Matthew KishKISH, BUSINESS JOURNAL HONORED WITH BAER AWARD

Three-year investigation uncovers massive financial fraud in Aloha corporation mill

PORTLAND – Published in October 2015 following three years of research, the Portland Business Journal has won the 2015-16 Bruce Baer Award for outstanding investigative reporting in Oregon.

Reporter Matthew Kish, who researched and wrote the story headlined “The Shell Game,” will be presented with a check for $1,000 from the Friends of Bruce Baer.

Kish uncovered “The Shell Game” in 2012, when he came across a regulatory filing that said a company using a small, weathered home in Aloha was seeking to raise $140 million dollars.  His trail led to Bengt Stenbock, a twice-convicted felon who had served sentences for drug-smuggling and wire fraud in California.

Stenbock had turned to Oregon to begin business forming “shell companies” – businesses with no operations and no employees.  Obtainable for $30,000 or less, shell companies are ideal for moving large sums of money with little detection. Often, the shell company would mimic a long-established corporation by changing just one letter of the company’s name.

The Aloha house is now the home to 1,300 other shell businesses.  In January, Oregon Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins said her office would develop legislation to combat shell-company problems.

Jaquiss earns Special Recognition

Willamette Week reporter Nigel Jaquiss, a three-time Baer Award winner, was selected for Special Recognition in 2015-16.

For 15 years, a Portland foster care provider operated four group homes under the name of “Give Us This Day.”  The state’s Department of Human Services had been lenient financially and slow to react to reports of child neglect.  In a series titled “Home Sweet Hustle,” Jaquiss revealed that “Give Us This Da” had neglected to pay creditors, employees, and the IRS.  Much of the money had been diverted for personal use, and former employees told of squalid living conditions in the group homes.

Prompted by the stories, both the federal government and the Oregon legislature have begun investigations.

(Questions can be directed to Roger Anthony at 503-998-5509.)


Since 1978, the Baer Award — Oregon journalism’s top prize — which carries a $1,000 prize, has been given in recognition of Oregon’s finest investigative and public affairs journalism.

The award is in memory of Bruce Baer, who was dean of the Oregon Capitol press corps when he died of cancer at age 40. He had worked for daily newspapers and radio stations in the Pacific Northwest prior to spending 13 years at KATU (2) in Portland.

The prize will be presented at the annual awards banquet hosted by the Greater Oregon Society of Professional Journalists.

 


The Bruce Baer Award was established in the spirit of Bruce Baer by annually honoring Oregon print and/or broadcast journalists whose work best demonstrates excellence in the profession. The cash portion of the annual award is a minimum of $1,000. Multiple authors split a single award. Multiple awards may be granted for equally deserving competing entries. A plaque accompanies the top award. In addition, the judges often award Special Recognition certificates for deserving entries.

Contributions to the Bruce Baer Award Endowment Fund, administered by the Portland State University Foundation, are welcomed and tax deductible.

Bruce Baer was a unique reporter who died of cancer at the age of 40 at the peak of his career. He was fearless, forthright and had little patience with puffery or platitudes.

Bruce was raised in Washington state. He attended Pacific University and was graduated from Portland State University, where he first became involved in journalism. From newspapering, he moved on to radio and finally to television news.

In his 13 years as journalist for KATU (Portland), he was political correspondent, commentator and assignment editor. His reporting on Oregon government and politics earned him the respect of nearly everyone who dealt in those arenas – with the exception of those whom he skewered and whom he roasted in their own juices. He was a tireless digger of facts. He could see the connections of apparently unassociated events. He had a great instinct for truth. And he reported it as he saw it.

Bruce Baer also enjoyed life. Those of us fortunate to have known him enjoyed a warm friendship punctuated by his dry humor and wit. Whether dealing in a gritty game of poker or holding forth at the Goose Hollow Inn, he knew how to have a good time.

After his death Bruce’s friends and work colleagues developed an organization, Friends of Bruce Baer, that would pursue the purpose of raising funds for an annual award to recognize quality journalism in the state. An endowment fund that would sustain a serious annual cash award into the future was undertaken. Several fund-raisers were held, attended by hundreds; and more “friends” signed on. They include reporters, editors, news directors, politicians, lobbyists and friends. They meet annually to renew acquaintances and to administer the Bruce Baer Award. They monitor the Bruce Baer Endowment Fund, which is part of the Portland State University Foundation.

Friends of Bruce Baer include: Roger Anthony, Gwyneth Gamble Booth, Bud Clark, Dick Feeney, Tim Gleason, Cap Hedges, Clarence Hein, Jim Swenson, Peter Thompson, Gary White, Tuck Wilson, Peter Wong, John Wykoff, Doug Yocom.

