Testing Their Patience

Kim Wilson considers herself a conscientious objector.

It’s not war she is opposing, although she does feel children today are under attack. She objects to standardized tests.

Last year, Wilson, a Portland math teacher, opted her oldest son out of Oregon’s third-grade math and reading tests. She says the tests needlessly stress young children, inaccurately measure intellectual growth and punish schools that don’t meet arbitrary cutoffs, she says. 

“I refuse to contribute to a system like that,” says Wilson, whose sons attend Vernon K-8 School, across the street from Alberta Park on Northeast Killingsworth Street.

Wilson made an increasingly popular decision. Last year, 250 out of 567,000 Oregon kids skipped state-mandated tests, according to the state Department of
Education. That’s up from 161 the year before. At Vernon, 18 students opted out compared to five the previous year. 

The insurrection so far may be small, but it’s having stark consequences.

This year’s Department of Education report cards for schools knocked Vernon down to the lowest rating, putting the school at risk for interventions by state
and U.S. authorities, restrictions on federal funding and massive staff layoffs.

The reason? The state sets minimum target levels for participation in standardized math and reading tests, and too many white students opted out.

Vernon would have ranked two slots higher on the state’s scale of five if education officials had looked solely at test scores.

Parents fear the ranking is going to hurt Vernon, which struggles to attract neighborhood students in the heart of gentrifying Northeast Portland. Vernon’s
student body is poorer than the typical Portland primary school’s, and it’s more diverse. Half the students are black or Latino, compared to 28 percent in PPS elementary schools overall.

Brad Larrabee, a white parent at Vernon, doesn’t blame the families who opted out; he plans to exempt his own child this year. But he thinks the system is
ludicrous. “The well-meaning actions of reasonably well-to-do white parents are now being allowed to exacerbate the situation for lower-income African-American students,”€ he says. 

Oregon requires standardized tests for students in grades three through 12 to measure how schools are performing and to hold teachers accountable for results. The state introduced a kindergarten test last year to gauge students’ readiness for school as part of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s push to enroll more students in higher education.

State law allows parents to keep their kids out of the tests for two reasons: If a
child’s disability prevents him from taking the tests, or if the tests go against a family’s religious beliefs. So far, Portland Public Schools hasn’t challenged parents like Wilson who claim the religious exemption. Wilson and others say they’re not fudging, because the tests go against their values. “High-stakes standardized testing does not fit our set of beliefs,” Wilson says.

The state dings schools on their annual report cards when their testing participation rates drop below 94.5 percent overall or in any of seven subcategories. The rule is designed to prevent schools from boosting their results by keeping lower-performing students from taking the tests.

This year’s drop worries Chabre Vickers, a Vernon mom whose daughter is African-American and Native American. She agrees that the testing system is flawed, but believes opting out is not going to solve the problem at Vernon. She
also worries Vernon’s ratings dip could overshadow progress made at the school. “These are great parents, great people,” Vickers says. “They have great fervor. I’m just unsure of their methods.”

PPS administrators discourage parents from opting out of testing. Principals distribute opt-out forms only to families that request them. Nor may principals
approve exemptions without first telling parents about the potential consequences for the school.

Vernon Principal Tina Acker was unavailable for comment. “She understands parents have the right [to opt out],” PPS spokeswoman Christine Miles says of Acker. “But it hurts the school, not because of performance but because of the lack of participation.”

Vernon isn’t the only school with significant numbers of students opting out. Beach K-8 School in North Portland, Chapman Elementary School and Metropolitan Learning Center in Northwest Portland, and Sunnyside Environmental School and Glencoe Elementary School in Southeast Portland all saw higher opt-out numbers last year. The state also hit Chapman and Sunnyside for low test participation, but none fell as low as Vernon. 

There’s a national movement to drive up the numbers as vocal parents—on the left and right—object to the so-called Common Core State Standards. 

Groups such as Save Our Schools, Change the Stakes, and the Badass Teachers Association are pushing at the national level to ditch standardized tests. 

Parents are hosting opt-out parties, launching Facebook pages to share information and turning to Twitter with testimonials using the hashtag #whyIrefuse.

The move toward opting out seems to be gaining strength in Portland, even though parents know it has already hurt the ratings for schools such as Vernon.

Parents who favor opting out don’t put much stock in the ratings. “The scores are
invalid,” says Lauren Andronici, a Vernon mom. “In fact, our school is thriving. We’re on the upswing.”

Wilson agrees and doesn’t second-guess her decision.

“I don’t care what the [state] report card says,” Wilson says. “I feel I have a responsibility to speak up.”

