WELCHES, Ore. -- White male diversity training for Portland city leaders wrapped up Thursday. As KATU’s Steve Dunn reported last month, it cost taxpayers $56,000.
KATU’s On Your Side Investigators crashed the retreat, which was held at a golf resort near Mt. Hood. Despite that, the mayor’s office says none of the money the city spent went to golf, just training, hotel rooms and food.
Sixteen white male city leaders attended the 3 ½ day retreat in Welches, a community the real estate website Movoto says is 90 percent white.
"Of course people would be critical of that,” said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, one of the attendees. “We took a political risk doing this at all. We took a political risk doing it at a golf resort and again … There is no golf involved. We've been working 12 hours a day."
The mayor brought a handful of top city staff members but most of the attendees were from the police bureau, including Chief Michael Reese, who said the most important lesson he learned was about “the pervasive and destructive messages that are directed at women and people of color and other groups."
The mayor defended the location, saying it was necessary to be free of distractions in the city, and he said the price tag was relatively cheap.
“If we use force the wrong way and are forced to pay a settlement to some victim of that force it'll be a multiple of that $50,000,” said Mayor Hales. “My perspective having been in the private sector is that's a pretty small amount of money to spend."
A spokeswoman for the mayor says only one of the attendees played golf during a break from the retreat. She would not say who it was.
Hales' office issued the following statement:
There are no plans for “white female diversity training.” I hope it’s clear why white men were singled out for the training. To reiterate: White men occupy the majority of leadership positions and work in a system that was built to favor them and marginalize other groups. Women, white or of color, are among the marginalized groups. Women are paid less than men; studies show that in general people don’t believe women possess leadership qualities; and women are vastly underrepresented in leadership positions. Everyone—truly everyone—can benefit from concentrated, immersive diversity training to better understanding people who are different from themselves. But the city has started with immersive training for those at the top.