In 2008, I wrote a piece for Blue Oregon called "Being Oregonian". Its a love story, of sorts, about choosing to live and be a part of this place. An excerpt:
There's a section of dialogue in the film Gone With The Wind where Rhett Butler says to Scarlett O'Hara, "You get your strength from the red earth of Tara". I love this section of the film in part because it expresses how I feel about my home state of Oregon. I've traveled extensively throughout the United States and for me, there's no place like home.
I wrote this piece originally in discussing then-Senator Gordon Smith's reelection campaign. I believed then that Smith didn't work for our state and didn't have the passion for it that we deserve. As it turns out, as soon as Smith lost and left office he bugged out to take a fat-cat lobbying job in DC, which in my mind very much justified my beliefs.
And now, it's deja vu, this time starring Chris Dudley. And while my concerns about Smith were part gut instinct and part evidential, Chris Dudley has actually admitted to bugging out of Oregon while playing for the Portland Trailblazers to Camas,Washington because he didn't want to pay income tax.
At a press conference this morning, school activist Liz Kaufman along with 2 Hillsboro School District teachers, presented the case against Dudley. Kaufman (who admitted in the press conference that she's had her disagreements with Dudley's opponent, John Kitzhaber) spoke out about Dudley moving to Washington in order to avoid paying income tax in Oregon, at the advice of his accountant. Further, Dudley was the only Trailblazer during that era to make that kind of move. Kaufman listed 24 other Dudley contemporaries with the Blazers, including Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter, Arvydas Sabonis, Buck Williams and Jermaine O'Neal, who remained in Oregon and paid state income taxes. Even Rasheed Wallace looks better compared to Dudley on this issue. Jeez.
This guy used our state to further his career, used our infrastructure and took our money for tickets to see him play, but apparently he doesn't think we're worthwhile enough to pay his legal and fair share to be part of our civilized society in Oregon. Because some bean counter told him it would be cheaper to bail out and live on a $500,000 spread in Camas, Dudley found that just a little more important than say, living in the state whose infrastructure supports his job and his $12 million salary (plus investment and endorsement income).
The Governor of Oregon needs to love Oregon, with a passion. They need to feel it in their bones like Tom McCall did. Our state needs to mean so much to our Governor that he'll go to the mat for us. He'lll fight like hell with the legislature and tussle even with his own staff to do what's right. Gordon Smith rarely, if ever, did that when was in the legislature and certainly not as Senator. Chris Dudley has already demonstrated that he's willing to bail on us at the behest of a staffer.
We've got a crap-ton of stuff to work through in this state. When the going gets tough, am I actually now supposed to believe that Dudley is serious about Oregon to stick it out and do the job with a love for our state born of state income tax dodging? Really?
I've been pretty lukewarm with Kitzhaber. I'm starting to warm up more now that I'm beginning to see some signs that being our Governor and stewarding our state are actually a fire in his belly. Frankly, he's got some work to do with me still to get me to color in that box next to his name. But at least I don't have the sense that he'd bail out on us, because he hasn't. That's a good start.