Detail, east Portland photo, courtesy Miles Hochstein / Portland Ground.



For old times' sake
The bojack bumper sticker -- only $1.50!

To order, click here.







Excellent tunes -- free! And on your browser right now. Just click on Radio Bojack!






E-mail us here.

About

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 8, 2004 3:39 AM. The previous post in this blog was Yo!. The next post in this blog is Just another backroom deal. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Archives

Links

Law and Taxation
How Appealing
TaxProf Blog
Mauled Again
Tax Appellate Blog
A Taxing Matter
TaxVox
Tax.com
Josh Marquis
Native America, Discovered and Conquered
The Yin Blog
Ernie the Attorney
Conglomerate
Above the Law
The Volokh Conspiracy
Going Concern
Bag and Baggage
Wealth Strategies Journal
Jim Hamilton's World of Securities Regulation
myCorporateResource.com
World of Work
The Faculty Lounge
Lowering the Bar
OrCon Law

Hap'nin' Guys
Tony Pierce
Parkway Rest Stop
Utterly Boring.com
Along the Gradyent
Dwight Jaynes
Bob Borden
Dingleberry Gazette
The Red Electric
Iced Borscht
Jeremy Blachman
Dean's Rhetorical Flourish
Straight White Guy
HinesSight
Onfocus
Jalpuna
Beerdrinker.org
As Time Goes By
Dave Wagner
Jeff Selis
Alas, a Blog
Scott Hendison
Sansego
The View Through the Windshield
Appliance Blog
The Bleat

Hap'nin' Gals
My Whim is Law
Lelo in Nopo
Attorney at Large
Linda Kruschke
The Non-Consumer Advocate
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place
A Pig of Success
Attorney at Large
Margaret and Helen
Kimberlee Jaynes
Cornelia Seigneur
Mireio
And Sew It Goes
Mile 73
Rainy Day Thoughts
That Black Girl
Posie Gets Cozy
{AE}
Cat Eyes
Rhi in Pink
Althouse
GirlHacker
Ragwaters, Bitters, and Blue Ruin
Frytopia
Rose City Journal
Type Like the Wind

Portland and Oregon
Isaac Laquedem
StumptownBlogger
Rantings of a [Censored] Bus Driver
Jeff Mapes
Vintage Portland
The Portlander
South Waterfront
Amanda Fritz
O City Hall Reporters
Guilty Carnivore
Old Town by Larry Norton
The Alaunt
Bend Blogs
Lost Oregon
Cafe Unknown
Tin Zeroes
David's Oregon Picayune
Mark Nelsen's Weather Blog
Travel Oregon Blog
Portland Daily Photo
Portland Building Ads
Portland Food and Drink.com
Dave Knows Portland
Idaho's Portugal
Alameda Old House History
MLK in Motion
LoveSalem

Retired from Blogging
Various Observations...
The Daily E-Mail
Saving James
Portland Freelancer
Furious Nads (b!X)
Izzle Pfaff
The Grich
Kevin Allman
AboutItAll - Oregon
Lost in the Details
Worldwide Pablo
Tales from the Stump
Whitman Boys
Misterblue
Two Pennies
This Stony Planet
1221 SW 4th
Twisty
I am a Fish
Here Today
What If...?
Superinky Fixations
Pinktalk
Mellow-Drama
The Rural Bus Route
Another Blogger
Mikeyman's Computer Treehouse
Rosenblog
Portland Housing Blog

Wonderfully Wacky
Dave Barry
Borowitz Report
Blort
Stuff White People Like
Worst of the Web

Valuable Time-Wasters
My Gallery of Jacks
Litterbox, On the Prowl
Litterbox, Bag of Bones
Litterbox, Scratch
Maukie
Ride That Donkey
Singin' Horses
Rally Monkey
Simon Swears
Strong Bad's E-mail

