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February 26th, 2014 WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs
 

Murmurs: Read This Faster On Google Fiber.

news3.wideaBaruti Artharee
     
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  • A House bill to reform the payment of awards in class action lawsuits survived stiff opposition in the Senate Judiciary Committee and will now proceed to the Senate floor for a vote. House Bill 4143 would require companies that lose such lawsuits to pay all the money they owe and would raise millions of dollars in legal-aid funding for low-income Oregonians (see “Collecting What’s Owed,” WW, Feb. 19, 2014). “Now members of the Senate will have a chance to join the House in doing what’s right,” says one of the bill’s co-sponsors, Rep. Jennifer Williamson (D-Portland).
  • Three employees of the Oregon Construction Contractors Board have been placed on indefinite leave following the abrupt retirement of the agency’s director, according the CCB’s interim director, Berri Leslie. The Oregonian reported that former agency director Craig Smith retired Feb. 13. Smith’s sudden departure and the suspension of the three employees—Traci Barnett, Bill Ridgway and Rich Blank—follow a state investigation of what Berri says was a complaint about “inappropriate workplace behavior.” The three employees declined to comment. 
  • Baruti Artharee, former police liaison for Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, appeared on local public-access television last week to level incendiary charges against African-American leaders he says conspired to destroy him. Artharee was suspended by Hales for a week last July after making sexually suggestive remarks about County Commissioner Loretta Smith at a public dinner event. In his Feb. 16 appearance on Oregon Voter’s Digest, Artharee said the scandal was the work of “puppet masters” in the black community. He singled out Roy Jay, president of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Oregon. “If you try to commit a drive-by,” Artharee said, “and you don’t take your subject out, you better be prepared to deal with consequences.” Artharee claimed he has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate a program run by Jay and Multnomah County to expunge criminal records for minor offenses. “Baruti Artharee is mistaken and looking for a scapegoat,” Jay tells WW. “I have instructed my legal team to explore a $50 million defamation and slander lawsuit against Mr. Artharee.”
  • A coalition of county, city and nonprofit agencies established to combat underage and problem drinking is seeking a refund for $60,000 worth of high-tech ID scanners they purchased for downtown Portland bars and clubs. Unaware of a state law passed in 2009 that regulates such scanners, Portland police encouraged Old Town bar owners to use the devices, which upload customers’ names, ages and photos to a central database (see “Recording Everything,” WW, Feb. 12, 2014). Bars shared some of that data with police as part of criminal investigations. “Now that we’ve found out that these machines cannot legally be used in Oregon,” says Multnomah County spokesman David Austin, “we’d like to get our money back.” 
 
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