Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Notes from a meeting with the Portland Police Bureau

The following notes are from a meeting between Bridgeton residents and the Portland Police Bureau.

The meeting took place October 22, 2007


* Portland Police Bureau - Lieutenant Robert Day, Officer Colby Panter
* Ellen Osoinach, Deputy City Attorney
* BNA - Brian Stipak, Carol Emory, Leslie Sawyer

Meeting purpose was to discuss possible conflict over cutting Bridgeton trees and the Police Bureau's response to a conflict.

Brian stated that we hope the drainage district will act lawfully and follow required City tree permit procedures, and that the possibility of illegal tree cutting may now be lower because the board of supervisors for the drainage district may now be more involved. Brian stated that the BNA would act legally, would only intervene to stop illegal cutting, would not trespass on any private land against the wishes of a landowner, and would phone 911 as part of our response to illegal cutting.

Brian also gave Lieutenant Day and Ms. Osoinach copies of the letter signed by Bob Eaton which was distributed to residences in the Bridgeton area on September 18, 2007 informing them the drainage district would cut trees starting the next day. Brian pointed out the section in the letter which stated "any attempt to delay the progress will result in arrest of the person".

Lieutenant Day said that it would have been nice if the drainage district had contacted them before saying that the police would arrest people. He and Ellen Osoinach explained that the police would not arrest people for standing in the way of tree cutting unless there was a court order saying that residents could not interfere with the cutting, or unless someone was attempting to harm another person or property. Ms. Osoinach expressed concern about the potential for protesters to trespass on the private property of owners who actually wanted their trees cut.

Overall, Lt. Day was reassuring and made clear that the Police Bureau would not take sides in the conflict and would not arrest any Bridgeton residents on the basis of what was said by a drainage district official.

Carol said that the actions of Dave Hendricks as the operations manager for the drainage district has caused many people to have grave concerns about the safety of the levee. She cited how Hendricks said in court that he disagrees with the City Attorney and the City Forester and believes that he has the right to cut trees without obtaining tree cutting permits. She voiced the concern of many residents about the effect of removing trees on the safety of the levee and houses. She also repeated Brian's hope that the drainage district now will go through the tree cutting permit process with the City Forester.

Leslie said that we would probably not have thought of intervening to stop illegal tree cutting, except that the City Forester said that his response if the drainage district cut trees without going through the proper tree cutting process would be to fine the district. That would be a double hit for the residents. The trees would be gone with a higher potential of levee failure and the residents would have to pay the fines through increased taxes.

Lieutenant Day and Officer Panter have driven the area and were aware of the power company "trimming" of the trees at the school and the trees already cut at PYC. They did not know that all of those trees plus most of the other big and small trees on the levee were slated to be cut. They now understand the magnitude of the number of trees slated to be cut and our concerns for the safety of the levee.

They said that any call concerning tree cutting on Bridgeton Road would be taken seriously and there would be supervisors on site as well as police. They welcomed the constructive purpose and manner of our contact, Brian's patient persistence in arranging the meeting, and said that it was useful for them to be able to alert the day officers who might be less familiar with the neighborhood than the evening officers who attend our meetings.


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