Monday, February 12, 2007

Meet the New Head of FEMA, From Oregon!

Well OK, the position isn't currently available, and the Bush administration quickly wised up from the Michael Brown affair and hired somebody with actual emergency management experience. But either managing the business of horses is a tougher job than I imagined, or it just leads people to do dumb things...people like our now-former Executive Director of the Oregon Racing Commission (ORC):
Jodi Hanson has resigned as executive director of the Oregon Racing Commission in a plea agreement that allowed her to avoid being prosecuted for perjury related to a drunken driving charge.

As part of the agreement, Hanson pleaded guilty to false swearing and promised to never work in a position of public trust or fiduciary duty.

When Hanson pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge in April, she presented herself and was sentenced as a first-time offender, according to the Associated Press.

A prosecuting attorney later found out that Hanson previously was convicted of drunken driving in 2001 in Vancouver, Washington.
"Oh, I thought you meant was this the first time I've been caught drunk driving in OREGON! Well, yeah, now that you mention it I've been busted in Washington, too. Should I have brought that up?" Er, maybe.

The truth is that horse racing--or at least the betting part of it--is in serious decline around the nation as well as in Oregon and has been for some time {pdf}, particularly the live-race portion of the wagering take. The ORC has actually been a leader in trying to prop up the industry by priming the pump of off-track simulcasts and betting. In 2005 the Commission secured an agreement with offshore (Curacao) betting company IRG to broadcast races outside of Oregon and the US, the first licensing of an offshore company to handle domestic simulcast wagering at the time.

So unlike Brown's situation, it wasn't professional impotence that brought Hanson down; indeed, according to the agency's performance benchmarks the Commission has done a good job for the state. But apparently the standards of behavior are tougher for the ORC than they are for, say, President (one DUI, intense avoidance/fibbing of other legal trouble) or Vice President (two DUIs, one unexplained face-shooting). I guess preserving the ability to lay down a daily double over a lunchtime beer and cigarette at places like this is too important to let it be handled by people who like to drive home soused. Maybe if they let her use a horse--is it illegal to drink and ride?

Update, 5pm--
In the spirit of proper crediting(!!), I should say that I've discovered since posting this that Mark Larabee at The Oregonian had this story covered--and in a much more thorough way than Thoroughbred Times--this past Saturday.