Dr. Jeffrey Robinson is our liaison with Portland State University.

Each year the Friends of Bruce Baer appoint a committee of judges to determine award winners from the entries. The judging criteria includes:

  • The treatment of political and public affairs topics related to Oregon;
  • The effort and enterprise of the nominee; and
  • The courage reflected in the work.

It is often the latter criterion that separates the competitors.

2015
Matthew Kish, Portland Business Journal
The Shell Game
Oregon is emerging as a hotbed for financial fraud

Special Recognition
Nigel Jaquiss, Willamette Week
Home Sweet Hustle
Financial mismanagement and possible child neglect at a longtime foster care provider

2014
Nigel Jaquiss
Willamette Week
“First Lady, Inc.”

Special Recognition
Rob Davis, The Oregonian, “Oil Trains in Oregon,”
Nick Budnick and Jeff Manning, The Oregonian, “Cover Oregon” 


2013
Leslie Zaitz
The Oregonian
“Under the curse of cartels”

Special Recognition
Amelia Templeton
Oregon Public Broadcasting
“Law enforcement cutbacks in Josephine County”


2012
Betsy Hammond
The Oregonian
“Diplomas Denied”
(How Portland leaders hide the dropout problem)

Special Recognition
Kristian Foden-Vencil
Oregon Public Broadcasting
“What Exactly is an “Ineligible” Boy Scout Vounteer?”


2011
Nigel Jaquiss
Willamette Week
“A Bridge too False”
(Examining claims made by advocates of the Columbia River Crossing Project))


2010
Tracy Loew
Salem Statesman-Journal
“WESD’s Web of Deals:  How ten years of red flags were raised and ignored  at Willamette Education Service District”

Special Recognition
Lee van der Voo and Carol Smith
InvestigateWest
“Assaulted and Abandoned”


 2009
Markian Hawryluk
The Bend Bulletin
“Physicians Pushed to the Brink”

Special Recognition:
Harry Esteve and Ted Sickinger
The Oregonian
The Real Costs of Oregon’s Green Energy Crisis

Lee van der Voo and Nick Budnick
Lake Oswego Review
“Crossing the Line”


 2008
Brent Walth and Bryan Denson
The Oregonian
“A Fight to the Death: Social Security’s Broken Disability System”

Special Recognition:
Ethan Lindsey
Oregon Public Broadcasting
“Sheriffs Show United Front on Concealed Weapons Privacy”

Beth Slovic,
Willamette Week
Senor Smith: Low-wage Latino Workers
Keep Family Business Humming.
Not all of them are legal.


2007
Brent Walth and Michelle Cole
The Oregonian
“Foster Kids’ Meds Get Scant Attention”
(Series on lack of oversight of psychiatric medications given to children in foster care.)

Special Recognition
Mara Stine
The Gresham Outlook
“They’re Letting Him Out? You’ve Got to be Kidding”
(Investigation of the Oregon parole board.)


2006
James Sinks
The Bend Bulletin
“Changing Oregon: Our Shifting Political Landscape”
(Series on forces affecting the political climate in Oregon – especially the State Legislature.)

Special Recognition:
Katie Willson
McMinnville News-Register
“Free to Go”
(On Oregon Corrections program allowing felons to leave prison after serving far less time than sentences called for.)

Lee Van Der Voo
Lake Oswego Review
Beneath the Surface.
(Environmental threat caused by Lake Oswego Corporation’s use of pesticides in lake.)


2005
Katie Willson
McMinnville News-Register
The Mole drug cases. Exposed a fraudulent drug sting operation in Yamhill County.

Special Recognition:
Maxine Bernstein, Brent Walth
The Oregonian
Flawed disability fund is a costly crutch for the city. (Lavish payments from Police and Fire fund.)

Nigel Jaquiss
Willamette Week
Power Failure. Series on Texas Pacific’s efforts to buy PGE.


2004
Nigel Jaquiss
Willamette Week
The 30-Year Secret (Neil Goldschmidt sexual abuse of teenager)

Steve Law, Tracy Loew, Peter Wong
Salem Statesman Journal
Power Circle (Relationship between Goldschmidt consulting firm and Governor’s office)

Michelle Roberts
The Oregonian
Betraying a Fragile Trust (The Oregon State Hospital)


2003
Brent Walth, Julie Sullivan, Kim Christensen
The Oregonian
A Place Where Children Die (Warm Springs Reservation)

Special Recognition:
Nigel Jaquiss
Willamette Week
Following the Mooney Trail (Lewis & Clark President Michael Mooney)


2002
No Award


2001
Leslie Zaitz
The Oregonian
Investigation of Stan Bunn

Special Recognition:
Nigel Jaquiss
Willamette Week
The Poisoning of Whitaker School

