Last Rites

Legislative session goes up in smoke!

No, unfortunately for you, dear readers, it’s not “Last Writes.” Yes, sports fans, the geezer moment has come. If you open your May 28 EW and read this after 5 pm, I will officially be free at last!

No more state employee subtlety: Every one of my previous 100 or so EW columns were written by a fearful, nervous, cautious, sensitive, puppet-like, obsequious puddle of professionalism. Hah! No more, baby! I vow to tell it like it is! Goodbye, State of Oregon Employment Appeals Board. Hello, retirement. Hello beekeeping, deck building and feeding my birds.

Also, I understand from my recently retired friends, Hoss and Don Key, that 9 am “happy hours” are perfectly normal and appropriate now, for example. And you don’t have to know what day it is, either. Which is good news because, in a recent practice session for geezerosity, I turned on KLCC last Saturday morning precisely at 9:40 am to listen to puzzle master Will Shortz! Then I forgot to listen on Sunday!

Oh well, back to Salem. As we approach June, the last month of the session, I’m struck by how quiet things are. There’s no energy. There’s some talk of Gov. Kate Brown trying to get some traction on an “infrastructure” agreement to create some statewide jobs, or some variation on a transportation plan. But it would require possibly messing with some budgets and a gas tax; and because a lot of the substantive issues have already moved, there’s not much else to negotiate.

Also, Republicans are determined to sidetrack any plan this session — bluntly, any success for Kate — because of next year’s governor’s race. Their leaders, Sen. Ted Ferrioli and Rep. Mike McLane, continue to relentlessly blame the Democratic leadership for shoving the carbon fuel standards bill down their throats, therefore making kumbaya impossible. They don’t know the words.

Ironically, the R’s are all over the board in terms of creating a message they want their next gubernatorial candidate to carry, other than: “No jobs, no gas tax, no progress, no business, no economic development, (no shit!).” Not to mention, they don’t have a clue who will run against Kate.

The only advice I continue to give any Democrat who would have the bad judgment to listen to me is: Do what you’re supposed to do as a Democrat, advance good citizen bills, even if they don’t stand a prayer in the super-majority environment, and get the Republicans on some bad votes. Like kicker money, for example.

So what do you do for shits and giggles when you’re in Salem watching this bad drama slog through it’s final act, feeling roughly like you’re sitting on your thumbs waiting for a colonoscopy? You go to the marijuana hearings, silly!

Sen. Floyd Prozanski and Rep. Val Hoyle let me in on the hilarity that accompanies red-eyed testimony. If weedophiles had trouble keeping up with the schedule of the former Joint Committee on Marijuana Reality prior to last week, then they must’ve been devastated when the “Joint” disappeared, and budding new committees arose in the House and the Senate.

Excise tax, sales tax, local preemption — too big a dilemma for Sen. Ginny Burdick and Rep. Ann Lininger’s committee — they split. Now the House and Senate Dems will lob bills separately to each other in the waning days of the session.

Meanwhile, hempheads are left wondering if they’re present at committee meetings to discuss medical or recreational marijuana? And if so, why? Apparently, droves of activists signed up to speak at these public hearings, waited in interminably long lines, got herded up to the microphones, then, late in one House hearing, as Val reported recently, one citizen/witness blurted out one sentence of testimony: “I didn’t read the bill, so I have nothing to say.” Thank you for that input, sir. (Who said sometimes it is better to remain silent and appear a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt?)

Speaking of fools, retirement is a time of retrospection. As I reflect on my work history, my 30 years in the labor movement and 10 in the Legislature, I feel like a very lucky guy. I want to thank EW’s co-owner Anita Johnson and Editor Ted Taylor for letting this fool write “Insider Baseball” and “Hot Air Society” for you. I was stupid enough to run for office, and lucky enough to get elected. And because of that I got to serve with the best, the brightest, the richest, the poorest, the Buddhas and the badasses. It’s been an absolute hoot.

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