Sunday, February 15, 2015

Legislative Update, Week 2 - Lady Power Ascendent?

Lots of talk about the Oregonian editorials, but not enough talk about Willamette Week and things that happened before October of 2014.

Cylvia's not the only one Governor Kitzhaber allowed to skate across the private/public border, muddying and exploiting ambiguous roles.

Willamette Week's view of some tentacles in 2013
The pentagram looks more sinister now!

Willamette Week
During the Columbia River Crossing debacle, Patricia McCaig also acted in ways that were less than fully straight-forward.

In 2013 Willamette Week said:
Kitzhaber has made McCaig, 58, his top adviser on the CRC, a position in which she has waged a years-long political battle to make sure 2013 is the project’s year.

But she is not a state employee. McCaig’s paycheck is signed by the CRC’s biggest contractor, David Evans and Associates, which profits by the project going forward. To date, McCaig has been paid $417,000.

Government ethics experts from across the country interviewed by WW say Kitzhaber’s use of McCaig appears to be a conflict of interest and demonstrates a lack of transparency.
Sounds a little familiar, right?

It is easy to see calls for the Governor's resignation last week as overreaction, but in addition to Cylvia2014 there was Cylvia2010 (remember the Dept of Energy mess?), and there was Rudy Crew and his expense accounts, there was Cover Oregon, and there was McCaig and the CRC. Of lesser significance, but still of note, was the way Kitzhaber dismissed the Chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission, and her observations not just about coal, but about irregularities in the process.

The Governor's significant failures have been very big indeed, and it is quite possible that without them, the Democratic leadership of Speaker Kotek, Senate President Courtney, Treasurer Wheeler, wouldn't have been so quick and unified to ask him to stand down, and Secretary of State Brown wouldn't have thrown him under the bus publicly after he summoned her back from DC and then apparently asked "why, again, did you come back?"

Hardly a conservative publication looking to undermine liberal Democrats, Willamette Week has been probing Kitzhaber for a while now, and it's not difficult to imagine that there's more yet to the story.

Maybe there's more rotten in Kitzhaber-land than we think, and it's not just that he's a "loner" and didn't build alliances and relationships so that allies had his back when things got rough. The problem with Cylvia's not just a kind of hapax. It's not just events in the last few months. There's a longer-term pattern, it seems.

Old White Men on the Sidelines?

So, you know, lady power. Both the Attorney General and Governor will be women, and it seems like there's a good chance the new Secretary of State will be a woman drawn from the ranks of the Democratic leadership. Many of the senior positions in the Legislature are filled by women and this will not change.
Is it crazy to say that the Executive and Legislative leadership will be a solid majority of women for the first time ever? Is that even right?

Maybe that's the historic moment we should be celebrating. Forget the old white dudes.

So what about Governor Brown?

BikePortland reports that she rides a tandem bicycle and her husband is a regular bike commuter. In the olden days when the BTA did a bike/bus/car commute challenge, she biked. Folks who should know speak highly of her as pro-bike.

It seems possible she would go for a more finely grained transportation package and steer clear of porky mega-projects like the CRC. That would be good for people who want easier biking choices.

(What about the bills? Are you interested in the bills? Who's interested in the bills right now! Not me, and I bet your limited interest is already even lower!

See last week's notes on the bills. We'll trawl through them another time. 

What a week.)


Sarah Owens said...

I love BOB.

Jim Scheppke said...

I learned a new word: 'hapax.' May never see it again. Your 'hapax' will be a hapax.