Art Balizan, the special agent in charge of Portland's FBI field office, is leaving at the end of the month. Which means Mayor Sam Adams will be working like hell to find a compromise with the feds and his city council colleagues before he suddenly finds himself starting over with a brand-new FBI partner.
Beth Anne Steele, the local office's public affairs specialist, confirmed the timeline for Balizan's departure this afternoon. His retirement was imminent—he hits the bureau's mandatory retirement age (57) this year. He could have waited to leave, but found a new job that starts in May. The timing was firmed up only a week or so ago, Steele told me.
"He's retiring at the end of the month. It's not a secret. It's not a surprise," says Steele, who wouldn't say what the job is, other than that it's "out of state."
Sources in city hall have been bandying around the words "next week" and "very soon" when talking about when the mayor might unveil the draft agreement he's been shopping with the feds and the council. And now I know one reason why. Having to work with an interim FBI special agent, or even a new permanent agent, could slow the process down dramatically. I've got a request for comment into the mayor's office.
Update 4:30 PM: The mayor is sticking to what he said earlier this week, in a post I've hot-linked below.
With budget season in full bloom down, an already-busy Adams has his work cut out for him (although he's said to be at least nibbling at the JTTF issue daily). He's reportedly got Nick Fish and Dan Saltzman on board—which could indicate a more formal relationship with the JTTF than some Portlanders might like. But he's apparently still working on JTTF skeptics like Randy Leonard and maybe Amanda Fritz.