Better than any campaign mailer

If you Portlanders are wondering why you should vote in favor of the Portland police reform ballot measure (26-217), consider this story. The highest paid member of the Portland police force last year, and that might make him the highest paid city employee, was Captain Mark Kruger.

Yes, that Mark Kruger. Can you believe it?

At least 15 Portland police officers were paid more than $200,000 last fiscal year due to overtime amid mass protests, according to a new report.

Captain Mark Kruger, who retired in March, was the highest-paid earner in the Portland Police Bureau after he made $265,225.

The second, third and fourth highest-paid employees were all sergeants whose overtime earnings exceeded their base pay during the fiscal year which ran from the start of July 2019 to the end of June 2020. 

But the figures did not include overtime made by officers during the past four months of daily protests in the city which were sparked across the US following the death of George Floyd in May.

Long-time Portlanders who pay attention to the news know a lot about Kruger. From a 2014 story, this summary tells some of it:

To settle a legal claim, the city of Portland has agreed to pay $5,000 to Portland police Capt. Mark Kruger and erase two disciplinary actions from his personnel record: a suspension for his public tribute to five Nazi-era German soldiers at a city park and a reprimand for retaliating against a female lieutenant....

As part of the unusual settlement with Kruger, the city agreed to pay him back for the 80 hours suspension without pay he received in 2010 for nailing "memorial plaques'' of five Nazi soldiers to a tree on the east side of Rocky Butte Park sometime between 1999 and 2001. Kruger was a Portland officer at the time, but wasn't on duty when he erected the plaques as a shrine he called "Ehrenbaum" or "Honor Tree.''

Under the settlement, the 80 hours will be added as vacation pay to Kruger's vacation bank. The 2010 disciplinary letter, in which Reese had cited Kruger for bringing "discredit and disgrace upon the Bureau and the City,'' will be removed from Kruger's Police Bureau and human resources file....

 The 2010 Portland police internal affairs investigation of Kruger over the controversial plaques was initiated only under pressure and through a complaint from Robert Seaver, a former friend of Kruger's who knew about the plaques.

Internal affairs found Kruger had taken the plaques down while he was facing federal lawsuits between 2002 and 2005 alleging excessive force during downtown anti-war protests. He gave them to the city attorney's office, which stashed them away for years and vigorously fought against producing them during discovery in the federal case. They weren't uncovered until a police internal affairs investigator found them in the city attorney's office about four years ago.

The bottom line, at least for me: The police bureau's "internal affairs investigations," and what follows them, are not to be trusted. If it passes, the ballot measure will wind up in court, and it certainly won't make changes happen overnight. But something's got to give with the bad boys and girls in blue in this town.

To make matters worse, the police bureau won't even give out the names of most of the highest paid, just a few. That's ridiculous, and I believe it's also illegal. I hope the mainstream media here goes after that information and publishes it in a spreadsheet format for everyone to see.

Anyway, it's hard to see what harm could come from 26-217 passing.  Mark Kruger – sheesh.