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Friday, September 9, 2005

Big Pipe nixes clean moolah

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who voted in favor of "voter-owned elections," has announced that he won't be taking public financing for his re-election campaign. So all you developers and West Hills happeners, get out your checkbooks!

One thing to note, though -- like Mayor Potter, Saltzman's limiting contributions. He wants to hear only from the little people, I guess, because he's restricting gifts to only 500 bucks per donor.

So if you really want to make an impression, you're going to have to do a little extra work -- teamwork, that is. Suggest to your spouse, each of your kids who still wants to see your will, and everybody on your staff who likes having a job that maybe they'd like to donate $500, too. It's their constitutional right, and yours.

Comments (41)

So even before we've spent a penny on Voter Owned Elections, we've changed the culture of Council campaigns. $1,000 and $5,000 contributions used to be the norm.

$500 may not match the Mayor's $100 limit, but it's working!

Just like Saltzman to force *other* candidates to go through all sorts of bureaucratic hoops that he doesn't want to do himself.

I can only hope the voters in Portland vote for the repeal.

Easy there, RAH. No one is forcing anyone to do anything.

The VOE system is voluntary.

Not only that, please note that the VOE system does - in fact - also put a soft limit on how much Saltzman can raise from private sources.

He can, of course, raise and spend as much as he wants. But, if he goes over the soft cap, then his opponents will receive matching dollars, dollar-for-dollar, based on what he raises.

So, he has no incentive to go past the soft cap. This is good for our politics, folks.

"Voter owned elections" are voluntary? Not for the tax payers. Get a grip.


I appreciate your commitment to good government, but I wish you would not distort the record to support your position.

You write "before we've spent a penny on Voter Owned Elections, we've changed the culture..."

You attribute the change to the Council's action rather than to Potter's successful campaign. You can't tell which (if anything) changed the culture.

But more problematic, you follow by writing: "$1000 and $5000 contributions used to be the norm."

This is false. Look at any of Saltzman's campaigns--$100 and $250 contributions are far more common and have been the norm. (

Setting a $500 limit changes is a smart public relations move but changes little for Saltzman.

Let's hear it for Molly - she hit the nail right on the head. The only "ownership" the voters will be able to take in this process will be to shoot the whole ludicrous plan right out of the sky.

Your ONLY interest is to see the groups who support the PDC tax abated, fee waived, Urban Renewal funded high density crap elect their people.
The irrational Rail, Bikes and High density without regard for anything else agenda is destructive.
More people are getting wise to it everyday.

Your blog says it all for those who want to check out the irrationality.

Be careful not to weigh in with criticism though. You'll be immediately banned.

That's how that agenda works.

Having your high density groups support "VOE" (letter to the editor in today's O) is proof positive Molly is right.

Their (and your) hypocrisy is stunning if you look at previous campaign contributions by their/your favorite PDC developers.

I don't remember you or them complaining about such large contributions.
Funny how that works.
If it's advancing your cause it's A-OK and not a word from you.
Not a word about those campaign coffers or the huge tax costs for the development you like.
Your brand of "commitment to good government" we can do without.


I was not thinking specifically about Dan when I made the comment about $1K and $5K contributions. I'll admin I've read more of Jim Francesconi's C&Es than Dan's.

However, looking at the document you reference I don't think my point is invalid. I'm going to see if I can get a sortable version of the data to do a little more analysis.

The main point remains the same however, we have created an environment where many candidates now feel uncomfortable taking large contributions. That's a victory!



To your point, I don't find any contradiction between compact transit-oriented development and re-empowering citizens in the electoral process (even if that means limiting contributions from some of the same people I work on transportation planning with).

I also support lobbyist registration, which will undoutably make all of these conversations more transparent!

"Clean money" didn't change Saltzman's ways. Internet publication of contributions, and Tom Potter, did.

As usual you did not respsond to my primary contentions. Of course you are all about illusion.

You could just come clean and state clearly that you support the expenditure of huge sums of public money for any and all density. That you do NOT object to any means to accomplish this.
That the big donations by PDC friendly developers is swell and that you think "it" is all working just fine.
Who is it that you want to "empower"?
Demonstrated by your condemnation and abolition of opposing viewpoints on your own blog you are not in favor of transparency at all.
Your notion that you "work on transportation planning" is as clouded as the PDC "housing incentive" program. By their own admition their program is really only about density.
As is the case with your so-called transporation planning "people". It's really just forced and tax funded high density to save the plantet as you see it.
There is no transportation planning around here.
That is a blatant fraud.
Our light rail is a scheme to advance high density development patterns which DO NOT pencil out and don't even accomplish your objective.
No you are not accomplishing any of your agenda outcomes. That's the punchline around here.
As evidenced by the Portland Office of Sustainable Developement who had to produce a meritless report to fabricate success.
You know. The emissions report which never truly measured emissions at all yet claimed our local policies were successful in reducing those unmeasured emissions.
That report is deliberate dishonesty pure and simple.
The response by Rex Burkholder in yesterday's O
was more dishonesty as he attempted to reduce the critisism to "nit-picking".
That propoganda commentary was a keeper as a collection of Tri-Met, Metro, POSD, and PDC falsehoods and distortions.
Quit pretending.
There's a major battle over the staus quo emerging around here and let's be clear that you
support it and want much more of the same. Forced, schemed, covert and publicly funded. Under false pretenses and without public votes.

