Insurance company sues university lawyers over botched legal defense

No, this isn’t about HLGR’s Andrea Coit and her failed attempt to warn federal Judge David Carter about the Bowl of Dicks jury’s potential involvement in a Masonic blood-oath conspiracy. The Cook County Record has the latest on former Chicago State University President Wayne Watson and the $3M his retaliation against a whistleblower cost the now bankrupt CSU, here:

The insurer also accused the Pugh lawyers of failure to “properly assess the case and take advantage of settlement opportunities,” which the insurer said would have amounted to “a small fraction of the ultimate verdict,” telling Illinois National all the while “that CSU would likely prevail at trial.”

UO hires Matthew Carmichael from UC-Davis as new Police Chief

8/31/2016: UO has successfully completed an open external search for police chief by hiring the guy who cleaned up the UC-Davis police department, after the tear-gassing incident that eventually led to the firing of Chancellor Katehi.

Matthew Carmichael,

… I am currently serving as the police chief at the University of California, Davis. I assumed leadership of our organization in 2011, a time when community/police relations was at an all-time low. In partnership with our community and those individuals that comprise the UC Davis Police Department family, I can now state with great confidence we have become a “Model Law Enforcement Agency”. The challenges we faced over the last five years have truly prepared me for taking on the role of police chief at a new organization such as the University of Oregon Police Department. …

3/5/2016: UO paid Chief McDermed 0.056 Gottfredsons to leave immediately

Betsy Hammond has the report in the Oregonian here. As usual it took a public records request to get the truth out of UO’s PR flacks, who’d been trying to spin this as a simple retirement:

University spokesman Tobin Klinger declined to say why McDermed’s bosses at UO wanted her gone so badly that they asked her to depart and agreed to pay the remaining four months of her contract in exchange for no work. Her total payout, $53,000, included two weeks of accrued vacation, he said.

Klinger disclosed the payment in response to a public records request from The Oregonian/OregonLive.

Both McDermed, 57, and Klinger characterized her departure as a retirement.

Continue reading

Three finalists for UOPD police chief, starting tomorrow July 12

Follow links for application materials. For more info see the UO Police Department website:

Tuesday, July 12 — James Miyashiro, Senior Director of Safety Operations, University of LaVerne (LaVerne, Calif.): Public forums include a student session from 11-11:50 a.m., a public presentation and Q & A from 2:30-3:30 p.m. open to all, followed by a session for faculty and staff from 3:40-4:25 p.m., all in Susan Campbell Hall Room 111.

April 28, 2016, University of Oregon Human Resources, RE: Chief of Police

Dear University of Oregon Representative: My interest in the position of Chief of Police for the University of Oregon is based on my continued desire to serve at institutions of higher education. The University of Oregon has always been one of my top choices of educational institutions, because of the universities quality academics, rich student life, attractive facilities and strong name recognition. I currently have over thirty years of law enforcement experience dealing with service oriented municipal, university, college and school district police agencies.

Developing and implementing ideas and strategies to deal with current law enforcement, security, and organizational issues, is an area in which I have a proven track record. I am a committed and innovative leader who shows initiative and integrity in all aspects of work performed. I believe strongly in collaborative problem solving, accountability and in developing others for future leadership roles. During my career, I have acquired the necessary skills to meet the challenges of shrinking budgets, personnel management, recruitment, retention, and the importance of staff and team development. …

Friday, July 15 — Matthew Carmichael, Chief of Police, University of California, Davis: Public forums include a student session from 11-11:50 a.m., a public presentation and Q & A from 2:30-3:30 p.m. open to all, followed by a session for faculty and staff from 3:40-4:25 p.m., all in the Knight Library Browsing Room.

May 9, 2016, University of Oregon, Daphne Joubran, Executive Assistant in the Office of the Vice President for Finance and Administration/CFO

Dear Ms. Jouban, It is with great excitement that I submit my application to you for the position of Police Chief at the University of Oregon. I learned of this vacancy through an online job search engine, Indeed.com. I am interested in this position for several reasons. First, the University of Oregon is an amazing institution and a community I would like to be a part of. Second, the Eugene area is a place my family and I would like to call home. If considered for this position I would look to live as close as possible to campus. My family has enjoyed spending time on my current campus and knowing the University of Oregon I am confident we will find ourselves more often than not on campus. Lastly, the University of Oregon Police Department is a relatively new organization and I am excited about the opportunity to help ensure the police department is as cutting edge as the community it serves.

I am currently serving as the police chief at the University of California, Davis. I assumed leadership of our organization in 2011, a time when community/police relations was at an all-time low. In partnership with our community and those individuals that comprise the UC Davis Police Department family, I can now state with great confidence we have become a “Model Law Enforcement Agency”. The challenges we faced over the last five years have truly prepared me for taking on the role of police chief at a new organization such as the University of Oregon Police Department. …

Monday, July 25 — “Candidate C“: Public forums include a student session from 11-11:50 a.m., a public presentation and Q & A from 2:30-3:30 p.m. open to all, followed by a session for faculty and staff from 3:40-4:25 p.m., all in the Knight Library Browsing Room. Candidate name and materials to be published here July 21.

One of the many job number ones for the new UOPD Chief will be rewriting the UOPD’s remarkably unconstitutional ethics policy:

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PURMIT to hold closed meeting over public records

Usually they provide a dial-in number so the public can hear what’s going on:

Sent: Wednesday, May 04, 2016 3:14 AM
To: Parker, James
Subject: Re: PURMIT public records request

Thanks, what is the call in info?

