As if he weren't too busy being a comedian on Blue Oregon, Portland's funniest city commissioner Randy Leonard has more serious things to attend to: Trying to duck a subpoena to appear in court to testify about his controversial secret list of downtown offenders, arguing through the city attorney's office that he is "not the custodian" of records relating to the program.
LEONARD: Didn't do it. Nobody saw him do it. You can't prove anything...
Leonard, who until now has been remarkably outspoken about the merits of his secret list, fell silent on August 21 following the Mercury's public records requests to his office, and to the police bureau and city attorney's offices, asking for records, emails, and communications relating to the list. The city attorney's office is yet to respond to our request for info, and the police bureau has only responded by asking clarifying questions. Meanwhile, the District Attorney's office responded only to say that a policy relating to the secret list exists, but when asked to provide the policy, Deputy District Attorney David Hannon also went quiet.
All this after the coordinator of the program at the police bureau admitted to the Mercury in May that the policy wasn't written down anywhere, promising to do so by July 1.
Leonard's chief of staff, Ty Kovatch, told the Mercury that Leonard didn't have any emails about the list, even though Leonard has been quoted extensively here and elsewhere saying how fantastic the program is. Now, Deputy City Attorney Ellen Osinach is arguing similarly. In a letter to the attorney issuing the subpoena, obtained by the Mercury this morning, Osinach writes:
Thank you for the updated subpoena with the added duces tecum. Commissioner Leonard is not the custodian of any NLCEP records, so the duces tecum portion of the subpoena isn't effective to produce those documents from him. The City doesn't want to obstruct your effort to get the documents you need, so if I can figure out exactly what you're looking for, I can help you get to the proper custodian.
Arguing that Leonard isn't the "custodian" of records relating to his secret list is an interesting distinction. I, for example, am certainly not the "custodian" of a lot of files and papers that cross the Mercury news room's desk, but should I get to dodge a subpoena despite having a huge amount of information available to me about what those documents might contain?