Perlow and Cleavenger Debate!

The District Attorney race in Lane County is turning out to be exciting and full of “mudslinging. “

With both sides slinging mud back and forth prior to tonight’s debate, I will be covering it live, then giving you the gist of what I saw and what we can look out for in future debates. With three debates scheduled between the two candidates, there is sure to be some sparks.

Patty Perlow is the incumbent and was appointed to the position by Governor Kate Brown in August of 2015 to the position after the resignation of Alex Gardner. Perlow was subsequently elected to the position in 2016 in a race against Eugene Lawyer, Clayton Tullos, receiving roughly 75% of the vote.

James Cleavenger is an attorney and police officer, he currently works for the City of Oakridge as a Police Officer and has worked for the University of Oregon Department of Public Safety. He has worked for Coburg, and Junction City before coming to Oakridge.

The debate between the two candidates took place on Zoom, a web based video sharing program that allows multiple people to share cameras at the same time. The debate was sponsored by Molina Leadership, each candidate had two minutes to answer each question, and a three minute time to speak to the voters.

Perlow went first in her speech to the voters, speaking about being able to receive grants and increasing funding and hiring back lawyers that had been let go in the previous administration. Claiming that she has a lower repeat offender rate, increasing mental health services, and services for juvenile homelessness. Indicating she was the the leader that was needed for the future with her experience.

James Cleavenger went next, indicating he was standing against the status quo, and that he was not hand picked and is against the nepotism that has existed in the office for many years. Stating that he is currently a part time lawyer and full time police officer. He is favor of increasing funding for mental health, and court mandated help. Speaking about law enforcement body cams, and stating that they should be released as soon as possible after a major incident regarding police officers and the community

Patty was asked what the definition of justice, she indicated that justice is not just handed out by the DA’s office, stating right now that justice is being delayed. It is a cooperative effort among the levels of criminal justice. Justice is what is right, and is what gets done when all the pieces work together.

Cleavenger was asked the same question regarding justice and indicated that the DA’s office fails to investigate most of the cases they are sent and that is frustrating. Perlow responded by stating that complete investigations are prosecuted, she indicated that poorly trained, smaller departments tend to have poorer quality work.

Cleavenger was asked about his limited experience, he said that he prosecuted municipal court cases, and that victims need to get their day in court, and he tries to make sure they get that. Perlow brought up a good point that the budget for the DA’s office is 11 million dollars and that Cleavenger did not have that experience. Perlow said she has prosecuted 30 years of cases and that mentoring is a big part of the job. Cleavenger’s rebuttal was that he would use the experience in the office to help him, and did not think it would be just his job to mentor.

Perlow was asked to explain her recruitment, retention, and training. She talked about having someone at U of O that helps her find good people, and the people who are on her staff, are there because they love it, they do the job because they care about the people and the community. Perlow elaborated that her office loses lawyers to the DOJ because their pay is better.

Cleavenger was asked about how he would manage the DA’s office, he indicated that there is already management in place, and that he would just tweak it as needed, making no drastic changes right away. You can’t make immediate drastic changes to the office, Make the office owned by the people. Perlow responded by stating that the complexities of the office prevent her name being taken off most things.

Perlow talked about being a team, that a culture changed, and that the public safety of the community has been improved. She said that the people in her office are excited about the culture there and everyone enjoys the hard work.

Perlow talked about a Child Advocacy System that was in place since before 2013, not claiming credit for it but not stating that the system was already in place when she took office, for the uneducated they would think she had started the program. Cleavenger talked about the lack of notification when offenders are released from jail, claiming that he would like to see that instituted not just for the victims but for the police, so they can be aware. Perlow responded by indicating that responsibility is the courts.

Perlow indicated that treatment court has it’s difficulties but is coming along. Perlow indicated success with Veteran’s Court and how proud she was of it. Cleavenger spoke about severe drug problems in Lane County and that something was needed to address it. Both candidates spoke about mass incarcerations indicating that prisons are needed for violent offenders, sex offenders, and severe property crime offenders with Perlow winning the point with her current stance. Cleavenger spoke about listening to the science and getting them the help they need to get programs to help address mental health, drug treatment, and homelessness. Perlow talked about having to use prison as a device to get some offenders to complete drug treatment.

Cleavenger, spoke about assistant district attorney’s not going forward with their cases because they are afraid to lose. Perlow responded that it was false, she indicated that the people in the office are encouraged to prosecute crimes and that losses will educate them. Perlow responded by saying that each lawyer she has is taught to be ethical, and logical in their decision making.

Cleavenger brought up that Perlow does not get along with the Public Defender’s Office. Perlow responded by saying that her and the Public Defender’s Office do work together well, and that they advocate together. Perlow even said that she was wanting higher pay for the public defense trial lawyers. Cleavenger responded that he was glad she had repaired that relationship.

Perlow and Cleavenger spoke about violent juvenile offenses, Cleavenger supports that the judges should have the right at sentencing, in opposition to Measure 11 for juveniles. Perlow challenged Cleavenger to find one juvenile case in the county that did not deserve to be tried as measure 11 that was. Cleavenger could not find one in Lane County, but did speak about one from another county that resulted in a long term incarceration for a 15 or 16 year old.

Perlow said the DA’s office provides significant rural communities being heard, speaking about law enforcement presence not having not enough police officers. Also indicating that law enforcement had access to 24 hour legal advice through an on call DA. Cleavenger disagreed, saying that persons in smaller communities had been forgotten, also saying that he knew that Perlow had been invited to a recent public safety forum in Oakridge but that she had refused to come. Perlow refuted saying that she had received an invitation to come to Oakridge, but when the city found out what she intended to say they did not want her to come. This reporter asked her who she had spoken with from the city and what she was going to say? I had not received a response as of the publication of this article, but stay tuned.