Not this time:

From: “Parker, James” <JamesParker@dwt.com>
Subject: RE: PURMIT public records request
Date: May 4, 2016 at 8:55:43 AM PDT

Per the notice, the public site for the meeting is at:

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
1300 SW Fifth Ave.
Suite 2400
Portland, OR 97201

There is no public conference call line set up for this meeting.

James G. Parker
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
Office: (503) 778-5471 | Cell: (503) 728-8702
Email: jamesparker@dwt.com
Admitted: California and Oregon

From what I can tell UO has successfully escaped from another of the dying remnants of George Pernsteiner’s OUS empire – the Public Universities Risk Management & Insurance Trust. We left behind our share of their $3M or so in reserves – call it $1M – but without the PURMIT overhead for lawyers, auditors, and actuaries we’re saving about $200K a year on insurance by making an independent deal with United Educators.

For some reason PURMIT’s $280-an-hour lawyer (see page 81-87) doesn’t want the details of PURMIT’s cost structure to become public. It’s a long story, but the background on my public records petition is here.

UO has also tried to use fees and delays to hide the PURMIT records they hold – I think mostly out of embarrassment over how much public money PURMIT has had to spend on the HLGR lawyers who are defending UO over the Bowl of Dicks case, and who keep losing.

[Disclaimer in case HLGR threatens another defamation lawsuit: Mr. Gary, I am not suggesting that your partner Andrea Coit’s statements to Judge Carter about a potential Masonic blood oath conspiracy to subvert the jury were anything less than a competent and lawyerly reaction to the plaintiff wearing a Ducks lapel pin, or that there is anything embarrassing about paying Coit $290 an hour from public funds to make this argument. Nor am I proposing that HLGR give PURMIT / United Educators a refund because of this, or because HLGR lost the arbitration, lost the lawsuit, lost the plea to get the judge to set aside the verdict, lost the plea to get the judge to reduce the damages, etc.]

In any case, today UO provided their current insurance contracts, at no charge and with no redactions. Here they are:

United Educators Buffer Liability Policy

United Educators Legal Liability Policy

United Educators Excess Liability Policy

United Excess Licensed Professional Liability Policy

Will PURMIT do the same, someday? The PURMIT board is meeting at their lawyer’s office tomorrow at 9:00 AM. They’ve made the legally required public notice, but good luck getting the meeting materials – the most recent ones on the PURMIT website are from 2015, and someone earned a lot of public money redacting them.

Oregon’s Public Meetings Law requires that PURMIT explain the reason for an executive session. Here’s all that their lawyer thinks he needs to make public:

Public Meeting Notice – May 4, 2016

PURMIT Board of Trustees Meeting Notice

 The Public Universities Risk Management and Insurance Trust (“PURMIT”) will hold a regular meeting at 9:00 a.m. at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, 1300 SW Fifth Avenue, Suite 2400, Portland OR on May 4, 2016. PURMIT will also hold an executive session immediately following the regular meeting agenda items on May 4, 2016. The session will address documents and information relating to the 2016-17 allocation model, attorney-client communications regarding the handling of PURMIT documents by regulatory bodies and contract provisions, and potential and/or current litigation.  The executive session is being held pursuant to ORS 192.660(2)(f) and ORS 192.660(2)(h).

The meeting location is accessible to persons with disabilities. A request for an interpreter for the hearing impaired or for other accommodations for persons with disabilities should be made at least 48 hours before the meeting to Ryan Britz at 800-449-7707.

PURMIT Board of Trustees Meeting Agenda

1. Call to Order, Roll Call
2. Review and Approval of Minutes from March 9, 2016 PURMIT Board of Trustees Meeting
3. SAIF Workers’ Compensation Renewal Proposal Presentation
4. Financial Review as of March 31, 2016
5. Financial Proforma Discussion
6. July 1, 2016 Insurance Renewal Discussion
7. Legal Counsel items
8. Other items
9. Executive Session Pursuant to ORS 192.660(2)(f)
10. Final Decisions Related to Executive Session Discussions (if any)
11. Adjournment

HLGR’s Bill Gary loses Bowl of Dicks plea, nets Kafoury another $50K

Posted 3/30/2016, updated 4/14/2016 with UO’s new $50K payment to Cleavenger’s lawyers.

In  February 2014 UO’s lawyers from Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick lost the arbitration case against former UOPD officer James Cleavenger. UO had to pay Cleavenger $30K in back wages, $6K for arbitration costs, and an unknown amount to HLGR, who typically bill $315 an hour.

UOPD  Chief McDermed and others at UO claimed Cleavenger was dishonest and should be put on the “Brady List”, preventing him from getting another police job. According to K&M, our current Associate GC Doug Park participated in that decision. Cleavenger hired the Kafoury and McDougal law firm to take his First Amendment claim of retaliation and blacklisting to federal court. UO hired Andrea Coit of HLGR to defend it.

In October the jury awarded Cleavenger $755K on the grounds that UOPD Chief McDermed and others had retaliated against Cleavenger because of his exercise of his free-speech rights. His attorneys asked the judge for $500K from UO for fees and costs – in a civil rights case the losing side pays the winner’s lawyers. UO replaced Andrea Coit with HLGR’s Bill Gary to try and convince the judge to set aside the jury’s verdict and reduce UO’s $500K payment to Kafoury and McDougal.

