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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 19, 2010 9:55 AM. The previous post in this blog was Portland gets new CFO today. The next post in this blog is Another Southeast Portland corner gets a huge bunker. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Is Wheeler being set up?

The conspiracy theorist in me sees some interesting threads in this year's sudden turn of events involving Ted Wheeler. He's doing a great job as Multnomah County chair, standing up to the "urban renewal" snake oil salespeople in Portland, most of whom are part of the West Hills real estate Mafia. Suddenly Governor Ted, himself a West Hills puppet at crucial times, appoints Wheeler state treasurer, meaning he'd be leaving the county. As soon as he's gone, County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury, whose very surname conjures up years and years of Portland old boy politics, announces that things around the county are going to be different from now on.

Upon arriving in Salem, Wheeler finds himself needing to build up name recognition throughout the state, and quickly, because he has to run to stay in the treasurer's office in November. He's only on job a matter of weeks when the Oregonian, long-time champion of West Hills development boondoggles, decides to break a story, which it's probably been sitting on for some time, about expense account improprieties in the treasurer's office. And they break it in stages, leaving the scandal in the headlines beyond the minimum time for stories of that nature. The first thing some people around the state hear about Wheeler, he's already on the defensive.

I wish I didn't know what I know about Portland, where things are almost never what they seem on the surface. Because given the seedy goings-on among the politicians and the media in these parts over the years -- particularly the O -- I wouldn't be shocked if the Arlington Club set was trying to get Wheeler out of politics in these parts as soon as possible.

That couldn't be happening -- could it?

Comments (13)

Jack, you are way off the mark.

It's actually quite the opposite. Wheeler has made very little cover about his gubernatorial ambitions (from posting photos of historical Oregon sights on Facebook during family vacations to consistently referring to Multnomah County in "around the state" terms.

What Ted K has done is give him a leg up. Now, rather than having to run statewide for the first time as some Portland latte-drinking liberal urbanite, he now has statewide incumbency granted to him up front. He now gets to run for re-election, essentially, this year, serve until the end of John Kitzhaber's term (if, as expected by many, Dr. Kitzhaber serves only one) and then run for governor as a statewide elected in 2014.

Just my prediction, but I think it's a far more likely scenario. I just wonder who will face off against him in a primary. The labor commissioner? Brian Clem? I imagine the landscape is going to change drastically enough by then that even Greg McPhierson might be a viable contender.

Nonetheless, I think Wheeler's being set up to succeed, not to fail.

I dig the potential for conspiratorial machinations. However, if the goal is to destroy Wheeler, it is backfiring miserably.

When I first heard of scandal, it was Wheeler announcing the curtailment of first class flights. Things started cascading from there. It seems that Wheeler can easily stand up and say, "I've only been here a few weeks and I'm already cleaning house."

And, a Democrat cleaning up a mess that occurred over years and years of fellow Democrats' stewardship. (When will Randall Edwards be indicted for the college fund fiasco?) Plus, now he has earned some street cred in the war of Main Street vs. Wall Street.

It seems to me like someone is paving his road to Mahonia Hall.

Tip to Ted: Don't call yourself a "maverick" ... yet.

I think Neil is somewhere in the wood pile.

Ted K. appointed Wheeler to be the anti-Kroger. And whatever do you mean about The Oregonian and boondoggles? According to editor Peter Bhatia, his predecessor Sandy Rowe,"...was a brave no-nonsense editor, unafraid to make the tough decisions or to stare down an unhappy power broker.”

I don't think the O issue is to undercut him, he hasn't been there long enough. It'll be interesting if he wants to take on bigger fish (cf Kroger on Adams' vs. Galle's treatment.)

However, anyone that messes with the public employee unions is taken care of eventually - Ask Greg McPherson.

Interesting Jack, I had the same thought this last weekend. . that Wheeler may have been set up. Then I read comments by Bronch O"Humphry. Sure does make one wonder what is going on.

One thing I am fairly certain of is that a "game plan" is being played here.

My first thought was that some wanted Wheeler out of town. He stood in the way of Adam's convention center hotel project. Leonard wanted an urban renewal for Paulson's stadium and now the project has landed downtown on 18th street. Wheeler was saying No to these guys. Now the city wants more urban renewals and they can't have Wheeler standing in the way.

And lets not forget those who are watching over the Bull Run Water system and Reservoirs, noted that our county public health officer seemed to move away from his position and testimony he gave at the PURB meeting or at least came out to "clarify". Whatever, as I recall this "move" happened right after Wheeler moved. This "water matter" may be bigger than we may think!

Then the timing of the O story on the expense accounts - it does appear they released the story now for what reason?

Another question is why did Wheeler agree to leave his position of Multnomah County Chair?

You may be right to see conspiracy in some of the machinations of Teddy the K asking Wheeler to be interim treasurer, but I think the timing of this particular piece of The O's reporting actually helps Wheeler. He's still so new to the job that blame for the expense accounts is unlikely to attach to him, and he can say, "See? This is what I'm here to clean up."

I see The Oregonian piece as more of a "me too" play trying to catch up with Ted's cleaning house -- they're belatedly blowing the whistle on something they should have looked into eons ago, or did but then spiked. Then they drip it out to increase the suspense and advertising dollars.

Besides, isn't The Oregonian's true loyalty these days to the suits at Newhouse?

Fred Leonhardt:

The only person spitting out more canned talking points than Peter Bhatia is Chris Dudley.

I can believe it. Kate Brown looks like the insider who is being put on the track toward Governor. I can completely see them wanting Wheeler holding the bag on this one.

Actually, the Arlington Club group would be all in favor of Ted Wheeler as governor; he's more likely than any other papabile to understand the needs of businesses, especially timber businesses.

Could you imagine what Oregon would like with a Kate Brown / Dave Hunt/ Mary Nolan triumvirate running lose? I imagine a cross between West Virginia's economy minus the coal and New Jersey's politics minus the mob.

Minus the Mob?

These speculations are depressing and feed the paranoid raver sitting in its cage in the back of the brain.

I'm thinking that the O is timing this so that Wheeler's colors are given more air time.

Because everyone, but everyone, with half a political brain in this state, has had enough of arrogant, complacent hacks thinking they can do whatever they want.

And if the Dems don't do something from within to clean up and getlikeable, honest, competent people in line to hold some reins, Scott Brown look-alikes will start popping up all over Oregon, really, really soon.


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