Oregon News
KGW-TV
The Oregonian
Portland Tribune
KOIN
Willamette Week
KATU
The Sentinel
Southeast Examiner
Northwest Examiner
Sellwood Bee
Mid-County Memo
Vancouver Voice
Eugene Register-Guard
OPB
Topix.net - Portland
Salem Statesman-Journal
Oregon Capitol News
Portland Business Journal
Daily Journal of Commerce
Oregon Business
KPTV
Portland Info Net
McMinnville News Register
Lake Oswego Review
The Daily Astorian
Bend Bulletin
Corvallis Gazette-Times
Roseburg News-Review
Medford Mail-Tribune
Ashland Daily Tidings
Newport News-Times
Albany Democrat-Herald
The Eugene Weekly
Portland IndyMedia
The Columbian

Music-Related
The Beatles
Bruce Springsteen
Seal
Sting
Joni Mitchell
Ella Fitzgerald
Steve Earle
Joe Ely
Stevie Wonder
Lou Rawls

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Thursday, April 8, 2004

Your tax dollars at work?

The Portland City Council has taken an early, but big, step down the path of campaign finance reform at the local level. According to this entry from my dialing-for-dollars buddies at OSPIRG (which will doubtlessly be balanced off with an account in The Oregonian later this morning), the council voted unanimously yesterday to have the Mayor, Commissioner Sten and City Auditor Blackmer put together a plan whereby candidates for Portland elective offices could get free public money to finance their campaigns. In exchange for those funds, they'd have to agree not to accept donations from any other source.

Although the system would be voluntary, in at least one other place in which it's been tried -- Tucson, Arizona -- no candidate so far has dared to decline the public money and try to run based on private contributions. Apparently politicians fear that that would make them look too beholden to campaign donors' demands. As a consequence, there apparently are no campaign donors down there any more -- except for taxpayers, who pay for the system involuntarily. (Something similar is apparently working in Maine.)

I think campaign finance reform at every level of government is long overdue. Here in Portland, a spotlight is being thrown on this year's elections, including Commissioner Francesconi's million-dollar war chest and some interesting contributions to Commissioner Leonard's suddenly contested candidacy from some people whom he's in a position to make even richer than they already are. In fairness to those two candidates, the public is just waking up to a problem that's been present for many years. Old-timers in Portland have seen many a City Council decision made in favor of corporate and other interests who just coincidentally dropped a well-timed $10,000 into a campaign bucket or two. (You youngsters out there, head down to the library and check out the story of the Hollywood Fred Meyer store sometime.)

But I see a number of issues lurking in Portland's plan for a new system. One of them, of course, is the Oregon Constitution, which is pretty strict about government tinkering with free speech. Maybe the new system could survive a constitutional challenge, since it's nominally voluntary. But it would certainly have to be drafted carefully, with those legal obstacles in mind.

The other super-sized issue is political: whether Portland taxpayers really want to pay for the new system. The plan apparently calls for 0.1 percent or 0.2 percent of each city agency's budget to be diverted to the candidates for office. Supporters of the new system think that Portland voters will go for that, but I'm not so sure. I think that when they actually see how the system will work, the majority of taxpayers may well say no.

I help friends with their income taxes every year, and one question that comes up on every federal tax return is whether the taxpayer wants to designate $3 of his or her taxes for public funding of presidential election campaigns. The idea behind the federal "check-off" is the same noble goal that underlies the Portland proposal -- the desire to eliminate or minimize the influence of wealthy campaign contributors over the candidates after they are elected. Not a single person whose taxes I have done has ever told me to check the box "yes." Indeed, many of them have said something like, "I don't think tax dollars should be used to pay for political campaigns. Let the rich people pay for the campaigns." Paying for political ads is the last thing they want their tax dollars to do. No matter how hard I try to sell "clean" campaigns, they check that box "no," even though, as they well know, it does not affect the tax they owe or the refund they receive.

The proponents of the public financing proposal in Portland might have a better chance of getting their idea approved by the voters -- and it would surely be put up for a public vote one way or another -- if they figured out a way to pay for it without taxing the general population. Maybe some sort of special tax on political consultants, lobbyists, or contractors who do business with the city would be more palatable.

As it stands, however, they're just going to take 0.1 or 0.2 percent of the city budget, which is paid by everybody. (At least, that's if they didn't make a change to the funding portion of the council resolution at the last minute -- we'll have to wait to see the forthcoming news accounts to check that.) They're calling it an "overhead charge" on each bureau, but come on, that's just City Hall blowing smoke you know where. To paraphrase Charlton Heston in Soylent Green, it's tax dollars -- $1 million or $1.5 million per election, they say -- that will no longer be available for traditional government functions. It will mean a couple fewer police officers, a couple fewer people to patch potholes, maybe one less 911 operator.

