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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Foxworth firing: What's the real reason?

I'm not sure exactly what was behind the ouster of Portland Police Chief Derrick Foxworth. But I'm pretty sure the official story of his removal, as told by the mayor and repeated by the O, doesn't hold water.

We were told yesterday that Mayor Potter really, really didn't want to bust the guy back down to captain, but he had to because of the media "feeding frenzy" surrounding the salacious e-mails Foxworth wrote to a police desk clerk with whom he was having a sexual relationship while he was a precinct commander. Whenever an executive change is blamed on adverse media attention, you know there's more going on that they're not telling you about.

Today the O turned over the race card, which, although a legitimate angle, is just another distraction from the real question: Why in fact was this man cut loose from the top cop job?

The official investigation into the relationship, the e-mails, the accusations of sexual harassment, and the whole nine yards came up with nothing of substance other than the fact that at one point, Foxworth repeated a rumor about internal police business in a communication with the woman with whom he was making whoopee. He told her that then-Chief Mark Kroeker and another bureau bigwig knew about, and were "covering their butts" in connection with, alleged misbehavior by members of the bureau's Special Emergency Reaction Team.

That's what they fired the police chief for -- repeating a rumor in an e-mail to his girlfriend? More than five years ago? That, and having the "extremely poor judgment" of getting it on with a subordinate (technically not a breach of any bureau rule), who appears to have been a consenting adult, and spicing it up with some hot e-mail sex? You take a major demotion for that?

Wow. Spreading rumors? Poor judgment? You could probably can the whole City Council on those grounds, not to mention half the bureaucrats on the city pad (including the fire bureau guy who blogs about politics on many a weekday from his city computer). Besides, we all know that on the Portland police force, officers can have a lapse of judgment so extreme that it results in a needless death, and still not be disciplined.

Thus, the official version of Derrick's Demise is exceedingly hard to buy.

Plus, why did the accuser wait until this past March to start blowing the whistle (so to speak)? What prompted her filing a tort claim after five years had passed since she and Foxworth broke up? Was she really a tortured soul who suddenly snapped? If you ask me, it sure looks as though there are forces greater than Foxworth and his ex-gal friend at work here. And Grampy may very well be giving the Outlook Express Romeo the boot over something different from what's being stated.

Potter's scolding of people who wanted Foxworth's hide immediately after the recent revelations is also pretty clumsy. The mayor said Friday, in effect: "You wanted me to rush to judgment, but see? I waited until the investigation was complete." Yeah, and when the investigation didn't turn up anything serious, he canned the guy anyway for the vague "losing the public's trust," which clearly happened the day the e-mails hit the worldwide web.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that Derrick Foxworth should still be police chief. Maybe he should, maybe he shouldn't, as far as I am concerned. But I am saying that the full story of his dismissal may not be being told here.

Indeed, the official account of this personnel action is thin enough that it could conceivably be held invalid someday. In which case Foxworth probably wouldn't be reinstated as chief, but he would no doubt wind up getting a much bigger pension, maybe some back pay, who knows what else. He's got a good employment lawyer (and indeed a good criminal defense lawyer) who I suspect won't let this drop. It will be interesting to watch it all unfold and to see if some hints of the real story appear. If they do, however, you know where you won't be reading them first.

Comments (23)

I think AFSCME has dirt on Potter from the good old days, and they took umbrage at some of Foxworth's comments about "your union" that were emailed to Ms. Golddigger Oswalt.

If Potter refused to replace the Chief, AFSCME could have made Potter's life more difficult.

But Potter didn't want to see the Chief have to go to work as a rent-a-cop to cover his living expenses before the pension kicks in.

I agree with Mr T that one of the public unions has dirt on Potter. When Potter was chief of police, there were several rumors floating about on-the-job affairs (don't ask me what women saw in Gramps).

Combine this with Foxworth having some animus to the union and, oh by the way, Mayor there is a ballot measure on the police and fire disability fund for reform they needed him to water down.

I am sure the Police Union can count on Mayor Potter's support from now on.

Unfortunately, I think Foxworth got caught in a pre-emptive strike combined with being not very smart (compared to the general population not police mgmt) regarding this woman.

How else do you explain a major punishment for only one proven allegation? At least he didn't go out on diability.

There is a deeper problem, and I think Foxworth fell victim to it.

First of all, it is an accepted practice within not only the City but other major goverment agencies for the "boys" to have their fun. I would never want my daughter to work there. Just look at Goldschmidt.

Several women confided in me from another public agency because they knew me from activity in our church and having a grown daughter. The City lost a lot of good women employees who actually had education and training beyond being "available" to service lonely or frustrated City Management, which as we saw by this little episode is not a problem.

