OLD TOWN'S ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT has reached a dubious milestone: its first lawsuit.
A 32-year-old Portland man sued the city in late July, alleging Portland Police Officer Charles Harris reached out and snatched him from his bike as he rode through the zone (which is pedestrian only). Plaintiff Stephen Stiffler says he broke his right clavicle in the incident, among other injuries, and that the city should pay $65,000 to cover expenses.
But Harris, in a police report filed after the April 27 incident, says he merely held out his arm to indicate Stiffler should stop. He says the cyclist made an abrupt turn that sent him into the outstretched extremity.
The Portland Police Bureau, per longstanding policy, declined to comment on the litigation. Stiffler's lawyer, though, says the incident matches a pattern of unnecessary police abuse.
"People don't just crash their bikes for no reason," attorney Jason Kafoury tells the Mercury. "He was basically grabbed and thrown down by the officer."
Mayor Charlie Hales and police have championed the entertainment district—a swath of NW 3rd and adjacent streets closed on Friday and Saturday nights—as a way to make revelers safer. It's seen a good deal of criticism from the district's businesses and residents, however. The street closures are set to come up for re-evaluation later this year. DIRK VANDERHART
ROOKIE COMMISSIONER STEVE NOVICK has rounded out his office roster with a position unique in Portland City Hall: a liaison to East Portland. In July, Novick took on 2011 University of Oregon grad Andrea Valderrama to help extend his office's ears past 82nd Avenue.
It's a move aimed at seeing the oft-overlooked area's transportation and planning needs met, Novick says, but also ensuring underrepresented residents have a way to reach the city's power center.
"I thought it was particularly important to have someone whose job it is to make sure that those voices get heard here, even if they're not coming here all the time," Novick said in an interview Monday, August 19.
Prior to her $50,000 city position, Valderrama served as development director with Voz Workers' Rights Education Project, an immigrants' rights group. DVH