November 26th, 2010 | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics

Turkey Eaten, Kitzhaber Will Set About Axing Agency Heads

John Kitzhaber (flag)

While many of us worried on Thanksgiving only about eating and drinking too much, a cadre of highly-paid Oregon state employees probably had a lot more on their minds yesterday. That's because when Gov.-elect John Kitzhaber returns next week to the work of preparing for his third term as governor, he'll be delivering some unpleasant news.

Back in September, Kitzhaber convened reporters for the rollout of what he called "A Plan to Rebuild and Reinvest in Oregon." The plan contained copious detail; and because at the time it was anything but certain Kitzhaber would defeat Republican challenger Chris Dudley, much of that detail seemed extraneous. That is, until now.

Here is one excerpt that probably gave state agency heads less to be thankful for this week:
"In addition to changing the way we invest our resources, we must also increase the efficiency of how they are managed. This will require Oregon state government to change—and change very quickly. It is the kind of change that only an experienced manager can deliver. Transformation will not be easy, but it can be achieved by following a clear path forward," Kitzhaber wrote in his plan.

Kitzhaber then delivered a series of pledges about how that transformation will come about, the most interesting of which was this:
"I will ask all state government managers to submit their resignations and will appoint or reappoint officials who lead a transformation in state government by focusing on increasing performance and reducing costs."

At the time, Kitzhaber said he expected that request to affect "20 to 30" individuals. Some agency heads, including the directors of key agencies such as the Oregon Departments of Transportation and Environmental Quality report to commissions, rather than the governor.

Asked for details of who will be asked to resign and when, Kitzhaber spokeswoman Jillian Schoene asked for patience. Via email, Schoene said Kitzhaber will put forth more specifics "after Thanksgiving - and likely after his trip back to Washington, D.C."

"At that press conference," she wrote, "I expect all of your questions to be answered."

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