Best Restaurants in Portland: Our Annual Top 100 List

 

The Directory: Our 100 Favorite Restaurants in Portland

 

Accanto
Awesome pasta

Amelia’s 
Homespun Mexican

The American Local
Road-trip adventure

Andina
Peruvian in the Pearl

Apizza Scholls 
Best pizza

Ataula
New best tapas

Ava Gene’s
Edgy Italian

Aviary
Modern Asian offal

Bamboo Sushi
Sustainable modern sushi

Bar Avignon 
Vinocentric date spot

Beast
Foie gras bonbon

Bete-Lukas 
Upscale Ethiopian

Biwa 
Ramen and burger

The Blue Goose 
New Mexican green chile

Boxer Ramen
Simple bowls

Broder
Scandinavian brunch

BTU Brasserie
Szechuan brewpub

Cabezon
Underappreciated seafood

Castagna
High-modern cuisine

Chennai Masala 
Best Indian

Cocotte
Northwest-French bistro

Coppia
Wine-focused food 

The Country Cat 
Southern brunch

Dar Salam
No-frills Iraqi

Davenport
Comfortable Continental

DJK Korean BBQ 
Tabletop barbecue

DOC

Edgy Italian

Dove Vivi
Cornmeal pizza

EaT: An Oyster Bar/ The Parish
Oysters, Acadian

El Inka
Roast chicken, sauces

Enat Kitchen
Family Ethiopian

Expatriate
Cocktail exotica

Firehouse
Rustic Italian

Fireside
Cocktails by the fireplace

Gino’s
Red-sauce Italian

Grain & Gristle
Beer and pork

Ha & VL
Vietnamese soup menu

Hanoi Kitchen
Family Vietnamese

Hokusei Sushi
Housemade tamago

Irving Street Kitchen 
Gentrified Americana

Imperial
Meaty throne room

Kachka
Soviet nostalgia

Ken’s Artisan Pizza 
Master baker’s pizza

Lang Baan
Prix-fixe regional Thai

Laurelhurst Market
Contemporary steakhouse

Le Pigeon
Dirty-rich French

Lincoln 
Acclaimed Northwestern

Little Bird 
Downtown Paris

Luce
Precious Italian

Lucky Strike
Central Portland Szechuan

Maharaja Indian Restaurant 
Standout Indian

Maurice
Twee dessert palace

Mirakutei
Spartan sushi bar

Mucca Osteria
Italiano rustico

Nakwon
Korean favorite

Natural Selection
Vegetarian still life

Navarre
Tasting menu

Ned Ludd 
Cultured lumberjackery

Nostrana
Volvo Italian

Nuestra Cocina
Upscale Mexican

Ocean City 
Dim sum palace

Old Salt
Hearth-cooked snout-to-tail

Olympic Provisions 
Sausage bouquets

Oven and Shaker 
Pizza and cocktails

Ox
Argentine steakhouse

Paley’s Place 
Vitaly Paley’s place

Park Kitchen
Northwest-ish plates

Pho An Sandy
Vietnamese soups

Piazza Italia 
Italiano autentico

Pizza Maria
Neapolitan pizza

Podnah’s Pit
Barbecue kingpins

Pok Pok 
Legendary Thai

Portobello Vegan Trattoria 
Animal-free Italian

Pure Spice
Serious Chinese

Ración
Molecular gastronomy

Raven & Rose
Theater-district English

Roe 

Prix-fixe fish temple

Roost
American comfort

Screen Door
Southern brunch

Sen Yai
Ricker noodles

Smallwares
Inauthentic Asian

Sok Sab Bai
Comfortable Cambodian

St. Jack 
Foie gras, pork rinds

Stammtisch
German bier hall

Szechuan Chef
Szechuan, cheffed

Tanuki
Izakaya with attitude

Tasty n Alder/ Tasty n Sons 
Globe-hopping small plates

Taqueria Nueve
Nueve Modern Mexican

Tarad Thai 
Northern Thai

TarBoush
Best Lebanese

Toro Bravo 
Inauthentic tapas

Trifecta
Cadillac with red leather

Uzbekistan Restaurant 
Restaurant Uzbekistan

Wong’s King 
Banquet-room dim sum

The Woodsman Tavern 
Pendleton chic

Yakuza
New-school izakaya

Yama Sushi 
Attentive sushi

Yuzu
Beaverton izakaya

 

 The Directory: Our 100 Favorite Restaurants in Portland

By Neighborhood: Southeast | North/Northeast | Westside | Suburbs 

 2014 Restaurant of the Year: Kachka 

Top Five: Old Salt, AtaulaAmerican LocalExpatriate

Counter Service Spots: Latin | Asian | Italian | Sandwiches | Burgers 

Wine Bars | Beer Lists | Veg-Friendly | Gluten-free | Elsewhere in Oregon 

 

Fresh Meat: Matt “The Lone Woof”

Editor’s note: Welcome to Fresh Meat, in which Portland comic Amy Miller interviews newcomers about their hopes and dreams and the foodstuffs from their native lands that Portland fails to prepare properly. This week Miller talks with the brave Mens’ Rights Activist who plans to protest this week’s female-focused comedy festival, All Jane No Dick

alljanenodickflier.nar

Matt “The Lone” Woof
Origin: Idaho

This coming weekend, female stand-up comics from all over the country will descend upon Portland, to tell jokes over five days and multiple venues, in the All Jane No Dick Comedy Festival. The brainchild (and pun) of local comic Stacey Hallal, All Jane claims to “€œbridge the gap between female comedians, audiences and industry decision-makers.” (Disclosure: I am performing in the festival.)

In response, a faceless crusader began covering the festival’€™s posters with his own, planning a protest of the event and calling the festival’€™s creators the “€œFeminazi Organization of Oregon.”€ He warns fellow men that “€œall dicks will be severed on site.”€ A photo of his flier was quickly circulated amongst comics via social media, as well as a Craigslist ad placed by a man named “Matt” inviting others to join him in protest of All Jane. Some insisted the fliers were part of a misguided guerilla marketing campaign orchestrated by the festival. The Craigslist ad included a phone number, and after a brief internal conversation with myself about exactly what kind of skinsuit this person might make out of me (Three-piece? Tux? Maybe some lederhosen?) I texted Matt.

