September 25, 2017

A statement from Commissioner Loretta Smith:

I want to thank Joanne Fuller for her almost three decades of commitment to the people of Multnomah County. She has given a lifetime of service to some of our community's most vulnerable, and for that, we are grateful.

But Ms. Fuller's decision to retire today should not be the end of this conversation. The concerns raised about the systemic and institutional racism at Multnomah County remain. 

Beyond any one employee or human resources situation, there exists entrenched bias that can be found in the pattern and practice of discrimination as experienced by so many county employees of color.

For this reason I renew my call to Chair Kafoury to order an investigation into the County's Human Resources Department, the handling of these cases by the County Attorney, as well as how her own executive office processes complaints when lodged at the highest levels.

This investigation should be completed by an external investigator who should be selected by the Board of Commissioners – and report back to the full board -- in concert with a community oversight group.

The work we do at the County, providing a safety net for the most vulnerable in our community, is essential.

Right now, we have an opportunity to take our commitment to equity and turn the lens on ourselves.  I ask my colleagues to face this challenge head on, and with the community at our side.