Oregon Ethics Commission Executive Director Ron Bersin has recommended the panel dismiss complaints against the Oregon State Treasuryâs chief investment officer, Ron Schmitz, and two senior managers, Brad Child and Andy Hayes. The commission investigated the officials after The Oregonian reported on problems with travel and entertainment policies at the state treasury, which oversees investments of more than $75 billion in public funds. In Schmitzâs case, the ethics commission investigation found he received $256 in meals reimbursements beyond his expenses. But, the report found, âMr. Schmitz immediately repaid the Treasury when errors came to his attention, providing mitigating factors to dissuade a recommendation to find violation of Oregon Government Ethics law.â
Tough times for the Tigard-based Typhoon Thai restaurant chain. The food-service distributor Sysco Portland on July 8 sued Typhoon in Multnomah County Circuit Court for allegedly failing to pay $411,000 in bills. In the same week, a federal arbitration panel ordered Typhoon to pay $268,000 to a chef that the panel found had been discriminated against because of her Thai origin. And thatâs not all. A Bureau of Labor and Industries spokesman says that Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian is poised to level civil charges against Typhoon for alleged repeated civil-rights abuses and widespread wage-and-hour violations. Typhoon owner Steve Kline did not return a phone call seeking comment.
MCKEELCredits: WW staffAbout 2,500 bureaucrats from around the nation descend on Portland this weekend to dine, schmooze and attend panels at the National Association of Countiesâ annual conferenceâand Multnomah County taxpayers are footing part of the bill. Former County Chair Diane Linn volunteered to host the conference, and her successor, former Chair Ted Wheeler, agreed to move forward, even as the economy tanked. In 2009, Commissioner Diane McKeel agreed to raise the money for the conference. Sheâs $143,000 short of the countyâs $674,000 goal, after paying outside consultant Metropolitan Group $220,000, in part to help with the fundraising. The countyâs general fund must pay the difference even as the county is laying off staff. McKeel tells WW sheâs not disappointed; she says the attendees will sink millions into Portlandâs economy over the weekend.
Farmers Insurance Group announced in 2007 that it would move hundreds of employees from Tigard to a large call center in Hillsboro. State and local leaders cheered, praising the company for its âlongstanding commitment to Oregonâ and the stateâs âsolid workforce.â Indeed. The U.S. Department of Labor announced July 6 that Farmers would pay $1.5 million in overtime back wages to 3,500 employees in six statesâincluding the ServicePoint call center in Hillsboro. According to the Labor Department, employees routinely performed an average of 30 minutes of unpaid work every week before clocking in.