Editorial: $300 per hour and no competitive bids

It’s the kind of case that gives government a bad name.

Before she retired from her job as Portland’s human resources director, 58-year-old Yvonne Deckard earned a comfortable $86 per hour, according to The Oregonian.

But when she came back to do some work for the city under contract, her rate was $300 per hour up to a maximum of $23,000. Plus ,the Portland schools gave her a deal for $15,000 a month for six months. Those two contracts alone could add up to $113,000.

That’s all on top of about $130,000 in annual retirement income, courtesy of PERS.

But there’s more: The city and school contracts involved no competitive bidding, which The Oregonian reports is “uncommon for the city and district for high-end professional services.”

So, you might wonder, what is the work so critical that it requires a $300-per-hour consultant chosen with no competitive bids?

The city hired Deckard to coach Bryant Enge, its new chief of the Internal Business Services Bureau. Enge had run into some resistance from his staff that reportedly had racial overtones. Both Deckard and Enge are African-American.

Enge, by the way, was being paid $146,972 a year to run the business bureau. You might think someone qualified for such a salary wouldn’t need a $300-per-hour coach.

The city also hired another consultant for $23,000 to provide “team building” in Enge’s department, The Oregonian reported.

For the school district, Deckard’s task was to help the district get ready for union negotiations.

Our complaint is not with Deckard, who is entitled to negotiate her consulting fees as she sees fit and to collect the pension provided to her by law. The problem is with government employees who are so extravagant with the taxpayers’ money at a time when government at all levels struggles to find sufficient resources to do the public’s business.