Walking into the downtown Whole Foods (very public), I expected to find a warty pile of goblin man whose penis had been burned off by an evil witch, and instead met “€œMatt,”€ a very standard-looking Portland dude, complete with a knit beanie and an accidental beard thing. He seemed slightly nervous about the meeting, and I hadn’€™t even brought my dick-severing shears along. (Left them in the car.) He was indeed a real person with real concerns and no affiliation with the festival. In front of him sat the remnants of a small kale salad, one of All Jane’€™s festival posters, his own flier, and a notebook with a few bullets scrawled out that included “€œRock-€˜n-€™Roll Camp for Girls,” €€”his hitlist of all-female organizations in town that are chappin’€™ his hide.

Amy Miller: I’m really surprised to find out that you’re real. Can you tell me your full name?

Matt: You can call me Matt “The Lone”€ Woof.

It’s interesting that you’€™re using a pseudonym to organize a public protest. How did this plan come about?

I was going to do this last year but it was a little late in the game. And I got a little bit of cold feet this year because I took out the ad and didn’€™t get any responses for a couple of days. And I didn’€™t want to be out there without anyone backing me up. Then I thought, how hard is it to just stand out there and hold a sign? This was Plan B. Plan A was just to show up and protest. Then I thought well, I’ll take the passive approach and Ill just create these hardcore posters and that’ll make me feel better.

And do you you feel better?

I think so. Although I’€™m a little bit concerned for my safety. You never know. I’ve seen some documentaries about things similar to this, where people needed police protection with them.

Some of us thought at first this was guerilla marketing on the part of the festival. Do you realize how many more people will probably attend the thing you hate based on your protest?
You think so? Well I guess it’s true what they say–even bad PR is good PR. How did people find out so fast? I only fliered on Alberta.

Someone took a photo of your flier and posted it on Facebook. Also, you took out an ad on the internet, Matt. Is your flier meant to be humorous?
Of course! To some extent. I mean obviously they’€™re not gonna be slicing anyone’€™s penis off at the door. Matter of fact, I even thought about wearing a jock strap outside of my pants when I show up to protest, just as a joke.

You may want to consider a codpiece or maybe a full suit of armor. And some of the ladies on the festival are concerned for their safety as well. Do you understand why we would feel threatened?

It seems like men would be more threatened by the severed dicks than women. Don’€™t you think? A woman wouldn’€™t have to worry about that. Where is the threat to the women involved? I’€™m most certainly not going to bring anyone along who will even say anything irrational or yell at anyone.

I got some interest from women as well in joining my protest. There’s no guarantee that anybody’€™s gonna show. There’s no guarantee I will. The way you make it sound, if I’€™m seen as a threat to people’€™s safety, that could be a serious concern.

What’€™s so offensive to you about the festival?

I think that it says All Jane and then really specifies the “No Dick.”

Do you get the pun, and the reference to the book series?

I get the pun but I think there’€™s an ulterior motive, which is the anti-male connotation. It doesn’€™t seem to be empowering to women, but rather slandering to men. There’s a tide going on of that more and more, especially in the Northwest. It’€™s creating an environment of new segregation.

Do you think with a different name, or some different branding, that it’s possible to have a comedy festival exclusive to female-identified performers that is not threatening to men?

Well, no. The fact that it’€™s all female is sexist. Why does it have to be all female? Are there any all-men festivals? If you called it All Dick and No Jane, the feminists would be up in arms.

Are you protesting any other all-female organizations or events?

I might. This is my first time “€œgrowing a pair”€ and stepping out to the limelight and expressing what I feel is a growing problem based on somewhat misrepresented facts put out by the feminist propaganda machine. Here’€™s a weird random example. You go to the Country Fair, and they have an all-women meditation area. Why can’t men meditate with you? Does a man’€™s thinking obstruct your aura? It’€™s turning into segregation and segregation is not right.

But when you’€™re talking about an actual meditation group, based on the real and present physical threat that men pose to women on a regular basis, how do you mitigate that risk of danger AND maintain a climate of absolute equality?

I don’€™t recall any women at the fair being assaulted, harassed or threatened.

Statistically there probably were. Most women are harassed in some way every single day.

Yeah well there were probably also some men there that got smacked around by their girlfriends. And some drunk guys whose girlfriends had sex with them while they were unconscious, which is still rape.

I’€™m not questioning the existence of female rapists or abusers.

Of all the places, I don’t think the Country Fair is the kind of place where men are threatening. Those hippie guys are not threatening. They’€™re totally non-threatening, passive, friendly guys. If we’€™re talking a subway in New York, OK then. I can understand why if you’€™re having a meditation area, maybe it’€™s a good idea to have women only. But at the County Fair, it struck me as odd and offensive. I don’€™t think the kind of guys who are attracted to a meditation area are the kinds of guys who are going to harass women.

And you can always just have someone watching and if someone starts telling some really bad women jokes, they can say “Hey, buddy, get outta here. We’€™re trying to meditate.”

Do you think the same principle should apply to comedy then? That rather than having the occasional all-female festival, on an ongoing basis we should say, “Hey buddy, there’€™s no place for your sexist jokes,”€ or speak out in the moment about feeling marginalized as long as we are all going to perform together?

