It is presumed that Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber took the Hippocratic oath when he became a medical doctor, swearing to do no harm in his medical practice.  No one questions his integrity by way of adherence to the oft-quoted Greek oath, dating back to the 5th century B.C., when he served as an emergency room doctor in Roseburg.

Among several concerns, however, there is wonder about him now in his determination to build the proposed Columbia River Crossing (CRC) between Portland and Vancouver.  In this case it would seem that, yes, while Kitzhaber no longer has a medical practice, he has replaced his Hippocratic Oath with another of Greek origin, the Sword of Damocles.

How so?  Well, this three-term governor, who’s widely believed to want a fourth term (maybe even terms infinitum until his death), apparently wants to use his power and influence to build a new bridge whether the state of Washington wants it or not.  He now fashions himself an inter-state strong man who will use his sword of Damocles if words of encouragement alone will not accomplish what he wants.

The danger of this guy, who has now been surrounded by sycophants for nearly 12 years and was a state senate president before that with excessive fawning over him as part of a daily routine, is that he now believes himself to be the Duce of the Northwest and can do as he pleases.  And that’s not all this fellow is up to these days.

He has taken over Oregon’s department of education and fired its voter-approved superintendent and the state system of higher education, re-assigning them into one entity, the Oregon Education Investment Board (chaired by Kitzhaber).  It’s another example of the sword because he has unilaterally taken over all education in Oregon and has appointed his followers to endorse his every move.

Governor Kitzhaber on Labor Day reported that he supports unions and union membership and is against Oregon as a right-to-work state.  Right-to-work laws allow employees to decide whether or not to join and financially support a union and can choose to leave a union at any time.  Yet, what’s the point of belonging to a union in Oregon and paying dues for years when a governor can turn on it retirees, requiring them to pay for education reforms and the state’s social programs when all other taxpayers can walk from paying their share rather than laying the whole cost burden on PERS’ retirees?

An election looms on Oregon’s horizon next year.  For governor it’s now surmised that the Democrats will nominate the want-to-be king, John Kitzhaber, while the GOP will select Dennis Robertson, the self-proclaimed libertarian, who wants all things government to find a final resting place.  For whatever opinion’s worth, either choice is no real choice at all.  It should seem obvious to voters here that Oregon desperately needs a statesman-leader who looks after the best interests of all Oregonians, like a Vic Atiyeh, Tom McCall or Robert Straub.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)