Department of Justice Union Endorses Greg Macpherson -- Follow Up Commentary

Marc Abrams

As I posted Friday, the Oregon Association of Justice Attorneys, AFSCME Local 1085, representing the assistant attorneys general of the state of Oregon, have endorsed Greg Macpherson for Attorney General. This post is not on behalf of OAJA, but is a personal reflection on some of the conversations that I heard or participated in. I would caution that there is not a single or official reason why OAJA made its endorsement of Rep. Macpherson for Attorney General any more than there is a specific and knowable reason explaining the vote of any group of people in any election. Each AAG has his or her own reason or combination of reasons for their vote, whether to endorse or not and, if so, which candidate to endorse. Members were not required to state a reason for their individual decisions.

That having been said, certain themes emerged in talks I had over the two week voting window, and, given the questions raised in the last thread, it might be helpful for me to note some of the issues that were raised in the “water cooler conversations” I heard regarding this endorsement.

A very important starting point is that, although many were (obviously) concerned about internal, union issues, overwhelmingly I sensed AAGs were thinking about how the Department of Justice can or should do business, and what attorneys heard from Greg and from John Kroger about their vision for DOJ and for its clients – the agencies and people of the state of Oregon.

In that regard, I heard considerable discussion as to the priorities each man espoused. In particular, the heavy emphasis Prof. Kroger placed on methamphetamine issues that are, at best, a minute component of DOJs mission, raised the issue of whether there was a good match between the candidate and the job. To be sure, Rep. Macpherson also rises this subject, but not as the main tent pole of his stump speech. And, contrary to some efforts to paint one candidate as a change agent and the other as “more of the same,” both made great points about further and appropriate expansion in a number of areas, particularly environmental enforcement.

Experience – both legal and legislative – was discussed. DOJ is funded by a variety of mechanisms, but the largest is, simply, that we bill for our time. Our rate is set not by the AG, but by the Legislature. Rep. Macpherson had experience in getting difficult legislation through the House, and, in addition, is Chair of Judiciary. As the head of Judiciary, Greg had obviously developed a deep and nuanced understanding of the different functions of DOJ. As to legal experience, although John is a dozen years out of law school, only six of those were spent practicing law. While valuable, such experience did not directly bear on the work the Attorney General would perform. By contrast, Greg has roughly three decades of practice. While Macpherson’s work was decidedly less glamorous, the skills acquired are no less pertinent to the AG position (it’s been a loooong time since the AG was someone with primarily trial experience, and it is not a prerequisite).

Another issue, frankly, was John’s refusal to remove an offensive Steve Duin column from his web site. That column, now six months old, referred to the DOJ lawyers as “289 underachievers.” It was hard for many to fathom how someone who says he wants a good relationship with the workers in the Department would take that position merely because the article – which could have been edited or paraphrased – said good things about him. Although many labor unions have endorsed John, they either did not know about or ignored this slap at their brothers and sisters in labor. And, having sat in on some of those discussions, it appears clear that Labor support for John has more to do with disagreements with Greg about the 2003 PERS reform than it does with any other factor. Our members are not unaware of Rep. Macpherson’s role in PERS changes, but I presume that was factored into their decisions.

None of this is to say that John Kroger would be a bad Attorney General. As the OAJA endorsement press release notes, OAJA does believe that there are two good candidates here. But the membership listened, considered, and made a decision, as will each of us in the coming weeks.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Marc, will you please preview before posting to prevent the formatting errors? Also, please use the jump so as to not take up the majority of the front page. Thanks!

  • (Show?)

    and maybe the spelling errors -- commentary....thanks!

  • Logan Gilles (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I guess I'm just not sure why this topic merited two posts.

    I think it's a bit much to claim that having that Duin column on his site is a "slap at brothers and sisters in labor." Many people would argue that the PERS reforms were a much bigger "slap" at a lot more people.

  • (Show?)

    Two posts for two reasons:

    1) One was official announcement, other was commentary, and they ought to be separate.

    2) People were asking questions that needed to be answered distinct from the official announcement, and I noted right at the start that was what I would do.

    Whether or not PERS reform was a slap or a salvation to the system (as some believe) is irrelevant to whether the other act -- posting an anti-AAG column on one's web site -- is also a slap. I'm just reporting that I heard a lot of resentment. PERS changes were also mentioned. They may have affected some people's votes too.

  • Miss Jones (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Marc, those of us who carry a child welfare caseload might not characterize the meth problem as a "miniscule" component of the DOJ mission. It's not merely a criminal enforcement issue, something John has pointed out throughout his campaign. I'd hate to have people on BO come away with the impression that most AAGs would be scratching their heads at the Kroger campaign's emphasis on meth. The meth problem pervades the caseloads of many AAGs.

