Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Governor shouldn’t be making money speaking

To the Editor:

There’s been very little fuss about it, which has surprised me. Yet, maybe it’s that the American public is so used to politicians these days doing this and that that would have outraged voters just a few years ago, that a permanent jaded outlook has cured like concrete.

I reference the decision by the Oregon Government Ethics Committee to respond in the positive to Governor John Kitzhaber’s request that he be allowed to go to and then collect speaking fees for presenting his views on health policy wherever in the world he’s invited to do so. Given the sounds of silence that have followed this decision, apparently no one besides me cares.

It just could be, too, that the guy who unilaterally canceled the state’s death penalty, kicked the superintendent of public instruction out of her elective office and took it over himself, attacked those who mainly elected him, PERS retirees, etcetera, cannot be stopped. . . . save by recall.

Just a year or so ago, Kitzhaber was hell-bent on being elected to a third term so he could be Oregon’s governor again. He campaigned for the job for months and months before the November, 2010 election (when he could have chosen to be out collecting speaking fees instead). Once in office he began to announce a number of reforms he wanted to make and began to work on behalf of them.

Now, he wants to spend his time making more money by carrying his health policy ideas wherever he’s asked by those who seek them. That means he will not be tending to the work for which he asked to be elected. There’s also the issue of his pay: as it stands now, he will receive his full pay as governor and then extra pay for his speaking gigs. Of course, medical doctors are used to big bucks, not paltry politician pay.

Does all this governor-running-around-making-speeches-for-pay strike you as right and good? It’s much more than a little disappointing to me. Meanwhile, neither wealthy nor famous, that means I’m left to talk to myself and must wait until the next gubernatorial-election year to express my disfavor. Ugh!

Gene H. McIntyre