No, it’€™s a little bit of a different story with comedy. Because anything goes, otherwise it’s not funny. And sometimes it’€™s good to laugh at yourself. And if female comedy was nothing but slandering men it would get a little old. But you throw in some dick jokes AND some Jane jokes and now we’€™re talkin.

How do you feel about Gay Pride parades or Black History Month? What is so bothersome to you about an oppressed or minority group organizing an exclusive event to celebrate who they are in a supportive environment?

I think they’€™re great. I would have a problem with them if they were worded differently. It’€™s not called “€œNo whites month.”€ If it were advertised like that it would be offensive to a lot of people, but it’€™s not. So if this were called “€œWomen’s History Comedy Theater Festival” this whole thing would be another story.

That’€™s not a very catchy name for a comedy festival. But you’re saying if the name were changed and there were still no men allowed to perform, you’€™d be more comfortable with it after all?

Yeah. I guess it’€™s more the name and the presentation. As long as it didn’€™t slander men, I wouldn’t be bothered at all. It’€™s about principle, really. I’€™ve seen a lot of anti-male segregation happening. You’ll see “€œAll women’s workout gym,”€ and there are coffee roasters that only hire women to pick beans because they feel women pick a better bean. To me that’s not so much empowering as it is segregating. I felt like, and I could be wrong, this festival was an example of that kind of segregation.

You’€™ve admitted to not being a comedy fan or a consumer of comedy. According to the All Jane website, fewer than 19 percent of all stand-up comics are women. At the top tier of comics, it’€™s probably closer to 5 percent. We’€™re working in an extremely male-dominated industry. In that case, can you understand the motivation to organize an all female comedy festival?

Are you saying that comedy festivals and comedy clubs, that some of them just don’€™t want women doing comedy? Can you mention a comedy club that discriminates against women?

I could, but I want to work in them. So, no. But they exist.

Well that’€™s sexist and that’€™s wrong and I would be down to protest that fact too, right alongside you. It’€™s sexism that I’m against. But I really doubt people have any problem with women. People will laugh at a man just as fast as they’ll laugh at a woman. It’€™s just as good for business.

I have some hilarious female friends. I don’€™t even think about the gender of a comedian I’€™m watching. It’s like a grocery checker. I don’€™t care if they’€™re a man or a woman. Even though most checkers in this town are women.

I find it hard to believe that women are being discriminated against in comedy. Why would they be? What’€™s the money in it? Who wants to have all men on a show? That doesn’€™t make any sense.

You are preaching to the choir, son.

Well if that IS the case, then I can understand the angst in this event and branding it the way it is. But I still don’€™t think it’s being presented right.

You take such offense to the tone, name, and exclusivity of the festival, but your flier is so totally over the top and completely anti-women.

How is it anti-women? Because I say “€œFeminazi?”€ I’€™d say that’€™s more anti-neo-feminism. What is called feminism today has taken a turn maybe in the past ten years. I look at a lot of magazines, and one had a cover recently called “The End of Men”€ and the Atlantic, another feminist-oriented magazine, was all about men this and men that and it wasn’€™t about empowering women at all. It’s just about men having depression, and not seeking help, and there was a story about another guy who got bullied as a child. And all this does is create an environment of hate, especially in impressionable young minds. And now girls feel like if they don’€™t go to an all-girl summer camp, or join an all-girl rock band, or an all-girl play, then they’€™re going to be in danger.

But we aren’t trying to ban men from comedy all together. Male comics are our friends. The majority of them are not posing a physical or even social threat to us. But what is wrong with having one weekend that’s only for us?

Don’€™t you think we’€™re way past this extreme reaction phase? We’re teaching young women they should be segregated from men. I’€™m not saying what happened 30, 40, 50 years ago was good but women being born today are being born in a different environment. And for you to be resentful about the past and feed into this sense that men are a threat? Women can be a threat too.

I’m not anti-feminism. What I really am is I guess you could call me a Men’€™s Rights Activist. Does that make sense? Is that a thing?

Oh yes that’€™s a thing. You are not alone. Not sure if you’€™ve Googled that phrase yet.

Well I bet I’€™m the first outspoken one in Portland. Which makes me kind of brave if you think about it.

First Lady Inc.

IMAGE: oregon.gov

Cylvia Hayes may be the most influential first lady in Oregon history.

Since Gov. John Kitzhaber took office in January 2011, Hayes, 47, has played a central role in his administration. She keeps a desk in the governor’s office, attends senior staff meetings and communicates regularly with agency directors.

She travels on trade missions to Asia and Europe not just as the governor’s
partner, but as an important player conferring with other leaders. The bio she provided to the National Governors Association highlights her role as a “policy adviser to Gov. John Kitzhaber on the issue of clean energy and economic development.”

“We haven’t seen anyone quite like her before in that position,” says Charles Johnson, an Oregon historian and biographer of the late Gov. Bob Straub. “I don’t remember others having an office in the Capitol or being involved in policy, except very informally.”

Hayes does not draw a state paycheck. But Kitzhaber’s general counsel, Liani Reeves, told WW in August that under Oregon law, Hayes is considered a public official. That means her actions as first lady and as an adviser to Kitzhaber are governed by state ethics laws.

Hayes also has continued her outside work as a private consultant on energy and economic issues. Like the spouses and partners of other elected officials, she is pursuing her own career.