Gary lost his quixotic attempt to get the judge to set aside the jury’s verdict, but did get the judge to knock $50K off Kafoury and McDougal’s bill. UO then forced UOPD Chief Carolyn McDermed into retirement, paying her $46K to leave, as Betsy Hammond of the Oregonian discovered after a public records request to UO.

Yesterday, the judge awarded Kafoury another $50K in fees and costs for successfully defending Cleavenger against Gary’s pleas:

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So, net, for this losing plea, UO is out however many additional billable hours Gary and HLGR charged times $315 per hour. The Emerald’s Noah McGraw reported, as of October, that HLGR had billed UO $395K for losing the original case. So maybe they’ve made $500K or so total, if you count their fees for losing the arbitration. Add in UO’s payment to the winning side’s lawyers and the lawyers have made $1M or so, not counting the time of Doug Park et al. But it’s not over. In March UO hired HLGR to appeal the case to the Ninth Circuit, also at $315 an hour, plus expenses.

Does anyone know the last time HLGR’s lawyers actually won a major case?

I’m no behavioral economist, but Danny Kahneman’s “sunk cost fallacy” comes to mind. As does Milton Friedman and “spending other people’s money.” I suppose when you bill $315 an hour you never really lose – even when you mistakenly email a newspaper the files your client is trying to hide. And HLGR is not off to a good start on this appeal:

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Whoops. The full docket is here. It looks like HLGR had to pay another $505 to refile the appeal correctly:

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Duck PR Flack Tobin Klinger told the Oregonian that the university’s insurance, not tuition money or the individual employees, would pay the damages. That’s not true, and UO now says that these costs will be paid by the PURMIT risk sharing pool, meaning UO will pay about 25%, OSU about 33%, and PSU and the TRU’s the rest, perhaps with some reinsurance. But they don’t want to release the public records that show this.

Regardless of who pays, the bad news is that the UO administration will be spending still more years wallowing in this trough, instead of focusing on the future. The good news it that UOM will have more HLGR antics to report on – such as Andrea Coit’s attempt to convince the judge that Cleavenger was involved in a Masonic blood oath conspiracy.

UO cops busted in KWAX door, looking for Bowl List’s Justin Bieber

3/23/2016: While the FBI quits after the Ten Most Wanted, the UOPD’s Bowl List is more comprehensive, as Betsy Hammond explained in the Oregonian. Page 3 of 11, here:

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Diane Dietz has the latest KWAX story online. Here’s an amuse-bouche, as Debussy would have called it:

… the University of Oregon Police Department broke into the station’s locked door to perform a “welfare check” last Jan. 29 or Feb. 1, records show. Soon after, General Manager Paul Bjornstad got word that he was forbidden entry and, instead, had to play the recorded music by remote.

While UO Strategic Communicator Tobin Klinger can neither confirm nor deny that Bieber has been kept in a Matt Court holding cell, VP Kyle Henley is “thrilled” that normal KWAX operations can resume. [Redacted] has left the building, any damage that may or may not have resulted has been cleaned up, and live broadcasts resume Thursday with renowned classical DJ Peter van de Graaf in charge:

“I’m thrilled that we will be able to get back to normal operations,” Henley wrote, “and on behalf of KWAX and the University of Oregon, I’d like to thank listeners for their patience over the last two months and apologize for any inconvenience caused by the disruption in the station’s normal broadcasting schedule.” KWAX listeners say they’re excited about the arrival of van de Graaff, who is the popular host of the “Through The Night” overnight show. He’s also program director of the internationally syndicated Beethoven Satellite Network.

The BSN is Beethoven’s syndicate, not Bieber’s? I want to bieleb Henley.

3/11/2016:  UO secrecy about KWAX classical music about Justin Bieber – or Putin? Continue reading

Petition to AG on PURMIT, after Ducks demand $267 for dick docs

3/22/2016: Sorry, long story.

After HLGR lost the Bowl of Dicks case, a UO communications person told a student reporter that UO was fully insured for the ~$1.5M Bowl of Dicks damages and legal fees to HLGR and the plaintiff’s attorneys and that no university funds would be used.

I was skeptical of this, given that UO was covered by PURMIT, which is a risk sharing pool with the other Oregon public universities with some re-insurance for large claims. That would typically mean that at least some and probably most of the ~$1.5M costs are paid by UO and the other Oregon publics in proportion to their contributions to the pool.

UO’s Public Records Office wanted $267 to release the documents that would show this. So I made the request to PURMIT. They eventually posted the past year of meeting material on their website at no charge, but with all the good stuff redacted. Their lawyer argued this was justified by the “trade secrets” exemption:

If PURMIT’s competitors are able to see how PURMIT sets it rates, projects its losses, and structures its excess insurance (including price and coverage specifics), it puts PURMIT at a competitive disadvantage to its competition which has no such obligation.

Wow, what a thing to admit. I’m petitioning Attorney General Rosenblum to order PURMIT to post unredacted documents, arguing that:

In a nutshell, PURMIT’s attorney is arguing that PURMIT, an agent of the state, should be allowed to use a “trade secrets” exemption so that it can restrict competition and charge public universities more for insurance than private competitors would. Allowing this exemption for this purpose is not in the public interest, to put it mildly.

