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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

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.

Comments (19)

At some point, doesn't a federal investigator eventually take an interest in what's going on under the rock in Oregon, or should we not expect that to happen until the current "progressive" administration is out of the WH?

'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.'

Ouch. The truth stings.

Government is gasping for air.
The Fascist cabal of the bankers and the corruption of government is reaching its pinnacle.
When it collapses it won't be pretty, for anybody.

Did you know First Girlfriend is now the public face of Oregon? Livin' for free in Mahonia Hall and bloggin' away. Check it out.


Was ich niche weiß, macht mich nicht heiß.

Are matters getting worse so that more want to scurry now for cover?
A great deterrent has already been in place and that is the cost some of these agencies charge to get to first base.
Remember when our local news station was given an estimate for information and then with the spotlight on this story, a later estimate was reduced to $194.03 but for a narrower search. I wonder how many people have had stories to relate on costs, but didn't have the benefits of being a huge broadcaster such as KATU 2?
$1.5 million for Adams' public records? Huh?

The question, "Can it happen here?" is being answered a lot faster than folks want to admit.

And by liberal dems to boot - or should that be formerly liberal dems?

Hey...Word on the street is that the Finance and Insurance sector is terminating vast numbers of 'fund managers' and 'investment bankers'. We should be able to pick one up for a 'song'.

But then...mayhaps we should be following suit, eh?

Initiative petition, anyone?

Remember last November ? There were many comments here about "just hold my nose" and vote for them anyway.

Well, actions have consequences. If you continue to vote for this party of lap poodles expect the fudge in the yard.

Not throwing rocks here, Iam just saying. And no my party starts with an I not a R.



So much awful stuff there. This question is not merely rhetorical: Is Ted Wheeler the most malign individual in state office?

As far as the bill to close off PERS access, it is sponsored by Alan Bates, who is supposed to be one of the "better" Democrats. If that's what the better ones do, I fear even more for the worst -- which has actually been my expectation for this newly reborn one-party state.

Thank god we now live in Nevada where we are saving a small fortune in state income taxes we no longer pay; and the State Legislature only meets for 120 days every two years. (The exception being if the Governor choses to extend the legislative session for a few extra days.)

Shake it 'til breaks Oregon!


Y'know, I think there should be some (small) amount of secret-conference pre-rigged slam-thru gavel-set done-deal 'lawmaking' of certain types of laws -- any that rockdumb Republican obstructists refuse to deliberate in. (The PATRIOT Act 2001 and the Federal Reserve enactment 1913 were both like that in TOO MUCH amount.)

For one, to show how it works: Socialize all healthcare and medical facilities overnight. By declaration. or edict. Sort out the details later. Basically all health providers would go on doing what they are doing and notice no change in their work schedule or wages. Some (health) insurance companies would go out of business, some would go on. The cost of healthcare would fall 2/3rds (the markup in today's prices due to private insurance company profiteering), lower cost with the same quality of care, same providers, same facilities -- just like every 'civilized' country in the world except US.

For two, Climate Chaos from industrial processing of coal and crude oil: Socialize the oil industry, overnight, by edict slam-dunk done deal, then spell out the steps in manageable stages to shut it all down, within ten years, say.

For three, ditto nuke-ular anything, like oil. Shut it down. Stop it.

None of these radical progressive developments would seem extreme or extraordinary if statecraft was worked out by legislators agreeing in common purpose -- earthlings' well-being -- although possibly by (two) different strategies, yet in balance. But today, as one contigent is elected for the sole purpose to block everything, then there is nothing held to reason and majority mob power is justly proper.

An Oregon State Bank could be and should be re-established, very soon, and if it means secret meetings and derring-do outside the influence of 'private bank' lobbyists, social-improvement obstructionists, then tough love, cut them out, blow by with a done deal.
Wheeler might help get a public State Bank; he seems to favor the founding ... when the dogma barkers are gagged and ignored, for some peace and quiet where sincere statesmen and stateswomen (statefolk?) can think, and deliberate.
Investment 'managers' and holdings, and proceedings gained in a State Bank have to be open bookkeeping and public record.

The PERS runaway freight thing: Two 'reform' moves might help relieve the problem, and then an improving economy might solve it.
First: Force Republican representation to sign an official apology for derailing PERS off-track to begin with, and promise on oath never to behave again as such absolute implacable (obstructing) zealots. Public knowledge has to be brought back to the time and situation when the PERS problem began, to see that it was not a public-employees Union scheme, or even idea, but rather the Republicans issuing an ultimatum dictum. That public employees must accept zero pay raise, in contract talks zero, non-negotiable, 'off the table' (in 1989-90 Session, as I recall, Reagan/Bush headiness in the air). SalemGOP intransigence made stalemate, contract negotiations stalled, (3 years?), to the point of public employee work stoppage, read: self-governance stoppage, and so a 'compromise' proposal gave PERS rates-of-return and 'employer-contribution' rates which were unsustainable beyond the dot-com economy, and in exchange to take away pay raises since the SalemGOP could not back down from their dictum and save face. The Union got much more money than pay raises would have cost Oregonians. Only so that the GOP could save face.
A formal GOP apology first could help the Union follow suit with conciliatory steps toward moderation. Don't underestimate and do respect the power of explained understanding, to change people, behavior, even the world.

Second: Establish the State Bank and transfer deposit the PERS accounts in it. That relieves the 'debt service' burden -- the State does not pay interest on principal it borrows from lending to itself.
The model of State Bank operation is the North Dakota State Bank. N.Dakota having the lowest unemployment of all 50 states, (since before the fracking oil boom there), and fairly no recession austerity, is attributed to operating the only State Bank.
Search those terms.

A swelling populist savvy in financial and economic measures, methods, practices, and 'theory' -- public 'debt' distinguished from private 'debt' -- is being informed by Ellen Brown's Web of Debt, a society-changing publication like Rachel Carsen's Silent Spring or PNAC's Quadrennial Defense Review 2000.

Anyone else playing "Name that Tensky Post?"

It used to take about three lines for me to confidently ID his posts without scrolling down to see his name. Lately I've able to nail it on the first line every time.

"Anyone else playing "Name that Tensky Post?""

Sure, probably every regular reader. But I actually read a lot of them now, which I didn't used to do. Took me awhile to appreciate him even as I would usually substantially differ.

Is it perhaps time to think big? Making the entire state government of Oregon a private for-profit corporation might be worth consideration. Democratic cabals--sometimes in conflict with each other--should welcome the benefits. In turn, Republican ideology surely would support the move.

A winner. And every single Oregonian--voter or not--would benefit: no more costly, bitter, elections, no tiresome lawsuits to squeeze information from secretive agencies, no nagging despair at incompetence, and no need to ask "My God, what are they up to now?"

Employees may waste huge sums but the new lean and mean corporation will be able to fire them (with due process, naturally but efficiently).

Since the procurement staff will be eligible for bonuses, they'll write and oversee tough contract language, and be motivated to enforce penalties for non-performance.

Oh, I could continue, but the mind boggles....

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