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Another blow for Hayden Island

On Sept. 26, it was announced that Gov. John Kitzhaber appointed Elisa Dozono to an unpaid, volunteer position on the Oregon Lottery Commission. Cryptically, the report says, “...the appointment is a plum political one.”

The Oregon Lottery generates more than $500 million a year, most of it from video gambling machines in bars and taverns. Dozono is a partner in the Miller Nash law firm. Miller Nash represents the Dotty’s Deli chain, one of the largest lottery retailers. Kitzhaber’s spokesman Tim Raphael states, “We don’t expect any legal or ethical conflicts.”

Recently, the Oregon Government Ethics Commission cleared Dozono for the appointment and, of course, she was confirmed by the Senate. Has anyone read the ethics opinion? Please read the opinion rendered July 30.

Interestingly, Ms. Dozono poses the question as a non-equity partner in Miller Nash and therefore not directly compensated from legal work performed on behalf of Dotty’s: Would the representation of Dotty’s by other Miller Nash attorneys prevent her from serving on the Lottery Commission?

I guess I am naive in thinking that this appointment is without doubt “political capital” for Miller Nash and will not mean a financial benefit to the firm? After years in the lawyer business, you can bet Dozono and Miller Nash don’t consider this appointment as counting towards their pro bono obligation, but on the contrary look to cash in on the “political capital” this political plum represents.

The ethics opinion saw no conflict and justified the finding in that she received no direct benefit from Miller Nash representing Dotty’s; however, it took three pages of circumlocution to accomplish that result.

More importantly, are we to believe if non-equity partner Dozono takes positions contrary to Miller Nash’s client Dotty’s she will experience no negative impact on her career at Miller Nash? In my experience, if a non-equity partner doesn’t produce income or alienates an important client, tenure at that firm is short lived.

Does Elisa Dozono expect communities like Hayden Island — with six lottery outlets along North Jantzen Beach Avenue with at least 36 slot machines working night and day for the Dotty’s Deli chain — to be objective when considering any new applications for Miller Nash’s client Dotty’s?

Governor, is this any way to build trust in small communities who expect protection from predatory and greedy business practices and shoddy agency control? How obvious does it have to get that Dozono, when acting as commissioner, is going to encounter legal or ethical conflicts involving Dotty’s or any other lottery retailer?

Even though she isn’t the attorney in charge of the Dotty’s account, she will be accountable to the firm by her treatment of Dotty’s as a non-paid volunteer on the Lottery Commission holding a sweet plum of a political appointment.

Has Elisa Dozono considered Canon 9 Code of Professional Responsibility that a lawyer SHOULD even avoid the appearance of professional impropriety?

President Lincoln at Gettysburg gave us the immortal words of what our government must be, “By the People, for the People and of the People.” Governor Kitzhaber now amends that to, “By Dotty’s, for Dotty’s and of Dotty’s.”

Shame on you Governor ... lead, don’t impede.

Charles A. Kuffner has been active in Stop Lottery Row, an organization opposed to the “destruction of Hayden Island” from the growing presence of businesses featuring lottery games there. He has been a Hayden Island resident since 1999.