Federal government says it will not pay fines for Portland courthouse fence

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will not pay the multi-million dollar fines it owes to two Portland bureaus for erecting an iron fence around the federal courthouse in the city.

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In letters to the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Bureau of Environmental Services obtained by Pamplin Media, Federal Protective Service Assistant Director David A. Hess claimed the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause absolves the agency from city fines.

“The Federal Government is absolutely immune from fines or penalties issued by local governments unless there is a clear waiver of sovereign immunity by Congress,” Hess wrote. “There has been no such waiver here.”

The PBOT originally fined the federal government for blocking city bike lanes with the security fence it set up around the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse during this summer’s protests.

At a rate of $500 every 15 minutes, or $48,000 a day, fines imposed by the PBOT amount to well over $3 million.

The BES issued another $20,000 fine for federal authorities on September 10 out of concern that tear gas residue from the courthouse washed down city storm drains by federal agents could be contaminating the city water supply.

BES was provided with 90 pages of safety data sheets from the Federal Protective Service for the various crowd control weapons used by the federal officers during this summer’s protests against police brutality around the courthouse.

Federal agents left the streets of Portland by the end of July while Oregon state police officers have intermittently taken over guard duty at the courthouse while protests continue.

The PBOT is overseen by Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. Control of BES was transferred to Commissioner Amanda Fritz by Mayor Ted Wheeler last month.

Tags: States, News, Portland

Original Author: Tim Gruver, The Center Square

Original Location: Federal government says it will not pay fines for Portland courthouse fence

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