The full letter from PURMIT’s lawyer and my petition to AG Rosenblum are below. The law gives her office a week to rule on the petition. Continue reading

Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick earn $215K in legal fees for $215K police settlement

No, I’m not talking about the UOPD and the Bowl of Dicks retaliation case. I think HLGR has billed UO ~$500K on that, so far, to top off the $755K settlement and $450K or so to Cleavenger’s excellent lawyers. (For First Amendment cases the losers pay the damages and also the winning attorneys, presumably to encourage lawyers to defend the Bill of Rights.)

This retaliation case is about the EPD. Jack Moran has the story in the RG here:

… Had the city not settled with Reynolds it might have spent an additional $150,000 in attorney fees, city spokeswoman Jan Bohman said. That estimate takes into account the potential cost of fighting both lawsuits at trial and then at the appellate level.

And, of course, there was the possibility that HLGR would lose the case and the jury would award even higher damages. That’s what happened when UO and HLGR rejected James Cleavenger’s offer to settle for $600k, and the jury awarded him $755K. Two weeks ago the judge emphatically rejected the plea from HLGR’s Bill Gary to set aside the jury’s judgement. No word yet on if our GCO will continue to pay Bill Gary $315 an hour to try his luck again.

But back to the EPD case. The City of Eugene paid HLGR $215K to negotiate this $215K settlement with former Police Auditor Dawn Reynolds. Her attorneys, Holly Lloyd and Judy Snyder, charged just a third of that: $71,666. Maybe UO should shop around before hiring HLGR again.

UO loses $755K police whistleblowing case — again

That’s the headline from Betsy Hammond’s report in the Oregonian, here. The first time UO lost this case we paid $315 an hour for HLGR partner Andrea Coit. This time we paid $315 an hour for HLGR partner William F. Gary, for the same result:

… Lawyers for the UO police brass had argued their clients’ conduct was merely procedural and any harm to public safety officer James Cleavenger’s future law enforcement career so speculative that the judge should cancel the jury’s ruling. In legal filings, they asked the judge who presided over McDermed’s September 2015 trial to reset the verdict to $1 or order a new trial.

Instead, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter sided with Cleavenger’s lawyers on every point, citing evidence of severe retaliatory intent, dishonesty and deep economic harm to Cleavenger on the part of McDermed, Lt. Brandon Lebrecht and Sgt. Scott Cameron.

The case is expected to cost UO more than $1.5 million, including paying lawyers from a Eugene firm to represent UO and its employees and paying Cleavenger’s law team, led by Jason Kafoury and Mark McDougal.

Ms Hammond is skeptical regarding interim Chief Pete Deshpande:

Also on Monday, UO leaders announced they have hired former UO Police Capt. Pete Deshpande as interim chief of police. Deshpande also played an active role in reviewing and passing along the Brady materials that destroyed Clevenger’s reputation, evidence during the trial showed.

Deshpande worked for the UO safety department for three years before retiring in 2015. He also served as an officer and commander with the Eugene Police Department for 22 years.

But who else is left? Bring back Frank Sorrentino, I say!

Bowl of Dicks: The Jury didn’t believe Andrea Coit’s arguments, and the Judge doesn’t believe Bill Gary’s. Cleavenger’s $755K award stands.

The Honorable Judge David Carter’s final order on the attempt by UO’s HLGR law firm to have him set aside the jury’s $755K award to former UOPD Officer James Cleavenger is here.

Denied:

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The transcript for the remittitur plea arguments are here.

The question of how much UO will pay Harrang, Long, Gary and Rudnick for this failed remittitur plea is still up in the air, as is the possibility Judge Carter will shave a little off Kafoury’s bill. All in all the cost is already close to $2M. At one point Cleavenger offered to settle with UO for $600,000. I wonder if UO will pay HLGR by the hour to appeal this?

Previous posts here. Some highlights:

Judge asks if Doug Park is alive, and links to the trial transcripts: http://uomatters.com/2015/10/uopd-bowl-of-dicks-case-goes-to-trial-in-portland-on-tuesday.html

UO spokesperson says insurance will pay all costs including HLGR fees – but won’t release PURMIT public records: http://uomatters.com/2015/10/beavers-to-pay-13-of-hlgrs-bowl-of-dicks-bills-and-damages.html

HLGR attorney Andrea Coit tells judge Cleavenger may be using his Go Ducks pin to send secret signals to freemasons on the jury: http://uomatters.com/2016/02/was-the-bowl-of-dicks-jury-tainted-by-a-secret-masonic-blood-oath.html

UO decides that HLGR’s William F. Gary should make the remittitur arguments: http://uomatters.com/2016/01/uo-will-pay-hlgrs-bill-gary-500-an-hour-to-argue-bowl-of-dicks-lawyers-are-overpaid.html

Was the Bowl of Dicks jury tainted by a secret Masonic blood oath?

You be the judge. For background on the Bowl and the verdict read this. The arguments on UO’s plea for remittitur will be in Portland on Friday.

Here’s Andrea Coit, the $290 an hour HLGR lawyer whom Randy Geller put in charge of defending UO against former UOPD officer James Cleavenger’s “Bowl of Dicks” lawsuit, on page 335 of the official trial transcript from day 2:

MS. COIT:  Mr. Cleavenger is wearing a Freemason pin on his lapel. I know the connotations for Freemasons. I don’t know the jury’s membership in any sort of community like that. I don’t think it’s necessary that he wears it.

THE COURT: He has the First Amendment right to wear whatever he wants to, frankly; but I wouldn’t say the Freemasons are real popular either, It cuts both ways.

MR. CLEAVENGER: Your Honor, it’s actually a University of Oregon pin.

