The turf war is escalating in Oregon's Multnomah County between Sheriff Bernie Giusto, accused of big-time mismanagement and some hinky morals, and County Chairman Ted Wheeler, who aims to take over the running of the county's jails. Most places, fists would probably be flying. Here, things remain outwardly polite, as Portland Tribune writer Nick Budnick so ably portrays in his latest article.
Budnik captures the two men with accurate humor:Personality-wise, it's easy to imagine a high school classroom in which Wheeler is the brainy and earnest front-row kid, a frequent hand-raiser - while the wisecracking Giusto directs smirks and spitballs toward the back of Wheeler's head.
If Wheeler wrestles the jail system away from Giusto, he'll be taking on a load of new responsibility. As Budnik notes:At stake is control of an agency with significant impact on the public's safety. The Multnomah County sheriff's office consumes roughly $100 million annually to process some 40,000 inmates a year while also employing nearly 40 deputies to patrol outlying parts of the county.
There's a movement afoot to put the decision on the ballot in May. If you think presidential-race campaigning can get dirty, just wait. These two sides will get really down and dirty as the ballot notion gets legs.