Oregon’s Governor and the Grifter(s)

“It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.”

— Frank Herbert

Oregon’s Governor-for-Life John Kitzhaber, 68, resigned Friday the 13th.  His resignation letter was the usual lawyerly-parsed, blame-the-media/take no responsibility sham we’re used to seeing. He had been governor from 1995-2003 and again from 2011 until now. The basic allegations which forced the rest of the state’s Democratic Party elite – Senate President, House Speaker, State Treasurer and others to join the state’s largest newspaper and call for his resignation – involve influence-peddling by his ten-year girlfriend/fiancée Cylvia Hayes. Hayes, 48, – a woman with a grifter’s history – pretty much publically advertised that her clout with the governor was for sale and cashed in for over $200,000 at the same time she was his advisor on energy policy, working out of the governor’s mansion and using government employees as subordinates. The most damning allegation? She took over $118,000 from a sham non-profit that went defunct without ever filing a report with the IRS. She herself never reported her payments. The entire purpose was to shake loose tens of millions of state subsidies for “Green” Energy projects.

The Energy Foundation – Banksters for the “Green” “Movement.”

It’s all because of something called the 25 by 25 Renewable Energy Portfolio standards that were quietly adopted in Oregon (and many other states). It requires that 25% of the energy mix in Oregon’s grid to come from Renewable sources by 2025. A shadowy non-profit called The Apollo Alliance went state to state pushing the concept. Suddenly, there was a huge pool of tax money to be tapped by private entities with ties to renewable energy. Mission Accomplished!

In 2013, Cylvia Hayes was hired by the Energy Foundation. This San Francisco group, tied to billionaire Democrat sugar daddy and potential California US Senate candidate Tom Steyer, paid her $40,000 dollars and funded part of her fellowship with Clean Economy Development Center, a clean-energy group based in Washington, D.C, though Hayes seems to have been their only paid fellow. Her fellowship salary was the $118,000 she did not report. The CEDC was stripped of its tax status in 2014 for failing to file IRS returns for three consecutive years.

The most damning thing for Kitzhaber is that he then hired the guy who arranged for Hayes’ Fellowship as his own highest-paid aide – at a $162,720 annual salary. Somehow, they thought no one would notice!

The “Green” Biomassacre

Number of years the United States could meet its energy needs by burning all its trees: 1

– Harpers List, January 2006

The Apollo Alliance and allies have also been traveling around pushing Biomass projects, greenwashing the forest habitat, species and huge carbon cost of burning trees (let alone trash which they also consider “renewable”) – a process 1.5 times dirtier than burning coal – for small amounts of electrons. There’s a reason for it. After all the tens of millions in wind farm subsidies and other renewables, they make up about 4.7% of the power in Oregon’s grid – power that is useless on its own without coal-powered baseload energy regulating the grid from the Boardman Coal Plant, Oregon’s largest carbon polluter. And, now theBoardman Plant is being forced to go off coal and — you guessed it — switch over to Biomass. Burning our forests is the only way they can possibly meet the 25% target (Though some are trying to get Nukes declared renewables for portfolio purposes!).

Since the Democrats cannot call for the necessary reduced energy consumption in our grow-or-die economy (they’ve proven that time and again in their regular endorsements of oil wars) , they have fully embraced forest liquidation. Green groups funded by the same cabal of foundations have also come on board plans to strip forests for Biomass under the guise of fire-proofing them. That part of the equation has corrupted elected officials at the federal level with Democrats Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Peter DeFazio echoing John Kitzhaber and the two other Democrats on the State Land Board in calling for massive increases in logging on public forests – state and federal – and successful plans to sell off parts of our state forests

The quietly adopted 25 by 25 Renewable Energy Portfolio corrupted Oregon Democrats…as a whole, not just Kitzhaber. It’s also one of those tip of the iceberg things. Green Crony Capitalism is also a national phenomenon, not just Oregon.  And it’s been exposed here and hit here in Oregon hard because it’s partly a one-party state thing,

The fact that the Oregon GOP is certifiable is a sad part of the equation.  Flat Earthers would be a kind way of describing them. The fact that a lot of this was know before the election and Oregonians still voted for Kitzhaber is telling. His opponent was atrocious. There are no more Tom McCalls, Vic Atiyehs or even Bob Packwoods in the Oregon GOP. They’d be drummed out in a second these days.

From Forest Champion to Henry Stamper reincarnated

The first time I met John Kitzhaber was in 1984, when I caught the then State Senator, two other senators, a State Rep and some aides sneaking into Breitenbush Hot Springs one night -“our” senator and representative among them.  Instead of kicking them out, I joined them in the tubs and lobbied them about the Ancient Forest logging that was encroaching on us; and, for their support in stopping it.

In those days, Kitzhaber was a young, handsome emergency room doctor turned up-and-rising political star. He was known for driving to favorite Oregon fly-fishing spots with a “Hayduke Lives” bumpersticker. Green Cred galore.

By 1989, I was deeply involved in the Ancient Forest Campaign as vice-president of the statewide grassroots’ group the Oregon Natural Resources Council (ONRC) and as a co-founder of the Friends of Opal Creek. Now-Senate President Kitzhaber championed Senate Bill 500. The Bill was one of the many genius schemes of George Atiyeh that eventually led to the protected status of Opal Creek. The Bill would have the United States Forest Service lease 35,000 acres, including the entire Opal Creek basin as a Wild State Park for $1 a year.  There were precedents. Other State Parks are leased this way.