If it's "voter owned elections", then LET THE OWNERS VOTE! NOW. Not in 2010.

That report was a juvenile attempt to ascribe to Portland some achievement as it continues to deteriorate. Business is fleeing. Population is falling. There were no actual measurements and nothing in DEQ's data base to support what Portland claimed.

Portland says it based its conclusion from reports from gasoline dealer regarding sales within Portland. Portland gas sales are irrelevant to pollution or to VMT's within the region or, even, within Portland.

Someone driving from Portland to Gresham has its greatest emmisions within Portland but the gas is not purchased there. Portland gas purchases do not measure trips originating within Portland to suburbs because the gas is cheaper in the suburbs and, most likely, purchased there.

Trips from the suburbs to Portland will, very likely, purchase the gas in the suburbs.

The census tells us that trips from the suburbs to the central city have diminished, steadily, since the 70's, while suburb to suburb trips have risen. Most trips are from suburb to suburb. Portland's radial pattern of roads requires that suburb to suburb trips go through Portland.

The transportation plans formulated in the 60's by the region's counties, the city of Portland and CRAG called for additional roads going from suburb to suburb. The birth of Metro, dominated by the City of Portland, killed these plans and mired the region in the congeston that grew more than any other metro area in the US with population over 250,000 since 1986, when the effects of the anti-road policies began to be felt, at an increasing rate.

This is well known to all so usage of this data means that it is knowingly intended to deceive. But this is not unexpected when we hear remarks from Portland City Hall and Metro councilors.



That's what worried me so much about the proposal. I think it was all based on perceptions and not reality, as was your post. You said "the norm" and I haven't done the count, but my eyeball is pretty accurate--clearly the "norm" is $100 and $250 contributions.

As I posted at the time, I saw no evidence that voters in Portland were "turned off," not participating, and distrusting their political leaders. I saw no shortage of candidates. I saw no evidence that decisions were bought and sold.

Lots of folks claimed these things were happening but there was no evidence.

I know this is a reformist town, but I resist reform simply for reform's sake, and I think this is what clean elections was. Portland can't be satisfied if it's behind on some reformist curve.

I ended up supporting the proposal solely because it would set an example for other states and localities, and perhaps the feds, to follow, where campaign spending is far more out of control.

But I stand by my claim that clean elections will change nothing in Portland politics.

Paul says:

Setting a $500 limit changes is a smart public relations move but changes little for Saltzman.

The MIPRAP folks were kind enough to give me the data in the document you referenced in spreadsheet form. Here's what I learned by analyzing it.

In his 1998 campaign, Dan got 75% of his funds from contributions of $500 or more.

For his 2002 campaign (a much lower amount as he did not have strong opposition) he got 62%

Seems like a lot more than a PR move! Dan's going to be dialing a lot more phone numbers to get his dollars.

The earth has shifted.

Oops. Make that "from contributions GREATER than $500" (not $500 or more), i.e., the 75% and 62% numbers are from contributions of at least $501 (more like $1000 in most cases).

The earth has shifted.

But thank Potter, not "Clean Money." After "Clean Money" is repealed, voluntary contribution limits will likely remain the order of the day. Anyone who sucks in tens of thousands from the Usual Suspects is going to be called out on it loudly, on this blog at least.

Chris Smith at September 9, 2005 10:26 AM: I'm going to see if I can get a sortable version of the data to do a little more analysis.

JK: I could post my data base of the Portland C&Es on, but you banned me.

(Just kidding – I’am not sharing it yet. But I might use it to answer a question or two.)

BTW I now have electronic image copies of all of the major candidates' C&Es that are on file with the city.

JK (being a jerk)

I do thank Mayor Potter, for his example and his words:

But I think I'm an anomaly. I don't think everybody can do this (run under self-imposed contribution limits). And so I really support this (Voter Owned Elections) ordinance and resolution, because it is so important to our future.

From the horse's mouth!

I spoke with Commissioner Saltzman at the Pedestrian Summit this morning. His answer to whether his contribution policy was influenced by Mayor Potter's example or by Voter Owned Elections: "a little bit of both."

Thanks for the data analysis, Chris. Nothing cuts the fog like actually running the numbers. While Potter deserves most of the credit here, that influence is fleeting. Without a leader like him setting a good example, we're back to business as usual. The contrast, not the practice itself, was what sank Francesconi.

Another point to be fair to the Commissioner. In an earlier comment I implied that he would have to increase the number of contributors to get the same dollars.

After talking to him, I get the sense he expects to spend less money than he may have in the past ($600K+ in his 1998 campaign). He spoke about wanting to lower the cost of campaigns for both contributors and candidates.

