attorney says the interaction left her in tears. In a second meeting, the email’s author says, Adams was calm but condescending, giving her his instructions and adding: “I want you to say it back to me so that I know that you understand what I’m saying.” The complaint is redacted too heavily to surmise what specifically was at issue, but it appeared to involve a lawsuit in which the city was a defendant.

On Jan. 4, Ron Zito, director of employee and labor relations for the city, wrote to chief human resources officer Cathy Bless: “Given the at-will nature of Sam’s role and the outsized impact of his position—this trend does create significant liability for the city; it is not quite comparable to other situations with line staff.”

On Jan. 5, Bless suggested to the mayor’s chief of staff, Bobby Lee, how he might demand Adams’ resignation.

“Sam, the conversation we are going to have may feel abrupt and unexpected. As you are aware, you are in a position that serves at the pleasure of the mayor and he has opted to terminate your employment today. While it is understandable this is a lot to take in, I want to provide you a moment to do so,” Bless suggested. “There will be a press release issued later today. I want to provide you the opportunity for input as to how this action is communicated publicly.”

The complaints against Adams go as far back as August 2021.

That month, Michael Montoya, interim director of the Office of Community & Civic Life, emailed the mayor’s chief of staff about an interaction one of his female employees had with Adams. Montoya wrote that the woman had told him she felt “cornered” and “belittled.” Montoya wrote that remarks Adams made “constitute threats to her possible professional future.”

Bless, the HR officer, wrote to Zito on Sept. 21 about one woman’s account of a meeting with Adams, which the woman left crying. Bless wrote that another woman told her: “Women are leaving the mayor’s office because of Sam and are afraid to say anything.”

Zito wrote to Bless in response that “a next step may be for you and I to have a conversation with the mayor about a theme of failed interactions female staff are having with Sam.”

Zito summarized a conversation with one complainant, who said her interaction with Adams felt “mildly traumatizing” and “felt like she may be fired.” The complainant said Adams repeatedly yelled at her and that “these interactions happen with females, [and that she] doesn’t see him treating males the same way.”

A Sept. 3, 2021, complainant wrote that she left a meeting with Adams in tears. She said he had been dismissive and that he had interrupted her on multiple occasions. “I called [the Bureau of Human Resources] director to express my concern and observations that Sam treats men differently than he treats women.”

She added: “Earlier in the year, I was witness to the same accosting behavior by Sam directed towards my employee, a female, where he was dismissive of her and what she was saying. She left the meeting early and upset, and Sam[’s] colleagues from the mayor’s office called her and apologized on his behalf.”

In another incident, on Oct. 6, 2021, logged by Zito, a female employee said she left because of “the way [Adams] treated her,” and that he was “dismissive and disrespectful to women.”

In response to the complaints, Adams told WW: “In all my years working for the city I have never witnessed a City Director of Human Resources and a City Attorney speaking at an official City news conference offering sweeping statements about HR complaints that apparently did not meet the threshold to even be officially investigated. And, while doing so, seemly purposely omitting the fact that the one complaint regarding me over the past two years that actually met the HR complaint threshold requiring an investigation, was ruled in my favor.”

(Adams is referring to a complaint filed against him by former City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty on Dec. 8, 2021. She alleges Adams and former staffer Tom Miller went over her head to talk to her staff about the Major League Soccer event at Providence Park, and that such end-arounds had become a pattern.)

Bless tells WW in a statement that Adams was contacted about his behavior by her office “on at least two occasions during his most recent employment.”

On a call with WW and The Oregonian on Friday afternoon to address Adams’ departure, Wheeler said Adams “did not tell you the whole story, and I’m compelled to tell you what actually happened.”

Wheeler said the director of human resources two weeks ago had presented him with a number of complaints filed by female employees regarding Adams’ behavior: “The complaints centered on bullying and intimidation of a number of employees, all female employees…he had an opportunity to own it, and he didn’t.”

Wheeler said he demanded Adams’ resignation on Tuesday, the same day Adams sent out an email to his staff citing worsening anemia and crippling fatigue as the reasons for his departure. Adams, on a call with WW on Friday morning, maintained that his resignation was due solely to health issues. >>


<<On Friday afternoon, Mayor Ted Wheeler spoke with WW and The Oregonian to discuss the sudden departure of his top aide Sam Adams from City Hall earlier this week.

What Wheeler alleges is explosive: that Adams engaged in a pattern of “bullying and intimidation” against women working at City Hall.

“I read in both of your publications that Sam said he’d resigned exclusively for health reasons. He did not tell you the whole story. And I’m compelled to tell you what actually happened. About one and a half weeks ago, I was notified by our human resources department director, Cathy Bless, that there were several complaints that had been lodged against Sam,” Wheeler said. “The complaints centered on bullying and intimidation of a number of employees, all female employees.”

