County Commission Chair Calls Colleague “B*TCH” After Contentious Meeting
What started off as a routine order of business at the December 21st Multnomah County Commissioners meeting turned into a shouting match, and one commissioner alleges that the county chair dropped the B-Bomb after the meeting.
The Portland-centric Multnomah County chair Deborah Kafoury was attempting to pass a resolution naming former interim chair, and current county COO Marissa Madrigal as her “designee”, which is someone who would take over the duties of the chair should the chair become incapable of performing her duties. Madrigal had taken over as interim chair when former chair Jeff Cogen resigned in shame after an affair and sex scandal.
Fellow commissioner Loretta Smith piped up and had concerns over Madrigal’s apparent conflict of interest, as she is a currently county employee, when before when she took the job, she was a staffer of Cogens.
Kafoury wanted none of it, and the first shouting match ensued. Calm was eventually restored, and one citizen came up to testify, and suggested the commission take a look at other candidates. Then the shouting match started back up again between Smith and Kafoury, with Smith wanting legal counsel opinion on the matter, Kafoury trying to shut her up, and Kafoury eventually gaveling the meeting over, tabling the issue until next week’s county commissioner meeting.
Then, after the public left and the cameras were off, Smith alleges that Kafoury called her a BITCH right to her face.
In the beginning of the meeting, Kafoury brought up the topic of who should replace her in the event she is no longer able to do her job. She chose the current COO of Multnomah County, Marissa Madrigal.
However, Smith expressed her concerns about Madrigal’s ability to be impartial in the position.
The two argued over the choice of Madrigal before taking public comments from the audience. After one man was done speaking, Smith tried to ask him a question when Kafoury can be heard cutting her off saying “All those in favor, vote aye.”
Kafoury’s expletive toward Smith reportedly happened after the cameras stopped filming.
Smith shed light on the incident afterwards when she released the following statement:
“Today in Council I experienced something I never thought I would have to face from another elected official. During a board discussion I raised legitimate concerns, as is my right. I sought an opinion from the County Attorney, as is my right. Instead of allowing my concerns to be heard and my questions answered the Chair interrupted and spoke over me several times. After she gavelled out, over my objections, she took this overtly hostile behavior to another level. Calling me a “bitch” in the public sphere is unbecoming of the office she holds. This term is offensive not only because it was uttered in Council Chamber, but also because it is racially charged. This is not how we should be conducting business at Multnomah County.”
Chair Kafoury was forced to admit it in her own statement released to the press:
“Today, Commissioner Loretta Smith attacked the ethics and integrity of the COO of Multnomah County, who was also the former Chair of this Board. I have watched Commissioner Smith attack staff across Multnomah County, and today, I was deeply offended by her egregious accusations which led to a regrettable comment. For that, I sincerely apologize. It was unprofessional and unbecoming for me to express my feelings in the way and manner I did. At that moment, faced with her behavior, I felt the responsibility to defend the County’s staff.”
Commissioner Smith is facing heat from another angle, as the Secretary Of State’s office has ruled that she has violated campaign ethics by campaigning for a Portland city council seat while serving on the county commission. The fine is only $250.
Deborah Kafoury can be reached at 503-988-3308, while commissioner Smith can be reached at 503-988-5219.