Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) has been at the center of a slow-moving sexual harassment scandal in the Capitol for more than a year.
Today, he rose near the end of a routine session on the Senate floor to address the issue, on which he has remained largely quiet.
In a four-minute speech, Courtney announced that a settlement in a mediation session between the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries and the Legislature is near.
"We are on the verge of finalizing a settlement with BOLI which I will be able to share in just a few days, if not much sooner," Courtney said.
That mediation was the result of an investigation BOLI released in January, which found that House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) and particularly Courtney had responded slowly and inadequately to numerous complaints of sexual harassment dating back several years.
In his remarks today, Courtney did not directly address stories by WW and the Salem Statesman Journal over the weekend that showed women felt he hadn't taken their harassment complaints seriously as far back as the 1990s.
Courtney read his speech today. His flat delivery was in contrast to his extemporaneous speaking style, which is often emotional and sometimes poetic.
Today, Courtney said the events of the past couple of years have caused him to think deeply about power dynamics in the building and how conditions must improve.
The only example of how he'd changed, however, seemed off point.
"We all have a duty to stop all harassment and hold each other and ourselves accountable," he said. "Since the beginning of this session, we have taken respectful workplace training, inclusion training, and civil discourse training. I have spent a lot of time reflecting on how we can make this building safer and inclusive. How we can interact with each other in a more respectful way. I myself found the training very helpful, and I even started to implement it in my office in terms of saying things like "hello," when I come in the morning, and "goodbye" when I leave."
Here’s the whole speech: