City Attorney Faces Accusations of Unprofessional Behavior Toward Women

ATTORNEY

CITY ATTORNEY FACES ACCUSATIONS OF UNPROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOR TOWARD WOMEN: In response to a records request, the Portland City Attorney’s Office has given WW emails and text messages containing complaints of unequal pay in the office and unprofessional behavior by City Attorney Robert Taylor. The records are heavily redacted and do not include the names of what appear to be at least two separate complainants. One is identified as a BIPOC woman with nearly 20 years experience as an attorney. Based on the circumstances outlined in the emails, she apparently worked with Taylor on ongoing litigation with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding police use of force on people with mental illness. She says Taylor interrupted a mediation session to address “gossip” after a federal attorney conveyed concerns that Taylor was “condescending and patronizing.” “Not only was Robert’s behavior extremely unprofessional and detrimental to the case and the ultimate resolution of the Settlement Agreement, but also bullying,” she wrote, before filing an HR complaint on Jan. 24. In a separate incident, a woman claims Taylor behaved so unprofessionally in a meeting with Portland Police Bureau brass that “several command level PPB staff present at the meeting checked in with me after the meeting to make sure I was okay, as did a paralegal and attorney.” Taylor later apologized. In separate unofficial complaints, Taylor was accused of being “sexist” in a text message and of telling a staff member that she was years away from a promotion because she was “unstable.” Taylor praised “the excellent team of legal professionals in the City Attorney’s Office,” in a statement to WW, but declined to discuss personnel matters there.

PERMITTING WAR BETWEEN RUBIO AND MAPPS DRAGS ON: As WW has previously reported, City Commissioners Carmen Rubio and Mingus Mapps have been battling for weeks over how to best fix the city’s broken permitting system (“Fixer Upper,” July 26). Mapps called the two commissioners’ plans “fundamentally incompatible.” Since then, allies have taken sides in the battle. Eleven business and industry groups backed Rubio’s plan in a letter sent earlier this month to the Portland City Council; four city bureau directors penned a letter supporting Mapps’ plan. On Aug. 3, Mapps co-wrote a letter with Commissioner Dan Ryan to Mayor Ted Wheeler, urging him to support an ongoing permitting project and to hold off on consolidating permits under one office until the city’s form of government changes in 2025. The day before, Rubio wrote to Mapps in an email that she was “completely caught off guard” by his alternative plan, and that she “would have greatly appreciated a courtesy reach out from you to convey your change of heart about working together, and that you had a plan in the works.” Mapps did not respond to a request for comment.

HOYLE DINED WITH LA MOTA CEO YEAR BEFORE GRANT: U.S. Rep. Val Hoyle (D-Ore.), formerly commissioner of the state Bureau of Labor and Industries, told WW in an interview this spring that she could not recall whether she had met with La Mota CEO Rosa Cazares about a $554,000 grant that BOLI issued to a nonprofit co-founded by Cazares. Records newly obtained by WW show that Hoyle, alongside BOLI’s apprenticeship and training director, dined with Cazares at Portland City Grill for two hours on March 24, 2021. The topic of the meeting, according to the records, was “La Mota re: Cannabis Apprenticeship.” WW pressed Hoyle on the matter after learning the grant was awarded, with the labor commissioner’s blessing, to an inexperienced nonprofit led by Cazares, who, alongside her partner Aaron Mitchell, contributed $20,000 to Hoyle’s BOLI campaign in 2021, and then $5,800 to her congressional campaign last summer. (Hoyle returned all BOLI campaign contributions, including Mitchell’s, when she decided to run for Congress.) Hoyle spokeswoman Marissa Sandgren says that “to the best of her recollection, Rosa paid for the meal. [Hoyle] recalls that the meal was less than $50.” Sandgren noted that the meeting occurred well before WW’s reports about La Mota’s tax liens, and the revelation that Secretary of State Shemia Fagan was moonlighting for the cannabis chain. “If we knew then what we know now,” Sandgren says, “that dinner wouldn’t have happened.”

HOLVEY RECALL EFFORT RUNS HOT: As United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 555 continues its effort to recall state Rep. Paul Holvey (D-Eugene) over the failure of a union organizing bill for cannabis workers earlier this year, the rhetoric around the unusual campaign is heating up. (Holvey, a former union carpenter and the longest-serving Democrat in the House, is normally a darling of labor.) Last week, workers with the signature-gathering company United Petitioners of Oregon accused UFCW of “union busting” for asking them to work outside their union and refusing to bargain with them. UFCW spokesman Miles Eshaia denies the allegations and says his union supports the company and its desire to unionize signature gatherers. Meanwhile, UFCW president Dan Clay penned a letter to Holvey on Aug. 14 alleging a Holvey supporter “physically attacked” a recall signature gatherer on Aug. 10. “You have painted a picture of yourself as the victim of an undemocratic and sinister conspiracy,” Clay wrote. “And now that fantasy and its implications have finally been distilled into an assault upon a young person.” Clay says the signature gatherer recovered and is taking some time off. Rep. Holvey says he had no knowledge of or involvement in the alleged assault. “As the [Aug. 21] signature deadline draws near,” he adds, “the desperation of those pushing this reckless recall is showing.”

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