12-17-2017  12:01 am      •     
MLK Breakfast
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NEWS BRIEFS

Exhibit Explores the Legacy of Portland Bird Watchers

Dedicated bird watchers catapult a conservationist movement ...

Special Call for Stories about the Spanish Flu

Genealogical Forum of Oregon seeks stories from the public about one of history's most lethal outbreaks ...

Joint Office of Homeless Services Announces Severe Weather Strategy

Those seeking shelter should call 211 or visit 211.org. Neighbors needed to volunteer, donate cold-weather apparel ...

Q&A with Facebook's Global Director of Diversity Maxine Williams

A conversation on diversity and the tech industry ...

City Announces Laura John as Tribal Liason

Laura John brings an extensive background in tribal advocacy and community engagement to the city of Portland ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

Don’t Delay, Sign-up for Affordable Healthcare Today

The deadline to enroll or modify healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act is December 15. ...

The Skanner Editorial: Alabama Voters Must Reject Moore

Allegations of predatory behavior are troubling – and so is his resume ...

Payday Lenders Continue Attack on Consumer Protections

Charlene Crowell of the Center for Responsible Lending writes that two bills that favor predatory lenders has received bipartisan...

Hundreds Rallied for Meek Mill, but What About the Rest?

Lynette Monroe, a guest columnist for the NNPA Newswire, talks about Meek Mill, the shady judge that locked him up and mass...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

Loretta Smith
The Skanner News Editorial Board

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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