Paging Dr. Kohler
The O had a little Q & A with the president of the OHSU Aerial Transit Co. yesterday. The reporter asked some good questions, albeit with tongue in cheek, and it was interesting to watch the interview subject revise history and explain what's in our future. Peter Kohler offered his comments as he wistfully prepares to leave his $600,000-a-year-plus-mansion position as the head of the state's public -- er, private -- er, why do you want to know -- medical school and soon-to-be major tourist attraction.
The good doctor's re-take on the SoWhat development was a doozy. Not too long ago, the stated reason that city taxpayers needed to borrow hundreds of millions to build a condo farm and OHSU facility down there (along with the aerial tram [rim shot], of course) was to bring thousands of biotech jobs to Portland. Now that all they're doing down there is building private doctors' offices and a health club, the story needs to change. And it has, apparently:
The pitch you made to the Legislature was that the investment would help OHSU spark a bioscience industry on the South Waterfront with 6,000 new jobs. Is that vision intact?Uh huh. You threatened to put a bunch of biotech jobs in Hillsboro if Portland didn't build you that stupid ski lift, and now that you've got it, you're putting the biotech jobs in Hillsboro anyway. Thanks, doc, what a guy.
I think that was a 10-year plan that we are now a couple years into. I am a believer that this will occur. How much of the bioscience industry is on the waterfront versus somewhere else in the area is unpredictable. We're selling part of the OGI campus (the Oregon Graduate Institute site in Hillsboro), for instance, and that may be attractive to certain bioscience companies. There are a variety of ways this will play out. As much as possible, we'd like to have it on the river, but it may go elsewhere for other reasons.
Then there's the matter of OHSU's immunity from being sued for malpractice. Apparently they're thinking of raising their liability limits from $200,000 per botched surgery to something higher. But you've got to love the way he describes the process by which those rules will be changed:
Does OHSU's $200,000 damage liability cap limit your attractiveness for insured patients who have the option to go elsewhere?Er, ex-squeeze me? They're going to "find out what's going to happen" and they're "in the process of disclosing it"? Fascinating. I thought those decisions were made by our state legislature. But apparently not -- there's some other policymaking mechanism that the OHSU folks need to "find out about."
I don't know. I don't think so. This is in the middle of change. We're in the process of disclosing it. We'll find out what's going to happen with the liability cap.
I remember back when the aerial tram [rim shot] was still being debated in the early days. The Trib dug out some communication or other about it from Sam Adams, then Vera Katz's right-hand man and now the city commissioner. Somebody was asking him whether Vera wanted the tram, and Sam said something to the effect that the mayor "felt that it was going to happen." Of course, in those days Neil Goldschmidt was representing Dr. Kohler, and the reason the Katz crew acted like these weren't their decisions was because they did whatever Neil told Vera had to be done.
Now we're debating OHSU's obscene liability limits, and the process of changing them is once again a force of nature that we'll "find out about" when OHSU is ready to "disclose" it. What arrogance. It makes Kohler's parting quote -- "humility -- that's what I've tried" -- that much more hysterically funny.