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THE COURT: Oh, it is? Counsel?

MS. COIT: My apologies if that’s —

THE COURT: He’s going to give that to you. You’re a Duck, aren’t you?

MS. COIT: I am. Absolutely. My apologies if that’s —

What in the world was Ms Coit talking about? I’m no legal history professor, but it all started with one of the weirder episodes in early American politics:

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Wikipedia has more here. And if you google “freemason oath jury trial” you’ll find this, along with some similar anti-semitic arguments:

Page 183 of the Masonic Handbook states: Whenever you see any of our signs made by a brother Mason, and especially the grand hailing sign of distress, you must always be sure to obey them, even at the risk of your life. If you’re on a jury, and the defendant is a Mason and makes the grand hailing sign, you must obey it; you must disagree with your brother jurors, if necessary, but you must be sure not to bring the Mason guilty, for that would bring disgrace upon our order. You must conceal all crimes of your brother Masons except murder and treason, and these at your own option, and should you be summoned as a witness against a brother Mason, be always sure to shield him. Prevaricate, don’t tell the truth in this case, keep his secrets, forget the important points. It may be perjury to do this true, but you are keeping your obligations.”

More recent work on the Grand Masonic Conspiracy comes from the noted English barrister John Cleese, here. And here’s video of Louis Farrakhan, explaining how the Free Masons have manipulated US politics since George Washington – an idea which Farrakhan apparently got from watching Nicholas Cage in National Treasure, or maybe from reading way too many Dan Brown novels.

In short, the possibility that the plaintiff is using his lapel pin to make secret signals to his brother Masons on the jury is not the most credible argument to try out on a judge – even if it hadn’t turned out to be a Duck pin.

HLGR is due in court in Portland this Friday Feb 12th, for one last attempt to convince Federal Judge David O. Carter to set aside the jury’s verdict from September awarding Cleavenger $755K in damages plus legal fees. The docket is here. I’m starting to get a sense for why UO has decided to pay HLGR senior partner Bill Gary $315 an hour to give Ms Coit a little help with this case.

The best summary of events so far comes from longtime Oregonian reporter Betsy Hammond, here:

A federal jury awarded a former University of Oregon public safety officer $755,000 Friday after finding that UO Police Chief Carolyn McDermed and a top lieutenant retaliated against the young officer for blowing the whistle on department wrongdoing. The eight-person jury sided with ousted UO public safety officer James Cleavenger, who said the chief and Lt. Brandon Lebrecht vindictively retaliated against him for speaking out about department bias and ineptitude. Top university officials, including the No. 2 in-house lawyer, were in on the decision to punish him. “This is a victory for every honest police officer,” said Jason Kafoury, Cleavenger’s lead lawyer. “The jury today honored and enforced an officer’s right to speak freely on matters of public concern, regardless of whether their superiors approve.”

… Kafoury said of the verdict: “This is a loud and clear message that the University of Oregon needs to get new leadership in that police department.”

Top UO human resources officials were intimately involved in the decision to fire Cleavenger, and McDermed testified that Douglas Park, then UO’s No. 2 in-house lawyer, knew she was going to try to get Cleavenger on the Brady list. Since then, Park was promoted on an interim basis to be UO’s top in-house lawyer, but he is slated to return to the No. 2 job when a permanent successor takes over in about a week.

Former UOPD Sergeant Sorrentino describes McDermed’s mismanagement

1/27/2016: Former UOPD Sergeant describes Chief McDermed’s mismanagement

To quote just one bit:

Shortly before I left, we had to conduct an internal investigation on a police officer for misuse of a law enforcement database. I don’t know how familiar you are with the laws and rules governing that, but let me just say it is a MAJOR no-no.  Basically, the officer ran personal information (her husband) through the system, and wasn’t the most forthcoming about it when asked.  And, I should note, this was a probationary employee.  So as you can imagine, the investigation comes back sustained. 

Pretty basic stuff.  Chief McDermed (through the chain of command, because she doesn’t want her name attached to anything) tells me to write up my recommendation for discipline.  This is  a no-brainer.  Where I came from (the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department), this is, without question, a terminable offense.  So that’s what I recommend. …

Page down for the full email. First some background:

Here’s video of former UOPD Sergeant Frank Sorrentino in action last March, ending a potentially violent confrontation between UO students and anti-abortion demonstrators outside the EMU. He doesn’t use his Glock, he uses the First Amendment and UO’s Free Speech policy.

Sorrentino is not the officer who first responds and tells the anti-abortion protestors that UO is a private university and policy prohibits outsiders from offending students with bloody posters. He’s the one who shows up at 12:30 and calmly explains, to paraphrase, that in America it’s the police’s job to protect free speech.

The students and protestors then proceed with a full, frank, and civil debate:

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Here’s the Daily Emerald report:

UOPD officer John Loos responded to the scene before the students attempted to destroy the poster, incorrectly citing ASUO policy as university policy and saying that the activist had to stop the “Hitler stuff,” otherwise he would be asked to leave the property. “I don’t see where you’re showing how I’m actually violating the law,” the activist said as Loos asked him to put away the poster. “There would be no need to protect freedom of speech if everybody agreed.” Loos said that the activist wouldn’t be arrested. He just had to put the sign away or leave. “You are breaking the rules of this institution. You are not breaking any laws in my opinion,” Loos said. “This is a privately owned institution, even though it’s a public school. If it’s considered to be demeaning or anything like that, it’s not allowed.”

