On the town
For more than a year now, a little-known state agency called the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training has been trying to take away Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto's badge on grounds that he lacks the 'moral fitness' to be a police officer.
So far, however, they've succeeded only in turning the entire process into one huge farce - and if the agency's latest report is any indication, things aren't about to change any time soon.
In case you missed the news accounts last week, this is the report that explores the burning public policy question of whether - back in the late '80s, as a state trooper assigned to then-Gov. Neil Goldschmidt's security detail - Giusto had an 'affair' with the governor's wife.
Not a 'relationship,' mind you - because both Giusto and the former governor's ex-spouse, Margie Goldschmidt, have since acknowledged having a 'close, personal relationship' at the time.
So for weeks now, the agency's crack investigators have been out interviewing retired troopers and anyone else who might be able to help them prove that Giusto and the ex-guv's wife got beyond first or second base. No kidding.
Of course, they never come close. In their defense, however, that never stops them from trying.
And if I may say so myself, if their latest report is little more than gossip-laden trash, it is nevertheless quite entertaining reading.
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It's worth remembering that this entire circus started last spring with a four-page, single-spaced complaint from a Washington County businessman named Robert Kim - who, as he acknowledged at the time, was fronting for others. We still don't know who they are.
Before you knew it, however, the public safety standards staff had reduced Kim's laundry list to three charges.
The first also went back to when Giusto was Goldschmidt's driver. During that time, it was alleged, Giusto learned about Goldschmidt's statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl - which, it should be noted, had occurred more than a decade earlier.
At issue was whether Giusto lied to reporters when he was asked about it years later.
Ditto for the other two counts - one of which had to do with Giusto's handling of a gun permit application by former Citizens Crime Commission Chairman Jim Jeddeloh, who at the time was in diversion for driving under the influence of intoxicants.
Not surprisingly, when the agency's board met in February, it rejected all three complaints. After all, what is this world coming to when an enforcement officer is canned for lying to the media?
In its infinite wisdom, however, the board asked the staff to look into whether Giusto may have lied to his superiors about the nature of his relationship with Goldschmidt's wife.
My own personal favorite from their report is the retired trooper who remembered seeing Giusto on his way to the governor's mansion one night with two wine glasses and a bottle of vino.
I can just see the two of them, sitting around the fireplace in Mahonia Hall, sipping Oregon products, perhaps talking about the future of this great state - but surely nothing more.
And I'm sure that once the board has had a chance to consider the evidence, it'll come to the same conclusion. As they surely know, once we start decertifying law enforcement officers on suspicion of hanky-panky, we're all in a heap of trouble.