Leslie Zaitz
The Oregonian
Bungled Disaster Preparation a Umatilla


2000
Brent Walth, Richard Read, Julie Sullivan, Kim Christensen
The Oregonian
Unchecked Power of the INS

Special Recognition:
James Sinks
The Bend Bulletin
Case of the Phantom Herd

James Long, Jeff Manning
The Oregonian
The Fall of Capital Consultants


 

1999
Leslie Zaitz
Keizertimes
School Construction Cost Overruns

Special Recognition:
Allan Classen
The Northwest Examiner

Brent Walth, Alex Pulask
The Oregonian


1998
Nena Baker, Brent Walth
The Oregonian
A Sizemore Investigation


1997 (tie)
Brian Denson
The Oregonian

and

Bob Young
Willamette Week
Stories Investigating the Crash of Air Force Reserve C-130 off Oregon Coast


1996
Jim Murez
Springfield News
Sexual Harassment Charges At Local High School

Special Recognition:
Jean Powell
KEZI-TV
Oregonian (seven reporters, Wes Cooley coverage.)


1995
John Hendrickson, David Steves
Salem Statesman-Journal
Building Power, the House That PAC Built

Special Recognition:
Dani Dodge, Susan Jay, Gordon Gregory
Medford Mail Tribune


1994
No award


1993
Randi Bjornstad
The Register-Guard
Prescribed Risk

Special Recognition:
Eric Mason
KOIN-TV

Alan Gustafson
Salem Statesman-Journal


1992
Russell Working, Roger Hayden, Dennis Roler
Grants Pass Daily Courier
Measure 9 Articles and Editorials.


1991
No award


1990
Lars Larson, Gordon Coffin
KPTV
Kids Molesting Kids, documentary

Special Recognition
Alan Gustafson
Salem Statesman-Journal


1989
Terrie Claflin
Medford Mail Tribune
Victim of Drugs, the Tenth Child

Special Recognition
Lars Larson, Gordon Coffin
KPTV


1988
Roger Morton, Russell Working, Paul Fattig
Grants Pass Daily Courier
The War For the Schools

Special Recognition:
Hope Robertson
Oregon Public Broadcasting


1987
Kay Durham, Mark Zusman
Willamette Week
Michael Stoops Investigation

Special Recognition
Steve Amen
Oregon Public Broadcasting

Roger Morton
Grants Pass Daily Courier


1986
Hope Robertson
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Front Street AIDS documentary

Special Recognition
Lars Larson
KPTV

Steve Law
Lake Oswego Review


1985
Tauna Lange
KOIN-TV
Thy Brothers Keeper documentary

Special Recognition
Patty Mantia
The Register-Guard

Peter Linsky
KXL radio

Marilyn Deutsch, Beth Willon
Oregon Public Broadcasting


1984
Wendy Magar, Roy Gault
Corvallis Gazette-Times
NCAA Review of OSU Boosters

Special Recognition:
Deedee Harrington
Newberg Times

Paul Hanson
KGW-TV

Hope Robertson
Oregon Public Broadcasting


1983
Joe Duncan
Coos Bay World
Sexual Abuse of Children

Special Recognition
Paul Hanson
KATU-TV

Thomas Brown
KATU-TV

Steve Tyler
KATU-TV


1982
Alan Ota
The Oregonian
Oregon Board of Pharmacy

Special Recognition
Eric Mason
KMTR-TV

Kent Phillips
KMJK radio


1981
Leslie Zaitz
The Oregonian
Misconduct in the Oregon Legislature

Special Recognition
Paul Hanson
KATU


1980 (tie)
Donna Wiench
KOIN-TV
Portland Police Violence

Phil Manzano, Michael Walden
Salem Statesman-Journal
Undocumented Workers in Reforestation


1979
Jerry Uhrhammer
The Register-Guard
Lane County Land Swap

Special Recognition
Don Butler
KOIN-TV

14 Staff Members
The Register-Guard


1978
Leslie Zaitz
The Oregonian
Law Enforcement in Curry County

Special Recognition
Don Butler
KOIN-TV

Brian Jennings
KXL Radio

2016 Nomination Form – applications accepted until April 18, 2016

 

Entries should be submitted to: 

Dr.  Jeffrey D. Robinson
Department of Communications
Portland State University
PO Box 751
Portland, OR  97207

or delivered to:

Dr.  Jeffrey D. Robinson
Department of Communications
Portland State University23 Neuberger Hall
724 SW Harrison Street
Portland, OR 97201

Other Contacts

Jim Swenson  503-287-1357

Gary White  503-221-1329

Doug Yocom  503-744-0521