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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 17, 2004 3:18 AM. The previous post in this blog was Blog news. The next post in this blog is The new nickel. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Dr. Kohler's days off

Big story on the front page of The Oregonian yesterday about the uproar over Peter Kohler's plan to become the new chair of the Texas Pacific Group unit that's trying to take over Portland General Electric. Kohler, president of Oregon Health and Sciences University here in Portland, is the new local face card in the Texas Pacific bid, replacing disgraced former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt, a West Hills crony who stepped down after being outed for statutory rape.

Kohler has drawn fire for his planned new side job, including some serious heat from City Commissioner Randy Leonard. As told by The O, the principal protest goes something like this: Kohler shouldn't take the Texas Pacific gig because he has a conflict of interest. How can he do what's best for OHSU, which is a large consumer of PGE power, while at the same time looking out for the new PGE shareholders, including himself? (He's planning to personally buy a half-million dollars' worth of stock in the new company.)

To me that's far too genteel a criticism of Kohler. Let's take the gloves off, shall we? And talk about what's really wrong with this cute little deal.

The man makes $600,000 a year as the president of OHSU. That's as in, six. Hundred. Thousand. U.S. Dollars. On top of a company car and free housing. Except for perhaps a couple of state university major sports coaches, he must be the highest paid education official, and the highest paid public official, in the history of the State of Oregon.

$600,000 a year breaks down to $11,538.46 a week. Even assuming that he works 50 hours a week, that's $230.77 an hour, on top of free transportation and housing. For that kind of money, the man should eat, drink, sleep, and breathe OHSU. He shouldn't be gallivanting around at some part-time side occupation that's completely unrelated to the Pill Hill mission.

He claims overseeing PGE will take "only" two days a month. That's a half day a week, folks. What if the governor announced that he was taking off every Tuesday at noon to play golf, and not returning to his office until Wednesday? How would that play with the public? Much less moonlighting to the tune of another $125,000 a year, plus $1,000 per meeting attended, as Kohler wants to do.

At the good doctor's salary rate, a half day costs the medical school more than $1,100, which adds up to around $60,000 a year.

Is there another word for this besides "arrogance"?

Last but not least, I couldn't help but notice this passage in the O story:

Indeed, the 66-year-old endocrinologist is hailed as a visionary who transformed OHSU from a run-down teaching hospital to an academic powerhouse.

I'm sure all the little people who have been working hard at OHSU for many years really loved reading that.

Comments (8)

This is what you're best at Jack, holding public officials accountable.

It's good to have you back.

On a completely unrelated topic, have you seen the movie Garden State, yet? I only ask because of your ridiculous love affair with the state of New Jersey. Anyway, the film is terrific, you should check it out.

3:18am?
Someday, can you post about why you have such a screwy schedule? :-)

I said it yesterday on my site, I'll say it again here.
If he's so all-fired concerned about supporting 'health care', he'll kick in his TP salary & meeting dollars to a fund to aid those who no longer have health insurance in this state - or a clinic for those who can't afford health care.

I don't see how endowing a chair at OHSU with the proceeds from his stock sale helps him better 'serve' Oregonians. It does, of course, promote his own pet cause.

I'm undercharging.

Some Portland folks talk big about this becoming the 'next San Francisco'. A little more duplicitous business deals like this and we'll be Chicago.

It'll never be as cool as Chicago. More like Detroit.

Heh. Detroit with a Super-Fund clean-up site downtown (both the river and the soil).

Speaking of which, what happened to the millions-upon-millions of dollars required to clean the soil south of the Macadam bridge? Did the tram project just make everything OK down there?

While I agree that the biggest conflict is between Kohler's role as OHSU President and Oregon Electric Board Member, but I think there is another important conflict. This would be the the conflict between Kohler asking the city for money for the OHSU Tram and competing with the city for PGE.

It disturbs me that the city would still consider helping to build the Tram when the Kohler has shown no loyalty to them. For all we know, OHSU will some day ban non-hospital people from the tram, or sell the tram to a private company.

It is clear to me that Enron was not willing to sell to the city, under any circumstances. They wanted to sell to private company, and now they even get to sell it to a bunch of fellow Texans.


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