Wheeler said that he asked for Adams’ resignation on Tuesday of this week.

“He wrote a statement about his departure that focused exclusively on his health, and I was extremely disappointed by his statement in the articles that there was no other reason for his departure,” Wheeler continued. “He had an opportunity to own it, and he didn’t. There is no place for bullying or intimidating or hassling behavior [at the city].”

Wheeler said it wasn’t just one or two complaints but several.>>

<<“This is a knife in the back,” Adams tells WW, who denied that Wheeler demanded that he resign. “There must be something else going on behind the scenes.”

In a statement, Adams added: “I would like to see these reports the mayor is referencing, since I never have.”

He added: “He never said that there’s a pattern of bullying. He said that there were some complaints against me, but that was it. And then I talked about just being wiped out, and offered to quit.”

WW asked Adams if Wheeler had asked him to resign, as Wheeler claimed.

“No,” Adams said.>>



<<Pushed to take action after a recent spate of gun violence near several Portland schools, leaders from Portland Public Schools (PPS), the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), the city of Portland, Multnomah County, and the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office held a press conference Friday to announce they are talking to each other about possible solutions. While the group of officials said they had found “areas for immediate follow-up,” they declined to give specifics or confirm whether action will be taken before the end of the school year.

“Portland Public Schools stands ready to collaborate on exploring all potential strategies and proactive solutions aimed at addressing this crisis,” said PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero during the press conference. “As educational leaders, our ability to ensure a safe and positive school community requires a collective approach and coordination with public safety agencies.”

Within the past three months, three Portland high schools have been the sites of four incidents of gun violence, wounding five students and prompting dozens more to scramble for safety while at school.

In the wake of shootings near Jefferson and Cleveland High Schools in late 2022, PPB Chief Chuck Lovell said the bureau was in early conversations with PPS administrators to possibly return School Resources Officers—armed police officers assigned to specific school campuses—to some schools.

PPS previously ended regular police presence at its schools in 2020, days after the police murder of George Floyd and subsequent racial justice demonstrations. At the time, Guerrero announced on Twitter that the district needed “to re-examine our relationship with the PPB.” Mayor Ted Wheeler—who oversees the police bureau—agreed to pull all police officers from PPS schools, tweeting that the city must “disrupt the patterns of racism and injustice.”

A 2021 study of national school data by the University of Albany found that School Resource Officers do not prevent school shootings or gun related incidents, but do increase the number of suspensions, expulsions, and student arrests, particularly among Black students.

According to Portland data, more than 50 percent of the students PPB officers arrested on Portland school campuses in the 2017-2018 school year were Black, despite Black students representing about 9 percent of the student population. The majority of those arrests were made by School Resource Officers.

Guerrero did not say Friday whether his position on School Resource Officers had changed, but did note that PPS is currently holding focus groups with student leaders, educators, and families about what safety on school campuses should look like, including whether police presence is included in that vision of safety. Prior to the removal of police from PPS schools in 2020, dozens of students petitioned the district in 2018 and 2019 to walk back an agreement between PPS and PPB to expand the presence of School Resource Officers from three to five days a week.>>

<<People for Portland, an anonymously funded advocacy group critical of the city’s response to homelessness, launched a letter campaign Thursday, urging Portlanders to send a pre-written letter to local lawmakers asking them to return School Resource Officers to schools due to the “rising violence, shootings, and the sale and use of lethal drugs in and around our schools.”

Earlier this month, the Oregon chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a nonprofit advocating for civil rights and liberties, sent a letter to the PPS school board and Portland City Council to discourage the return of police to Portland schools, citing the disproportionate impact police in schools have had on students of color.

In the letter, ACLU Oregon Executive Director Sandy Chung emphasized evidence showing School Resource Officers do not prevent gun violence in schools, citing mass school shootings in Parkland, Florida, and Uvalde, Texas, where a lack of intervention by officers has been nationally criticized. Portland police officers were already stationed at Franklin High School to provide security during a basketball game last weekend when someone fired a gun in the school parking lot, injuring one juvenile. A PPB press release noted that the officers’ presence at the game allowed the police to respond to the shooting within three minutes.>>



<<The Department of Homeland Security on Friday announced a process by which migrant workers who witness or are victims of workplace labor violations can apply for protection from deportation, in a development applauded by labor and rights advocates who say it will protect migrant workers who expose abusive working conditions.>>

<<The new process allows migrant workers to apply for “deferred action,” meaning protection from deportation if they’re taking part in an investigation of workplace labor violations.>>