  • Larry McD (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I'd have to describe this as a major endorsement... for continuing the status quo in the attorney general's office. That's something I'm not remotely interested in doing.

    Atty. General Myers has been competent. Period. He gets a "gentleman's C+." I'd like more. I think the residents of Oregon deserve more. And I don't mean more of the same.

    I must also agree that some judicious editing could have reduced this post by about 50% and improved the impact... even if I disagree with the poster's points.

  • Jonathan (unverified)
    (Show?)

    John has presented a strong vision for what the AG's office can achieve. John's vision challenges the AG's current way of conducting business. It is not surprising to me that change would be viewed with skepticism fromt he DOJ. John has received support from Unions both because of his strong support of labor and because the Union's unfavorable view of Greg. Steve Duinn's piece was not written by John's campaign and John has not attacked or disparaged the DOJ attorneys. The elections presents a choice for voters, as I have seen it outlined throughout the campaign. John has presented a vision for where to take the DOJ, which includes a more active role in litigation for the AG's office. Greg has presented himself as a the manager, not there to shake things up but well versed in the management requirements of the AG office. That is the choice voters have. I have been turned off throughout the race by Macpherson's overuse of his Oregon family ties, but what I have been able to gleam from his proponents, is that Greg will be a manager for the AG's office. John will, in contrast, look to use the AGs office and its resources to push environmental enforcement of OR laws and advocate for smart on crime policies.

  • Misha (unverified)
    (Show?)

    In case anyone who doesn't know better is tempted to agree with Larry McD's uninformed comment that Hardy Myers has been nothing more than a "competent" attorney general deserving of the grade of "a gentleman's C+," I decided to pick out some choice quotes from the endorsement editorials of newspapers around the state that backed Hardy's reelection in 2004.

    The Daily Astorian:

    “[Hardy Myers] grasps the inequities that plague Oregon’s criminal justice system . . . . As a legislator and as attorney general, Hardy Myers has been the model of what we need in Salem. We only wish there were more like him.”

    The Oregonian:

    “[T]here's nothing modest about [Hardy] Myers' record over the past eight years -- or his plans for the next four. In addition to providing solid legal advice for the state as the head of the state's own law firm, he's worked to bolster the state's economic restitution efforts in crime cases as well as its response to sexual assaults, crime victims services and child support enforcement.”

    The Bend Bulletin:

    “[Hardy] Myers has focused in particular on violence against women. To that end, his office formed a statewide sex assault task force to, among other things, recommend needed legislative changes and provide resources to local agencies responding to such crimes. More generally, Myers' office helped put in place an automated system to notify crime victims of changes in the status of offenders. Myers has also set up a restitution reform task force in order to force more criminals to pay for the economic consequences of their actions.

    “In the area of consumer protection, Myers' office has concentrated on misconduct that affects large numbers of people. He points in particular to his office's response to wrongdoing (deceptive marketing, anti-competitive practices, etc.) committed by the pharmaceutical industry. And then, of course, there's Oregon's no-call list, which has been pre-empted by the federal no-call list. Myers' office has sought, and will continue to seek, the authority to recover enforcement costs, thereby increasing the registry's effectiveness.

    The Statesman Journal:

    “[Hardy Myers] has successfully resisted U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft’s efforts to interfere with Oregon’s voter-approved assisted-suicide law. It’s worth noting that he did so despite his personal opposition to assisted suicide. That’s the kind of dispassionate leadership we should expect from an attorney general. . . . Ordinary Oregonians might be most familiar with his work through the attorney general’s consumer hotline. Myers has expanded it, focusing on complaints that affect large numbers of people.”

    The Register-Guard:

    “[Hardy] Myers' greatest achievement, however, is one that manifests itself in silence. Oregon's government is deeply divided along partisan lines, yet there are remarkably few complaints of political spin from the attorney general's office. Myers is trusted to play it straight -- he successfully defended Oregon's assisted suicide law, for instance, despite his personal opposition to the voter-approved initiative. A Republican Legislature and a Democratic governor alike have learned to rely on Myers for sound advice and vigorous defense.”

    The Willamette Week:

    “In eight years of elected office, Myers has shown himself to be a solid, quiet administrator, not a politician--and that's a good thing. He has focused on seeking restitution for crime victims, combating sexual assault, and consumer protection (he's been particularly dogged prosecuting pharmaceutical industry abuses).”

  • (Show?)

    2 questions-- why does Steve Duin want a good working relationship with DOJ? And if Kroger was meant, he didn't write it. Why should he be responsible for it?

    ...and why are 2004 endorsements relevant to Hardy Myers in 2008?

  • David (unverified)
    (Show?)

    In my view, Oregon would be far better off with another AG in the pattern of a Hardy Myers. Sure, things should change, especially concerning the level of funding for DOJ services. And that will require a strong working relationship between the AG's office and legislature. Macpherson has more of the legislative and other relevant experience to get that done.

