AND NOW WE SAY GOODBYE to 30 Portland police employees who will be cleaning out their desks this month, the casualties of spring budget cuts.
Mayor Sam Adams took heavy fire for his first version of the Portland police budget this year, which (due to an absurd degree of miscommunication between the mayor and former Chief Rosie Sizer) called for cutting the mounted patrol along with 25 police officers.
"No one will be walking out the door at the police bureau," Adams told KATU news on May 10, during the firestorm. "We will be working with the police bureau to achieve this cut over the next two years with attrition and retirements."
Well, that didn't work. This month, 30 Portland police employees who fill non-sworn positions will be pushed out. The PR-friendly mounted patrol and cold-case units will be keeping their jobs, while some of the crucial people who keep the Portland police working smoothly will be shown the door.
On the casualty list are 12 background investigators for new hires. Those are the people who do the essential research to make sure the officers Portland hires are sane individuals with clean histories. Pretty important, right?
Maybe they're expendable because the police bureau will be freezing its hiring. At a time when the bureau (with pressure from the mayor) was working to increase the number of non-white officers, suddenly there will be no new blood coming into the department.
Meanwhile, the city is ponying up $140,000 to keep the mounted patrol, dependent on a $100,000 private donation, which citizen group Friends of Portland's Mounted Patrol hopes to raise in part via a Facebook group.
I don't have any constructive criticism of the plan (just belated and unconstructive criticism along the lines of: Dump the damn horses!) but I think it's important to eulogize the passing of important workers whose sacrifice to the budget gods has been mostly ignored by media and the public.
The current cuts certainly make more sense than cutting 25 uniformed officers. Recruiting and training 25 sworn officers would cost $1.7 million, estimates police spokewoman Detective Mary Wheat.
But one quick note: The city could have saved $150,000 by switching the mounted patrol officers to bikes, according to the mayor. That would cover the annual salary of four desk clerks.
If these people were only a little cuter, maybe some kind souls would take up a collection via Facebook to save their jobs.