On the town
At times like these, probably the best thing is to think of politics as a soap opera.
I mean, what else are we to do with the adventures of Sheriff Bernie Giusto - who, as we speak, is being hauled in front of a little-known state agency, the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, and accused of lying to the media.
What's that, you say, a law enforcement official lying to the media? Perish the thought.
Believe it or not, though, that's what they've got him up for. First of all, for allegedly failing to tell newspaper reporters what he might have known back in the late '80s, when he was Gov. Neil Goldschmidt's driver, about Goldschmidt's sexual abuse of a young teenage girl some 15 years earlier.
Of course Bernie denies he heard anything more than vague rumors at the time. But if he did know a bit more than that, it might be because at the time he was having an affair with the governor's wife.
And that alone would probably be enough to keep any ordinary, run-of-the-mill soap opera humming for an entire season.
Luckily for us, though, Bernie also is being accused before the DPSST of being less than totally candid about when he started dating the now-ex-wife of the former head of P-town's Citizens Crime Commission, Jim Jeddeloh.
Was it before or after he helped send Jeddeloh off for a month or so of well-earned alcohol rehab at the Betty Ford Center?
Both Bernie and the ex-wife, Lee Doss, say it was after. But you can still see how Jeddeloh might be upset about the way things turned out.
After all, when Jeddeloh was sitting pretty as chairman of the crime commission, it is alleged that Bernie went out of his way to get Jeddeloh a concealed handgun permit, despite knowing that Jeddeloh was on diversion for drunken driving.
Which, of course, is when Lee Doss called the sheriff, frantic with worry that if Jeddeloh got the gun permit, she'd be in mortal danger. So Bernie went over to talk to her, and the rest, as we say in soap opera land, is history.
Then there's Fred Stickel, publisher of The Oregonian, golfing buddy of Jeddeloh, and chair emeritus of the Citizens Crime Commission.
As a matter of fact, when it got too embarrassing to keep Jeddeloh - who couldn't qualify for a concealed handgun permit, for crying out loud - as chairman of the crime commission, they held the resignation ceremony in Stickel's office.
It may, of course, be sheer coincidence that the reporters doing the most assiduous job of pursuing the Bernie story happen to work for his paper.
And how can we forget John Minnis, the former Portland cop and state legislator, who, thanks to an appointment by Gov. Ted Kulongoski, is now chairman of the DPSST. According to published accounts, Minnis wanted to run against Bernie for sheriff several years ago. He dropped out of the race after Bernie got the corrections union endorsement.
Or for that matter, Kulongoski - to whom Minnis owes his job - who's been busy sidestepping allegations that, well before Goldschmidt's secret came to light, he also knew about Goldschmidt's statutory rape of the 13-year-old.
Think Bernie will get a fair shake? Don't miss the next stirring episode of 'As P-town Turns.'