August 9, 2022

Pocatello Council Member Claudia Ortega (Photo Credit: Claudia Ortega for Pocatello FB Page)

Pocatello City Council Member Claudia Ortega provided the following record of her comments made during the August 4 City Council meeting.

“Words matter and how they are perceived matters, that’s ultimately what this is about. It’s always interesting to me how when we 3 say anything, you 5 search for one word to make an issue out of it. Whenever we point out something that one of you said or did, all we see is you backpedaling and deflecting. Since words matter, let’s talk about what the Mayor, you council members, unions and Chief Schei said as reported in the ISJ within the past week.

● Police Union “We as a body feel that Councilman Bray does not represent our personal and professional values of excellence, integrity, loyalty, courage, and respect for each member of our community. …Lodge 13 is proud to serve and protect our entire, diverse community, and we strongly disapprove of the comments made by councilman Bray in two separate public forums.”

● Chief Schei “ Deflecting blame on the Police Department for racist comments made by councilman Bray is unacceptable. There should be no free passes or defending these statements.” “Bray’s comments directly contradict the mission statement and values of the Pocatello Police Department and City of Pocatello.” Shei also said that if one of his officers ever made comments that more diversity in the city would lead to more crime which would necessitate hiring more police, that officer would be fired.

● Fire Union “The racially insensitive comments, witnessed by numerous individuals, made by Pocatello City Councilman Roger Bray on July 7th and 21st are inexcusable. The members of the Pocatello Firefighters local 187 pride ourselves in serving every citizen in our community with respect and compassion. We are deeply saddened by such an abhorrent viewpoint being held by a city leader.”

● Councilman Mansfield; “ council member Bray’s comments following the council meeting on the 21st of July were unacceptable and deeply harmful. They show a complete disregard for the people whom he swore an oath to represent and serve, and I believe that he can no longer meaningfully serve the citizens of Pocatello.”

● Mayor “I am very disappointed with council member Bray’s comments during a recent council meeting. We do not stand for discrimination on any level. I assure you we work hard every day so that everyone who comes to or lives in Pocatello, Idaho, feels welcome and part of the community.” “ The comments council member Bray made recently are unacceptable. Bray’s comments do not reflect the values held by the citizens of Pocatello”

● Councilwoman Leeuwrik “As for Mr Bray’s racist comments and views they reveal, we need to send a strong message that they are unacceptable will not be tolerated, especially from a city leader.  For me this is not about political games or tactics, as some have suggested, it is solely a matter of right and wrong.”

● Councilman Cheatum “On the matter of censure of councilman Bray, I think it is imperative the council pass the resolution on behalf of the city and all of its residents. I do not want any resident to feel the comments made by councilman Bray represent the council or the city.”

I have experienced racism all my life, and it continues today. I know what that looks like. I agree with every comment made that I just read that there is no place in our city, in fact, in our world for racism.

In 2020 Police Chief Roger Schei wrote in a federal grant application his justification for needing 5 more officers was in part due to the NorthGate build-out. He wrote “…the influx of a transient population of construction personnel involved with the buildup has and will continue to place an ever (sic) increasing drain on our current resources.”

That is racism, based on all the words uttered over the past week by the Police and Fire unions, the mayor, Rick Cheatum, Linda Leeuwrik and Josh Mansfield. So since we all agree that racism is ignorant and abhorrent, I call for Police CHief Roger Schei’s immediate resignation, based on his racist written words about people who work in the trades in our community, many of them minority day laborers. In fact, my husband and I have family members who are transient construction personnel who work to put food on their tables. These are hardworking individuals that the Chief is calling criminals. If he will not resign, I will call for a special meeting to discuss his removal as Police Chief. His words call to question how he can lead a department that is supposed to serve and protect all people of Pocatello fairly, transient or no.”


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.