Mayor Sam Adams' office didn't respond in time for my story in this week's paper that exposes how the bulk of the latest Portland Police Association contract was really negotiated: in private sessions held quietly alongside the public meetings officials had promised on behalf of "transparency."

The mayor is still in South America, where he's participating in a climate-change conference. But his spokeswoman, Amy Ruiz, says she was able to speak with him before he left. I had asked whether he was aware of the intimate meetings where the public wasn't invited. Here's her response:

He was aware of additional meetings as part of the negotiations, particularly as it pertained to drug testing and oversight, two issues that at times threatened to set back negotiations. In order to stay on course, additional meetings were necessary. Bottom line, all issues that made it into the contract were also discussed at the table.

That last part is technically true. Most of the major fault lines and issues in the contract were at least mentioned in the public meetings, but city and union negotiators at those meetings mostly spent their time discussing non-controversial items where there was broad agreement. The two sides saved substantial talk on hot-button issues first for their private meetings and then for mediation, which started on December 20.

The contours of the new drug-testing policy? They were worked out in private, with substantial union input leading to the treatment-first policy the city council wound up approving and praising. There was similarly little discussion of civilian oversight after the two sides stated their initial proposals. Oversight was so touchy an issue it wasn't really solved until mediation—with the city caving on education and fitness payments for officers to buy the union's approval of the new Police Review Board.

As this email from city negotiator Steve Herron to union counsel Will Aitchison, sent on Christmas Eve, attests:


As open windows go, this one was actually pretty blurry.