The governor's office can shine again
As Oregon Gov. Kate Brown steps into office this week, the 2015 legislative session is off and running, and the publics collective head is still spinning from the swiftness of former Gov. John Kitzhabers downfall.
Given the amount of work to be done, Brown has no time for a honeymoon with legislators or voters. But she also shouldnt dive into her new role without reflecting on lessons to be learned from the departure of her immediate predecessor.
Kitzhabers troubles may or may not involve criminal actions. That will be determined by federal and state investigations already under way. But whether laws were broken or not, he made mistakes any governor would do well to avoid.
The shortcomings in Kitzhabers third term included his lack of
attention to detail and his willingness to trust people who didnt necessarily deserve such trust. On the other hand, there didnt appear to be anyone within the Kitzhaber administration who had the clout needed to tell the boss to get his fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, out of state business if she couldnt separate it from her private financial affairs.
From a personality standpoint, Brown appears much less detached than Kitzhaber, which makes us optimistic she will be fully engaged and attentive to her most significant priorities.
Her appointment of a former aide, Brian Shipley, as her chief of staff is a good first step toward building a team distinct from Kitzhabers most recent administration. However, she must make it clear to Shipley and the rest of her aides that loyalty to the governor doesnt always mean agreeing with everything she has to say.
Its also important for Brown
or any elected official to
acknowledge that citizens have high standards for public service. Being governor is an honor, not a burden. When Kitzhaber made his final public statement last week, he lashed out at the press and his former
allies, saying he wasnt allowed due process.
From a strictly legal standpoint, Kitzhaber hasnt been given his day in court. But even if it is determined that no laws were broken, that doesnt mean Kitzhaber deserved to remain in office.
Public officials like Caesars wife must be above suspicion. In his parting words last week, Kitzhaber failed to recognize this age-old expectation, choosing instead to cast himself as victim.
This line of defense fails the credibility test, however, because Kitzhaber spent the past few months frustrating every attempt to uncover public records and get at the truth.
Kitzhaber had many accomplishments in his long political career, but his detachment at the end left not just the media, but the public as a whole, in the dark. Gov. Kate Brown now has a chance to throw open the shades and let the light shine fully into the governors office once again.Add a comment