06-27-2017  3:44 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Multnomah County Library Hosts ‘We Refuse to Be Enemies’

Library will hold a series of social justice workshops this summer ...

The Skanner Wins NNPA Award for Best Layout and Design

Our graphic designer Patricia Irvin wins for July 2016 issues ...

Cooling Centers to open in Multnomah County Saturday, Sunday

Temperatures expected to climb into the upper 90s this weekend ...

Multnomah County Leaders Release Statement on Safety at Summer Events

Officials advise public to check in, have a plan and be aware at public events ...

Portland Musician, Educator Thara Memory Dies

Grammy-winning Trumpeter, composer, teacher died Saturday at the age of 68 ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

Our Children Deserve High Quality Teachers

It’s critical that parents engage with educational leaders and demand equal access to high quality teachers ...

Civil Rights Groups Ask for Broad Access to Affordable Lending

Charlene Crowell writes that today’s public policy housing debate is also an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past and...

Criminal Justice Disparities Present Barriers to Re-entry

Congressional Black Caucus Member Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) writes about the fight to reduce disparities in our criminal justice...

Bill Maher Betrayed Black Intellectuals

Armstrong Williams talks about the use of the n-word and the recent Bill Maher controversy ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

Loretta Smith

Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith presenting awards for the Londer Learning Center Graduation

Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith apparently works too hard and spends too much on her constituents. Is that a sin?

According to a recent news article, Smith’s office has sponsored more county tables at nonprofit events than any other commissioner. She’s attended too many national conferences and spent too much on hotel rooms.

All of this money, by the way, came out of the expense budget for her office –the same amount that all the commissioners get. Smith could have spent it on staff. Instead, she sponsors community nonprofits and brings food to events serving some of the county’s most needy families.

Smoking gun: Smith spent $2,000 to support a program for black youth through the National Association of Black County Officials. The organization gives scholarships to black youth entering government service and helps counties around the country— including Multnomah County –improve education and career prospects for black boys and men. The donation was allowed under county rules.

Smith’s expense claims have been put under the microscope. But is it really wrong to pay your $50 bar tab with the same card you’re using for other expenses, so long as you pay it back when you get home?

That’s not corruption. It’s human nature. I’d bet most of us have done something similar.

What’s a commissioner to do?

Is she supposed to represent Multnomah County by staying in the YWCA? Stay home? I guess Portland has nothing to learn from cities like Atlanta, Memphis and Washington DC. Smith should just forget about sitting on national boards and working with national experts.

The central accusation against Smith is that she is ambitious and interested in running for city commissioner or other offices. That means, her detractors say, that everything she does must be self-serving and self- promoting.

It’s laughable. This city would benefit from more capable people of color in government that take risks. Smith has shown herself to be both capable and committed to public service. That should be commended not attacked. Being ambitious is not a crime.

It’s the Tall Poppy syndrome. Whenever somebody stands above the crowd they must be cut down. Smith is spending more than the other commissioners on certain work-related expenses. Therefore, small minds imagine she must be doing something wrong.

We don’t support everything Commissioner Smith says and does.

But we are not going to fault her for working harder than almost any other elected official to support her constituents. That’s why we elected her. Her record is clean.

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