1 week, 6x caught Gov’t hiding from public

By Taxpayers Association of Oregon


Like shark week in the Discovery channel, so comes last week where we tallied seven times ina  single week when various politicians and government officials were caught hiding things from the public.


Here they are:


#1. Commissioner hides $540 million surplus.   Portland City Commissioner Carmen Rubio knew that a $540 million surplus came in from the Portland Clean Energy Tax but waited two months to tell the public.  She used those two months to get her government staff to make a list of how to spend it and receive it (which effectively blocked other Commissioners and private non-profits from benefiting).   Rubio announced the surplus in tandem with their ready-made list on how to spend it all.

#2. Portland Public Schools tries to rush sale of $80 million headquarters to political friendly non-profit.   John Charles of Cascade Policy Institute criticized the rushed plan because it leaves out others buyers as he saidThey don’t have to sell, they don’t have to do this, they can wait. They’ve waited for years, they’ve been talking about it. They should make this an open, competitive process because it’s a valuable asset.”

#3. Health Department not only hid $60,000 beer tax study, they shared the results only with pro-beer tax political friends.  The Oregon Health Authority favored a tax on alcohol, but their $60,000 study showed it didn’t help.  So they decided to keep the results from both lawmakers and the public who paid for it.  Last week we learned that the Department shared the data with people who pushed for higher taxes on alcohol.   The Oregon Health Authority tried to change the message of the study results (which they didn’t like).  The Oregon Health Authority then ignored the results and lobbied for taxes anyways.  (read more here).

#4. 43-page amendment released day before hearing.   The Campaign Finance reform bill was given a public hearing but the 43-page amendment, which gut-and-stuffed the original bill, was not released until the day before the hearing.  The official State explanation of the bill was not released until the evening before the noon hearing the following day.  Read more here.

#5. Health Authority won’t respond to media questions on effectiveness of newly rebooted and highly expensive Measure 110 helpline.  The Health Authority just spent $2.7 million rebooting the failed drug addiction helpline to better improve service and awareness. Two months later, they report that only 30 people have called the hotline.  The Oregonian reports, “Oregon Health Authority spokesperson Tim Heider did not respond to an email asking how many of the 30 callers completed a substance use screening and sought a treatment referral since the state switched contracts.Neither the president nor executive director of Health Resources in Action responded to an email asking for helpline data and details of the organization’s outreach to law enforcement.”   It may be that only a few people actually were helped by this new $2.7 million reboot project.

#6. Officials won’t tell parents back-up plan for damaged schools.  Several Portland Public Schools were damaged by the snow storm forcing students into alternative locations.  At a public hearing, parents wanted to know what happens if the school cannot be repaired by the Fall term.  KOIN-TV 6 notes, “District officials did not share any exact plans if the schools are unable to reopen as  planned this fall – something many parents asked about during Wednesday’s meeting”.  Parents wish to plan for the best school for their children this Fall and do not wish to be left to surprises once Summer ends.


Details on hiding Clean Energy Tax surplus: The Oregonian reports, “In mid-December, Rubio called a surprise news conference where she announced the fund would bring in an additional, unexpected $540 million in revenue over the next five years – on top of the $750 million, for a projected revenue total of $1.3 billion. At the event, Rubio also rolled out a detailed plan of how she proposed to spend the latest windfall on a vast array of city climate-related projects and programs. Some seemed a stretch, given the ballot measure’s stated aims. There was no community engagement or vetting of projects – a significant departure from the previously established process. Rubio handed the fund’s committee a ready-made list of ideas to rubber stamp, … Rubio and bureau leaders had known about the staggering surplus for more than two months before making it public or even disclosing it to the advisory committee… Rubio and planning and sustainability bureau staff used the two months between the projections to solicit ideas from all city bureaus to create a list of shovel-ready projects that could benefit from the surplus.”

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