Don't Shoot Portland activists aren't going to try to recall City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, after all.
They're going after Commissioner Nick Fish instead.
Don't Shoot spokesperson Greg McKelvey tells the Mercury the group came to that decision today, after learning of huge logistical hurdles for recalling Fritz, who, like Fish, voted to ratify a controversial contract with the city's largest police union on Wednesday. The group said yesterday it felt betrayed by Fritz's vote, and wants her out of office.
But that'll be hard to accomplish. In May, Fritz was elected to a new four-year term that begins in January 2017. That means that if activists somehow gathered the 35,925 valid signatures required to successfully recall her, Fritz could begin her next term in January anyway, according to City Elections Officer Deborah Scroggin. And under state rules, Fritz couldn't be recalled until she'd served six months of that new term, meaning activists intent on bouncing her from City Hall would have to wait until next July.
"We just learned that recently," McKelvey said this morning, saying his group planned on filing a notice it will seek to recall Fish this afternoon. "It was a toss-up as to whether we were going to go with Amanda or Fish anyway."
Fish's chief of staff, Sonia Schmanski, declined to comment directly this afternoon. "The commissioner is largely offsite fundraising for the housing bond today, and may have a comment next week if something is filed," she said.
The recall process is unwieldy. After filing a form with the City Auditor's Office, Don't Shoot will need to establish a petition committee with the Oregon Secretary of State. It'll then have to work up signature sheets that meet legal requirements, and collect nearly 36,000 valid signatures to force a recall. Were that successful, Fish could (and would) file a "statement of justification" which would trigger a special election the city has to pay for.
On Wednesday, both Fish and Fritz joined Mayor Charlie Hales in ratifying a new police union contract that advocates, local organizations, and City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero have criticized as weak on police accountability. The contract offers most cops a 9 percent raise over three years and various other financial benefits, in exchange for the union agreeing to do away with the much-hated 48-hour rule and dropping 11 grievances against the city.
"We have definitely a ton of reasons to recall all of them: the sweeps, not dealing with the housing crisis," McKelvey says. "Definitely the contract is what motivates this."
The contract's ratification caused immediate fireworks, with protestors and police clashing forcefully outside of City Hall, and disrupting traffic for hours. In the aftermath of that conflict, Don't Shoot Portland has called on Hales to resign, vowing to protest until he does so (his term is up at the end of the year). There's a protest planned this evening, in fact.