Friday, March 23, 2007


Sen. Ted Ferrioli

900 Court St. NE, S-223
Salem, OR 97301

In Thursday’s (3/22/07) Baker City Herald, a smiling State Senator and logging lobbyist, Ted Ferrioli, was featured on the front page as the poster child for ethical leadership. In an amendment to budget legislation (SB 10), the Senator’s would create a $14.5 million endowment to provide “permanent” funding for the Government Standards and Practices Commission (G.S.P.C.), the State’s defanged ethics watchdog. Actually, the paper was just doing a favorable public relations piece for the Senator by repeating deceptive quotes he made in his press release. There was no attempt to inform Baker County readers of what the real effect of his amendment would be. The article crowed about Ferrioli’s amendment providing a $600,000 annual budget in “perpetuity” and gave prominent space to his statement that “Oregon is ready for leaders who are above reproach.” Ferrioli is also quoted as saying that “An independent watchdog is critical to keeping the legislature accountable.” The paper also quoted another Republican, Senator David Nelson, saying “Giving our ethical watchdogs permanent, stable funding will take the politics out of our ethics oversight” and that “This is about the public trust.”

Well, yes, it is about the public trust alright. The press release and article clearly show why the public shouldn’t trust Ferrioli, Nelson, or the Baker City Herald.

If the Herald had looked into it and given an objective report instead of passing on the Senator’s propaganda, they would have known that the Commission is seriously under-funded. They wouldn't be able to achieve their most important goals or carry out their increasing responsibilities with a $600,000 budget. After all, they can’t even achieve their mandate with their current budget of over $650,000. Their budget has shrunk from around a million dollars since 1999 and they think they need at least $1.2 million to function at even a moderately effective level. They have only one investigator who is charged with covering the entire state and they don’t have the funds to increase web access to ethics education materials and ethics related documents for either public officials or the general public. Additionally, the “permanent, stable funding” isn’t necessarily either. The legislature could steal from the endowment anytime they saw fit.

Another option that has been put forward, and that the Herald did not bother to report on, would be to have government entities pay an assessment of approximately $7.50 per government employee to go towards funding the Commission. That money would be transferred from the liquor fund to be applied to the Commission’s annual budget. Each year they could proceed in a rational manner to seek the amount of money that was needed to accomplish their goals and the reforms that have been brought forward by the legislature. They don’t need to be hamstrung in their efforts to ensure ethical government by permanent under-funding from an arbitrarily set budget.

Crippling the watchdog by under funding the Commission in “perpetuity” is hardly going to improve government ethics and accountability. Financially starving and destroying the effectiveness of our regulatory and management agencies is an old Republican strategy for undermining accountability. The cruelly deceptive and thoroughly dishonest grand standing by Ferrioli is disgusting to say the least, and you’ve got to wonder why the Herald would want to have any part in promoting it.



"He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust." -- St. Thomas Aquinas

Men do less than they ought, unless they do all that they can. -- Thomas Carlyle

He who allows oppression, shares the crime. -- Erasmus Darwin

Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. -- Paulo Freire

In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade-unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade-unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up. -- attributed to Rev. Martin Niemoller


A Time For Anger, A Call To Action

By Bill Moyers

When Woodrow Wilson spoke of democracy releasing the energies of every human being, he was declaring that we cannot leave our destiny to politicians, elites, and experts; either we take democracy into our own hands, or others will take democracy from us.

Punishing A People For Enduring A Dictator

An interview with Fmr. UN Iraq Mission Chief Hans Von Sponeck

Hans Von Sponeck has been a fierce critic of the war. In the late 1990s, he was the coordinator of the United Nations Humanitarian Mission in Iraq. He resigned in protest over the UN sanctions regime. He is also a former Assistant Secretary General of the UN. Audio and transcript

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