The publisher of The Skanner newspaper, host of a June 6 event where Baruti Artharee, a top aide to Mayor Charlie Hales, allegedly made "inappropriate" comments and gestures toward Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, has finally weighed in.
In an editorial today, Bernie Foster—who organized the event at the Quartet Restaurant at Riverplace that launched the controversy—says the issue "underscores why Portland needs a sustainable equity network." Foster says that Artharee "erred" in the way he introduced Smith. (Artharee told WW that he said: 'Here's our beautiful commissioner, Loretta Smith—mmm, mmm, mmm—she looks good tonight.'" Others say Artharee also suggestively moved his hips.)
The city of Portland has launched an investigation into Artharee's comments. Foster continued to say this:
We regret that this happened.Artharee remains on the job as Hales' top aide on public safety issues until the city completes its investigation.
The Skanner News sponsored the event to support the effort to build a sustainable network that will promote equity throughout our community. We believe this controversy simply underscores how necessary that effort is.
Since the event, Artharee has apologized. He says he understands his attempt at humor was inappropriate.
The mayor has asked the city’s Human Resources Department to investigate. They should do so as quickly as possible and move toward a resolution that allows everyone to move forward.
In fact, we believe the incident simply proves how much work still needs to be done to raise awareness about equity issues across our city.