Updated January 22, 2013 Published January 22, 2013
John DiLorenzo, a leading GOP lobbyist, is looking to do Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, a favor. DiLorenzo is pushing legislation for the upcoming legislative session that would expand the governorâs ability to fire agency directors, commissioners and other high-level employees. DiLorenzo says the issue goes beyond partisan considerations and that he was inspired by the refusal last year of former University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere and ex-Oregon Liquor Control Commission director Steve Pharo to quit as soon as Kitzhaber wanted. âI discovered to my horror that there arenât many people who the governor can fire,â DiLorenzo says. âWhy should we hamstring a governor who has a mandate?â
Nike got an even better deal in the December special legislative session than we knew. Although lawmakers wanted the sneaker giantâs 30-year tax-certainty deal effective Dec. 14, 2012, Kitzhaber signed a contract effective Jan. 1, 2012. Jody Wiser of the watchdog group Tax Fairness Oregon says that means Nike could get credit toward its required hiring of 500 new employees and investing $150 million of new money for decisions it made in the first 11 months of last year. Kitzhaberâs spokesman, Tim Raphael, says lawmakers gave Kitzhaber authority to negotiate the contact, and a January 2012 start was his intention.
State Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland) is bucking the tide on the Columbia River Crossing project (page 7). Greenlick is sponsoring legislation, which would prohibit the Oregon Department of Transportation from spending any more money on the $3.5 billion project until the agency demonstrates Oregon can afford the project and it can actually be built. Greenlick thinks neither is true. âWeâre not going to have the funding, and we are unlikely to get Coast Guard permission for the currently proposed height,â Greenlick says. âIf something canât possibly happen, itâs just not likely to.â
The consumer-advocacy group OSPIRG gave Portland a D-minus in a national ranking of city government spending transparency. The analysis looked at the online availability of government data in the 30 largest U.S. cities. Portland ranked 25th for how much online information it provides about its spending. The most transparent cities were Chicago, New York and San Francisco. âPortland is far behind other major cities in the amount of spending data that it provides to its residents,â says OSPIRGâs Celeste Meiffren. âRight now, Portlanders will find it difficult to go online and see exactly how their tax dollars are being spent.â