By Wayne Brady,
Monday, December 5. 2005
Recently, we have seen some horrible examples of poor management in Oregon state government reported in the press. I suspect these examples are only a small sample of what is going on behind the scenes. I think this is true because the people responsible for the errors have not been fired or demoted.
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has been the subject of scrutiny in the past because it appears to produce so little for so much money. Their accounting is such a mess it is impossible to tell where the money is going. In addition, the DMV, which is a part of ODOT, was responsible for a major scandal involving the issuance of 80,000 fraudulent driver’s licenses.
Representative Richardson uncovered major problems in the Department of Human Services (DHS). The investigation started out trying to find out why they could not pay back a loan from the General Fund. It turns out they were counting on funds from a Federal program that no longer exists and, in addition, their accounting is a mess.
DHS also requested permission to convert “medical treatment space” to a psychiatric ward. It turns out this space was not used for medical treatment (they lied) but was unused space for which they had been paying $27,000 per month for the last 10 years and they had extended the lease for another 10 years.
Then there is the scandal in the Willamette ESD with an employee who has apparently broken about every regulation on the books but was not fired because she filed a civil rights complaint alleging age and sex discrimination. Not only should this employee been fired, the allegations of discrimination should be investigated. Instead, the employee was hired as a consultant and it was agreed that her violations would not be reported to state regulators and she would receive a positive letter of recommendation. It appears that several heads should roll in this case.
We can see there are millions of dollars being wasted and cover ups as well. Lying to legislators, false letters of recommendation, hiding violations and the list goes on.
In all of this there is no penalty to be paid by the perpetrators. Until that starts happening, the corruption will continue. There has to be a thorough investigation of the cases that are already public and then start digging to see what else is going on that we don’t even know about.
This is a strong argument for a new governor who would be willing to take on this task. It is clear our current governor has no interest in fixing these problems. It is also clear that this kind of rot does not start overnight.
We need to find out what the candidates for governor are willing to do to fix these problems and to root out similar problems that undoubtedly exist in Oregon State Government.