So, the day of the hearing on the Bill 500 in the State Capitol, Big Timber gave their workers the day off. They descended on Salem, surrounding the Capitol with log trucks causing a monumental traffic tie-up, very loudly, in force. Women from a group called Women for Timber accosted Atiyeh on the Capitol steps. It was tense.

Every one of the rooms in the building that were hooked up to TVs had the proceedings showing  to full houses. The hallways were crowded. We showed our multi-media slideshow of spectacular forests juxtaposed with shots of barren clearcut wastelands, eroded hillsides and muddied waterways. It ended with a hush. We knew then and there that no matter what, Opal Creek would not be cut.

Things changed.  By 1995, Kitzhaber was elected Governor. Democrat Barbara Roberts was the governor at the time and she was also caring for her dying husband – long-time State Senator Frark Roberts. Before, she could announce for reelection; Kitzhaber cut her off at the knees and let her know he was out to oust her in a Primary. Roberts is, by far, the greenest Democrat governor in Oregon history. (Top honors goes to GOP Gov. Tom McCall.)

At the time, Roberts had survived not one, but two Recalls funded by Aaron Jones of Seneca Sawmills. Recently, Kitzhaber sold off 1500 acres of the Elliott State Forest to…Seneca Timber. Roberts is also Oregon’s only woman governor, until Wednesday, when openly-bisexual Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown is sworn in as Kitzhaber’s successor. (Comcast Kate Brown comes in complete with her own scandal, having used her position as Secretary of State to promote Comcast’s interests, even having Comcast write pro-Comcast endorsement letters signed by her as a state official- “I know that Comcast is committed to promoting positive social change, decreasing the digital divide, and expanding access to broadband for low income families.” And, she has been a rubberstamp for Kitzhaber’s raids on state forests.)

All along, Big Timber has enjoyed a next-to-nothing tax rate on their vast private holdings. On top of that, virtually ALL trees cut on those private timberlands are exported as a raw product – log or chip. Kitzhaber has done nothing to bring about tax equity regarding the industry. Nor, has he even challenged the export/resource colony issue. But, he blithely talks about rural jobs and increasing logging to help with poor rural counties – the very counties that give Big Timber the free tax ride. Like former Rep. Les AuCoin who suspended then laws 9 times to facilitate Ancient Forest liquidation and current ones like Wyden and DeFazio,  Kitzhaber would rather the larger pool of taxpayers – state or  federal – shoulder the burden for these counties; ironically, all cultishly GOP counties!

Man of the People?

While Kitzhaber has been good on placing a moratorium on Capital Punishment in the state, he has been very bad on Cannabis Prohibition. Vast numbers of Oregonians have been arrested, fined and jailed for cannabis possession in his terms in office. In 1997, he backed and signed legislation recriminalizing marijuana. Oregon voters exercised our rights to a Referendum and voted it down 9 -1. Recently just about the sole thing he has done – other than dodge incoming revelations – since Inauguration is push changes in the recently passed law that ended Prohibition and set s rule for legal cannabis in the state. He seeks to lower the possession limit and how much one can grow on one’s own. Of course, he would – forcing people to buy from the state-licensed stores leads to more tax revenue. Measure 91 which ended Prohibition passed 56 – 44%. Kitzbaher was reelected with just fewer than 50%. He may well have not even been reelected without those anti-Prohibition voters.

In his most recent incarnation as governor after an eight-year hiatus, he called the Legislature into Special Session to give NIKE a $500,000,000 tax break and cut the State workers’ Pension Fund by $5 billion.

Ultimately, Kitzhaber was undone by hubris. He always thought he was the smartest guy in the room. He was never warm and approachable. He clearly feels the rules never apply to him. With Kitzhaber, it was always “my way or the highway.” He recently fired his own appointee to the state Transportation Boardbecause she voted against a $2 million subsidy for a coal export facility – said facilities are something Kitzhaber has publicly stated he opposes and has gotten praise from Green Central for it!

The National Ramifications

While crony capitalism is generally the GOP’s bread and butter; “green” crony capitalism is a gluten-free croissant and almond butter concoction that has taken down one narcissistic Democrat in backwater Oregon. The virus, however, has settled in across the country. Biomass plants are springing up like Starbuck’s near every forest carbon sink. Subsidized “green” energy projects abound.

The 25 x 25 Portfolio or various versions of it continue in Oregon and elsewhere. The Democrat-connected unaccountable big foundations fully own the paid professional “green” movement. Like anything else that is constantly oversold, Green Energy is no savior…neither are the Democrats. We must get rid of this parasitic “green” version of the “growth” economy just as we must drastically lower our carbon addiction… and Power Down and People Down if we and far too many innocent species are to have any chance. We could power the grid on unicorn farts; but if we continue to consume at the same (or likely higher) rates, we still eat the planet.

MICHAEL DONNELLY lives in Salem, Oregon He is a long-time environmental activist. He can be reached at: pahtoo@aol.com


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MICHAEL DONNELLY has been an environmental activist since before that first Earth Day. He was in the thick of the Pacific Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign; garnering some collective victories and lamenting numerous defeats. He can be reached at pahtoo@aol.com

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