Dear John: An open letter from Oregon’s citizens to Gov. John Kitzhaber


by Lars Larson

Dear John,

It has been an interesting relationship for the past twenty years, since we hooked up in 1994. Those cowboy boots and blue jeans, no matter the occasion…the stylish grey hair and folksy manner used to make some of us swoon.  We knew you were a doctor, so we trusted you with our health care…although that Oregon Health Plan practically emptied our bank accounts.  Even you admitted it was a failure.

Then there was the time you walked out the door and declared Oregon ungovernable.  We thought the relationship was over at that point, but you came back and ran again.

Twenty years with you hasn’t done much for jobs here.  Total employment has grown by only 200-thousand…that’s only about ten thousand jobs a year for high school graduates.  Speaking of graduates, too many of the kids in those schools you talked us into spending billions on DON’T graduate. Too many of the students that manage to graduate show up at University of Oregon and Oregon State without the ability to do college level work. What does that diploma actually mean for those students?

You hired that guy Rudy Crew from New York and paid him big bucks. As I recall, Rudy spent a year on vacation giving speeches before he finally walked out early on that three year contract.  That sure was expensive.  But the unions for the teachers and other state workers loved you. You always seem to come through for them.

Dear John-We hoped you would help a lot of us find jobs but you turned your back on the logging industry, the farmers, and the fishermen with rules that put a lot of us out of jobs.  You told us the state wouldn’t let in jobs with coal, oil and natural gas because it would dirty the sky over Beijing.  Did you really think that denying the ChiComs all that fossil fuel would stop them from getting it, John?

Then you brought us Cylvia Hayes.  You were clearly smitten with her. You ordered the Oregon News Media to call her First Lady, even though she’s not. We all watched as those reporters obeyed and rolled over like dogs.

Now we find out that Cylvia been a criminal for much of the past twenty years. She married for money and broke federal laws. We found out that you let her run her private business out of your office with helpers paid for by taxpayers. When she refused to stop last year, your lawyers rewrote the rules so it was all legal. The icing on this very sad cake is she owned a pot farm in Washington state long before it became legal. Despite all her lies to us and to you, we’re supposed to take you at your word, and give you another term?

John, it’s time we broke up.  The boots and the buckle seem a little care worn and the company you choose to keep now seems tawdry, instead of hip and cool.  It’s time we sent you off to your little piece of land on the North Umpqua where your generous P.E.R.S. pension will let you go fly fishing every day, while the rest of us try to clean up the mess you have left behind.

To quote a famous Dear John letter written a long time ago…

“I’ve always thought of being in love as being willing to do anything for the other person—starve to buy them bread and not mind living in Siberia with them—and I’ve always thought that every minute away from them would be hell—so looking at it that [way] I guess I’m not in love with you.”

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