No matter how mayor Tom Potter and FBI Special Agent Robert Jordan phrased their answers last Friday morning, the result is the same: Portland plans to withdraw from the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Three weeks ago, city council proposed a resolution demanding more oversight and higher security clearances for the mayor and police chief. But under pressure from federal agents, Mayor Potter withdrew the resolution and began backroom negotiations with federal agents and attorneys.

On Friday morning, in a hastily arranged press conference, Potter and Special Agent Jordan emerged to say they could not find a mutually agreeable solution. Since local authorities would not receive the security clearances that the city requested, Potter opted to pull the city's officers from the task force.

Putting a nice face on their breakup, Potter said the city will "reassign" the two police officers currently working with the FBI, redirecting them to the city's Criminal Intelligence Unit. Calling on the age-old "we'll still be friends" adage, he also assured that those officers will still work with federal agents when appropriate.

Council member Randy Leonard, who was the most vocal advocate for more oversight, said he believes this new arrangement will lead to a "better relationship" between the city and federal agents.

"It clearly delineates the lines of responsibility," he explained, adding, "We now clearly have authority over our officers."

Although Friday's press conference presented the withdrawal as a mutual decision, it seems likely the FBI were the ones who rebuffed the city's requests.

"Technically," agreed Leonard, "yes, we may not participate with the Task Force." He went on to say that the city had made some "rational and reasonable" requests--such as increased security clearances--but that the FBI had rejected those demands.

But Leonard also said he believed that the weeks of negotiations had provided long-term benefits.

"Instead of each side grabbing its marbles and going home mad, we entered into a new protocol," Leonard said. For example, the FBI will provide specific training to Portland officers for terrorism issues.

If the resolution passes, the two officers assigned to the Task Force will return to the city's police force within 90 days and will once again be under the full command and oversight of the police chief.

City council is scheduled to vote on (and pass) the resolution on Thursday evening.

City Hall, 1221 SW 4th, Thursday April 28, 6:30 pm