Subtitle:   Like Watergate: What did they know and when did they know it?

As stated in my post below I was very disappointed in the vote (Oregon Tax Measures 66 and 67) last Tuesday that results in imposing (retroactively) new tax increases on businesses and indiviudals as well as adding a gross revenue tax on businesses.  The campaign in favor of the taxes had a winning theme and some winning campaign retoric.  It went something like this:

It is all about the kids.  If we don’t pass these two bills, we will be hurting the kids, the campaign said.  Teachers would be out of work, schools would be on a four day a week schedule.  There would be all time record class sizes with one teacher having to control and teach up to 40 kids.   Our future generation is at risk and the only way out of this dire situation is to pass these taxes.  Did we mention that teachers and kids will be out on the streets if we don’t pass these measures.  And, it won’t affect you unless you are a big greedy corporation or a really rich person.  The greedy corporations only pay $10 a year in Oregon taxes.   The rich don’t pay their fair share.  Both groups can afford to pay more and they should.  You can’t vote against our teachers.  You can’t vote against our kids.  Only 2.3% of the population, the really rich who earn $250,000 per household, will have their taxes increased.

It was a classic campaign of class warfare.  The campaign for the tax measures convinced enough people that the lawmakers in Salem had made all the cuts possible, that our schools were pinching every penny until the eagle screamed.  To take any more money from Schools would be unconscionable.  Those rich people and the corporations they own are only rich because our government has provided the infrastructure they need to rape us (all of us) and take what should be ours.  If these new taxes don’t pass, the corporations will not have an educated workforce and our whole economy will go to hell.

When the numbers were added up, there were enough people who envied the “rich” and enough of those who wanted to stick it to them.  There were enough who believed that corporations only pay $10 per year in taxes (the previous alternative minimum tax for companies who do not profit in a given year).  There were enough people who believed that if someone makes $250,000 ($125K, single filer) they had too much and needed to share.  There were enough people who did not understand that owners of Sub-Chapter S corporations (who employ a huge percentage of the population – almost as many as government) showed any profit made by their companies in their personal income.  There were enough voters who believed that the gross revenue tax on companies would not be passed on to them in the prices that they pay.  There were enough who believed that schools were run on a shoestring and couldn’t afford to cut a penny more.

Imagine my surprise when I read our local paper on Saturday morning.  I discovered that an audit, undertaken in August of 2009, of a large regional Education Service District had been released by the State, two days after the vote.   The Willamette Education Service District was blasted in the audit for the worst mismanagement and financial record keeping that the Secretary of State’s office had seen.  Funds were comingled and accounting was so sloppy, the auditors couldn’t even determine if 90% of the budget was even applied to programs for kids as the law requires.  There were huge accounts for catering and travel and entertainment at costs that would make Hollywood entertainers blush.

In theory, the WESD serves some 21 school districts by providing training and programs more efficiently than the districts could do it themselves.  They employ 670 people and have a budget of $78,000,000 annually.  I wonder how much of that $78,000,000 actually gets to the classroom to help the teachers and the kids.  I wonder how they keep 670 people busy.  The audit proved that much of the $78,000,000 had been wasted, that the organization’s Board was not fulfilling its leadership role and was part of the problem, not part of the solution.   It determined that there were insufficient policies and procedures in place to prevent the continuation of this waste.

The auditors did mention that they were fairly sure that none of the abuses rose to the level of criminal behavior.  I sure was glad to read that.  Image the pain if some administrator had to pay a fine or go to jail for defrauding the public and wasting tax dollars.  And, the Secretary of State’s Office promises to “check back” in a year to see if their recommendations have been followed.  Now that’s some kick-butt management and oversight.

Isn’t it interesting that an audit which started in August of 2009 took this long to be completed and released to the public?  Isn’t it interesting that the State government chose to release the information only two days after the vote for taxes that will add over $700,000,000 to State coffers?   Is it possible that a big splash about waste and fraud in the schools would have hurt the campaign for more taxes had it been revealed before the election?  So What did they know and When did they know it?

Why am I feeling sick to my stomach?