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Guest Editorial  by Senator Doug Whitsett, Oregon District 28, Pioneer Press September 20, 2006  

Importance of our Oregon Governor                       

The importance of our Governor is underestimated by many Oregonians. The Governor is not just a figurehead. Our Governor controls an incredible amount of political and economic power. In every aspect he is our Stateís CEO.

The Governor and his staff write the budget. More than ninety percent of our current state budget was adopted by the legislature just as it was written by the governorís staff. In fact, much of the budget is developed for the Governor by his agenciesí employees. Not surprisingly, that workforce uniformly requests more money for employee compensation and agency growth.

The Governor has constitutional veto power over all legislation. His veto power is outright on policy bills. It is both outright and line item on money bills where he may select and chose items within the bill to reject. A two thirds majority of both chambers of the Legislature is required to override his veto power. That does not happen very often. For instance, former Governor John Kitzhaber was affectionately known as Dr. No because he successfully vetoed about two hundred bills during eight years when Republicans held substantial majorities in both chambers of the legislature.

The Governor appoints the heads of all state agencies. He selects like minded individuals to lead those agencies. All appointed agency directors serve at the governorís pleasure. Not surprisingly, agency heads hire like minded people to staff their agencies.

The Governor appoints virtually all members of Oregonís boards and commissions. The appointees are charged with the responsibility to represent the peoplesí interests and to set agency policy within their statutory authority. These appointees also serve at the Governors pleasure

Senate confirmation is required for most of the Governorís appointments. Unfortunately, at this time the process is largely a charade because, with a Democratic Governor and a Senate Democratic majority of eighteen votes, confirmation is virtually automatic. These appointments are often confirmed in bank, in mass, following suspension of Senate rules by the Democrat majority of eighteen.

We should look at the resumes of these appointed department directors, board and commission members. A disproportionate number of these appointees previously worked for organizations such as Sierra Club, Water Watch, Audubon Society, California Coastal Commission, Defenders of Wildlife, Oregon Natural Resources Council, Oregon Trout and the National Wildlife Federation. They are drawn from a veritable Rogues Gallery of socialist and activist environmental agendas.

For instance, the Board of Geology does not have a member geologist. The Water Resources Commission has no hydrologist, no geologist, and no engineer. However the Water Resources Commission is well represented by organizations such as Water Watch of Oregon.

Most egregious is how the process actually works. Agency staffs develop agendas. They present these action plans to the boards and commissions who are often woefully unqualified and unprepared to analyze the proposed agenda. Citizen testimony is encouraged and then largely disregarded. Any board members or commissioners who might object to the proposed agenda are dissuaded by an assistant attorney general assigned to the board or commission. These attorneys are usually well versed in administrative law but generally have neither expertise nor interest in the subject matter of the agenda. The commission then adopts the agenda prepared by the agency staff and tells the director to make it so. The agency directors then tell their staff that they must enforce the agenda that the staff developed.

The Governor functionally appoints the state judiciary.

Judges customarily retire in mid-term allowing the governor to appoint a replacement. The new sitting judge then runs for reelection as an incumbent. Incumbent judges win reelection more than 95% of the time. This is the predominant practice in District, Appellate, and Supreme Court elections. Supreme Court Justice Riggs recently moved his announced retirement forward a few months to insure Governor Kulongoski the opportunity to appoint his successor before the fall election. As an example of the prevalence of this practice, when Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Carson decided to force a real election by retiring at the end of his current judicial term his decision made headlines throughout Oregon.

The Governorís Executive Order Power is absolute unless overridden by legislative vote, by initiative, or remanded by a subsequent governor. For instance, the adoption of the California emissions standards for Oregon vehicles is by order of Governor Ted Kulongoski in direct contradiction to the written directions of the Legislature. Our Governor simply line item vetoed the written direction of the Legislature from an appropriation bill and then ordered ODEQ to make it happen. This order will add up to $3,000 to the cost of a new vehicle in Oregon while resulting in no measurable reduction in global CO2

The next Governor can change the course of Oregon.

Ron Saxton has promised to do just that by limiting spending by vetoing largess again and again until his message is understood. He has promised to change agency leadership, change the makeup of all boards and commissions, and to appoint fair judges.

Our people have suffered too much and too long from a government that has been a marionette for public employees unions, for preservationist environmental agendas, and for a judiciary with little respect for constitutional law. Our state has undergone nearly twenty five years of liberal Democratic control. It is time for a change to conservative business leadership.

We have the ability to elect Ron Saxton Governor of Oregon. We had plenty of votes to elect Kevin Mannix four years ago. We did not exercise our right to vote and Kevin was narrowly defeated. We must not let that happen again

Not only must we vote for Ron Saxton, we must convince our family, our friends, our business associates  and our neighbors to vote. And we must convince them to influence their family, friends, business associates and neighbors to vote.

          Ted Kulongoski is the most vulnerable incumbent Governor in the United States today. If we do not remove him from office we have only ourselves to blame. Start today and do not stop until Ron Saxton is Governor of Oregon.

Senator Doug Whitsett

District 28


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