  • Misha (unverified)
    (Show?)

    "Why are 2004 endorsements relevant to Hardy Myers in 2008?"

    torridjoe--

    Hardy Myers's 12-year record as AG should be judged as a whole. Larry McD said he believed Hardy had done nothing more than a "competent" job as AG deserving of a "C+" grade. Obviously, the collective judgment of newspaper editorial boards in 2004 was that Hardy had done a pretty stellar -- dare I say, an A+ quality -- job as AG for the first eight years of his tenure. It's hard for me to understand how today, three-plus years later, anyone who is familiar with his record could say that it has been nothing more than "competent."

    I would venture to say that if Hardy had chosen to run for a fourth term, he would receive the same praise from all of these editorial boards today. But he's not running again. Nonetheless, I think only someone who is uninformed about the work of the DOJ over the past 12 years could conclude that Hardy has done just a "competent" job at its helm.

    In 2004, the Daily Astorian wrote that, "As a legislator and as attorney general, Hardy Myers has been the model of what we need in Salem. We only wish there were more like him.”

    If that was true in 2004, it's also true in 2008.

  • (Show?)

    Miss Jones is right that meth is implicated in the work of child services, and is a factor in the work of some family law cases, but the "meth issue," i.e., prosecution, is done at most by a few lawyers in Criminal Justice, a unit that overall is only 4% of the DOJ attorneys.

    As to why John needs to own the Duin article, it's because he has re-published it, and therefore repeated and embrced the insult. I believe a person running as "pro-labor" should not insult the staff he hopes to lead. John, is a Septeber 23, 2007 e-mail, apparently agreed, stating "Only a fool would insult the very persons he or she hopes to lead," but now declines to remove the article from his web site, an act of his -- not Steve Duin's -- volition. John noted, in that same e-mail, that "I am not responsible for the content of his [Duin's] column." He IS responsible for his own web site's content, isn't he?

  • Valkyrie (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Mr. Duin can say anything he likes, as can Mr. Kroger. But Mr. Kroger is responsible for the content of his website, in particular his biography page. He has chosen to post the Duin "289 underachievers" article, and has chosen to leave it there, unedited and without commentary or disclaimer, after being told what he should already know: it is deeply offensive to a group of outstanding lawyers who have devoted their careers to public service. And it seems to be part of a pattern of public-employee bashing: in his response to the OAJA endorsement of his adverary, Mr. Kroger said he was proud to be supported by the "working people" of Oregon. The lawyers at DOJ are also working people -- damn hardworking people who make considerable financial sacrifices to do the public's business. It is too bad that other public employee unions either did not know the contents of the Kroger website, or choose to disregard it.

    Actions speak louder than words. If Mr. Kroger indeed supports the aspirations of public employees, he should not countenance the Duin article, no matter how many good things it says about HIM. Or, at a minimum, his website should make it clear that he does not consider those he aspires to lead to be underachievers. Unfortunately, we at DOJ were forced to conclude that Mr. Kroger with does believe that, or at least does not care if others believe it. Either way, that is the wrong attitude for a leader to have about his employees.

  • (Show?)

    Actually, most people know that a news article archived on a candidate's web site doesn't mean that the candidate agrees with everything inside the story. Because of the common practice of making stories older than 2 weeks accessible only by paying for it (especially at The Oregonian), many candidates archive stories. I've seen such stories that give praise to a candidate, but also say negative things about the candidate. Does that mean the candidate agrees with the negative stuff? Of course not.

    Many candidates don't publish only pieces of news stories because then people complain about the pieces being cut down to make the piece seem more favorable than it was. It's all or nothing.

    As far as the "working people" comment goes, that phrase (also known as the "working class") is often used to describe those making much lower salaries typically in the non-professional jobs. It's a commonly used phrase to describe a social class.

    From Wikipedia:

    "Those in the working class are commonly employed in clerical, retail sales and low-skill manual labor occupations. It should be noted that low-level white-collar employees are included in this class."

    It goes on to say:

    "The socio-economic disposition of this class is largely a result of lacking educational attainment, which has become more and more essential in the American economy. Members of the working class commonly have a high school diploma and few have some or any college education."

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Valkyrie, you are way out of line about Kroger and public employees. With the exception of his professorship and the '92 Clinton campaign, Kroger has spent his entire life as a public employee. Furthermore, he has been endorsed by the vast majority of public employees' unions and his campaign has presented a plan to help working people - including public employees. For you to claim otherwise is simply disingenuous. Kroger did not write the Dunn column and looking at the website, there is simply a link to the story (which thanks to the Oregon Live website does not even work).

