By GENE H. McINTYRE
The beat goes on with those elite troubleshooters Governor John Kitzhaber has appointed to look after reforms to education in the state of Oregon. They are known as Oregon Education Investment Board, or, more commonly to themselves, at least, as the state’s intelligentsia, as it’s well known and generally recognized by them that they are smarter than any other citizens of the state (oh yes, as you might have guessed, they are wealthier than most of us, too).
There’s no end to the double standard and hypocrisy when it comes to the machinations of Oregon state government. While Kitzhaber and an abundance of GOP legislators want to squeeze COLAs out of all former state employees, those who retired under the auspices of the Public Employees Retirement System, or PERS, the OEIB has now hired a retired Oregon schools’ superintendent to serve as the replacement for the manifestly-disappointing Rudy Crew.
Nancy Golden will become the interim Oregon chief education officer. So, guess what, Golden will be able, it’s surmised, to double-dip into her taxpayer-paid bonanza as she will receive her PERS check and presumably the same amount per month that Crew received, or $23, 333 (that’s $280,000 per year). Now, does that not make you feel real good or . . . what!
After the Crew debacle, that thankfully lasted only one year, some members of that elite Oregon Education Investment Board want to hold the feet of all Oregon’s chief education officers—like the chancellor of higher education, too—to the proverbial “fire” four times a year when it comes to their leadership performance and require advance permission for out-of-state travel and speaking engagements. A couple of the big name board members have joined a new management and personnel oversight committee to monitor and have the veto power on these matters so that the freelance habits at public expense of Crew, we’re told, will be controlled.
Retired auto dealer Dick Withnell and America Oregon Chief Executive Kay Toran, have announced that they do not want to micromanage Golden or any future education chief. Of course, there will be provided standard forms used by other state employees but you can bet big-time that Golden and any future chief will have latitude to go, do and be not in any way, shape or form common to most other state employees.
In fact, according to The Oregonian, Withnell, it would appear, is ready to turn a blind eye to whatever the chief wants to do. He has already said that he will lobby to give Golden a jet plane (at public expense, of course) and let her fly it all over Oregon if she can make a difference (whatever that is). Sure, if she should wander with the jet to New York City or Miami, once Golden has got those wise owls at the OEIB as bamboozled as Crew got them, she may be in Oregon now and then and, then again, maybe she won’t be. After all, it’s only PERS’ retirees’ money she’ll be spending.
Meanwhile, Kitzhaber, who seeks a special session to further hobble PERS’ retirement payments and is traveling all over the state in his effort to drum up support for it, has been granted a several thousand dollar increase in his salary while he continues on governor-paid time to travel about the world selling his brand of medical services. Oh how the pharisaical do test us!
(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)