This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 28, 2004 12:01 AM.
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The whole flap about the shenanigans at Saif Corporation, Oregon's quasi-public workers' compensation insurer, has got me thinking. Here's one of those unique Oregon institutions that we like to brag so much about -- "Things look different here" -- and it's a disaster. The problem with it is that, like so many supposedly great Oregon ideas of the '70s and '80s, it involves setting up a huge pot of public money without anything approaching adequate oversight by, or accountability to, the public.
It's got its own board of directors, elected by no one, appointed by the governor, and the average Oregonian couldn't give you the name of a single person who serves on that board, or who has ever served on it. Its budget doesn't appear to go through normal government channels, and it's free to hire all manner of consultants and other ne'er-do-wells without public scrutiny -- at least until a major fiasco is exposed, as was done with Saif. Who audits these people, if anyone? Where are their financial statements posted so that we can all take a look? Beats me.
One of Saif's antagonists, State Sen. Vicki Walker, D-Eugene, is on a mission to bring Saif back to the status of a state agency. That makes a lot of sense to me -- more so than the proposal to disband it entirely -- but anything is better than leaving the status quo. Governor Ted has put a new director in charge of Saif, but the problems run too deep. They're structural. It's time for an overhaul, not just a new driver.
The feds were recently sniffing around Saif's sweetheart contract with Neil "Tony Soprano" Goldschmidt. I don't know if U.S. Attorney Karen Immergut has found anything illegal, or what she'll dare to do if she does. But if she really wanted to make a name for herself, she could probably make some hay turning over some rocks at some of the other large pots of tax dollars that are being administered behind closed doors by hand-picked political cronies here in the Beaver State.
A few of the potential targets that come to mind, ranked from the most suspicious on down:
Portland Development Commission
Oregon Lottery Commission
Oregon Health and Sciences University
Oregon Liquor Control Commission
Port of Portland
How many more greasy Neil-type deals or other financial unmentionables are hiding under the rocks at these amorphous entities? Ms. Immergut?
And readers, which other fine unique Oregon institutions do you think are ripe for a thorough airing-out?