June 11th, 2013 | by Nigel Jaquiss and Aaron Mesh News | Posted In: City Hall, Cops and Courts, Politics, Multnomah County

City Launches Investigation into Artharee's Behavior Towards Commissioner Smith

UPDATE: Office of Equity supports inquiry

news3.wideaBaruti Artharee

Mayoral Spokesman Dana Haynes this afternoon announced the City of Portland will launch an investigation into the events of last Thursday evening when Mayor Charlie Hale's public safety advisor, Baruti Arhtaree, made what he has termed "inappropriate" comments about County Commissioner Loretta Smith.

Haynes tells WW that Artharee will remain on the job while the investigation proceeds.

UPDATE, 6:08 pm: The Office of Equity and Human Rights has issued a press release supporting the city investigation into the actions of Artharee at a Thursday event held as a get-to-know-you meeting for Dante James, the director of the Office of Equity and Human Rights.

“Our role is to advise City staff and Commissioners on equity issues,” James said in the statement. “And we will continue to recognize and help the City address historic inequities that reinforce rather than challenge non-inclusive behavior toward all.”

When reached by WW on Monday, James said he heard Artharee's comments toward Smith on Thursday, but did not see the physical gestures described by others.

ORIGINAL POST, 2:54 pm: Here's Haynes' statement:

In regards to the incident on Thursday, June 6, 2013, at The Quartet Restaurant, the City of Portland’s Human Resources Office has begun an investigation.
 
The office of Mayor Charlie Hales was informed of the incident on Friday. Chief of Staff Gail Shibley on Friday spoke to Baruti Artharee, policy director; spoke to the city’s legal counsel; and spoke to the office of Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith.
 
On Friday, Baruti Artharee apologized to the commissioner. On Monday, Mayor Hales apologized to the commissioner.
 
On the advice of legal counsel, the mayor’s office has asked the city’s Human Resources Department to begin an investigation into the incident.
 
Anna Kanwit, director of Human Resources, said she wants the investigation to be thorough and timely. She declined to say how long such an investigation may take.
 
Kanwit has advised all parties, including Baruti Artharee and the mayor, not to publically discuss the ongoing investigation in order to protect the integrity of the process.
 
“As we said from the start, we are treating this issue seriously,” Mayor Hales said. “We are treating it as a complaint regarding actions in violation of the city’s anti-harassment policy. We now are going through the appropriate steps, as laid out in city policy.”
 
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