Holy War on Kitzhaber

What’s behind the manufactured outrage?

A lobbyist popped this question last week at Magoo’s, my local watering hole in Salem: What are the three most hated and feared words these days to an Oregon Republican? I guessed maybe “taxes/gay marriage” or “equitable income distribution.” Turns out they are: “Governor Kate Brown.” Now you know why the current Republican minority leaders in Salem are being relatively quiet in their attacks on Gov. John Kitzhaber and fiancé Cylvia Hayes. Something about the devil you know.

In politics you can learn a lot about a man by taking a close look at his enemies. Look no further than the Wall Street hedge fund guy who spent a million bucks in multiple campaigns trying to defeat Congressman DeFazio and elect his batshit-crazy opponent simply because DeFazio had recommended that scumbag inside-trading financiers get a warm bed in prison.

The unrelenting holier-than-thou war by The Oregonian on Kitzhaber just picked up a notch last week with its editorial board calling for his resignation. Talk about creating your own storyline: It turns its ubiquitous personal attacks on Cylvia Hayes into this handwringing editorial about the “distraction” Kitzhaber caused, then demands his resignation. Really? Man bites dog? To buy The Oregonian’s latest conspiracy theory, you’d have to accept the theory that Hayes has somehow flimflammed Dr. John into becoming an environmentally conscientious governor at this point in his career. Really? The same former Oregon Senate president who engineered and fought for the Oregon Salmon Plan even before he was elected governor 20 years ago thinks differently about carbon emissions and healthy streams after meeting Hayes 12 years ago? Nice regression analysis.

Remember this: The Oregonian Editorial Board (OEB) members are the same clowns who endorsed Monica “Stalking Order” Wehby over our fine Sen. Jeff Merkley. Erik Lukens, OEB member, has a long history of opposition to anyone who supports extending Oregon’s low-carbon fuel standards program that expires at the end of the year. This issue is expected to be the first big partisan vote this session, and the Republicans are working furiously to tie this fight to Cylvia Hayes and a potential transportation package.

Not to be outdone, the guys who lost to Kitzhaber by over 6 percent in the last election, Dennis Richardson’s former campaign advisors, already began collecting petitions for Dr. John’s recall. Numbskulls that they are, they soon learned from the secretary of state (what’s her name again?) that a recall must wait until the gov has served a minimum of six months of his term.

I’m in the same camp as Senate President Peter Courtney. I won’t speculate on Dr. John’s future. I know him as an honorable man, a private man, a sincere man, and I consider him a friend. You underestimate him at your own risk; he’s also a wily and stubborn guy. His enemies, whether they be Dennis Richardson, Art Robinson or OEB’s Erik Lukens, are also our enemies, sports fans.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to get “distracted” by all this nonsense. Apparently House and Senate Dems are undistracted. In addition to a vote on extending the sunset on the low-carbon fuel standards coming as soon as next week, Dems are also going after two bills that failed last session — automatic voter registration and class-action lawsuit payouts. Floyd Prozanski says the Senate is working more slowly on the background checks gun bill, even though he’s confident the Senate will be successful in passing a good measure this session.

As a recovering former labor goon/politician, one of the bills I’ll watch closely this session is Senate Bill 469, which would toughen laws to force Oregon hospitals to provide adequate nursing staff for their patients, sponsored by the Oregon Nurses Association. The bill would give nurses stronger authority to negotiate with administrators on staffing levels and monitor compliance. This issue has significantly heated up with the public, and the ONA has done an excellent job exposing working conditions and patient safety hazards associated with chronic staffing problems. I’ve watched my good friend, Mo Smith, an ONA organizer, go to contract battle every few years with the highly paid administrators at PiercedHealth. I’m still mad at them for their hospital’s religious health care provider tax-exempt status while they’re selling land at their new chalet/development north of town. Go ONA!