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A loss for Oregon

Gov. Kate Brown said all the right things in a statement issued after the state’s first public records advocate resigned. It’s unfortunate she didn’t say them sooner.

Brown said Ginger McCall’s abrupt resignation came as a surprise. The one person in her office who should not have been surprised was the governor’s general counsel, Misha Isaak, who tangled with McCall over her independence.

Brown appointed McCall 18 months ago, after the Legislature created the position. The legislation, which Brown sponsored, came in response to the scandal leading up to the resignation of former Gov. John Kitzhaber. Brown pledged a new emphasis on transparency when she took over as governor.

Although the Legislature made it clear the advocate should operate independently, McCall wrote in a memorandum that Isaak told her she worked for the governor when it came to matters of policy, and that Isaak was in effect her supervisor. He also told her “that I should be less ambitious, not move so fast, and recognize that I do not know about the politics or nuance of Oregon. Thus, I should ‘listen,’ and not attempt to propose reforms about things I do not fully understand.”

Not surprisingly, McCall found this “demeaning and condescending.”

In her statement, Brown said, “I agree with Ginger that the public records advocate should be truly independent. I look forward to meeting with Ginger immediately to hear directly from her how the council will develop recommendations to the Legislature to create a truly independent position.”

The Legislature should make sure that happens.

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