Public records and dozens of interviews with people who have worked with Hayes paint a complex picture. Hayes emerges as a strong, high-profile leader who moves effortlessly between her position as a public official and the work she performs as a private consultant.

Her dual roles have created tension in Kitzhaber’s office and have raised concerns that she may be violating provisions ORS Chapter 244, the state’s government ethics law. The law prohibits public officials from engaging in conflicts of interest, from using their positions for private gain and from using public resources for personal benefit.

As a public official, records show, Hayes has pushed for economic and energy policies while accepting payments from private advocacy groups seeking to influence those same policies.

In addition, Hayes has regularly directed her state-paid assistant to do work for her private consulting business. And she has used her title as first lady
and as adviser to the governor at events when she was not representing the state but instead appearing as a paid consultant.

For example, Hayes last year spoke at a Maryland conference on sustainable economic development. She was billed as first lady of Oregon, even though she was appearing as part of a contract she had received from the conference’s sponsor, a New York advocacy group called Demos.

Records show Hayes last year signed new consulting contracts worth at least $85,000 for work that overlapped with her work in the governor’s office.

That’s more than three times the income Hayes reported on the 2012 tax return, which she provided to WW.

“If she uses the title ‘first lady’ or ‘adviser to the governor’ when she’s consulting for private companies, that’s problematic,” says former Oregon Supreme Court Justice William Riggs. “In effect, she’s selling her special relationship with the governor to clients from whom she’s getting a fee. It smells bad.”

Hayes declined to be interviewed for this story. In response to WW‘s written questions, Hayes denied any wrongdoing. 

She said questions about her consulting work are unfair and miss the point.

“I do it because I love it, and because I believe that I have a contribution to make to help build a clean economy and a more sustainable future for Oregon,” Hayes said in a statement to WW about her consulting work. “It’s the same reason, as first lady, I have championed building prosperity and expanding opportunity—I believe in it.”

Kitzhaber also declined to be interviewed for this story. His spokeswoman, Rachel Wray, said Hayes’ work as a consultant predates her work in Kitzhaber’s office.

“In an abundance of caution, the governor’s office established a proactive, rigorous review of her professional contracts to avoid any potential conflicts of interest,” Wray said in a statement to WW.

Polls show Kitzhaber, 67, is likely to defeat his chief opponent, state Rep.
Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point) in the November election, and is headed for a fourth term as Oregon governor. 

Kitzhaber has won praise for cutting state pension costs and increasing the number of Oregonians with health insurance. But he’s struggled to implement his other big initiatives, leading to the $250 million Cover Oregon debacle, a lack of progress on school reforms, and an inability to deliver the Columbia River Crossing project. The governor’s inability or
unwillingness to keep Hayes’ potential conflicts of interest in check is another example of his management failures.

 

RIDING HIGH: Gov. John Kitzhaber (left) and Cylvia Hayes have both sought a higher-profile role for Hayes in Kitzhaber’s administration. That has left Hayes, who also works as a consultant, trying to navigate uncharted terrain. “The first lady position is unpaid and, in fact, unofficial,” she says. “There’s nothing in the Oregon Revised Statutes on the role.”

Hayes grew up poor in the Cascade foothills east of Seattle. In the story she often tells, her mother fled Oklahoma after leaving Hayes’ father. Her family lived for a time in a shack in Carnation, Wash., without electricity or running water.

“We would bathe in Old Man Green’s pond up the road,” Hayes said in a speech at the University of Vermont in July.

Hayes left home at 16, worked as a dental assistant, machine operator and at a chicken plant before putting herself through the Evergreen State College in Olympia. She graduated in 1994 at age 26 and went on to earn a master’s degree in sustainability from Evergreen three years later.

In the late 1990s, she relocated to Bend, and in 2002 she ran for office as a Democrat in a bid for the state House of Representatives. She lost to incumbent Rep. Ben Westlund (R-Bend).

She met Kitzhaber around the time he was finishing his second term as governor. Soon after Kitzhaber left office in 2003, hefiled for divorce from his wife, Sharon. Hayes and Kitzhaber soon became a couple.

Hayes worked in Oregon’s booming sustainable energy industry, helping clients understand state laws and secure public funding. In 2006, Gov. Ted Kulongoski appointed her to a lead a renewable energy task force.

“She’s great to work with and a tremendous leader,” says Mike McArthur, executive director of the Association of Oregon Counties, who co-chaired the task force with Hayes.

One of her business deals created a big political problem for Kitzhaber in 2010, when he was running for governor after eight years out of politics and facing a strong challenge from Republican Chris Dudley.

In 2009, Hayes’ firm competed for a consulting contract given out by the Oregon Department of Energy. Her firm came in last in the rankings. State officials, aware of her relationship with Kitzhaber, guaranteed her firm got some of the work anyway.

The deal triggered a criminal investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice in the middle of Kitzhaber’s campaign against Dudley. Hayes was never accused of wrongdoing. But the investigation, which finished after Kitzhaber took office, found state officials had steered a $60,000 contract to Hayes’ firm.

POSITIVE ENERGY: Kitzhaber and Hayes tour a Wallowa County biomass facility. “When I first met John, I know our shared passion for building sustainable economies is one of the very qualities that attracted us to each other,” Hayes says.

When Kitzhaber took office in January 2011, he told The Oregonian that Hayes would assume “the roles and responsibilities of the first lady,” although they were not married. (In August, Kitzhaber and Hayes announced their engagement. Kitzhaber has been married twice; court records show Hayes has been married three times.)

