City Commissioners Randy Leonard and Dan Saltzman aren't talking to each other. It all started when Saltzman accused Leonard of an "emotional" reaction to the death of a child thrown off the Sellwood Bridge into the Willamette River, back on October 7, when Leonard wanted $367,000 of city money for a new rescue boat.
"I told him I did have an emotional reaction to the child dying at the hands of its mother," says Leonard. "But there were other reasons why I brought forward that proposal. And I kept telling Dan what those reasons were, but he kept insisting that it was an 'emotional reaction,' and I found that offensive."
The following week, Leonard concocted a plan to arm water bureau security guards that Saltzman has also since pooh-poohed, bizarrely saying that Portlanders might be confused by a second armed police force in the city. I say "bizarrely," because Saltzman is a staunch supporter of Portland Patrol, Inc., the private security firm that employs armed security guards who dress confusingly like police officers to patrol downtown. Saltzman also paid private security to patrol the city's reservoirs when he was water commissioner—so... color me confused.
Despite his staunch efforts to avoid discussing their standoff with the media, Saltzman has also been doing his best to undermine Leonard behind the scenes. He invited himself to a meeting of the parks board last Wednesday, November 4, for example, to tell them Leonard's idea sucks—even after having been asked to stay away by the new parks commissioner, Nick Fish.
If Saltzman can mess with Leonard's bureaus and undermine his decisions, Leonard appears only too ready to fight back and give Saltzman a taste of his own medicine. He called Saltzman a "parrot for the police chief" last Wednesday, shortly before Saltzman decided to give just two weeks off to two cops who, in 2006, killed James Chasse, a man with schizophrenia. Leonard also recently called Chasse's death "unjustifiable and inexcusable," and he isn't the only one beating up on Saltzman for his handling of the affair, either.
"This shows a basic lack of courage," says Jason Renaud with the Mental Health Association of Portland, in reference to the two weeks off for the Chasse cops. "This is the lightest possible discipline imaginable. This doesn't make us safer, this doesn't protect us better."
Since Saltzman refuses to talk to us about it, I have no idea what his response to these allegations would be—so I'm with Leonard and Renaud on this one.