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Murmurs: Legislative Harassment Leads to Two Lawsuits

In other news: Developers beef over the original Paranoid Park.

Legislative Harassment Leads to Two Lawsuits: The fallout from a blistering investigative report released in January by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries into sexual harassment at the Legislature continued this week with two new lawsuits. One, filed Feb. 16 by former legislative lawyer Gail Stevens, alleges Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) and House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) failed to protect Stevens from retaliation by her superiors after she blew the whistle on harassment and disparate treatment of women. A second lawsuit, filed Feb. 19 by two former legislative interns, Adrianna Martin-Wyatt and Anne Montgomery, alleges Courtney and legislative staff did nothing about repeated complaints against their boss, Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg), who allegedly harassed the interns and two other senators. The Oregon Department of Justice, which defends the state in litigation, declined to comment.

Developers Beef Over Services Site: Property magnate Greg Goodman objects to Multnomah County's proposed $4.3 million purchase of a building at 333 SW Park Ave., near O'Bryant Square, for addiction and mental health services. In a Feb. 7 letter to County Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury, Goodman said the county move could hurt redevelopment of the area and the building's price was too high. "It isn't worth anything close to what the county is paying," writes Goodman. County officials disagree. The seller, developer Tom Cody, says he offered the building to Goodman before the county. The county will decide later this week whether to proceed with the sale. "It's no secret people are experiencing homelessness and mental health challenges every day in downtown Portland, and we're going to address that head on," Kafoury said. "If it's not going to be this property, then it will have to be somewhere downtown."

Multnomah County Prosecutors Reform After Story: Court records show Multnomah County prosecutors have reformed how they document cases rejected by a grand jury, after a public defender and WW pointed out they were breaking the law. For decades, prosecutors violated Oregon law by dismissing cases grand juries rejected as if the charges had been dropped or police had been directed to seek more evidence, effectively hiding the result ("Secret Verdicts," WW, Feb. 13, 2019). Autumn Shreve, a public defender, challenged the practice last month. The district attorney's office admitted its practice did not comply with Oregon law, and committed to change internal policies to bring the agency in line with the statute. After the public defender's objection and WW's story examining the long-standing practice, the district attorney's office documented a grand jury's decision properly in at least one case on Feb. 14.

Sten Back in Game: Former Portland City Commissioner Erik Sten, 51, is inching his way back into Oregon politics. Sten signed on as a senior adviser for Strategies 360, a Seattle-based political consulting and lobbying firm that has an active operation in Oregon. Sten left Portland shortly after resigning midway through is fourth term in 2008. He relocated to Bend then Seattle, working on projects to prevent home foreclosures. He hopes to undertake political projects in Washington and Oregon from his base in Emerald City. "I'll help with whatever makes sense in both states," Sten tells WW. "In the Trump era, I've got the itch to be to a little more political than I've been in recent years."