Behind Enemy Lines

This first week of retirement has been pretty uneventful so far … except for my new top-secret assignment from Gov. Kate Brown. But more about that later.

Speaking of retirement, this current Legislature apparently pulled the same stunt I just did recently. They retired a year ago and didn’t tell anybody at the Capitol until the end of May! I’ve been checking politicians lately for a blood pressure, but there’s not even a pulse. There aren’t even rumors in the building of an increase in education funding, or a transportation/infrastructure package, or a rainy day sequestering of unexpected revenue for future PERS costs brought on by the latest Oregon Supreme Court ruling and its effect on future biennial budgets. Nada! Zilch!

You have to give the Democrats credit where credit is due. The leadership of Tina Kotek and Peter Courtney in the House and Senate, the gains by Oregon women to control decisions regarding their reproductive rights, the new background checks on firearms, doubling the statute of limitations in rape cases, the thoughtful, careful work of the Ways and Means chairs, Richard Devlin and Peter Buckley — all should be recognized as successes. As should Brown’s support of these measures.

The failure to bring Republicans along in any meaningful way was, to say the least, predictable. The fact that Dems gave the GOP an excuse by their mishandling of the carbon tax measure doesn’t really matter. The Republicans have no answers. So, if it wasn’t the carbon tax as an excuse, it would have been guns, or gays or taxes, or split-lane motorcycle-passing suicide waivers.

As for the Republicans, I do have to give them credit for consistency. Their caucuses have held together quite well — with the result that nothing has happened in terms of partisan cooperation on any of the remaining issues. Republicans continue to use the recycled whine of the past 10 years: Democrats treat us so disrespectfully that we can’t, with all due respect, agree to anything remotely reasonable. It sucks to be in the minority, but the least you can do is have a message. “No!” is not a message. You can’t, for example, pretend you support additional school funding without a plan. You can’t demand additional PERS reforms without a plan. The R’s continue to be hostages of their own right wing.

So here’s the plan: I’ve been quietly drafted by Gov. Brown to surreptitiously gain access to the House Republican Minority Office and the Senate Republican Minority Office and scare their leaders into encouraging their caucus to actually cast a helpful vote. (I’ve sworn all nine readers of this column to secrecy. This is a volunteer mission because I’m retired, but there’s a lot at stake.) Knowing that some of ’em might still recognize me from the old days, I went to my former Chief of Special Farces, the Crank, and we devised a very cheap plan.

Turns out this guy from Bellingham, Washington, has a whale-watching business, and he advertises with a huge metal orca float in local parades. The float is actually registered as a boat, with a cockpit, a motor and everything. As you may know, the Port of Astoria recently hired this orca float/boat to harass pesky sea lions on its docks. Results varied, according to witnesses. The outboard motor flooded, literally, and the “boat” capsized.

But according to an Astoria official, the sea lions “got deathly silent” when they got a momentary glimpse of the beast and the result was that on Friday, June 5, the day after the orca’s attempted swim, the number of sea lions on the docks in Astoria dropped from roughly 1,200 to 200. Anyway, the guy’s not using the orca currently, so we’ve shipped it to Salem. Mum’s the word on when we launch. I hope we don’t get any PETA protesters. I’ll keep you posted.

Nasty rumors in Portland recently that the true believers are launching a recall petition against Congressman Earl Blumenauer. Apparently the metrosexual avant-garde lefties are mad at Blumenauer because Portland failed this year to make a famous international list of the 20 most bike-friendly cities on the planet! Gasp. The only American city named: Minne-freakin-apolis, Minnesota; seriously, whose weather features 11 months of snow and one month of hard sledding? But I agree: Blumenhauer, with his goofy bowtie, his goofy neon bicycle lapel pin and the “Sustainability” tattoo on his forehead, should be banished from the political world for this insufficiency. Keep Portland weird, dammit!