City manager expects PRC recommendation on appeal within a week

GreisenA committee of Scappoose city councilors and a labor attorney for the city met in a closed session Monday, June 9, for the purpose of taking testimony from former Police Chief Douglas Greisen regarding his recent termination.

The committee, called the Personnel Review Committee, is charged with determining whether former interim City Manager Don Otterman was compliant with law and city policy when he terminated Greisen’s contract, effective May 8. That action followed months of investigations into Greisen’s conduct as chief. The PRC is expected to make a written recommendation to the city manager within five days of its meeting, according to the ordinance under which the PRC is formed.

City Manager Larry Lehman said he is hoping for a recommendation this week, and said he typically tries to keep such records public. He added he would have to consult with city attorneys prior to making the PRC’s recommendation public.

Lehman said he will make a final decision on Greisen’s appeal in a timely manner after receiving the recommendation.

LehmanWhile the meeting was held in executive session at Greisen’s request, Greisen said his general preference is for open meetings.

“Weighing against that was consideration for the volunteer PRC members, who we understood had received gratuitous flak from third-parties and who we understood preferred an executive session,” Greisen told the Spotlight, adding that was also the preference of the city’s labor attorney, Kyle Abraham. “We hoped the executive session would allow less posturing and more deliberation (not sure that came to pass) ...”

The PRC initially met May 20 in an open session at Greisen’s request, but after several back-and-forth series between Greisen and Abraham, the committee granted Greisen an extension on the meeting to allow for his attorney to be present.

During the initial meeting, Greisen appeared unable to answer questions posed by Abraham, who asked the former chief to identify specific laws or policies Otterman may have violated in firing him.

In a letter to the PRC that pre-dates the May 20 meeting, Greisen claimed his termination was unlawful for multiple reasons, including his claim that he was harshly disciplined for questioning the practices of former City Manager Jon Hanken.

“Launching multiple unjustified ‘investigations’ when the city manager’s bullying harsh discipline is appealed is wrong and unlawful,” he wrote. “Treating the sham ‘investigations’ as if they are legitimate, holding on to completed results for months for strategic political reasons, and not returning me to service where I could earn my salary is wrong and unlawful. Then, after too many months, ultimately terminating me for the disingenuous ‘reason’ of ‘no cause’ is wrong and unlawful.”

In a June 10 letter to Abraham from Greisen’s attorney, John Ostrander, with Portland-based law firm Elliott Ostrander & Preston PC, Ostrander wrote that Greisen didn’t have an opportunity to explain himself in regard to two recent investigations into allegations he ran a hostile workplace and that he mismanaged city funds. The results of those investigations have not been made public.

The letter also hints at inconsistencies in the city’s process; for example, Greisen was allowed to explain his actions regarding an initial investigation into a mismanaged police chase in February 2013, in which an earlier PRC “fully vindicated his conduct,” though he is saying the same opportunity for explanation is now absent.

While the first PRC attempted to exonerate Greisen, the investigation found him at fault for violating 10 departmental policies. A former Lake Oswego police chief enlisted by Scappoose officials to review the findings of the investigation also upheld the investigative report’s findings that Greisen had violated city policy.

Ostrander’s letter to Abraham also indicates Greisen welcomes the opportunity to again serve the community as its police chief and is willing to participate in investigations into former city officials.

“Even if he is not fully reinstated, rest assured Doug Greisen is willing to participate and assist in any investigation of financial impropriety by the city manager,” Ostrander wrote.

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