While all in all it was a good debate, the two have some animosity toward each other, which is usually the case when two people vie for such an important role. I would have to say the incumbent won the debate, with Cleavenger bringing up a lot of good points. There are too many ethical problems with Perlow that have been covered in previous articles to back her for DA, but her performance was adequate and polished, she did not get flustered, and seemed prepared. Cleavenger also seemed prepared and was perhaps caught flatfooted once or twice, but overall both did well.

Written by Stephan Ball

Perlow is Bad for Lane County, Favoring Certain Judges. Her Ethics in Question.

Lane Country District Attorney Candidate James Cleavenger could bring stability to the DA’s office.

Patty Perlow was appointed to the position Lane County District Attorney by Governor Kate Brown in 2015 upon the resignation of the previous District Attorney Alex Gardner. While this alone is not the only reason to vote her out, because of her pro-Kate Brown leanings, this reporter has personal experience with Perlow where she has been overly critical of officers in the county, without citing a law or precedent for this criticism.

Patty Perlow has received the endorsement of the Lane County Sheriff who is in uniform while endorsing Perlow, when this reporter checked with the state ethics board to see if this was even legal, The state ethics board informed me it was legal for the “Sheriff” only, not for any of his deputies or any other police officer in the county. Imagine being able to use a police/sheriff uniform to boost someone else’s political standing, dirty and slimy, but legal, but that is who Perlow is, I guess.

Image may contain: 2 people, possible text that says 'RE-ELECT DISTRICT ATTORNEY PATTY PERLOW "I SUPPORT OUR DISTRICT ATTORNEY" LANE COUNTY SHERIFF'

Lane County Judge Debra Vogt, the court’s chief criminal judge, characterized Mooney as being overly critical of police testimony in court. In February 2017 Judge Debra Vogt who was a long time co-worker of Perlow’s before becoming a judge was critical of Judge Josephine “Jodie” Mooney in a memorandum which looks to be in collaboration with Perlow, this came from an withdrawn accusation where Perlow was accused of meeting with Judge Rasmussen without the opposing counsel present, according to the “Register Guard” the 2017 complaint was withdrawn by an anonymous citizen, Mooney was said to have been critical of Perlow in the matter.

When Mooney was interviewed in March of 2017, she said that Patty Perlow and Deputy DA Erik Hasselman were in her office in late January to inform her that they intended to move to disqualify her from any and all cases handled by Perlow’s office. Mooney responded by agreeing not to handle any matters involving the DA’s office. Her workload shifted to juvenile dependency cases, although she said in March of 2017 that she hoped to hear criminal cases again.

On May 7th 2019, Governor Kate Brown appointed Judge Josephine Mooney to the Oregon Appeals Court, citing “Judge Mooney is a hard-working, straight-shooting trial judge who is passionate about her community, our state, and the rule of law,” Governor Brown said. “Given her judicial experience, keen intellect, and impeccable work ethic, Judge Mooney is well-suited to make an immediate, positive impact as a judge on the Court of Appeals.” Which damning to Perlow who was critical of Mooney, and cited that Mooney not suited to hear cases from her office, thus showing her judge of character is impaired.

My suggestion friends and readers is simple, let’s show Patty Perlow and Kate Brown how much we disapprove of their dramatic tactics and good ole boy ethics. With the slimy ethically compromised endorsement of the Lane County Sheriff, while he was using gear paid for by your taxes to promote a political candidate like Perlow is wrong, while not illegal it is morally wrong. We need above board debates and a moral candidate that is not ethically compromised, I suggest you vote for James Cleavenger.

Written by Stephan Ball

James Cleavenger Running for Lane County District Attorney

James Cleavenger, candidate Lane County District Attorney.

I had the distinct honor of sitting down with James Cleavenger today for an interview I have known James for a few years and was pleased when he announced his candidacy for Lane County District Attorney last week. He plans on taking on incumbent Patricia W. Perlow. James said he is tired of the rural communities like Cottage Grove, Florence, Pleasant Hill, Creswell, Junction City, and Coburg, being taken for granted and overlooked. Many of the crimes occurring in those communities are not being prosecuted. James went on to say if he were elected he would change the culture at the DA’s office to make it an approachable place to work, where the community could approach DA’s and get their questions answered and have DA’s notify police when offenders are released from custody.

James registered as an independent rather than get involved in politics he just wants to fix what is broken, leaving the politics behind. James said he sees his priorities with the District Attorney’s Office in prosecuting repeat offenders, finding ways to avoid recidivism, and improving communications with the police departments within the county. Saying that the DA’s office needs to communicate when a person is released from jail back into the community to the local police, as many times the returning person is often times violent or even sometimes hostile to police.

James Cleavenger graduated the University of Oregon with a Law Degree in 2008, and has since practiced family law, employment law, and plaintiff law. He clerked for the Honorable Michael McShane while he was with the Circuit Court in Multnomah County and when he was made a District Court Judge for the District of Oregon, working on murder and other felony related trials. James is currently a police office with the City of Oakridge and has been previously employed by the University of Oregon.

Other issues that James felt were important to resolve in Lane County was finding a way to have the DA’s office cooperate with each city council on ways to remedy their homelessness, which seems to be an epidemic that affects all of Lane County. James told me he was also frustrated with nepotism in Lane County, how friends and family get preferential treatment when a more qualified person is often times overlooked.

James said he thinks Perlow may use his lack of criminal law experience against him, but he said the fact that she has been in there so long means she has lost touch with the small people, it has become an us vs. them mentality, whereas it needs to be an us and them mentality.

Written by Stephan Ball