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Jan-17-2007 18:54printcomments

Op Ed:
The Oregon Game Goes ON...
And ON...And ON...
With NO Consequence

Great Opportunity May Be Sacrificed For Funds-Deposited

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(SALEM) - “Historic occasion” very seldom occurs in rapid-repeat for most political parties. We are seeing that occur constantly right now in regular-order for the Democrats declaring their own “new directions” for Oregon.

This political-drama is playing out right before our eyes, in “the Salem Arena”, with performing parties center-stage enacting anew the bloody dramaturgy of this Ethics Commission remedy-or-renewal.

Today’s OREGONIAN front-page No. 1 lead-story lays out the action in dross-detail, right there for your “see with own eyes” reality. Its headline: “Democrats reap spoils of victory: big money” --and the story tells you How, Who, How much, When --and WHY.

Every cogitating citizen in this once-politically pristine State knows by now that corporate campaign contributions have eroded and reshaped and denigrated and damaged nearly every key control on nearly every State program.

Our Oregon governance was originally planned-and-designed --and then, sometimes, properly funded-- to protect and provide for all Oregon citizen needs by ELECTED-representative action.

But, for decades now, decisions on what, how much, and, especially, at what cost, have been all too often shaped --sometimes actually written!-- by manipulating multiple ”campaign contributions”, basically corporate-lavished on key legislators; while always with the-same-muscle threatening to withhold when thwarted.

“Granted-or-withheld, as the case may be”, stated one party-insider when queried today. “That’s a simple fact-of-life in this culture, as it has occurred in recent years.”

We all know for decades this resulting Legislative pattern has constantly receded from previous protocol; with little “painful consequences” in the process; until the current culture of corporate control emerged; simultaneously with massive shift of corporate tax-share to all “the little guys” of Oregon. (OCPP nicely documents this precise pattern.)

Today’s story shows “more than $900,000 in campaign contributions since the election”; with three-quarters of that total going to Democrats. It takes very little political savvy to know “the game is still on” -- and this is a major play-pattern, here clearly revealed from public-record information.

SO when House Majority Leader Dave Hunt (Gladstone Democrat) blithely declares: “None of those contributions will impact our public policy decisions” we are left watching what is wonderfully --and very fully-- now evident: The Lavish-Lobby League is still in canny-programmed and cunning-play, across the board; even though the field-signs have been changed for the recent shift of proprietors.

“If they give campaign contributions, they’re still going to get in the door before others” is the Big O quote from Janice Thompson of the Money in Politics Research Action Group.

“That doesn’t mean ethics reform isn’t needed, it just means we need campaign finance reform.”

Give that prescient lady a front-row ticket as this political drama continues to play out on the newly-illuminated Salem Center Stage --now that the lights are switched back on!

Massive surveillance: of minor matters --such as restaurant meal-checks and short-miles personal movements-- will mean no more than report-rules “forgotten” or “left to the lobbyist” have meant in the prior marketplace.

Big-O Edit Page has Oliphant “classic” on this; shows Keizer McDonald’s for “UN-Happy Menu” visit --!

We still are in troubled and truly endangered waters while Oregon remains one of ONLY five states with no limits on corporate heavy-money “campaign contributions”; and legislators can raise “unlimited amounts of cash so long as they report the donations; while simply settling small=stuff with those dollars due to “lax laws and enforcement”.

“...some legislators use campaign contributions to pay for their car, housing and dining costs at the same time the state pays them $99 a day for living expenses,” the Big O states --right on the public record.

What is needed is real remedial campaign finance-law reform --that conclusion is inexorably unavoidable now; --and Lo!-and-Behold!: that very point is made prominently and with passion by the Legislator’s own “special commission: Reporting LAST NOVEMBER -- SO “NO SURPRISE” now.

Still another state commission said: “...legislators should be banned from using campaign money for purposes such as personal expenses or to defray office expense”. (For office needs other funds are provided.)

HOW MANY Commissions are needed to make this message for possible perpetrators absolutely clear and meaningful?

Past-decade denigration of Ethics Commission “rules and regulations” contributed to this inevitable culture, leading to that “easy-slip” past perfectly-reasonable records; then “slide and slither” still further down the ever-present moral-slope; and, finally, to deny, then defy, and decry any-and-all changes-suggested -- even now, by some still in denial.

While lavish-leaning lobbyists lent glad-hand gifts and “go-rounds” of any kind commensurate with corporate control increasing to the inevitable “point of no return”.

Happened in bright, sunshiny place, with potable-stuff purveyors providing all provisions-needed --just prior to Capital “roof caving in” -- right on cue from deeply concerned Oregon citizenry. Carried out by consolidated media-messages meaning to make measurable the moment when many Oregonians learned the truth -- and thus will now seek “the other side”, too: The consequences for betraying the “heart-of-the matter” democratic principle of voter-trust, conferred on chosen ELECTED representatives, sent to seek commonwealth cooperative consensus.

NOW we know what corporate consumption can conceive and carry out --and “historical precedent” now surely provides consummate remedial reaction, too: “Painful consequence for painful behavior”, clearly tried, tested, proven in our Judicial system for a century.

There is no more salacious situation than seems surely to be the ongoing case-conclusion here --as “the game goes on”.

We’ll wait-and-see as current constituent-choices continue their concentration on the Ethics Commission morality play now dominating the center stage in the Salem Arena.




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Henry Ruark January 18, 2007 8:45 am (Pacific time)

"See also" Steve Duin column in OREGONIAN (1/18), for essential background re lavish-lobbyist consequences costing State multi-millions in tax-break/shelters, and driving up interest costs to force Oregon credit rating into third-lowest rating of all 50 states.

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