Already a few negative voices are being heard, and the rhetoric that they're employing shows the nature of the battle that will be waged at the polls if the plan goes forward. As the Portland Tribune reported on Tuesday:

Anti-tax activist Don McIntire said he hasn't seen any details, but he called the concept a "campaign finance scam."

"What they want to do is sock the taxpayers again to give to neighborhood activists who want to run for office," he said. "I don't think it's the government's business to take money from taxpayers to give to candidates."

Thank you, Don -- constructive as always.

I'm all for campaign finance reform, and I hope this effort succeeds. But I think it will have a better chance with a different funding scheme from the one that's been floated so far. Again, what's needed is a system under which only the people who benefit most from their own influence over elections and government pay the tab to keep those systems from becoming overly corrupt.

How about a tax that gets a few tens of thousands a year out of multi-millionaire "consultants" like former Mayor Goldschmidt?

Comments (6)

I've never gotten the logic of not ticking off the Presidential campaign box. After all, that's $3 of your taxes that won't go to finance war-mongering and corporate handouts! --Or welfare and the NEA, depending on your political persuasion. Ought to be a no-brainer.

I agree with you that the acceptance of the funding mechanism of such a system is the most difficult hurdle for clean money proponents. I like your idea of coming up with "a way to pay for it without taxing the general population. Maybe some sort of special tax on political consultants, lobbyists, or contractors who do business with the city ..." My understanding of where Erik Sten, et. al. go from here is that they'll look at various funding sources as they look at the other options for the policy guts of the clean money system. I don't think it's been determined at all yet what the system will ultimately look like. There will be many challenges like this along the way.

Nothing has been determined on any of it at this point. All that happened was that the Council adopted a resolution saying "yeah go come up with details and proposed Code language... then we'll see."

I'll add my report to this mix shortly. I'm typing it up right now.


Is there any truth to the assertion that McIntire makes? How much money are people going to be provided with? (a.k.a. is it such a paltry sum that people could not be professional political candidates?)

*"I've never gotten the logic of not ticking off the Presidential campaign box."

The bulk of the funds released for Presidential candidates only go to the nominees of the two major parties (with the exception of Ross Perot in 1996). The rules are designed to push the two mainstream party candidates out in front of any third party challenger. In the end, you get less competition, fewer ideas. Like the Presidential Debate Commission, this just solidifies the two party structure.

Will Sten's plan increase competition for local offices?

I don't know, but I do know that this plan will siphon away public revenues for political candidates. In times where Portland taxpayers are continually hectored about giving up more of their earnings for to provide for "absolute necessities", this measure has about as much chance of passing a popular vote as Measure 30 did.

It smells like welfare payments to the least popular group in society - politicians.

While public funding of poltical campaigns does solve the problem of wink wink nod political donations for favors, the right wingers will never support it. Ol Dan M. will be out there screaming welfare so fast it will make your head spin. Then Lars will pile on. Such arguments resonate with a certain (unforntualy high) % of the pop.

A better idea that fewer would object to would be to figure out a way to make donations anonymous. You can give as much as you want to any cantidate you want, but all financial trtansactions are obscured by a third party and "cleaned" so that the cantidate doesn't know where the money is coming from. Logitsically challenges would arise in oversight as well as when money would show up in a cantidates "account," however I imagine many donations would dry up. The small ones would keep coming. When you donate $50 to a cantidate, you don't really expect anything. I guess there is another idea of limiting the amount of contributions, but you run up against that giving money is free speech thing.

Hard problem to solve. Public funding will never get public support though. For some reason defacto bribing politicians is the lesser evil. Go figure.

