Shit doesn’t work in Oregon. How much is Tina Kotek to blame?

Today on the Dive podcast, we speak with Pulitzer-winning journalist Nigel Jaquiss about Oregon House speaker-turned-gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek. Even after 10 years as president, she doesn’t seem to have the kind of party support we’ve grown accustomed to in a state ruled by Democrats for nearly four decades.

Tina Kotek is kind of a tough case. She pushed through the kind of progressive legislation that gives Oregon its hyperliberal shine (including raising the minimum wage, criminal justice reform‚ and super-aggressive housing legislation to name a few. only a few). But she is also part of what Nigel calls our “triumvirate of heads of state”: Kotek, outgoing Governor Kate Brown and Senate Speaker Peter Courtney. So even though she’s not a regular in the governor’s office, when it comes to the disconnect between legislation and the logistics of implementation, she’s kind of treated like one.

I have seen the disconnect between politics and reality in my own home. When my son was diagnosed with autism about a year before the pandemic, we were assured that the state support system was strong enough to meet many of the needs of an Oregon family facing a disability diagnosis. What we actually received was a different, unfamiliar social worker every time we asked for help. The most these social workers could provide was an occasional email with a bulleted list of seasonal resources we had previously found online.

I watched my elderly neighbors lose the house they had lived in for 30 years and become homeless.

The teachers at my son’s school are so scattered that average parents often get requests to apply as paraeducators — for a high-needs special education class where the therapists and educators all have advanced degrees.

Nigel suggests his article on Kotek is a simple political profile, but there is a deeper discussion rooted in the simple sentiment expressed in Jules Bailey’s story: “Shit don’t work.”

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