    I have worked at the Oregon Department of Justice and I saw first hand the almost Sisyphus like task its lawyers, paralegals, clerks, and support staff had to deal with everyday. I know Dunn was unfair to the DOJ lawyers, and having spoken to Kroger, I know he does not agree with Dunn's attack on the attorneys. While Dunn may have played a role in the endorsement, it is simply wrong for Mr. Abrams to claim that Kroger is opposed to the AAGs. Similarly, it is unfair Mr. Abrams to simply discount the opinions of diverse unions (including the AFL-CIO, SEIU, and law enforcement unions) from across the state as anger over PERS.

    P.S. Misha, your guess about endorsements and Myers is a fairly safe bet since Kroger had said he waited to run until after Myer's said he was not running and I would guess that Macpherson was not going to try and unseat Myers in the primary.

  • (Show?)

    Jenny--

    I'm sorry, but that doesn't wash, and you're better than that. If you don't agree with it, don't re-print it, or, at the very least, print it with commentary. John did neither. Candidates ARE responsible for their statements. This was no accident. John was asked point blank (by me at his meeting with DOJ attorneys) "Will you take it down?" He knew it offended us. He said "no." That's not pro-labor.

    A Rab--

    You are misquoting me. I didn't say John "opposed" the AAGs. I made a statement about a specific act. It's factually accurate. As to the union endorsements, I've heard that from several union leaders, and it clearly was a factor -- note I don't say the only one.

    This is simple, and, as the campaigns are clearly monitoring this, simple to solve. John, please specifically repudiate the Duin comment and pull the column off the web site.

  • (Show?)

    A. Rab:

    You're right. I just went and looked and all I saw was a link to the story, which says:

    The Oregonian's Steve Duin on John.

    A quick scan through the site didn't provide any archived version, just the link.

    If all there is on the site is a link, then it's even more of a non-issue than it would be if you chose to archive the entire story.

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Mr. Abrams, by trying to tie Kroger to what Dunn wrote you are clearly trying to imply that Kroger is somehow against the AAGs, and implication you further by questioning the motives of other unions who support Kroger. What Dunn wrote is offensive but it is not the be all and end all of what is and is not pro-labor. For example, Macpherson has repeatedly defended his vote to allow PGE/Enron to overcharge customers - does that one vote mean Macpherson is automatically anti-consumer? (even this example is wrong, since Macpherson actually voted that way and Kroger did not write or publish the column). I come from a union family and I know to assign one opinion to the entire labor movement is folly. Yes, some unions are unhappy about what Macpherson did with PERS, but many more are attracted to Kroger's positive message about moving Oregon forward.

    I would also note that the past, Kroger has said he does not agree with Dunn about the AAGs, so that has already happened. Furthermore, I am going through his website and all I see is a link to Dunn, which does not work anymore.

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Also, I would add that you should actually contact Kroger if you want to tell him something, not put a "challenge" in the depths of a Blue Oregon comment thread - as far as I know who is who here (a shaky assumption) nobody who speaks for ether campaign is commenting.

  • (Show?)

    Actually, having worked on dozens of candidate sites over the past decade, and having used thousands more during the same time, what he did is extremely common practice. The average visitor to the site is going to know the story is being linked because it says good things about John (which is exactly what the text containing the link says) and not because he agrees with everything the person said. If candidates had to agree with everything in a story they linked to, you'd see very few news articles linked on their sites, especially editorials.

    Had Macpherson, Merkley, Clinton, etc. (all candidates in which I support their opponent) done something similar, I'd still say the same thing.

  • (Show?)

    A. Rab. --

    I did ask John. To his face. In front of over 100 people. I had my answer, as did the other AAGs. I was hoping that, on reflection and because I do think John's a reasonable guy, he might change his mind. As to this sting being monitored, I'd note the campaign response to the first thread went up in no time flat Friday. I'll leave the conclusion to you.

    I do NOT think John Kroger is anti-AAG -- again, please speak for yourself, not me -- but I do think this is a clear demonstration of indifference in light of the percieved value of the article. It is John, not me, tying John to the Duin article; he can untie himself and I hope he does.

    As to Jenni's distinction to a link vs. archiving, I don't know why that would matter. You click, you get the story.

    A. Rab., if your boss (or potential boss) posted an article calling the folks in your workplace underachievers on his blog, you're really telling me you wouldn't draw from that the conclusion that many of us drew?

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Mr. Abrams, for the record, you are wrong about getting the article by clicking, the Oregonian does not make the article available anymore. At this point, it is just a list of things that were once written. Furthermore, it is you, not Kroger who is highlighting the negative parts of the article and it is you who claim that the article makes Kroger anti-union. If you can provide more evidence for this claim beyond having a dead link to something Steve Dunn wrote, please provide it.

    As for the issue of contacting him, regardless of what happened on Friday, having the 15th or 16th comment on a post on Blue Oregon in the final hours of the Sunday of the state convention is probably not an effective method.

