Foxworth firing: What's the real reason?
I'm not sure exactly what was behind the ouster of Portland Police Chief Derrick Foxworth. But I'm pretty sure the official story of his removal, as told by the mayor and repeated by the O, doesn't hold water.
We were told yesterday that Mayor Potter really, really didn't want to bust the guy back down to captain, but he had to because of the media "feeding frenzy" surrounding the salacious e-mails Foxworth wrote to a police desk clerk with whom he was having a sexual relationship while he was a precinct commander. Whenever an executive change is blamed on adverse media attention, you know there's more going on that they're not telling you about.
Today the O turned over the race card, which, although a legitimate angle, is just another distraction from the real question: Why in fact was this man cut loose from the top cop job?
The official investigation into the relationship, the e-mails, the accusations of sexual harassment, and the whole nine yards came up with nothing of substance other than the fact that at one point, Foxworth repeated a rumor about internal police business in a communication with the woman with whom he was making whoopee. He told her that then-Chief Mark Kroeker and another bureau bigwig knew about, and were "covering their butts" in connection with, alleged misbehavior by members of the bureau's Special Emergency Reaction Team.
That's what they fired the police chief for -- repeating a rumor in an e-mail to his girlfriend? More than five years ago? That, and having the "extremely poor judgment" of getting it on with a subordinate (technically not a breach of any bureau rule), who appears to have been a consenting adult, and spicing it up with some hot e-mail sex? You take a major demotion for that?
Wow. Spreading rumors? Poor judgment? You could probably can the whole City Council on those grounds, not to mention half the bureaucrats on the city pad (including the fire bureau guy who blogs about politics on many a weekday from his city computer). Besides, we all know that on the Portland police force, officers can have a lapse of judgment so extreme that it results in a needless death, and still not be disciplined.
Thus, the official version of Derrick's Demise is exceedingly hard to buy.
Plus, why did the accuser wait until this past March to start blowing the whistle (so to speak)? What prompted her filing a tort claim after five years had passed since she and Foxworth broke up? Was she really a tortured soul who suddenly snapped? If you ask me, it sure looks as though there are forces greater than Foxworth and his ex-gal friend at work here. And Grampy may very well be giving the Outlook Express Romeo the boot over something different from what's being stated.
Potter's scolding of people who wanted Foxworth's hide immediately after the recent revelations is also pretty clumsy. The mayor said Friday, in effect: "You wanted me to rush to judgment, but see? I waited until the investigation was complete." Yeah, and when the investigation didn't turn up anything serious, he canned the guy anyway for the vague "losing the public's trust," which clearly happened the day the e-mails hit the worldwide web.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that Derrick Foxworth should still be police chief. Maybe he should, maybe he shouldn't, as far as I am concerned. But I am saying that the full story of his dismissal may not be being told here.
Indeed, the official account of this personnel action is thin enough that it could conceivably be held invalid someday. In which case Foxworth probably wouldn't be reinstated as chief, but he would no doubt wind up getting a much bigger pension, maybe some back pay, who knows what else. He's got a good employment lawyer (and indeed a good criminal defense lawyer) who I suspect won't let this drop. It will be interesting to watch it all unfold and to see if some hints of the real story appear. If they do, however, you know where you won't be reading them first.