TrackBack

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Your tax dollars at work?:

» City Council Approves Exploration Of 'Clean Money' Campaigns from The One True b!X's PORTLAND COMMUNIQUE
In it's "Murmurs" column yesterday, Willamette Week included the following item: The idea of "clean city elections" appears headed to a soily grave. In a vote scheduled for today, April 7, Commissioner Erik Sten and Auditor Gary Blackmer wanted colleag... [Read More]

» Important Political Issues from The Trommetter Times
The Tax cutting won't be key to '04 election DeMint credits the Bush tax cuts with pushing Tax Freedom Day... [Read More]


Sponsors


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

Chloe, Pinot Grigio, Valdadige 2013
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir 2013
Kirkland, Pinot Grigio, Friuli 2013
St. Francis, Red Splash 2011
Rodney Strong, Canernet, Alexander Valley 2011
Erath, Pinot Blanc 2013
Taylor Fladgate, Porto 2007
Portuga, Rose 2013
Domaine Digioia-Royer, Chambolle-Musigny, Vielles Vignes Les Premieres 2008
Locations, F Red Blend
El Perro Verde, Rueda 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Red 2
If You See Kay, Red 2011
Turnbull, Old Bull Red 2010
Cherry Tart, Cherry Pie Pinot Noir 2012
Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Cabernet, Oakville 2012
Benton Lane, Pinot Gris 2012
Campo Viejo, Rioja, Reserva 2008
Haden Fig, Pinot Noir 2012
Pendulum Red 2011
Vina Real, Plata, Crianza Rioja 2009
Edmunds St. John, Bone/Jolly, Gamay Noir Rose 2013
Bookwalter, Subplot No. 26
Ayna, Tempranillo 2011
Pete's Mountain, Pinot Noir, Haley's Block 2010
Apaltagua, Reserva Camenere 2012
Lugana, San Benedetto 2012
Argyle Brut 2007
Wildewood Pinot Gris 2012
Anciano, Tempranillo Reserva 2007
Santa Rita, Reserva Cabernet 2009
Casone, Toscana 2008
Fonseca Porto, Bin No. 27
Louis Jadot, Pouilly-Fuissé 2011
Trader Joe's, Grower's Reserve Pinot Noir 2012
Zenato, Lugana San Benedetto 2012
Vintjs, Cabernet 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White 2012
Rainstorm, Oregon Pinot Gris 2012
Silver Palm, North Coast Cabernet 2011
Andrew Rich, Gewurtztraminer 2008
Rodney Strong, Charlotte's Home Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Canoe Ridge, Pinot Gris, Expedition 2012
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir Rose 2012
Dark Horse, Big Red Blend No. 01A
Elk Cove, Pinot Noir Rose 2012
Fletcher, Shiraz 2010
Picollo, Gavi 2011
Domaine Eugene Carrel, Jongieux 2012
Eyrie, Pinot Blanc 2010
Atticus, Pinot Noir 2010
Walter Scott, Pinot Noir, Holstein 2011
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
Coppola, Sofia Rose 2012
Joel Gott, 851 Cabernet 2010
Pol Roget Reserve Sparkling Wine
Mount Eden Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains 2009
Rombauer Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2011
Beringer, Chardonnay, Napa Reserve 2011
Kim Crawford, Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Schloss Vollrads, Spaetlese Rheingau 2010
Belle Glos, Pinot Noir, Clark & Telephone 2010
WillaKenzie, Pinot Noir, Estate Cuvee 2010
Blackbird Vineyards, Arise, Red 2010
Chauteau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2005
Northstar, Merlot 2008
Feather, Cabernet 2007
Silver Oak, Cabernet, Alexander Valley 2002
Silver Oak, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2002
Trader Joe's, Chardonnay, Grower's Reserve 2012
Silver Palm, Cabernet, North Coast 2010
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
E. Guigal, Cotes du Rhone 2009
Santa Margherita, Pinot Grigio 2011
Alamos, Cabernet 2011
Cousino Macul, Cabernet, Anitguas Reservas 2009
Dreaming Tree Cabernet 2010
1967, Toscana 2009
Charamba, Douro 2008
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend No. 12
Opula Red Blend 2010
Liberte, Pinot Noir 2010
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Red Blend 2010
Woodbridge, Chardonnay 2011
King Estate, Pinot Noir 2011
Famille Perrin, Cotes du Rhone Villages 2010
Columbia Crest, Les Chevaux Red 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White Blend

The Occasional Book

Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 315
At this date last year: 168
Total run in 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


Clicky Web Analytics