Kitzhaber’s staff—aware of the controversy about Hayes and her consulting work during the campaign—pushed for her to find work away from state government. In early 2011, she took a job with Rural Development Initiatives, a Eugene nonprofit. Craig Smith, the nonprofit’s executive director, says Hayes left about six months later because of a lack of funding.

Hayes quickly moved beyond the traditional, often ceremonial role of first lady. In the 2011 legislative session, she pushed for the Cool Schools energy retrofit program, the centerpiece of Kitzhaber’s economic agenda, and also lobbied the Legislature on poverty issues.

“Cylvia has had a long-standing passion not just for the environment, but for trying to make people’s lives better through environmental policy,” says Multnomah County Commissioner Jules Bailey, who as a state legislator and consultant has known Hayes for more than a decade. “She’s brought that passion to her role as first lady.”

In 2011, Kitzhaber named Hayes to a seven-member team charged with writing his 10-year energy plan, which his administration touted as a path toward Oregon’s energy independence. Hayes also gave speeches as first lady and policy adviser about energy issues.

She also continued her consulting work.

“As soon as John was elected governor, I intentionally changed my business model to decrease the possibility of conflicts of interest,” Hayes said in her statement to WW. “Since becoming first lady, I have chosen to work only for nonprofit clients, not for governmental entities or for-profit companies.”

There are two problems with that assertion. First, under state ethics law, it makes no difference whether Hayes works for a nonprofit or for-profit client.

Second, it is not true. 

State disclosure forms Hayes filed in 2012 show she signed a new contract with Waste to Energy Group, a for-profit California firm. The company hired Hayes in July 2011 to help secure a contract to convert methane from a Bend landfill into energy. (Kitzhaber’s energy plan, which was still being written at that time, would later emphasize the importance of alternative fuels.)

In her statement to WW, Hayes also denied ever using publicly paid staff to assist her private consulting business.

That’s also not true. 

In a July 20, 2011, email obtained by WW under a public records request, Hayes directed her state-paid assistant, Mary Rowinski, to schedule time with Waste to Energy executives. Hayes’ client wanted a meeting July 25, 2011. “Please add to Google calendar,” Hayes wrote to Rowinski.

That was a small request. But state law is clear: Public officials cannot use taxpayer resources for their private business. Over time, according to people familiar with Hayes’ schedule, she routinely directed Rowinski to book hotels and make plane reservations for her private consulting work.

Rowinski didn’t respond to WW requests for an interview.

 

Prior to Kitzhaber’s election in 2010, Hayes had typically worked on local issues and on relatively small contracts. Starting in 2009, records show, she helped Redmond Municipal Airport acquire business energy tax credits, for which she was paid $4,725. Between November 2010 and July 2011, she worked for the Portland engineering firm HDR Inc., helping with communications about planned watershed improvements in Bend. For that, HDR paid her $4,875.

In 2013, the size of Hayes’ private consulting contracts increased. One new client was Resource Media, a Seattle nonprofit that promotes sustainability.

In March 2012, Resource Media reached out to Kitzhaber’s office to promote an initiative called the Pacific Coast Collaborative Action Plan on Climate and Energy, a joint venture among California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and British Columbia.

Sources say Hayes was directly involved in this initiative in her public role as adviser to the governor. In March 2013, she assumed a private role as well, signing a $20,611 consulting contract with Resource Media. 

Resource Media president Scott Miller declined to be interviewed about Hayes. “Generally, we don’t discuss our past work with clients and partners,” Miller said in a statement.

Resource Media arranged for Hayes to speak at a May 3, 2013, conference on ocean acidification at the University of California, Irvine. The conference program called her a “clean economy expert and first lady of Oregon.” There was no disclosure she was being paid by Resource Media.

Hayes provided the same bio for another Resource Media event. Sources say Rowinski booked Hayes’ travel for the event, a June 5, 2013, panel called “A Focus on Coastal Communities: Local Responses to Global Challenges” at the Capitol Hill Ocean Week conference in Washington, D.C.

 

Energy Foundation is a San Francisco nonprofit that encourages governments to address climate change.

In her public role as a Kitzhaber adviser, Hayes worked with Energy Foundation. Along with the governor, she spoke at a Jan. 13, 2012, Energy Foundation event in Seattle called the West Coast Clean Economy alignment.

A year later, Hayes pitched Energy Foundation to hire her as a private consultant.

On Jan. 3, 2013, Hayes sent an email to Katie McCormack, the group’s Western region program director.

“I would like to talk to you about the 2013 work and getting it funded,” Hayes wrote to McCormack. “Do you have some time in the next week or so?”

In May 2013, Hayes signed a $40,000 contract with Energy Foundation.

Eric Heitz, Energy Foundation CEO and co-founder, said in a statement: “In 2013, we contracted with 3E Strategies [Hayes’ consulting firm] to develop
communications about the benefits of a clean energy economy, arrange speaking engagements on the issue, and write and share a collection of clean energy success stories. [Hayes] is respected and effective, and we’re proud of the work she did for us.”

WINNING TEAM: “[John] has sought my counsel, just as he seeks counsel from countless people across the state—many of them strong, smart, opinionated women,” says Hayes (shown above with Gov. Kitzhaber at last week’s NARAL luncheon at the Nines hotel in Portland) in a statement to WW

IMAGE: Adam Wickham

In April 2013, the Oregon Legislature was wrestling with cuts to the Public Employees Retirement System, possible tax increases and a contentious debate over the Columbia River Crossing project.

