Sources Say • Can Novick bank on a City Council victory?

by: Christopher Onstott The Midland Library in Southeast Portland is the county’s largest branch. A committee supporting a new library district is already gathering thousands in campaign contributions

Will political activist Steve Novick waltz into the City Council without serious opposition? He might if money talks.

Two weeks after he announced plans to run for the seat being vacated by Randy Leonard, Novick is already rolling in campaign dough. Novick, who filed on June 29, had posted nearly $69,000 in contributions by the beginning of this week. The largest donation came from his failed 2008 campaign for U.S. Senate - $5,424,42 in cash and $750 of in-kind services.

Other major contributions include $4,000 from publisher Win McCormack, $1,000 from prominent investor Terri Naito and $200 from politically connected developer David Gold.

In contrast, state Rep. Mary Nolan, who is running against Commissioner Amanda Fritz, has so far reported only a little more than $25,000 in contributions.

Perfect timing

About one month after the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into the Portland Police Bureau, two incidents are giving critics plenty to look at.

The investigation is focusing on whether the police followed their training and bureau policies when dealing with the mentally ill, especially during confrontations involving the use of force. The project is in response to several high-profile incidents in recent years, including the September 2006 death of James Chasse, a mentally ill man who died from serious injuries he suffered when he was tackled by police. Chasse died while police were driving him to the hospital.

Most recently, police mistakenly shot a man June 30 with a history of mental health issues with lethal shotgun rounds instead of less lethal beanbags. William Monroe suffered critical injuries and is expected to require extensive rehabilitation.

Police were responding to calls that he was behaving strangely, bothering children in Lair Hill Park and wielding a pocketknife.

Police Chief Mike Reese admits that officers on the scene broke a bureau policy against loading lethal rounds in less-lethal shotguns.

Then, on July 10, a man died after being chased and arrested by police. Although there is no indication that Darris Johnson had mental health issues like Chasse or Monroe, the incident raises questions about whether the officers who arrested him realized he had medical problems soon enough.

Unlike Chasse, who suffered internal injuries while being arrested, Johnson had no signs of physical trauma.

But at the very least, it's one more incident for DOJ investigators to study.

Library supporters ready to rumble

Although the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners has not yet put a library funding measure on the ballot, the campaign to pass it has already raised more than $220,000 in the past month.

The existing library levy expires next year. The commission is expected to ask voters to approve a library district in November. By then the campaign should have even more money behind it.

Libraries Yes! Committee is the name of the political action group formed several years ago to support library measures. In preparation for the measure, committee members spent more than $315,000 on polling and political consultants last year alone.

Since June 28, the committee has received $50,000 from Friends of Multnomah County Library and $171,000 from the Library Foundation. Such contributions will only increase after the commission puts the measure on the ballot.