Last month, city council challenger Mary Nolan sent a letter to her opponent, Amanda Fritz, insinuating that Fritz improperly shaped the final draft of a report that wound up grading, somewhat positively, the rollout of Portland's new 911 dispatch system. Nolan—particularly concerned about a new summary that cast the findings in a "more favorable" light—also requested a record of Fritz's communications with the report's authors.
Fritz's office finally released those records (pdf) today. And guess what? Nolan's suppositions are unfounded.
Nolan, however, didn't seem to mind that possibility when she wrote her letter, wondering whether "the commissioner-in-charge may have intervened to alter the independent report on the implementation or make it more favorable." She cited a Portland Tribune story from April 11 on the report and its revisions.
Reporter Jim Redden reports that the final draft—which is cited often by the Fritz campaign for City Council—was altered to make the new 9-1-1 computer system seem better than city agencies had indicated.
The altered version of the report asks the question, “Was CAD Next a Success?” The answer given in the new version is, “Yes,” because “implementation was on time, within budget, and fulfilled the stated business and technical requirements.”
That statement that did not appear in the original versions, but does appear in the version released after Fritz met with the report’s authors, and which Fritz has begun citing in her campaign.
The Trib dutifully picked up the story, casting it as a campaign issue. But a look at the messages shows that while Fritz's staff wanted a summary in the report, that change and others in the report were also sought by an advisory group working with a city office overseen by Fritz's main council rival, Randy Leonard. That advisory group also had to agree about when the report would be released.
But why stop there? The report's author, just yesterday, sent a note to that advisory group's coordinator, after seeing the controversy pop up in news reports, calling the articles "ridiculous."
I've got a message into Nolan's campaign to see if they have a different take.