Oregon legislature agenda: Lots of secret government
The fustercluck known as the Oregon Legislature is cranking up again -- Tina Kotek's in charge now, don'tcha know -- and it seems as though every bureaucrat in the state is heading to Salem, looking for new ways to hide what he or she is doing from public scrutiny. It starts with Ted Wheeler's plan to turn the suspect Goldschmidt machinery that runs the state pension investments into an even more secretive and scarier cabal than it already is:
Treasurer Ted Wheeler announced last month that he wanted to hire more investment managers, but that would require the legislature’s approval, and there is no money allocated in the budget for the treasury to hire more people.
Rather than asking for increased budget authority, Wheeler asked for a new corporation at the request of the OIC.
We've already seen that the new "public corporation" wants to be exempt from the normal public records laws. And given Wheeler's shoddy track record on his investment managers' conflict of interest scandals, we're inclined to think that there's plenty more reduction in accountability lurking in the restructuring proposal. If the bill were to pass, it seems likely that bloated salaries and unseemly perks from private sources would be reinstated among his Masters of the Universe.
Then we learn that the Portland State U. Patronage Center wants in on the "public corporation" action, too. It sounds all too familiar. The U. of O. has been whining for autonomy for a few years now. Oh yes, just what we need, make all the state schools "public corporations," semi-autonomous, non-accountable -- what could go wrong? Well, look at the insolvent Tri-Met. Look at the scandal-ridden SAIF. These largely unsupervised pots of money, created and operated by the Usual Suspects, have shown a propensity for disaster. And OHSU, to whom Portland State keeps pointing as an example of what it wants, has turned out to be a bunch of scoundrels, nickel-and-diming malpractice victims and raping the Portland city treasury while outsourcing their biotech bonanzas to Florida.
The state university system bureaucracy is already too loose with money and not accountable enough to the public. The one face card is already getting his maid service paid for by the taxpayers and the English majors, and now we learn that the suits running the various universities are holding crisis management meetings over money and refusing to show anybody what goes on behind their closed doors.
Ah, but then we come to the capper of them all. Everybody who's eating off the state's obscene government employee pension system wants the size of their checks kept secret, but thanks to some pushy journalists and former state attorney general John Kroger, last year the truth came to the light. And oh, what an ugly truth it was, with monster pensions being paid to all sorts of folks.
Well, heaven forbid that that kind of sunshine should fall on the rat's nest known as PERS. Now the unions and the manager fat cats alike are pushing to have the details of the pension checks swept back under the rug. And with all branches of state government now firmly in their control, they'll probably succeed. How much of a pension is Chip Kelly going to get as he waltzes away from his recruiting violations? We'll probably never find out.
Secret government is a bad thing, for a variety of reasons. Leave it to 21st Century "progressive" Oregon to bring it on with a vengeance.