In the middle of this, Kitzhaber and Hayes flew to a conference called Global Well-being and Gross National Happiness Lab in the Himalayan nation of Bhutan.

Paid for by the German government, the trip was controversial. Critics said Kitzhaber should not have traveled while lawmakers were struggling with important issues.

What the public hasn’t been told is that Hayes used the trip to help land another consulting contract.

In her public-official role as adviser to the governor, Hayes had been working with an organization called Demos, which promotes a new method of measuring economic output called the Genuine Progress Indicator.

In April 2012, Kitzhaber and Hayes attended a Portland State University session on the topic, and later that year appeared at a Demos conference in Maryland.

Lew Daly, director of policy and research for Demos, met with Hayes and Kitzhaber in Bhutan. Shortly afterward, Hayes landed a $25,000 contract with Demos.

Daly acknowledges he met with Hayes in Bhutan, but it had nothing to do with her hiring.

“In this case, Ms. Hayes was hired for her extensive experience as a consultant on issues of economic and environmental sustainability,” Daly said in an email to WW. He added that prior to hiring Hayes, “Demos has not worked with partners of other elected officials.”

While on contract to Demos, Hayes attended conferences and delivered speeches across the country. She was introduced not as a paid consultant to Demos but as Oregon’s first lady. The work included a trip to Baltimore, where she moderated a Demos panel that featured Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs.

By the summer of 2013, Hayes’ private work was raising concerns inside Kitzhaber’s office—which was delicate given that she was the governor’s partner. During a speech she gave at PSU last April, Hayes acknowledged as much.

“A couple of years ago, I was having a tense conversation with a couple of John’s—aka, the governor’s—senior staff,” Hayes told her audience. “We were having a conversation about how I would contribute to these issues while being in this awkward and bizarre role of first lady. I was feeling very thwarted by that. I was getting some pushback from the guys, and one of them said, ‘You know, when you work for the governor…’ And I said, ‘I don’t work for the governor, I work for the earth.'”

Oregon law requires public officials such as Hayes to declare real and potential conflicts of interest.

In August 2013, months after she signed her consulting deals and after pressure from Kitzhaber’s staff, Hayes filed formal disclosures of potential conflicts of interest regarding her private contracts with Energy Foundation, Resource Media and Demos.

Kitzhaber’s office released the disclosures to WW after a request under Oregon’s public records law.

In response to the disclosures, then-Kitzhaber chief of staff Curtis Robinhold and general counsel Liani Reeves told Hayes in writing they were satisfied her contracts presented no actual conflicts of interest.

Robinhold and Reeves did warn Hayes against using public employees to schedule meetings for her business, and they reminded her not to use her public position for private gain.

How Hayes used or traded on her title is important.

Kitzhaber has faced far stricter guidelines from the Oregon Government Ethics Commission over the issue of paid speeches.

In December 2012, Kitzhaber sought advice from the commission about accepting speaking fees while serving as governor. “The commission would caution the governor against advertising the governor’s current public position while obtaining or attempting to obtain paid speaking engagements,” the commission advised Kitzhaber in January 2013.

Kitzhaber sought the advice before seeking speaking engagements. (Records show he’s made one paid speech since then.) Hayes didn’t declare her potential conflicts until after signing the contracts and using her first lady title in her consulting business.

Robinhold and Reeves told Hayes she could continue to use the first lady title only with her current clients. They also wrote her title “may not be used to market the work you are doing on behalf of the private company” and added “you may not do your outreach work as first lady.”

Hayes continued to use the title with her clients.

For example, Hayes published an article in the September/October 2013 edition of the journal Aquaculture North America titled “Pacific Coast shellfish industry is canary in coal mine.” In the article, she warned about ocean acidification, an issue she had been hired by Resource Media to publicize.

Hayes’ bio for the article described her as CEO of 3E Strategies, “first lady of Oregon” and “policy advisor to the governor on the issues of clean energy and economic development.”

The following month she penned an article for the Huffington Post, promoting the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy. That’s the carbon-reduction effort by West Coast states and British Columbia, promoted by Resource Media.

In the Huffington Post article, Hayes identified herself as “first lady of Oregon; founder/CEO, 3EStrategies” and made no mention that she was paid by Resource Media.

Hayes also continued to mix her role as adviser to the governor and consultant to Demos. 

In October 2013, Hayes circulated a draft pitch to state officials. She was seeking $100,000 in foundation funding for a project to be led by her and Demos, that would create an Oregon Genuine Progress Indicator. Matt Shelby, a spokesman for the state Department of Administrative Services, says the pitch did not get grant funding, but the state did hire a staff person to develop an Oregon GPI.

 

Patrick Hearn, who spent 16 years as director of the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, says if Hayes was given her private consulting contracts because of her role in the governor’s office, that could violate state ethics laws.

“If you can say she would not have been able to gain those contracts but for her public role, it appears that would violate prohibitions against using your public position for financial gain,” Hearn says.

Dick Simpson, a political science professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago and an expert on public corruption, says it doesn’t matter what private interests hired Hayes, whether it was a nonprofit or for-profit corporation.

If her client was seeking to influence policy in areas where she was already working for the governor, Simpson says, it would put Hayes and Kitzhaber in a difficult position.