Foxworth's problem was he didn't "take care of her"

These women would run into "Angelas" all over the place, one of my fellow parishioners talked about being able to spot them, everytime you saw a woman in over thier head jobwise, you could just about guess she had what was politcally correctly deemed " a male sponsor" Being Portland one of the old agency heads also had his "houseboy" as he was referred to by the workers, he was appointed to a management position, and showed up in the morning on the way to the golf course in spikes to check in on the employees.

This also happens in the private sector, and has been for years, "The Apartment" was the outing of a common practice about kept women.

Mister T is right. I don't know about the union having "dirt on Potter from the good old days," but the union connection appears to be the key. Early in the morning of April 11 Potter was interviewed live by Paul Linnman on KEX and in that interview Potter declared his support for Foxworth, emphatically stating that he wouldn't be suspending him. Then later that very same day AFSCME officials issued statements demanding that Foxworth be fired, after which, in the course of less than 6 hours, Potter totally reversed his position and suspended Foxworth.

Something about the appointment of Sizer as "interim" chief is equally malodorous. What kind of an "interim" chief --one who's going to be there at most for just a few weeks-- has the kind of authority to make immediate wholesale changes to the command staff? From the get-go the temporary fill-in-for-a-few-days Chief Sizer had the green light to replace Foxworth's cronies with her own. Something about all that stinks, even if it's just the fact that Potter knew right then and right there that Foxworth wasn't coming back and that that Sizer was a permanent appointment, but clearly wasn't saying so and was pretending to the public that it wasn't so.

Mister T is wrong.

There is no other story. Putting out the suggestions he has is unfair and unsubstantiated.

My understanding is that Foxworth was demoted because of the atmosphere that the media created. It became impossible for Foxworth to lead the Bureau. The findings of the investigation, unfortunately, weren't enough to wipe clean the memory of all the trash that was printed and broadcast.

The media was irresponsible when it rushed to judge the Chief. Remember, within days after the breaking of the story, the newspaper called for his firing. The media circus was a modern day lynching. (There, I said it!)

The question that should be asked is, "What would motivate the media to destroy this man?"...Was it just to sell advertising? If so, shame on them. I tend to believe it is bigger than that. But, I will admit, I have no proof.

My heart goes out to Derrick and his family. They are good and decent people.

Interesting. Let's try this one.

What would motivate Derrick to disgrace his badge and his family with his indecent e-mails, illicit adulterous affair and exceedingly poor judgment?

Karin - OK explain why Mr Potter is going to stand behind Mr Foxworth until the end. All of a sudden after an exchange with the head of the Police Union, Mr Foxworth must be replaced with an interim chief who acts a heck of a lot like a regular chief?


It seems unlikely that either Foxworth or Oswalt planned on sharing those emails with the media at the time they were written. It seems much more likely that Ms. Oswalt kept them for a reason.

The emails (no matter how tawdry) had little value at the time the affair was ongoing, besides the obvious prurient value. Their economic value increased considerably when Foxworth was promoted to Chief, and Ms. Oswalt decided to monetize them. This was extortion by lawyerly blackmail and it looks like it may have blown up in the extortionist's face. I can only hope the lawyer isn't getting paid by the hour.

That's even more superficial than the official story. No, the union sabotage makes more sense. Why would the union want Foxworth out?

Mr Foxworth has had his "issues" with the union before, so there was no love lost between the two groups. The relationship was adversarial plus he was close enough to Potter to serve as a warning shot.

The whole thing about digging this up after 5 years, really reeks of dirty tricks somewhere, like the union keeping files on people for future use when needed.

Then again, I may be full of garbage.

If the same is true of former Chief Potter, his ability to administer the Police Bureau as commissioner-in-charge is severely compromised.

The thing is that Rosie Sizer seems like one of the good guys or gals. Anyone who has had dealings with her seems to view her very positively as a problem solver who is direct and honest. The people she moved, one had the assault issue with her ex-husband, and it seems like there was a DUI or some such thing about another, and the other fellow was rumored to be a SOB, they did not seem like stellar picks for second in command. Sizers husband is the Pre-Bernie Sheriff, when things did not seem to be going from bad to worse in law enforcement with the County, and from all I heard also very well respected by the officers, and didn't suffer the Lover Boy problems that the current Sheriff and Foxworth shared.

I don't know anything about Rosie Sizer. That said, I doubt there are many 20 year veterans of law enforcement (or any stressful endeavor) that don't have a few examples of personal or professional indiscretion they would prefer not to read about in the newspapers.

I am surprised that a Police Chief could be demoted for Foxworth's single punishable transgression: if gossiping about office politics with friends/family/lovers is the new hurdle, we're should have many new openings in local law enforcement.

