Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

July 6, 2001

SAM RUTLEDGE, 65, of Klamath Falls, a retired leader in the Oregon labor movement, stepped into the spotlight this month as the newest honoree in Labor's Hall of Fame. The Portland-based Northwest Oregon Labor Retirees Council selected him for the honor in recognition of his long service on behalf of working men and women.

Rutledge retired in 1999 as directing business representative of Woodworkers Local Lodge Wl2 of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) in Klamath Falls. At that time he also retired as first vice president of the Oregon AFL-CIO.

Since his retirement Rutledge has handled occasional organizing assignments in the Pacific Northwest for the IAM-Woodworkers, working out of the union's headquarters in the Clackamas County city of Gladstone. He also fills the part-time post of secretary-treasurer of the Klamath Falls-based Southeastern Oregon Central Labor Council, which encompasses Klamath, Lake and Harney counties. Until his retirement he had held the presidency of the council for 19 years.

ONE OF THE longest-serving members of the Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board, Rutledge was elected in 1981 as the District 12 member, representing the three counties of the Klamath Falls-based labor council. In 1990 he was elected first vice president and held that office until his retirement in 1999.

Community service took up a considerable amount of his time in his working years. He participated in the management of Klamath County Fire District 1 as a member of its board of directors; served on the Klamath County Juvenile Advisory Committee; was active in the Boy Scouts and other community organizations. He worked on campaigns of candidates endorsed by the AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education, and was the treasurer of the Klamath County Democratic Central Committee.

Rutledge began his union career in Klamath Falls in 1957 when he took a job in the city's Weyerhaeuser lumber mill and joined Local 3-12 of the International Woodworkers of America (IWA). He worked as an edgerman, a sawyer and a heavy equipment operator. In IWA Local 3-12 he served as job steward, chief steward, safety committee member, plant committee chairman, department committee member and also as recording secretary. In 1985 he was elected as the full-time business representative for the union.

RUTLEDGE RECALLS the halcyon days of a plentiful timber supply when IWA Local 3-12 had more than 2,000 members. Today it has under 1,000 because of a shortage of timber caused in part by environmental restrictions. The IWA's sharply-lowered membership resulted in the union's 1994 merger with the IAM. Earlier, the IWA was split into separate Woodworker unions in the U.S. and Canada.

Samuel Albert Rutledge, his full name, was born 65 years ago on an Oklahoma farm. His family moved to Klamath Falls when he was five years old. He talked his way into the U.S. Army at age 16 and served in Germany for most of his three-year enlistment. After his honorable discharge he worked as a union baker in Baltimore, Md. Later he found a job in Seattle with a company that manufactured and sold chemicals used in X-rays, and he subsequently marketed the chemicals in Grants Pass. Next, he decided to return to Klamath Falls to work for Weyerhaeuser.

Rutledge and his wife, the former Shirley Spaulding, were married in 1963. She also was from Oklahoma, but grew up in Washington State before moving to Klamath Falls. They have two daughters, Rolinda Fine and Christene Pelleschi; a son, Clark; and six grandchildren.


THE TONIEST ENCLAVE in the Portland metro area is a precinct of posh residences called Dunthorpe, which is in southwest Portland off Highway 43 at a secluded point abutting the north end of the stylish suburb of Lake Oswego. Two of the newly-rich homeowners in Dunthorpe are former elected politicians who are waxing wealthy by merchandising the governmental connections they developed during their decades in public office.

The dissimilar Dunthorpe duo are Republican Robert Packwood and Democrat Neil Goldschmidt. Both are lawyers but not the kind that grub around in courthouses waiting to be appointed to represent indigent criminal defendants. Instead, they front for powerful corporations and individuals who are ready, willing and able to pay handsomely for Packwood's and Goldschmidt's smooth-talking palaver, their intricate knowledge of the workings of government, their easy access to elected and appointed governmental officials and to assorted big shots in the private sector.

PACKWOOD PLIES his trade in the corridors of power in the nation's capital city of Washington, D.C. In his case the DC could stand for "direct current" as well as District of Columbia because he's plugged into the conduits of power. Packwood, as you'll recall, represented Oregon in the United States Senate for nearly 30 years before he departed in disgrace in a soap opera scandal about sex, boxed wine and doctored diaries. However, the notoriety didn't deprive him of his highly saleable knowledge and connections. Before being elected senator, he served in 1960s sessions of the Oregon Legislature as a state representative from the Portland east side district around Grant High School where he grew up. He practiced law as an apprentice to a union-busting attorney who represented the New York-owned Oregonian in the 1959-65 newspaper strike.

Goldschmidt acquired his highly-marketable knowledge, experience and connections as a Portland city commissioner and mayor, as Democratic President Jimmy Carter's secretary of transportation, as a Nike sports empire international executive, and as Oregon's governor. He's quite at home operating in Washington, D.C., and in Canada, but most of the time he practices his trade as a high-level governmental and political "fixer" in Portland and in Salem where he was the first occupant of the first governor's manse. As mayor and governor, Goldschmidt sometimes awed the citizenry with his remarkable vision for a modern city and state. Neil, born and raised in Eugene, is now far removed from his idealistic political beginnings as a 29-year-old Legal Aid attorney with the noble ambition in 1970 of taking over Portland's City Hall.

ALTHOUGH ELECTED to the governor's office as a Democrat, Goldschmidt ran the state like a progressive Republican - an example of that being his pro-employer workers' compensation "reform" legislation in 1990.

Packwood and Goldschmidt are both married to second wives with extensive experience as wielders of power. British-born Elaine Franklin was Packwood's senatorial chief of staff and also gained a reputation as an abrasive but effective political campaign boss. Goldschmidt's wife is the aristocratic Diane Snowden, a high-ranking corporate executive who bossed Portland schools as interim superintendent a few years back and set up a $weet con$ulting deal for her brother-in-law, $teve Goldschmidt.

But the geographic connection between Packwood and Goldschmidt is about to be severed. The twice-weekly Portland Tribune reported that the Goldschmidts have hung out a for sale sign on their Dunthorpe digs. The Trib's Phil Stanford said the "asking price for the two-acre estate is $1.59 million." Perhaps Dunthorpe lost its luster for Neil and Diane after that scandal of the recent past when a woman living there was accused by police of running a call-girl business from her abode. But she was only a renter, not an owner.


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