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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 15, 2012 8:49 AM. The previous post in this blog was Gunplay at Dittler's Beach. The next post in this blog is Portland food slop program reaches fiasco stage. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Oregon: We make it easy to rip off the public

We'd been wondering whatever happened to the Mike Burton travel fraud scandal at the Portland State Patronage Center. State and local prosecutors have now forced him to admit that despite his earlier, lying protestations, he did indeed bill PSU for personal travel in Europe under the false pretense of attending business-related conferences. And so now Burton, former power broker at Metro, is a convicted criminal, on 18 months' probation, and he's been required to pay back $4500 to the university.

Of course, he's painted as a victim, too -- an alcoholic, suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome from Vietnam, etc. The guy is 70 years old. He'll no doubt keep his PERS retirement fund, and certainly the PERS-sponsored Medicare supplement will be expected to pick up the tab for his required "treatment." If you were a bookkeeper at the local hardware store and you pinched $4500, you might not get off so easy, but if you're a bigshot politician...

Oh, well. It's always remarkable when a public official is busted for corruption in Oregon, whose residents are pollyannishly blind to human nature when it comes to their clean, green state and local government. But in this case, even more remarkable is the letter that prosecutors wrote to their bosses, expressing their alarm at how lax Portland State is when it's handing out travel reimbursements to bureaucrats like Burton. As posted by Willy Week, they wrote in part:

Of course, the face cards running PSU, which has reduced itself in recent years to little more than a real estate enterprise, can never admit that mistakes were made, or that bad judgment was exercised. Oh no, the provost has given it the scoundrel's best "The system worked" response. Great message for the hapless students.

Something similar happened last week, when an administrative law judge let two Portland school district employees off the hook in connection with last year's election abuse scandal. In that incident, first brought to light on this blog, the district illegally used taxpayer funds to promote a pending ballot measure regarding school funding. Even if the employees in question had violated state elections law, the judge was unwilling to impose a sanction because the Oregon secretary of state's office had dragged its feet in promulgating the necessary regulations needed to interpret state law. Instead, it processed the Portland case based on a manual it had previously produced, which was not strong enough authority to bring an action against anyone.

In other words, without regulations, the law prohibiting use of tax funds for politics had little or no effect at all. A regular scammers' delight, this place is. At least a few of the miscreants at the school district admitted guilt and paid their fines before it was revealed that they had nothing to worry about. They all could have gotten off on a technicality -- a blunder by our secretary of state.

Comments (12)

Sorry to hear about where Mike Burton has ended up, on probation as a criminal. When I met him I was an activist and he was my Representative in the Legislature. I wanted to introduce bills that would open up better access to the law by ordinary (pro se) citizens doing their own legal work. To my surprise, Mike put me to work with legislative legal staff who wrote up laws requiring county clerks to give reasonable help to non-lawyers and requiring equitable law library access for all of us too. Mike didn't mention that such bills would never leave the Judiciary committee but I can boast that my bills were in the legislature.

"how lax Portland State is"

Burton is the least offensive, PSU is the burial ground for all the ex-gov employees (remember PDC/ Erin Flynn) where they give them a make-work job at $180K/yr and in turn they keep quiet.

Just for once, could they at lease make an example of someone and take away their PERS just to put some fear into these scofflaws? Otherwise, these guys will keep ripping off the system, keep the same benefits or get a $75 fine.

The Administrative Law Judge required 103 pages to say he was reversing the $75 fine against Sarah Carlin Ames.

That may be biz-as-usual for the barrister class, but it seems like an amazing waste of public resources to me.

Oregon and Portland are very corrupt specifically because no one is looking for it. It's so corrupt that those doing it don't even recognize it as corruption for the most part.

Remember Tom Miller's use of the Malsin beach house? Remember how there was no consequence? It was just a "little misunderstanding."

The patronage and insider dealing is sickening. And the failure of our blind, impotent local newspaper to pursue real stories is also sickening.

Mr. T -

I think you are not recognizing what the ALJ in the Sarah Ames case did.

The opinion exhaustively reviews the things produced by Ames in attempting to subvert the election, and gives chapter and verse as to why those actions should be sanctionable.

In effect, the ALJ has condemned Ames' activities, and explained why neither Ames, nor an honest govt employee, could have done those things withput a bad intent.

The ALJ clearly isn't happy with the result he was compelled to reach because of Kate Brown's ongoing incompetence and failure as a SecState for Oregon.

The opinion makes it impossible for Ames, a master manipulator, to argue that her actions were not ill intended.

Mike Burton is a sleazy crook. Mike Burton should have been in jail a long time ago.

Nonny Mouse, I read it differently.

This is what the ALJ said: "If this matter had been decided on the merits, I would have found that Ames established a mitigating circumstance by presenting credible evidence that PPS had legal counsel review each of the documents in question." (Footnote, page 101).

P.S. The ALJ, Dove Gutman, is a woman, despite the reporter's error in assigning her the masculine pronoun.

If Mr. Burton truly has PTSD and alcoholism, how was he able to get his master's degree from Columbia, er, I mean Columbia State (the mail order diploma mill).

"'Name me someone that's not a parasite and I'll go out and say a prayer for him'"

-- (BD, "Visions of Johanna")


Ames was rewarded with a job from the Governor and even the faux slap on the wrists were revoked.

It doesn't matter that an Admin/Law Judge wasted weeks of her time and cut down a few small trees printing her findings.

It's a non-issue: political campaigning by public employees HAPPENS ALL THE TIME both on the clock and off. Nobody is going to police the issue because they're friends with the offenders.

Democratic Hegemony in Oregon is designed to perpetuate itself: PERIOD. It's as if they crossed Richard Daley with Neil Goldschmidt and sprinkling of JFK's earnestness. Rules, laws, oversight, and separation of powers mean nothing here.

Mike Burton is the exception, not the rule. Sarah Carlin Ames is the rule.

The worst indignity of all: when Oregon's public servants are done protecting their own at the expense of good public policy, the taxpapers get to subsidize their upper middle class incomes until they die.

Burton reminds me of this:

Mike, you miserable pig.

It's unconscionable that in Oregon, violations of law such as those in state elections is not enforced with the same vigor that Oregon high school golf rules are enforced:

On verge of state history, Oregon golfer loses state title to scorecard violation

Eugene (Ore.) Churchill High girls golfer Caroline Inglis was on the cusp of history. After winning the Oregon Scholastic Activities Association Class 5A state tournament during each of her first three years, Inglis finished the final round of the 2012 state tournament with a 3-under 69, a score that completed a dominant performance that was nine shots better than anyone else in the tournament.

Con't at

The same goes for you, Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown. Your scorecard's a disgrace.


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Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
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