For her ability to screw up frequently, creatively and in ways that extend far beyond her considerable reach, the Rogue Desk anoints Multnomah County Chairwoman Diane Linn as Rogue of the Year. Here's a recap of her 2004:
WINTER: Linn began the year unilaterally granting a bonus to county employees who showed up to work during the January snowstorm. Amid a blizzard of criticism, Linn then retracted the offer of an extra vacation day, saying she'd forgotten her colleagues had just rescinded her authority over compensation matters. (That move followed her 2003 bungling of the hiring of a new head librarian.)
SPRING: In March, Linn oversaw four county commissioners' secret decision to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. By keeping the public--and fellow commissioner Lonnie Roberts--in the dark, Linn & Co. played into the hands of those planning to put a ban on same-sex unions on the fall ballot. The Oregonian was so outraged it demanded that Linn and her co-conspirators be recalled. Linn issued a public apology in May for her previous miscues, but continued to stumble through 2004.
SUMMER: Public confidence further eroded when the county did a lousy job collecting a controversial local income tax passed in 2003. In addition, although Linn was part of a group that personally promised to rein in costs for Portland teachers' health insurance in return for voters' passing the tax, she accomplished nothing on that front during summer contract negotiations.
FALL: Anti-county sentiment fueled an initiative to repeal the income tax, and Linn was considered such a liability she was kept under wraps during the campaign. After the election (repeal failed, gay-marriage ban won), Linn couldn't stay out of the news. When she announced the results of a report on racial discrimination in county government, her colleagues complained she'd kept them in the dark. Her defense: She had not read the report herself (even though she was proposing policies to address it). As a final coup de gracelessness, last month Linn hired an economic advisor. There were a couple of problems: He had recently been booted from his job as Gresham city manager, and economic development is the responsibility of city, not county, government.
For everybody's sake, we wish Linn a better 2005.