“That sounds like a conflict of interest,” Simpson says. “Whether it violates the law, I don’t know, but it’s to be avoided.”

Ultimately, it remains Kitzhaber’s responsibility under state law to police the potential conflicts of interest in his office, including those of the first lady.

As Kitzhaber prepares for his final term as governor, he and Hayes have discussed her taking a larger role in his administration. A memo circulated among staff this year suggested she might have a full-time chief of staff and go on the state payroll.

In speeches, Hayes has made clear that she sees Kitzhaber and herself not only as life partners, but as partners in working on big problems such as climate change that Washington, D.C., won’t address.

“Our federal government is off the rails,” she said in an August 2013 speech in
Vermont. “This is one of the biggest reasons that John decided to run for governor and I decided to jump into this bizarre position of being first lady. John and I jumped in because we do believe we are at a point where incrementalism isn’€™t going to cut it anymore.”

 

Dividends

The Oregon Business Council pays for the first lady’s spokesperson.

GOV. JOHN KITZHABER

Last year, a leading Oregon business group spent $35,000 to provide first lady Cylvia Hayes with a spokesperson, at the same time Gov. John Kitzhaber championed the group’s agenda.

In 2013, Hayes asked the Oregon Business Council, which represents some of the state’s biggest employers, for financial help to publicize her work on the Oregon Prosperity Initiative. 

The OBC was working on a similar initiative, and its president, Duncan Wyse, said Hayes asked if the OBC would help. “She was seeking support for her work,” Wyse says.

Last fall, Wyse’s group earmarked a $35,000 grant from the Northwest Area Foundation to hire Therese Lang, a public relations consultant, to work as Hayes’ spokeswoman. Lang no longer works for Hayes and didn’t return WW‘s calls.

Hayes told WW she sees no conflict of interest in her pursuit of financial help from the OBC while Kitzhaber promoted the group’s agenda, known as the Oregon Business Plan.

“[Gov. Kitzhaber] believes the Oregon Business Plan is the right direction for Oregon, as should be evident by every speech he’s given over the past five years,” Hayes tells WW in a statement. “Yes, I share a commitment to reducing poverty in Oregon with my fiance and with executives from some of the largest companies in Oregon. That’s not a conflict. That’s common sense, and maybe even common decency.”

Since returning to office in 2010, Kitzhaber has relied on the OBC to help promote many of his top priorities.

The OBC’s Wyse helped design Kitzhaber’s 2011 education reforms. The group’s business plan called for cutting benefits from the state’s Public Employees Retirement System, and pushed for building the Columbia River Crossing project.

Kitzhaber makes no secret of his reliance on the OBC. Asked to explain his economic development policy, Kitzhaber recently told WW, “The Oregon Business Plan is my economic development plan.”

Until now, neither OBC nor Kitzhaber has publicly disclosed the financial role OBC played in supporting Hayes’ work in the governor’s office.

The arrangement is unusual, and it’s not clear whether it’s legal.

The OBC allowed the state to avoid a cost and provide Hayes with greater visibility for her work.

State law prohibits any group with a “legislative or administrative” interest in a public official’s work from giving a gift to that official of more than $50. And OBC paying for a public relations specialist for Hayes’ work also raises questions about whether the governor’s office used the arrangement to sidestep public hiring or contracting rules.

Todd Donovan, a political science professor at Western Washington University, says the appearance of an advocacy group hiring a spokesperson for Kitzhaber’s initiative is troubling.

“The question there is, does it look like a quid pro quo?” Donovan says. “Even if it’s not, it’s a major problem for a business group to hire somebody who’s effectively filling a spot on the governor’s staff.” NIGEL JAQUISS.

The Pronunciation of Willamette Seems Wrong to Me—Who Dropped the Ball on This One?

Thanks for the pronunciation info on “Glisan,” but surely the real linguistic elephant in the room is the pronunciation of “Willamette.” It’s always seemed wrong to me. Who dropped the ball on this one? —Willamette? Weak!

Technically, that’s an onomastic elephant, Will. Linguistic elephants have bigger ears, but I get your point. You’ll be pleased to learn there’s nothing wrong with the river’s pronunciation. It’s the spelling that’s fucked.

The problem is that “Willamette” gives every impression of being a word borrowed from French. And if it’s French, it would be pronounced “will-a-MET.” So what the l’enfer?

The answer is that it’s not French. “Willamette” derives from an American Indian word originally transliterated as “Wallamet.” They pronounced it pretty much the same way we pronounce it today.

In the mid-19th century, however, folks decided that the “Wallamet” spelling was dirt-munchingly provincial, and trotted out some very questionable theories to support spelling it à la française. It’s like when your 15-year-old brother decides he’d look real suave with a pencil-thin mustache—the “-ette” suffix became a sort of Axe body spray for language.

The Wallamet lovers put up a hell of a fight. Judge Matthew Deady took to the editorial pages of The Oregonian (the YouTube comments section of its day) to decry “Willamette” as having “a thin, meager sound, and a petty, foppish appearance.” Le snap! (Deady also noted, devastatingly, that the case for “Willamette” as a French word was somewhat weakened by the fact that, at the time, the French alphabet had no letter “W”.)

At this point, the ship has sailed, and, short of adding “rhymes with dammit” to all the signage, there’s not much we can do.

QUESTIONS? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com