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What a weird situation at Portland City Council today.

As we reported after a meeting was shut down because of public outcry yesterday, Mayor Charlie Hales made the decision to severely limit public access to council in a substitute hearing this afternoon. Only reporters, city officials, and select members of the public (who'd missed a chance to testify earlier) were admitted to chambers for a hearing on an extremely controversial police union contract. Council wound up approving a relatively small amendment [PDF] to a tentative agreement with the police union. A final vote on ratifying the contract will come next week.

But there was still much more on the agenda. And in order not to fully stymie the regular run of things, Hales allowed community members—who were forced to watch the hearing at a viewing area in the adjacent Portland Building—to enter chambers one at a time to speak to other business matters.

The first item following the union contract? Whether the city should purchase a bridge inspection crane for around $812,000. And I have to say it was delightful watching accountability advocates trying to speak out against the police deal under the diaphanous facade of bridge-crane concern.

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Hales was having none of it. Watch as Portland Copwatch's Dan Handelman, Don't Shoot Portland's Teressa Raiford, and others give it a go.

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