    Finally, to answer your question about a boss calling me an underachiever, while I would not like a boss that did that, I have been called to my face much, much worse things by bosses - let alone a link to an article somebody else wrote. What Steve Dunn wrote was unfair to the AAGs, and as someone who worked there fairly recently it was offensive to me. However, I would not even think to base my vote on Kroger linking to an article that was generally favorable to him in the state's largest newspaper. There are serious policy difference between the candidates - and an even greater gap in the way the two candidates think about politics. It is the issues, not a dead link on a website, that will be most important to me when I will vote.

  • (Show?)

    As a test, I showed the page the link is on to several people I know who aren't involved in this race whatsoever - they live in other states and are not political.

    Every one of them saw it as a link to an editorial that had nice things to say about the candidate. None felt that Kroger was saying he agreed with everything that was said, especially since the linked text says: "The Oregonian's Steve Duin on John."

    The link is no longer active, since The Oregonian removes all stories older than 2 weeks from free public view. But a quick search allowed me to purchase the story on my NewsBank membership and share it with the people I'd done this informal poll on.

  • Misha (unverified)
    (Show?)

    "Misha, your guess about endorsements and Myers is a fairly safe bet since Kroger had said he waited to run until after Myer's said he was not running and I would guess that Macpherson was not going to try and unseat Myers in the primary."

    A-Rab,

    My point has nothing to do with the mere fact of these endorsements; what's amazing is the extraordinarily high praise in the endorsement editorials. Re-read the quotes I included above. Most endorsement editorials are not so so effusive with high praise.

    My point was not Hardy would have been endorsed again this year if he had run again. My point was that the editorial boards would have been just as thrilled with his performance as AG this year as they were in 2004.

    And, regardless of this speculation, anyone who thinks Hardy deserves a C+ grade as AG is simply uninformed about the work he's done over the past 12 years for our state.

  • Miss Jones (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Marc, I would not call most family law cases "some." There is hardly a case on my docket that is not meth-involved, and John's treatment emphasis (not mere enforcement) ought to have a tremendous impact. Readers of BO, suffice it to say that there is some internal dissent about this endorsement and how it came about. I also wouldn't omit appellate from those whose caseloads are impacted by the meth problem. It is not merely a law enforcement problem since its ripple effect is seen throughout. His emphasis on this issue only seems clueless if you don't realize the extent to which it drives many caseloads in the department.

    I think, unfortunately, this discussion has boiled down to what was really at issue: the infamous Duin column. I recall the buzz in the days following its publication. It's a shame that Duin used a column talking about John's ambition to be AG as yet another opportunity to slam us and the work we do, but I've never held John responsible for that. Some of my colleagues differed, obviously.

  • Larry McD (unverified)
    (Show?)

    OK, folks. In response to a post by a Myers fan a couple of months ago, I did as the writer suggested and went to Hardy Meyers' website and read it... carefully. If I am uninformed, blame it on his political prose.

    I suspect that giving Mr. Meyers "A+" is one more example of Oregonians comparing their public officials' performances to each other rather than to a standard of what might have been accomplished.

    There is a trend in every locality on the globe to say "well, if you weren't here, you can't possibly understand." There is truth to that. There is also truth in saying "The fact that people from the outside see things differently doesn't mean they're wrong."

    After tj's rant, I went back to portions of Mr. Myers'website which leads me to believe I was a bit harsh. I'll give him a "B-." There were too many missed opportunities- especially in not joining the SCHIP suit filed by Washington, California, New York and eight other states.

    And finally... uninformed or not, at least I know how to spell Steve Duin's name.

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
    (Show?)

    My bad for misspelling throughout back there - if there was an edit feature I would jump on that.

    Misha, I was not going after Myers, I was not one of the people arguing for a gentleman's C.

  • Marc Abrams (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Jenni, A. Rab. --

    I don't know why you call this a "dead link," as when you're on the Kroger web site and click, it goes to that article. And, while I've heard far worse from bosses, I've never seen it perpetuated on an open web site. Jenni, I'm glad you have think skinned friends when responding to a hypothetical, but for many AAGs, this is quite real. Anyhow, I think we've exhausted that discussion.

    Ultimately, though this string has focused on the Duin article, there were many, many other issues affecting decisions that I heard. For those, go back to the top.

    And, gee Larry, obviously I do know how to spell "Duin," but typed a bit fast at 11:13 PM. Glad you're focused on what matters.

  • Jonathan (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I find it ridicules to attempt to refute John's entire record, labor endorsements, and vision for Oregon because of one line in an article written by Steve Duin, that was not written by John, and a comment that John has never endorsed. I would hope that the decision to endorse John or Greg by the DOJ would be made based upon their vision of the AGs office. I would hope that the DOJ lawyers would be less sensitive then to take offense from one line among many positive articles discussing John's vision for Oregon.