Foxworth's union problems seem to be not with the police officers' union, but instead with a different union, AFSCME, who represents civilian employees. Don't forget that Oswalt's issue in 2006 with Foxworth was his determination to use injured officers with light duty restrictions to fill civilian desk positions, something that made civilian desk workers, like Oswalt, feel very insecure. It seems logical that AFSCME would also be threatened by and oppositional to Foxworth engaging in that practice, i.e., using non AFSCME workers (injured officers) to replace AFSCME workers.

With that backdrop, they dredged up the old emails and got Foxworth because they could.

It'd be interesting to know what Chief Sizer's position is on using light duty officers to fill in on AFSCME bargaining unit desk positions.

As for what happened to Derrick, I'm with Jack on the point that I'm unsure whether he should have been allowed to continue. Yeah, his offenses were minor, but we are talking judgment here, especially his judgment in putting certain things into the medium of email that he never should have. And when you're talking about jobs like police chief, judgment about stuff like that counts for a lot.

Foxworth needed to go, period. His idiotic approach to management made him a liability, all by itself.

And I'm not speaking about the sex stuff, bad enough though it was. Putting someone with a domestic assault restraining order against her in his inner circle? Come on.

Nope, the idiot needed to go, and a long time ago.

Sizer seems to have the integrity and the gumption that Foxworth has always lacked.

Foxworth's lucky. I'd have busted him clear down to patrol.

Let's be fair to Derrick Foxworth. The emails did a lot to promote reading in this town.

Downloads of Barry White songs also increased noticeably.

By Mayor Potter's logic Foxworth's judgement disqualifies him as chief and is appropriate for him to be a captain.

Faulty logic Mr. Mayor.

The stories behind these thin cases-whether police chief bootings- or running out popularly elected DAs and Judges is, imho, the real people's history of modern day Oregon. When this stuff finally breaks, my cousin, a journalist in Dublin, suggested the headline will be "Oregonized crime". Don't wanna see Bob Caldwell or some such lackey taking credit after the O finally is forced to acknowledge the state's deep problems. They could start by simply acknowledging-on the SUN school issue what a friend of mine said about Lisa Naito and "the Mean Girls" is true. Naito is a puppet, not a leader, who is in far, far over her head. He said that if Naito hadn't been married to one of Portland's premier citizens, she would be working at a Burger King (not Burgerville) in Klamath Falls. All things are not equal: some arguments are b*tt stupid. The editorialists could stop trying to be so "fair" to that menacing, controlled and controlling, clique.

What I'm worried about is this: if Potter doesn't appoint Sizer as permanent chief (and he should, she's the ideal candidate for the job) and Foxworth is now Cammander of the SE Precinct, where will Rosie go? THAT's what I find curious.

Yeah, Foxworth showed very poor judgement, but what about Oswald? She just happened to wait 5 years to out this? Shades of Monica Lewinsky. When I read her "complaints" I had to laugh. She sounds like a real pain in the *ss. Golddigger is right!

Matasar has been known to assure potential clients that he is one of the Best Lawyers in the Known World. Surely someone like that, especially someone who shared office space with the lawyer who was the Goldschmidt teen fling's guardian, could make anything happen.

Let's put the blame where the blame lies first.. The media or the "Portland Paparrazi's."....To print one graphic side of email between constenting adults is just plain "Shades of the National Enquirer".The new media is becoming the scum of the earth...When you are the top cop of an agency where there is very little joy and crime, hate, scum, drugs, sorrow, helplessness and hopelessness, massive amounts of responsiblity be sure when your shift is over you go home, alone, if you are single, and pop a Pepsi... Yea right... Does anyone out there know what a relationship that they both, at the time, thought was a zinger is like? People either say things in the bedroom they don't want others to hear and in this age with computers, well it is the dreaded email....You can rest assured "Miss Narc on him 5 year later" also wrote some pretty juicy ones back to him. Where are those? I admire Derrick for the ability to even come back to work cause you know behind his back people will be making Leno jokes....He did nothing wrong except pick the wrong Zinger to zing....and pressed the "send" button. If you don't want your mom to read it, people, don't send anything. Someone, deep buried deep wanted him out.. and I agree Sizer may be a good replacement but if I "fill in for someone" until I find out if they are coming back, big sweeping changes would not be done until the final word... She knew she had it and so did Potter. Potter had her Chief before she changed her gear from the shooting range.....that is so obvious

Yeah, if I never hear of another sexual harassment or stalking case, I will still be shuddering from these obvious miscarriages of justice that the powers-that-be-that-shoudn't-be pass off to us as "progressive".


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Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
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Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
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