Then Sergeant Sorrentino showed up. He knew what he was talking about, explained the First Amendment to responding officer Loos, and perhaps saved the UOPD from another First Amendment lawsuit to add to the Bowl of Dicks fiasco:

After a moment, the responding sergeant, Frank Sorrentino, showed up and corrected Loos. The two UOPD officials discussed the graphic for a moment and concluded that the activist could stay. “If you’re cool with it, I’m cool with it and we can let this gentleman do his thing,” Loos said. Sorrentino agreed and said that he was okay with the activist’s demonstration as long as there was no physical violence.

It turns out Sorrentino doesn’t just protect the First Amendment, he uses it. He posted this comment on my post about the failed search for a new UOPD Chief:

You have to be cautious in regards to the chief, because if prospective employers call the uopd, she’ll intentionally stick it to you. I’ll include it this time. I was a 23 year career sergeant they brought in from a large, out of state agency to help build the uopd. After being there a month, I saw how out of control things were. All the “evidence” I have is just my first hand knowledge… Things I’ve seen, heard, and been asked to do. So, from a moral and ethical standpoint, I decided that it would simply be better to leave and live off my pension than to stay and tolerate the shenanigans. So, I bailed last summer. Holler if you have any questions. I think there’s a few people we might know in common that should you ask, could vouch for my statements.

He then sent this email describing some of his experiences at the UOPD. I’ve posted it word for word and with his permission:

Here are a few examples of the shenanigans that take place under McDermed’s watch:

Shortly before I left, we had to conduct an internal investigation on a police officer for misuse of a law enforcement database. I don’t know how familiar you are with the laws and rules governing that, but let me just say it is a MAJOR no-no.  Basically, the officer ran personal information (her husband) through the system, and wasn’t the most forthcoming about it when asked.  And, I should note, this was a probationary employee.  So as you can imagine, the investigation comes back sustained. 

Pretty basic stuff.  Chief McDermed (through the chain of command, because she doesn’t want her name attached to anything) tells me to write up my recommendation for discipline.  This is  a no-brainer.  Where I came from (the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department), this is, without question, a terminable offense.  So that’s what I recommend.  The chief says no.  I then recommend a 1 week suspension.  The chief says no.  I recommend a 1 day suspension.  Guess what?  The chief says no.  At this point I’m actually laughing about it because it is so absurd.  I tell the lieutenant “just tell me what the chief wants me to do, since she won’t tell me herself”. 

He tells me that she wants me to write the officer a ‘Letter of Clarification”, which is barely a slap on the wrist that says ‘don’t do that anymore’.  So I write the letter, which says something like “at the direction of the chief, you are being issued this letter of clarification…..”.   Well didn’t it get immediately kicked back to me because apparently, I’m not allowed to say that the chief had anything to do with this.  And here’s the kicker:  during the investigation, it was revealed that a few of our civilians working at the dispatch center have done the same thing.  So I say, you know, we have to treat employees equally and fairly, so we need to open up an investigation on those folks. 

The answer?  No, we’re not doing that.  WTF??  How does that work?  McDermed said she was going to issue a blanket letter of clarification telling people not to use the database for personal reasons.  Not that we should have to, because when we hired on, we all signed paperwork saying we wouldn’t do that.  I don’t know if she ever issued those letters, because 1: she can’t make a decision to save her life, and 2: she would have made someone else do her dirty work.

Care for another example?  I got lots!

This one concerns our public safety captain, Herb Horner.  When I was there, he was a lieutenant, but he got promoted to captain a few months before I left.  Why he needed a promotion is beyond me. He doesn’t do anything for that 90,000 salary he makes.  So she promotes him and they hug and cry and tell each other how much they love each other.  Really freaking bizarre, right?  Anyway, as I said, Herb really doesn’t do anything.  He schedules special events and stuff but in all honesty, one of the sergeants should be doing that.  Plus, Herb has an assistant that they call a manager I think, and he makes about 50 grand.  There is no way in hell they need two people, at those salaries, to do a job a monkey could do. 

So before I left, Herb tells everyone that he and the chief are flying up to Seattle for a big golf tournament.  Me, being the Italian New Yorker that I am, start questioning things.  Now he starts back-pedaling, telling me that he needs to go up there to learn how to handle major sporting events.  Say what?  He’s our public safety captain.  Been doing this for many years.  Already handled track and field events, football games, basketball games, etc..  You get the picture.  Well oddly enough, the chief backs out at the last minute. (a rare pang of guilt, maybe)?  Herb goes anyway.  Completely on the University’s dime.  And when he comes back a couple days later?  Boy, he couldn’t wait to show us all the photos he took of himself on the golf course playing golf and having fun!  It’s good to know that we had money in our budget for that. 

Oh, now we’re talking about budgets?  Well, I have an anecdote for that, too!

I had heard rumors that the office staff (finance person Leslie Fountain-Williams and office manager Deb Pack) would never tell anyone what our operating budget was.  So, one day I took it upon myself to go see if that was true.  I approached both of them and asked a simple question:  What’s our current years budget, and what portion of that is allotted for training?  I’ve never seen 2 people dance around an answer.  They said things like ‘we don’t know, we’re not sure, it’s hard to say because things change, etc…  I continued on, basically asking different versions of the same general question, and they simply wouldn’t give me an answer. 

