Left to right: Karen Williams, Oregon AFSCME second vice president; Jason Heibrun, president of AFSCME Local 88; Ken Allen, executive director of Oregon AFSCME Council 75; Jeff Klatke, president of Oregon AFSCME; Kathy Fromella, a regional vice president.
Left to right: Karen Williams, Oregon AFSCME second vice president; Jason Heibrun, president of AFSCME Local 88; Ken Allen, executive director of Oregon AFSCME Council 75; Jeff Klatke, president of Oregon AFSCME; Kathy Fromella, a regional vice president. Doug Brown

State and local leaders with AFSCME gathered at its Portland union office today to again call for the resignation of embattled Multnomah County sheriff Dan Staton.

The press conference comes two weeks after the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)—the county's largest employee union with 3,500 local workers, including 133 non-sworn members of the sheriff's office—issued a press release calling for Staton to resign (a day after the Multnomah County Deputy Sheriff's Association issued a no-confidence vote). The renewed effort, now with the statewide union behind them, to seek Staton's ouster was spurred by the news that the sheriff purchased a new Dodge Charger with more than $33,000 in taxpayer money.

"Sheriff Staton has clearly and consciously decided that he is no longer serving the residents of Multnomah County but is instead serving himself," read Oregon AFSCME Executive Director Ken Allen this morning. "If his vindictiveness, disrespect, and retaliation against workers, public officials, and other law enforcement entities was not enough cause for the sheriff to step down, surely the squandering of taxpayer money on a luxury vehicle is. In an era of government when workers are understaffed and underpaid, an elected official using over $33,000 of public money for his own vanity and self-aggrandizement is unacceptable."

Allen said a 17-member board representing 25,000 statewide public and private employees in AFSCME voted unanimously this weekend to call for Staton's resignation.

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"What we've seen over the last three or four months is reflective of a pattern that I've been seeing and my members have been seeing for close to six years that seems to to be escalating," said AFSCME Local 88 president Jason Heibrun, a county employee in the sheriff's office. "I've had a lot of conversations with folks on the ground, a lot of conversation with the folks at the Deputy Sheriff's Association, and really this is coming from all levels of the command staff. Now you're seeing chief deputies asking for protection against retaliation from the sheriff."

Heibrun was referring to news this morning that chief deputies Tim Moore and Jason Gates wrote a letter to the county saying they'd cooperate in an investigation of Staton, but they want protection from retaliation.

"I anticipate that if enough people speak up in this county—enough citizens and enough elected officials—that he has to see the light," said Allen.