Pappy, we hardly knew ye

Well, Bourbongate is out of the Portland headlines after absolutely dominating them last week. That's too bad. I understand the public's limited attention span, but I had a lot of fun chatting with people here about booze and Oregon-style corruption.

With the spotlight off and the supposed criminal investigation now out of sight, out of mind – they'll probably say Frank Gable drank all the Pappy's – the scandal's probably not got much more to offer the news media. And so we may not hear much about a number of other big questions and concerns that arose as the public took a closer look at the shenanigans at the state's liquor control agency. Like these:

1.  What the heck is up with the OLCC board room? It's this sleek chamber that looks nicer than the room where the state Supreme Court holds oral arguments. It's as if the liquor commissioners were some kind of royalty. Folks, you are selling people alcohol. It's a dirty business. You are not some sort of modern-day heroes. Find yourself a nice bland conference room somewhere with fluorescent lighting and get over yourselves.

2.  I can't stop thinking about the fact that Chris Mayton, the manager at the center of the scandal, was the interim chief financial officer of the OLCC for six months in 2021 and 2022. That's what he says on his LinkedIn page, anyway. What were his qualifications for that gig? (The page says he has a bachelor's degree in business from a correspondence school.) Who decided to put him in that position? And did anybody think about the fact that he had previously been hospitalized for alcohol poisoning while on a bender on an OLCC business trip in Denver? "It was the altitude." High as a kite, perhaps.

3. Did you know that the OLCC grossly overpaid for land in Canby on which they're about to build an even fancier headquarters building and warehouse? Me neither. But OPB has been paying attention, here

In April 2021, the OLCC agreed to pay $40.7 million for a 33-acre parcel in Canby, where it plans to construct a warehouse and headquarters. That land had been appraised for $22 million – and had sold for roughly $6 million not long before.

The deal was so objectionable to public lands advisory Chair John Brown that it became one of just two land deals he can remember the commission rejecting in more than a decade on the body. But that rejection was purely advisory, and the state’s Department of Administrative Services moved forward with the deal anyway.

To quote the famed poet Lynard Skynard, "Ewwww, that smell." The deal is currently at the "too late to turn back now" stage, so typical of a government scam around here. But if I were the governor, we'd cut our losses and kill the whole deal in its current tracks. Pay the damages with sales proceeds from the land.

4. It's funny that the OLCC is now the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission. Yet we also have an Oregon Cannabis Commission. Why the overlap, aside from doubling the graft opportunities? That said, it could make it easier for the voters to abolish the OLCC entirely; the latter's pot operations could be turned over to the other agency.

Oh, Bourbongate. You could have been the start of a meaningful cleanup of some deep, deep grime. But this being Oregon, I think that you'll probably soon fade from memory. For a short while we had some fun, though, didn't we?


  1. I wonder who owned the Canby land before the OLCC.

    1. Trammell Crow. And funny thing, Mayton was in the middle of it. Stinkin' to high heaven.

    2. Par for the course: Trammell Crow is getting too sleazy for Dallas (Trammell himself was well-loved here, but his son Harlan, currently CEO of the company, is so narcissistic and crooked that only Donald Trump would put up with him, and then only for his campaign contributions), so of COURSE it's involved with Portland real estate scams. Considering that Oregon and particularly Portland politics have the same combination of greed, naivete, incompetence, and deep insecurity that made Dallas politics so much fun in the 1980s, you're in for one hell of a ride once Harlan decides he wants more.

    3. Trammell Crow is an LLC, managed by CBRE, Inc., whose President is ROBERT E SULENTIC. Just real the Sec of State web site.

  2. An opportunity missed to call it Pappygate, which trips off the tongue.

  3. I wonder if Portland/Oregon could do a better job policing itself if not for the fiction that everyone is so progressive.


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