    I am tired of political debates being diverted to issues that are not important or relevant to solving real issues. This entire weekend, all one could hear was whether Obama's "bitter and frustrated" comments were offensive to middle America. When I see supporters divert policy arguments to arguments over lines in editorials not written by the candidate or to the choice of words at a fundraiser, I assume the opposing candidate has already lost on the issues. I am sure many DOJ lawyers endorsed Greg because of his view of the AG's office as primarily one of a management position. The debate between Greg's vision of the AG's office as one primarily of managing a big state law firm and that of John's vision of a more active AG seeking to enforce Oregon environmental laws and shape political discussion, is a debate we should be engaging in. The contrasting conceptions of the AG's office between John and Greg is an important debate, but whether candidates support the opinions of editorials in the Oregonian is not.

  • (Show?)

    Jonathan--

    My only point -- shared by many colleagues -- is that you can't post an article that would otherwise have faded and then say you don't "endorse it." I practiced defamation law for many years, and the term is "republication," for which you are as responsibile as the original speaker.

    That having been said, I agree the primary issue should be the vision for the office, but I disagree as to your characterization, which is how one side would like to portray it, but is not accurate. I have moderated several of the candidate appearances, heard them at other times, and had individual coversaations with them, and the idea that Greg will be "Stoel Rives as usual" is simply wrong. Greg delivered a multi-point description of the hange he would bring to DOJ, as did John. I believe they would both be change agents.

    As I've noted, each of our members made their decsion on their own, and so there is no definitive, single reason why OAJA endorsed -- we do not operate with a PAC Board that discusses and votes with little or no membership involvement, as some unions do. My post was simply to provide a list of issues I heard discussed that, logically figured into members' individual decisions.

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
    (Show?)

    You have done a lot more than provide a “list of issues,” it is clear that you feel the Duin article was very important issue, one so important you imply that by linking to it, Kroger is anti-union.* You have also claimed that the meth issue is over emphasized, however, again, I have to wonder if this is true. When I was at DOJ, the majority of my caseload was linked to meth – to the point were it would have been easier if the program we use to track cases defaulted to “involves meth” being checked.

    I agree with you that this election needs to be about the issue, but so far the discussion for this post has been free of policy.

    • To answer your earlier question, it is a dead link because if you click on it, the Oregonian website is simply the headline, but no text. If there is a working link, I did not find it.
  • Jonathan Radmacher (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Contrary to Jonathan, I sure hope the AG's race is not decided based upon the candidates' visions. Visions can make for wonderful rhetoric. But I've not seen that Mr. Kroger has demonstrated the kind of political saavy and detailed experience that is required in order to make visions reality. So you can dismiss an AAG poll as the status quo, but if Mr. Kroger thinks he can implement his vision without them, he's wrong.

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Jonathan R., what are you talking about? When has Kroger said he does not need the AAGs? Implicate in his message is a desire to use the lawyers of the Oregon DOJ to the best of their abilities.

  • (Show?)

    A. Rab--

    You're right that the link now brings up a blank...it didn't do that until this morning, so perhaps someone has seen fit to address the concern. You are also right this issue has dominated the stand, but that's what the conversation posted by others has focused on. Please note the original post relates to far more, including Jonathan's comment on experience.

    As to meth, as I've noted, it relates to some of the family law docket and some of the CJ docket, with overflow into Appellate, but in much of that (family law), it's a factor in fact situation, and the case is not about "cracking down on meth." I haven't said it's not important, but I have said -- and maintain -- that it isn't, by definition, DOJs #1 priority. What the "vision thing" discussion overlooks is that, like any government entity, much of what we do is mandated, and the discretionary work happens on the fringes or gets added on. I suggest we can't cut the defense function, can't cut the provision of advice to agencies -- that's what they pay us for, and we hire the number of AGGs we need for these things -- so any shift of emphasis will have to be added on and approved by the Legislature. As ex-DOJ, I assume you know that. Others may not, and my point is simply that, given that structure, the presumption AAGs fear change is wrong (a) simply because I've seen no evidence of that and (b) logically, that change would be additive and would either not affect the individuals or would offer them new opportunities.

  • (Show?)

    First, Marc, thanks for taking the time to delve into some of the background behind the endorsement. I, for one, appreciate the opportunity to peak behind the curtain. I did have a couple questions in regard mostly to a couple of your followup comments.

    Marc: I practiced defamation law for many years, and the term is "republication," for which you are as responsibile as the original speaker.

    Well, I've never practiced defamation or any other type of law, but it seems intuitively as if "republication" would have to entail some part of the article existing in a sphere controlled by the republisher. Simply stating that an article exists and providing a method to locate it doesn't strike me as "republication."