Now, the annual budget on my last department was just over $500M.  And you better believe that anyone who had anything to do with the budget, or at least their bureau’s portion, could tell you to the penny what it was.  Why?  Because they were supposed to; it was public information; and we policed with honor, integrity and transparency.  Those 3 concepts ring hollow with the chief and her flunkies. 

They build their little kingdom, then they won’t let anyone see over the wall.  I think part of the reason is that they don’t want people seeing how they mis-manage the money.  For example, when I was finally able to track down the previous years budget, I found that the civilian office staff spent about $7,000 or so (the exact number escapes me right now) on training, while the sworn, commissioned officers received about $700.  Not apiece…  TOTAL.  For the entire year. 

Oh, and since I mentioned Deb Pack, allow me to share one (of many) of her unethical escapades….

Deb has (or thinks she has) way too much power at the UOPD.  Back around April or so, we posted a job opening for an assistant chief.  Deb hired a firm to the tune of $25,000.  No, that’s not a typo.  I said twenty five thousand dollars.  You know what we got for that money?  A guy came to the UOPD, asked a few questions, then wrote the job posting announcement.  Then he collected all of the applications (62 or 63, if memory serves), bundled them up, and sent them to Deb Pack.  I was beside myself.  I asked Deb who then was responsible for vetting and selecting the finalists.  She simply replied, “I am”. 

She used to work at a golf course.  How is it she is now qualified to vet and select finalists for a police job?  Oh that’s right, she’s not.  But she IS good friends with McDermed, so there’s that.  So the day before the finalist are supposed to start showing up on campus for their interviews and such, I again have to stick my nose where it doesn’t belong and ask her who the candidates are.  After getting mad and complaining to the chief that I’m disrespectful or something similar (because how dare I question her as to who our new ass. chief might be, right?) she posts the links to their names. 

One of the candidates was a current employee at a university in Illinois, I think, so I go to the website and find his name.  He has the title of Detective Commander Sergeant.  Take it from me:  there is absolutely no such title within a bona fide police department.  As it turns out, he simply made up the title and gave it to himself.  He was, in reality, just a sergeant.  Which means what?  It means that he did not meet the minimum qualifications for the position we were hiring for. 

So you know me.  I start speaking out about it.  How on earth can I be the only person to vet a finalist that we were footing the bill for to bring him to campus for a couple of days?  Needless to say, that search was a big failure, and they still can’t figure out how to hire someone for the position.  But that’s not the only time she screwed the pooch on hiring someone.  Take, for example, the last attempt she made at hiring a lateral officer.  They get a bunch of applicants that put in for it, and one of the first things they have to do is take the ORPAT, which is the Oregon Physical Ability Test.  You know, running, jumping, stretching, etc.  Pretty basic stuff. 

For those of you that don’t know, the times are set in stone.  You either pass or fail.  There is no middle ground.  Your time/score determines how you are ranked in the hiring process.  Well, one of the candidates that Deb wanted happened to fail his test.  That is, he could not complete it in the required time.  So what does Deb do?  She arbitrarily (and illegally, i might add) adds 10 seconds to everybody’s time so the guy she wants can proceed through testing.  He ended up flunking out at another stage of testing, but that’s not the point. 

It’s just wrong on so many levels.  And McDermed allows this type of behavior to go on.  Shame on her for that.  If she claims she doesn’t know, shame on her for that, too.  And the final straw in that hat?  Deb found a way to blame the officer in charge of the ORPAT for altering the scores.

I guess that’s it for now.  I have many, many more examples of the keystone cop antics of the UOPD.  We used to have some really talented people there, but they have either retired, are leaving, or are looking to leave, just as I did. 

So Sergeant Sorrentino – is there any chance we can persuade you to apply for the job replacing McDermed, which presumably will open up as soon as UO’s HLGR attorneys stop trying to void the jury verdict in the Bowl of Dicks case and Johnson Hall can admit she’s been a disaster?

 

1/28/2016: Why UOPD security officers aren’t allowed to carry binoculars

It’s about the sororities. More from Sergeant Sorrentino:

In October of 2015, a citizen contacted the department and filed a complaint against a civilian security officer.  The allegation?  That the officer, while in uniform and sitting in a  marked security vehicle, was using binoculars to stare at women through a sorority house window.  The administrative lieutenant fields the complaint and correctly assigns it to the employees supervisor, none other than Captain Herb Horner.  Now, Herb was a cop for about 2 years back in the early 70’s, in Hawaii.  Translation: he knows nothing about police work and most likely has never conducted an internal investigation. 

While some might think that checking out cute sorority girls while on duty and in plain view of everybody is a non-issue, I can assure you that it is serious, and if a regular citizen had done it, the UOPD would take a crime report and send it over to the Cleary and title IX people.  But what does our esteemed captain do?  You guessed it, folks….  NOTHING.  Although the the employee admitted doing it (apparently to learn how to use his binoculars) there was no investigation.  No discipline.  No reprimand.  Here’s how “Captain Horner” solved the problem:  he took away the binoculars away from all the security officers.  Wow!  Great solution! 

But, my stories always have a twist because, you know, I’m deep.  So, the patrol lieutenant heard about this, and he told the chief ‘hey, this is serious.  This is an IA (internal affairs) investigation’.  The chief agrees.  You’d think that would spur some action, right?  Ahhhh, but do you remember yesterday’s post?  She and Herb are good friends.  So nothing gets done.  The employee is still working, sans discipline.  Horner suffers no consequences for his failure to supervise, failure to investigate, etc…   Un-freakin-believable.

