One popular age-old joke in Democratic circles is that the GOP campaigns on the slogan that “government doesn’t work” then they get elected and prove it. Right now it’s the Democrats who are proving it in Oregon. The pandemic has been absolutely eye-opening for me at the level of incompetence in Oregon State governance. And unless the Oregon’s GOP shakes the Qanon Trumpian loonies out of their midst, the Democratic stupidity is what we’re stuck with. 

I want to clarify that I’m not talking exclusively about policy positions. The Democrats have many positions I agree with, some I’m ambivalent about, and some I completely disagree with. That’s politics. Yes, I find some of their positions stupid. But what I’m talking about here is the actual, functional running of the government. And these people are terrible at it. 

Today’s Brown/OHA example:

Overpromises mean it could be months before all of Oregon’s teachers are vaccinated for COVID-19 –

Gov. Kate Brown knew it would be a tough sell to justify her decision to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to Oregon’s teachers before its elderly.

Yes, allowing people to die is typically a “tough sell.” 

But Brown and Patrick Allen, director of the state health authority, said they hoped to soon pave the way for Oregon to reopen schools if day care, preschool and K-12 employees quickly received inoculations against COVID-19 starting Jan. 25.

“It’s a relatively small population,” Brown said in a news conference last month. “As Director Allen mentioned, roughly 100,000 folks that we can vaccinate in a period of two weeks.”

Allen tried to temper that expectation by saying he hoped “most” educators would be vaccinated in two weeks. But that timeline has turned out to be misleading at best, flat out wrong at worst.

That is because Allen has no idea what he’s doing. He should have been fired months ago. 

Documents generated by the Oregon Health Authority show the state has far more early learning and K-12 employees than the governor estimated – 152,000, roughly 50% higher than the governor and Allen said.

As a result, it could take four weeks to provide only a first shot to early learning and K-12 workers – and that schedule assumes virtually no vaccinations for seniors 80 and older who will soon qualify, according to state documents. Administering required second doses to educators and early learning employees could double the timeline to just before spring break.

I think there might be logjam circa February 8 when some of the elderly become eligible, but right now the vaccination sign up procedure is so technologically complex that it will prove all but impossible for seniors to navigate. (It’s difficult enough for people of standard technological acumen, and usually there are no appointment slots available anyway.) So the logjam may not materialize. Yay?

The governor’s two-week assertion is the latest example of overpromises, shifting numbers and largely optimistic thinking that appears to be hindering the vaccine rollout as the state moves to the second wave of eligible residents.

No kidding. The OHA is collectively incompetent. I’m sure they have good and talented people who work there, but I’m even more convinced that the OHA leadership is not among those people. 

…state officials said they do not track the occupation of people who receive doses and therefore cannot quantify progress. They also declined to specify how many educators and early learning staff they estimate will be vaccinated by March 1 or explain the assumptions that went into the timeline.

In other words, they’re just making stuff up again. You could probably roll dice or throw darts and come up with an estimate that’s just as valid as the OHA’s. 

Although Brown previously couched her decision to prioritize teachers for vaccines as a way to reopen classrooms, her spokesman, Charles Boyle, said the governor’s plan isn’t “contingent” on getting teachers vaccinated before their return to school.

Brown is opening a “pathway” for restarting schools, he said, by providing vaccinations and revising guidelines with the hope some students could return as soon as Feb. 15.

Schools can reopen, with safeguards, only in a low community transmission environment. Based on Brown’s original (inadequate) metrics, that would be exactly nowhere in Oregon right now. But the governor has twice reduced her metrics for school reopening without explaining why, so there are a few counties that can technically give it a go. Mahler County did this and could only keep Vale High School reopened for 10 days before 8 Covid cases forced it to close again. 

None of this accounts for the Covid variants. They are likely to spike transmission rates in Oregon as elsewhere unless we get vaccine distribution significantly ramped. Obviously, with the OHA in charge such ramping is unlikely. One can only hope now for federal assistance.

 “What is clear is that if we do not take action now, many school districts will miss the opportunity to reopen this school year,” Boyle said in an email. “That’s unacceptable.”

Putting teachers, staff, and kids (and by extension their parents) at risk should be more “unacceptable.” Distance learning is catastrophically bad for most. No one denies that. Dying is catastrophically worse, and that’s to say nothing of the effects of long-term Covid that lingers for a sizable percentage of infected folks. 

I’m not sure how someone comes to a policy position that imperils people’s lives in this way.