Momentarily pushed aside by former Portland Police Chief Derrick Foxworth, Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto should soon retake center stage in the local media's coverage of the juicy intersection where public officials and personal lives collide.
Specifically, the state Department of Justice has concluded its probe of whether Giusto broke any laws last year while helping a friend, Lee Jeddeloh, by using his sheriff's position to pressure her husband to enter an alcoholism treatment program at the Betty Ford Center.
The DOJ now is finalizing a legal analysis of whether any laws were broken - reportedly, the answer may be no. Oregon law forbids public officials from using their position for personal profit, but the issue of using it to do personal favors for others is a bit more murky. That's good news for Giusto, who by nature is a helpful guy.
He more recently admitted making a phone call to the Clackamas County sheriff's office on behalf of another friend, Angela Oswalt, encouraging the office to look for Oswalt's runaway daughter.
Signatures, errand-running staff could be sticking points
Meanwhile, the gears of justice - of the Department of Justice, that is - continue to turn quite slowly in two other high-profile Portland cases.
One involves Volodymyr Golovan, the Slavic church activist who gathered signatures to qualify the campaign of Emilie Boyles for public financing in the recent City Council election.
Prompted by the suspicion that several signatures were written in the same hand, investigators continue to look at whether Golovan committed fraud to qualify Boyles for the financing, although the DOJ investigation reportedly focuses only on Golovan, not Boyles.
The second probe involves outgoing Multnomah County Chairwoman Diane Linn, who shortly before the election was accused in a Willamette Week story of directing employees to falsify her calendar before it was released to The Oregonian. Another allegation that received less attention at the time actually may be more dangerous to Linn - that she directed her staff to do personal errands for her while they were on county time - could amount to theft of public funds.
Hey, Tom, it's definitely not as easy as 1-2-3
In January, while delivering his State of the City address to the nonprofit City Club, Mayor Tom Potter got a good laugh with his wry observation that Commissioner Randy Leonard had been assisting the new mayor in learning how to count votes.
Well, last week it didn't appear to be quite as funny to Potter, who chafed as Leonard, Erik Sten and Sam Adams joined up to outvote Potter and Dan Saltzman over whether to audit a controversial Portland Development Commission deal.
It appears that Potter is getting an early glimpse of a lesson previously taught to Mayor Vera Katz, who spent her final year realizing that despite her best efforts, Sten and Leonard could easily find a third vote to overrule her. The difference? Katz was a lame duck at the time, and Potter - who has indicated that he plans to run for re-election - is not.