August 25th, 2014 | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: Cops and Courts, Politics

Gov. John Kitzhaber Looks to Remake SAIF Board

news_4027(kitzhaber)Gov. John Kitzhaber - IMAGE: WW Staff

Gov. John Kitzhaber has not had much luck with SAIF Corp., the state-owned workers compensation insurer. 

He's now seeking to remake SAIF's top decision making body, nominating three new members to the five-member board.

When Kitzhaber was governor from 1995 to 2003, SAIF sunk under the weight of scandal, including a high-profile investigation into its hiring of former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt and former House Speaker Larry Campbell (R-Eugene) as highly-paid lobbyists. That scandal cost then-SAIF CEO Kathy Keene her job.

Last year, when the SAIF board sought a successor for Keene's successor, Brenda Rocklin, Kitzhaber took a hands-off approach, never meeting or speaking to the new CEO, John Plotkin.

Just three months after hiring Plotkin's, the SAIF board, all Kitzhaber appointees, fired Plotkin, sparking fury among many SAIF employees.

The board's reasons for that decision have come under heavy fire, as at least four employees have disputed the statements attributed to them by SAIF's human relations director and used against Plotkin. He is now suing SAIF and former CEO Rocklin, whom he says undermined his brief tenure. 

Kitzhaber now gets to start afresh with a majority of new board members: he's nominated Jenny Ulum, a Eugene public relations executive; Jeff Stone, the executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries; and Maurice Rahming, the co-owner of O'Neill Electric, a Portland contractor to the board.

The three would fill one vacancy and replace Catherine Travis, a Portland lawyer and Robb Van Cleave, the chief operating officer of Columbia Gorge Community College. Both Travis and Van Cleave joined the board in 2005 and are not eligible for re-appointment. 

The board nominations are part of a larger slate of appointments Kitzhaber is sending to the state Senate for confirmation next month.

 
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