FOR AMANDA FRITZ—more willing than any of her Portland City Council colleagues to stand alone as the sole "no" vote on any given issue—a February 29 hearing on Portland's relationship with a federal anti-terrorism task force was particularly rough.
Fritz was the only city commissioner to reject a pair of long-promised reports examining the police bureau's work with the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF)—a vote that came only after an annoyed Mayor Sam Adams abruptly barred Fritz from asking questions and accused her of raising sensitive security issues in public.
"I'm not recognizing you any further," Adams declared in a rare break from council decorum. "You're straying into an area that isn't appropriate for this venue."
What set Adams off? Fritz, echoing complaints from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oregon and Portland Copwatch, kept asking why the reports omitted key details about the investigations Portland's cops have helped with, and in particular, how many and what types.
The latter distinction is especially important, because some FBI investigations run afoul of Oregon's strict civil rights laws—making it illegal for Portland's cops to participate in them.
Adams and Police Chief Mike Reese, however, had explained that giving out that information might jeopardize active investigations. They also provided "affirmations" that Portland officers only worked on legitimate threats. But Fritz complained that she was counting on seeing actual details when she voted in favor of Portland rejoining the JTTF on a case-by-case basis last April.
"I expected more transparency," said Fritz, who is also, of course, facing a difficult reelection battle against state Representative Mary Nolan. "What we are facing is a lack of trust from the community. That's what we're talking about."
Fritz received a chilly reception not only from Adams, but also from Reese and two fellow commissioners, Nick Fish and Randy Leonard.
When Fritz pressed Reese if he might start tracking his officers' work for a cumulative accounting of cases and hours worked, due every four or five years, he gave mostly one-word answers and barely masked his exasperation.
Fish, meanwhile, logged a "standing objection" to Fritz's line of questioning and scoldingly asked her, at one point, if she'd had "a briefing with the city attorney."
Until the city unveiled some late amendments the day of the hearing—spurred along by a withering critique from the ACLU—the JTTF reports contained even less detail about the cops' work with the FBI.
The changes, laid out by David Fidanque, the ACLU of Oregon's executive director, included new assurances that Reese personally approved every federal request for Portland's help and that the city attorney's office has been independently checking to make sure our cops aren't breaking Oregon law. Fidanque also called for the addition of a cumulative accounting of our cops' time moving forward.
Adams, after shutting down Fritz, promised only to "talk about" adding more data, saying "we'll make no commitments."
The Mercury called Fritz's office a few days after the hearing to see whether that talk had started, or if she had anything else to say. She didn't return the message.