    Legal distinctions aside, I think if Kroger had chosen to reprint the article on his site, without electing to selectively quote the section pertaining to him (and excluding the offensive portion), I think I would agree that it suggests some degree of agreement on his part. However, simply providing the link as one of a list of several other articles gives him no opportunity to edit it, nor any ownership over what the article states.

    Marc: You're right that the link now brings up a blank...it didn't do that until this morning, so perhaps someone has seen fit to address the concern.

    Since no one else has been able to see this content previously, I would advance the possibility that it remained cached on your computer for some time after being removed from the Oregonian site.

  • (Show?)

    Not wishing to express agreement, but rather to facilitate discussion...here's the Duin column:

    John Kroger and the power of ambition

    Oregonian, The (Portland, OR) - September 23, 2007

    Author: STEVE DUIN, The Oregonian

    John Kroger is wary of the Eliot Spitzer analogy, though he shares the take-no-prisoners attitude of New York's former attorney general. "Eliot did a great job taking on powerful interests and holding them accountable," Kroger said Friday. "That's what I intend to do. But he had Wall Street in his backyard. We have a meth crisis and a lot of polluters.

    "I'm not following Eliot Spitzer's game plan. He's not my model for this job. I don't need a model. I know precisely what I want to do."

    Kroger wants to use the state's criminal laws "to put the worst polluters in jail. That's never been done in the state, and we're going to do it."

    The former federal prosecutor wants to use the bully pulpit of the attorney general's office "to focus the public on the problems that need attention --the meth crisis, child abuse, and environmental and consumer protection," and partner with local DAs in prosecuting the bad guys.

    And he has no intention of leaving the toughest legal battles to his deputies. "I'm a courtroom attorney," Kroger said. "As attorney general, I'm going to do what Dave Frohnmayer did. I'm going to court. If there are big cases threatening the rights of crime victims or a woman's right to choose, I'm going to argue those cases myself."

    While he has no plans to take the Eliot Spitzer approach, in other words, Kroger is determined to have Eliot Spitzer's impact.

    Unlike Rep. Greg Macpherson, D-Lake Oswego, Kroger did not enter the 2008 AG race praising the "long and impressive list of accomplishments" of the current officeholder, Hardy Myers.

    The associate professor of law at Lewis & Clark sounds determined, instead, to rearm, reinvent and re-energize the Oregon attorney general's office.

    That office currently sports 289 attorneys, perhaps the state's greatest collection of underachievers . The argument to maintain the status quo suggests Oregon's attorney general is helpless to initiate criminal prosecutions without the governor's permission, and that the state is best served by an AG who is legal coach, philosopher and father confessor.

    Kroger, 41, has a different resume and promises a different approach. He has prosecuted mob figures in New York and white-collar creeps as part of the U.S. JusticeDepartment 's Enron Task Force.

    Small wonder he is not intimidated by the limits on budget and ambition that prevail in Salem.

    "Attorneys general around the country have done great things with small budgets," said Kroger, pointing to the work of Mississippi AG Mike Moore in spearheading the $206 billion tobacco settlement. "He forever changed the relationship between government and tobacco companies. If there's a model for me, it's him. He didn't let the resource limitation get in his way."

    When he believes criminal prosecution is necessary, Kroger will join with local DAs or petition the governor for approval. "Most governors," he said, "would be reluctant to decline that sort of proposal from their attorney general."

    And Kroger believes those prosecutions will be necessary to protect Oregon's environment in a state where the Legislature and the Departmentof Environmental Quality have little interest in holding corporate polluters accountable.

    "Environmental criminal statutes are on the books," Kroger said. "They've never been used. The federal government uses the law to protect the environment, and the state of Oregon should, too. If people know they will be held criminally liable, they'll comply with the law . . . and that will decrease the cost of civil enforcement."

    Mike Moore --or Eliot Spitzer --couldn't have said it any better.

    Steve Duin: 503-221-8597

  • (Show?)

    Stories on The Oregonian remain up accessible for free for approximately 14 days.

    This story is from late September of last year. It would have moved into the paid section sometime in October, leaving behind a page without the content in the middle. I wish their automatic archiving system would insert text and a link there talking about the story moving to the paid archives and link directly to the ability to buy it, but they don't.

    I clicked on the link weeks ago while pulling together information for my endorsement blog on Kroger, and it didn't work. At the time I didn't have a membership to NewsBank, so I didn't grab the article from the paid section.

  • Miles (unverified)
    (Show?)

    That office currently sports 289 attorneys, perhaps the state's greatest collection of underachievers.

    Wow, Marc, that's the statement, written by Duin, that you're arguing proves that Kroger is anti-union? Uh, you haven't even established preponderance of the evidence, much less beyond a reasonable doubt. Not guilty!

  • (Show?)