1/29/2016: 

From what I’ve heard former UOPD Sergeant Frank Sorrentino, who has been reporting accusations of fraud, waste, abuse, and potentially illegal behavior at the UOPD, was a pretty popular guy on campus, and among many UOPD officers – as distinct from Chief McDermed and her crew.

But given the history of the UOPD leadership, it’s not a surprise that their first response is to attack the messenger and try and paint Sorrentino as a disgruntled troublemaker. Sorrentino’s friends have passed on the details on Herb Horner’s counterattack on him, at yesterday’s UOPD afternoon staff briefing. Sorrentino’s special crime? Apparently he was a little too blunt with the athletic department employee in charge of Hayward Field, when she caught him at a track meet talking to people and doing community policing. In uniform. Yep, we can’t have cops walking around talking to people without the athletic department’s permission.

I’m hoping that this petty retaliation ends, and that JH’s new leadership starts a thorough audit of the UOPD’s spending and of Sorrentino’s other accusations. Meanwhile, it’s good to know that Sorrentino has someone on the inside, protecting his back.

UC-Merced’s Chou Her declines job as UOPD Chief in waiting

1/19/2016: Noah McGraw has the bad news in the Emerald here.

The only candidate for the Assistant Chief of the University of Oregon Police Department withdrew his application last week. Chou Her, who previously said he had been offered the position at the UOPD, cited personal conflicts as the main reason for withdrawing his candidacy.

… The assistant chief is the second in command of the department. UOPD requires applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to law enforcement, five years of sworn officer experience and three years of management experience. Increased applicant requirements come as the university looks to finalize its transition from the Department of Public Safety to a full police force. That transition began in 2012, as McDermed was promoted to chief. McDermed was the last person to hold the assistant chief position. She hopes to find a candidate who will be “motivated to move the department forward in our current transition.”

This leaves UO with a Police Chief with very damaged credibility and no obvious replacement. Schill and Coltrane have moved UOPD reporting from Jamie Moffitt to Andre LeDuc, and perhaps he will have more luck restarting the search after McDermed’s role is clarified. In the past UO has been very generous about keeping former public safety directors on the payroll after easing them out.

12/19/2015: UC-Merced’s Chou Her takes job as UOPD Chief in waiting, challenges Nicols and Stahl to bike race.

Noah McGraw has the good news in the Emerald here. Chief Her sounds like an excellent hire:

“I’m a big firm believer in community policing,” Her said. “If you’re just there simply providing a service and interacting with people, that’s not community policing. Community policing is truly getting down to the nuts and bolts of interacting with people and being part of the town. From what I’ve seen of what UO is, there’s a lot of opportunities to do those things.”

The clean up effort is underway, with reporting for the UOPD Chief already moved from VPFA Jamie Moffitt to Andre LeDuc. UO will presumably terminate current Police Chief Carolyn McDermed’s contract as soon as the Bowl of Dicks case is over, and promote Assistant Chief Her to Chief. It really wouldn’t look good to do this right before a jury trial.

10/28/2015: Chief McDermed’s potential replacement on campus Wednesday

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U of Cincinnati to pay $4.85M for alleged murder by armed campus cop

1/19/2016: The NY Times has the report here:

The University of Cincinnati has agreed to pay $4.85 million to the family of an unarmed black man who was shot to death in July by one of its police officers, a settlement that also requires the college to provide an undergraduate education to his 12 children, create a memorial to him on campus and include his family in discussions on police reform.

… Mr. DuBose, 43, was shot and killed on July 19 by Officer Ray Tensing, who pulled him over in a Cincinnati neighborhood adjacent to the campus because his car lacked a front license plate. The shooting was captured on a body camera, and Officer Tensing, who was fired from the department, faces trial on a charge of murder.

Here at UO, there’s still no formal announcement of when UOPD Chief McDermed will be replaced by new Assistant Chief of Police Chou Her. Presumably UO is delaying the announcement so as not to damage its efforts to convince the judge in the Bowl of Dicks trial to cancel the jury’s $755K award to former UOPD officer James Cleavenger. That hearing is Feb 12th.

The federal jury agreed that McDermed and other UOPD officers had violated the First Amendment by retaliating against Cleavenger for his opposition to arming the UOPD with Tazers. On which note the NYT adds:

Mr. DuBose is not the first black man to die as a result of an encounter with the University of Cincinnati police, and he will not be the first to have a memorial on campus. Kelly Brinson, 45, a psychiatric patient, and Everette Howard, 18, a student, died in 2010 and 2011 after campus officers fired stun guns at them, according to lawsuits filed by their families.

Of course campus police can be victims of shootings as well as perpetrators. It’s not clear if armed police are safer, even for themselves. One particularly sad story comes from the University of Central Florida, where a university cop was shot and killed by another officer, who was trying to control drinking at football game tailgate parties.

The green-shirted man with the gun is an undercover UCF police officer, pointing his pistol at a drunk UCF student. The student apparently grabbed the gun, it went off, and a uniformed police officer who hadn’t been told of the operation then shot and killed the undercover officer.

What happened to Richard Turkiewicz, the UCF police chief who set up this botched operation? Frances Dyke, former UO VPFA, hired him as UO’s interim Director of Public Safety. No kidding. Dyke then went on to persuade the Oregon legislature to allow UO to set up its own armed police force.

What sort of oversight does UO have for its police?

7/29/2015: Prosecutor and Trustee says university police force should be disbanded

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