From the Free Frank Gable Website

Posted: July 24, 2008 in News Articles
Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
March 10, 1989


Author: PHIL STANFORD – of the Oregonian Staff


In addition to the three legislators listed in Phil Stanford’s column in Friday’s editions of The Oregonian, the following legislators say they have contributed to the Michael Francke Reward Fund:

Rep. Mike Burton, D-Portland; Rep. Bob Pickard, R-Bend; Rep. Kevin Mannix, D-Salem; and Rep. Norm Gershon, D-Roseburg. The column was based on a list received from the U.S. Bank in Salem, which is the trustee of the fund.

You remember Michael Francke. Sure you do.

Bright, promising fellow. Head of the state Corrections Department. Gov. Neil Goldschmidt brought him here a couple of years ago to clean up the mess in the prison system.

That’s right. The one who was stabbed to death on his way home from work last January. Knew you’d get it.

When it happened, almost two months ago now, it was all over the news. After all, it’s not every day that a high state official gets stabbed to death in the parking lot outside his office building.

And when it came time for the state Legislature to hold a day of tribute to Francke — they passed a resolution of “grief and sorrow” — you should have heard them. I am quoting from the newspaper accounts:

In a voice that broke with emotion, Sen. Joyce Cohen, D-Lake Oswego, said the resolution was equivalent to dedicating the 1989 legislative session to Francke.

Rep. Mike Burton, D-Portland, remembered Francke as a “true friend whom we loved and will greatly miss.”

And when Francke was buried in Sante Fe, N.M., Goldschmidt himself was there to eulogize the corrections chief. According to the news account, he had to place a hand on the coffin to steady himself.

The problem, though, was that the police investigation into Francke’s murder was getting nowhere fast.

And so, on Feb. 16, one month after Francke’s death, several important state officials issued a letter, announcing the creation of a reward fund for information leading to the apprehension of the killer.

They were: Gov. Goldschmidt; House Speaker Vera Katz; Senate President John Kitzhaber of Roseburg; Senate Republican Leader C.T. “Cub” Houck of Salem; and House Republican Leader Larry Campbell of Eugene.

The reason was pretty clear: Since the police were fresh out of leads, the only thing left was to put some money on the table.

Sooner or later someone had to tell someone something. And sooner or later, that friend or accomplice would start thinking about the money and come forward.

Ten thousand dollars would be about right, they said.

The five signers appealed to members of the state Legislature and other public officials, as well as members of the general public, to contribute to the fund and help bring Francke’s killer to justice.

This Wednesday — three weeks later — this newspaper ran a follow-up article on the status of the Francke reward fund.

By Thursday afternoon, it was reported, $2,895 had been collected. And of that total, $1,000 was from a Salem real estate group.

Now, as anyone can see, this isn’t much at all. Certainly not enough to induce the friend of a desperate killer to come forward and spill his guts.

In fact, after you subtract that one big contribution, that’s only $1,895 that has been contributed to the Francke reward fund.

There must be a mistake, I said. There are 90 state legislators — 30 in the Senate and 60 in the House — and if each one of them gave just $20, that would be $1,800.

And that doesn’t make sense, either. Because it should be worth a good deal more than $20 to each and every public official in this state to see that Francke’s killer is caught. After all, it sets a very bad precedent for people to be able to go around stabbing public officials in the heart and getting away scot-free.

So, to clear things up, I called the lady at the U.S. National Bank in Salem, which is administering the reward fund, and asked her to send me a list of contributors — which she did.

And sure enough, something was wrong. But not what I had expected.

On the list there are only three members of the state Legislature: Sen. Glenn Otto, D-Troutdale; Rep. Mary Alice Ford, R-Portland; and Rep. Kelly Clark, R-West Linn.

The only high state official on the list is State Treasurer Anthony Meeker.

There are no Speakers of the House, no Senate Presidents, no Republican Leaders. No Governors or Secretaries of State.

Somehow, I can’t find any of the names of those public officials who spoke so eloquently at Francke’s memorial service.

I’m sure, that’s just an oversight, though, and they’re all just waiting for payday.

I’d say $50 is about right. That’s what I’m sending myself. And if a member of the Legislature can’t afford that, I say he or she should go out and get a job.

In the future, I’ll be happy to publish the names of all the state legislators and governors and the like who have seen fit to contribute. We’ll check again in a couple of weeks


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