    Yeah Jenni...you remind me, I forgot to link to my fairly exhaustive description of the problem. Multnomah County Library does allow free access to newsbank, to those with a card and accounts in good standing...small comfort, I know...

  • (Show?)

    Pete:

    Thanks for the tip. Once I've used up my membership at NewsBank, I'll switch over and use the library's web site instead. I'm fairly certain my card is still in good standing, but if not it only takes a quick trip to the library to fix that.

    It is annoying when newspapers remove free access to stories. Data storage for web sites really doesn't cost that much, especially when you're buying really large chunks.

  • (Show?)

    Miles--

    Please note that I have NEVER said John was anti-union. What I said was he chose to maintain on his web site a comment that even he has agreed insults DOJ attorneys (which I presume you would concede it does), and HIS action in doing so was clearly interpreted by some as at least a wilingness to keep alive that insult because other parts of the article served his purposes. I will again ask that folks go to the top of this post and read what I wrote, not what others have, a la the kids game of "telephone," stretched what I've written. I woudl also refer you back to the excellent comments of my colleague "Valkyrie," about 1/3 of the way down teh string.

  • Jonathan (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Marc- I read your comments and the first two observations made valid points. However, a third of the discussion focused entirely on the Steve Duin article. I find the fact that Macpherson's supporters focus on the article a sign of frustration as Kroger mounts a serious challenge against Macpherson. Kroger did not write the article and only placed a link on his webpage, which included links to every news story written about the campaign. I find this tactic of painting Kroger as anti-labor because of a line in someone else's article similar to the recent steps by Hilary (also McCain) to attack Obama on the Bitter comment or even for the Rev. Wright comments. These arguments serve no purpose but to twist the focus away from the issues.

    Many labor unions have endorsed Kroger because of what he has to say and because of Greg's record. Of course many of the Unions are turned off to Greg because of his horrible handling of the PERS reforms. I find it amusing that it is implied that the unions should give the same weight in the endorsement process to Greg's work on the PERS reforms to that of a one line insult by Steve Duin in an article otherwise making very important arguments for why Oregonian's should support Kroger as their next AG.

  • (Show?)

    Again, and for the last time, no one called John anti-labor. But I remain amazed at the number of folks who fail to equate linking an insult with insulting AAGs directly. If a person puts up, on the side of their home, a poster offensive to some group, is it excusable because they are not the one who printed it, even though they own the home? Electronic publishing doesn't change the ethics of republication.

  • Jonathan (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Marc- Perhaps you didn't intend to have your words interpreted in such a way, but from the language in your post, it was clearly explicit in the language. The use of the Duin article was clearly intended to show that John was not a friend of labor.

    "Although many labor unions have endorsed John, they either did not know about or ignored this slap at their brothers and sisters in labor. And, having sat in on some of those discussions, it appears clear that Labor support for John has more to do with disagreements with Greg about the 2003 PERS reform than it does with any other factor. Our members are not unaware of Rep. Macpherson’s role in PERS changes, but I presume that was factored into their decisions."

  • (Show?)

    Jonathan--

    Perhaps we're splitting hairs here, but that interpretation of my writing I think goes too far. Most of our AAGs do not view themselves as traditional members of a union. The comments in the Duin article, as republished on the Kroger website, were more interpreted by many as a slap at them individually or as AAGs, rather than as union members. I do think that few unions would endorse an individual who, in acting this way, disrespected its members. That having been said, I believe it is -- I hope it is -- an isolated act. I know John to be a good and active Democrat and, again, do not intend to imply any more than an isolated (though, to us, important) error of judgment in this action.

    As to the PERS issue, John has clearly raised it in virtually every pro-labor forum. His staffer insisted to me that John be allowed to return specifically to discuss PERS with OAJA members (we declined), so the Kroger campaign clearly sees PERS reform as their issue. And it has been. And it has clearly been a major factor in many union endorsements, which I know because I've either been in the room or spoken with the key decision-makers in several of those unions. My only point in raising that is that I believe many unions have weighed that five-year old issue unduly highly over other DOJ-related issues in their selections. That is their right, but it was not the focus of many AAGs to whom I spoke. Personally, I think there is a fair discussion to be had as to whether, without the reforms, we might have lost PERS as a defined benefit plan to GOP machinations, but that's a topic for another day...

  • Jonathan (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Marc- thanks for your reply. I appreciate that throughout the post you addressed the comments of other commenters. I still fail to see the Duin article link on Kroger's website as linking John to insulting DOJ lawyers. I know he has great respect for the DOJ lawyers and has taught many of them. However, the conversation has been exhausted, and I think we will have to agree to disagree. I appreciate that you wrote your thoughts and observations concerning the reasons for the DOJ's endorsement. I look forward to your PERS post.

connect with blueoregon