Oh to be in Oregon, where the subpoenas are flying and the state’s normally absentee Governor tuned in just long enough to check out on Friday. John Kitzhaber, just weeks into a record setting fourth term, resigned amidst a growing scandal related to his fiancé, influence peddling, dirty politics and clean energy. The point of the resignation will be largely lost on most in the nation, as his departure is overshadowed in the media by his replacement, Secretary of State Kate Brown. Nationally we know nothing of Ms. Brown’s accomplishments or priorities, but we darn sure know she is the nation’s firstest ever openly bi-sexual Governor.

That’s about the only thing the media twaddle is telling us at the moment. They are so excited they can barely control their bladders.

The fact that Oregon politics is rife with avarice and corruption may be a strange concept to many, except of course for citizens of Illinois, who have become accustomed to prison being the retirement destination of at least 4 of their last 7 Governors. Citizens there will issue a collective shrug and say, “Call us when someone is dead.”

For the workers’ compensation industry, the Kitzhaber resignation will be meaningless for all but those in Oregon, where he was a central figure in the SAIF termination of John Plotkin. Plotkin was terminated after Kitzhabers office approved the action, and then completely ignored the controversy as it became clear it had been duped by those responsible for the “investigation”. Kitzhaber’s evasiveness and avoidance of the issue was a major aggravation for SAIF employees, who today, save for the fact that it is a Federal holiday, would be dancing in their cubicles at the news of his departure. I guess they’ll have to dance tomorrow instead.

Indeed, Kitzhaber did more than ignore the issue. He actively evaded any involvement with SAIF at the peak of the Plotkin termination controversy. SAIF celebrated a major milestone last summer, marking its 100th year in existence. Executives at the company, when not busy railroading their new CEO, spent many months planning a huge 100 year blowout gala event to mark the occasion. Governor Kitzhaber was slated to be a central speaker at the gala. One of the documents included in the thousands of records released as part of the Plotkin termination was a proposed schedule for that day’s events, showing the Governor was scheduled to speak on the impact on Oregon of a successful Workers' Compensation system. Instead I believe they got Floyd Flibbleheimer, Executive Mansion Mail Room Assistant (Level 3) speaking on “How Workers' Compensation Made a Governor Simply Vanish”.

To be fair, the Governor wasn't the only big-wig to skip the SAIF 100 year gala. On the schedule there was a section introducing SAIF Chairperson, Cathy Travis. That was apparently later modified to “Introduce the empty chair where Board Chairperson Cathy Travis was originally scheduled to be sitting”. In fact, I understand not a single board member attended the vastly scaled back celebration, which was ultimately held at a Chuck E. Cheese.  

It was probably for their personal safety, and not a personal distaste for pizza.

For his resignation letter, Kitzhaber issued an almost pitiful litany of accomplishments, appearing to try and salvage whatever legacy possible out of his dismal fall from grace. One of the most ironic points of the diatribe was the segment below, which was initially singled out by a SAIF employee. He posted it in a secret place where SAIF employees gather to talk amongst themselves. It is in the dark net somewhere. It is definitely not Facebook, so don’t look there. The Kitzhaber segment reads:

“I must also say that it is deeply troubling to me to realize that we have come to a place in the history of this great state of ours where a person can be charged, tried, convicted and sentenced by the media with no due process and no independent verification of the allegations involved…It is something that is hard for me to comprehend – something we might expect in Washington, D.C. but surely not in Oregon.”

Indeed. Just ask John Plotkin about lack of due process. The SAIF board appointed by the Guv operated with much the same process that he seems to now resent.

Karma is a heartless bitch, Kitz, baby. Hasta La Vista, pal.

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For a list of Bob’s other SAIF/Plotkin articles (as well as a couple old AASCIF articles that get picked up in the search), Click here.

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