He spoke about wanting to lower the cost of campaigns for both contributors and candidates.

By shifting those costs over to the taxpayers. Nice.

...and said taxpayers will see their tax dollars going to candidates they may find totally reprehensible. I wouldn't give one thin dime to any of the announced candidates thus far, and I hate it that if I lived within the PDX city limits, I'd be potentially funding them. It's just flat wrong.

Just another reason to stay outside of PDX.

Jack, Dan is lowering the resources to his own campaign voluntarily (and not taking any taxpayer money) while allowing competitors who might not be viable under the traditional model to potentially use public funds to compete against him.

If he has a cynical motivation to do that, I can't see it. I believe he sincerely wants to see the political process become more open and less money-driven.

We might (I'm sure we will) argue whether the expense to the public purse is worth the benefit (I believe the ROI is incalcuably high), but I hope at least this puts to rest the idea that the folks on Council enacted this system for their own benefit.

No, they're just addicted to spending taxpayer money whenever they can on whatever they can.

RAH - OK, then go elect folks who will spend less/differently. We just made it easier for you to do so (and I'll bet you still won't thank us :-)).


I suspected you might go there. The norm is defined as "typical", or statistically, as the "mode" (the most common observation).

You state that "75% of contributions come from amounts greater than $500." This statement relies on the average. Suppose this distribution:

100, 100, 100, 100, 5000.

Would you write that this is a pattern of contributions where "$5000 is the norm"? Of course not, that's silly.

I am glad to see that you're working with actual campaign contributions data, though. I'm still worried that your first comment might reveal that your and others' previous advocacy for clean elections was not based on data but on undefined perceptions that this is somehow important to our future.

No one has ever clearly told me how.

Final note: Saltzman can afford to limit contributions. He's got a far more extensive donor network and roster of volunteers than any insurgent "clean money" candidate. This is why I don't think Saltzman's pledge will change anything, and is just good public relations.


We could do the mean, mode, average and any other statistical measure you care to define, but it won't change the fact that the set of folks Dan needed to pay the most attention to during his previous two Council campaigns were the folks who gave more than $500 each. The average voter who might be able to afford $50 or $100 isn't affecting the outcome.

To go back to the data, in Dan's 1998 campaign, only 10% of his contributions came from contributions of $100 or less (6% in 2002).

The rest of the data for the 1998 race:

$101-500: 14%
$501-1000: 15%
$1000-2500: 18%
$2500+: 42%

The 'problem' we're trying to solve is twofold:

1) Citizens become cynical when they see the concentration of donations from a few large donors (I offer as an example Steve's rant above about developers' contributions and PDC spending).

2) Capable candidates who cannot find a set of donors who can get them to at least $300K-500K can't realistically pursue a Council seat.

There is polling to substantiate # 1 and I've talked to enough people personally who have opted not to run in various races to know that #2 is real. And of course, the City Club study (PDF 76K) I chaired in 2000 found both to be the case.

I continue to believe that Dan's choice is already an indication of VOE beginning to affect #1 (at least it gets partial credit) and I hope that we'll see it helping #2 during this primary with at least a couple of candidates getting their 1000 $5 contributions.

If you believe the City Auditor's calculations, it breaks down to $2.45-$3.00 per resident of Portland per year to fund "Voter Owned" elections. Not too much to ask to have more trust in the people we put in there in my opinion.

Don't believe the well funded hype against the new election funding.

One single penny is too much, and it won't increase "trust" one bit.

PS: I can't wait to see the first candidate indicted for fraudulently manufacturing 1000 individual $5 contributions - and we all know it's going to happen.

Chris Smith,
Not you or any of your affiliated people or groups spoke out in opposition to any of the boondoggle in SoWa. You voiced no objection to what those big donors expected.
Now that the Tram, Streetcars, 50 high rises topping 325 ft. and high density chaos at all costs is on the way you once again become the "citizen" activist.
You and yours could have easily chimed in and brought about a far better outcome including a real greenway and funded public parks. Unfortunately your agenda shut you up.
Your hypocrisy is getting old and is drowning your flawed agenda.

You said,
"""""1) Citizens become cynical when they see the concentration of donations from a few large donors (I offer as an example Steve's rant above about developers' contributions and PDC spending)."""

Citizens become cynical at the whole picture. Which includes when they see hundreds of millions of tax dollars poured into boondoggle schemes which YOU support.
It's not just the "developer donations and PDC spending" It's you too.
You're in complete support of PDC policies and spending.
It is you contingent of activists who act as the smoke and mirrors for the PDC and local planners.

The stream of money from the many developers and land speculators lead to exactly what you hoped for. That's why you did nothing.

Fortunately blogs are exposing you and yours for the phony barons of wasteful and dysfunctional public policies you are.

I voted against the public financing proposal.

However, your nearly irrational rantings at Chris are having the effect of causing me to rethink my position.

Does that mean you regret taking all those big SoWa developer checks?
Chris said
"""""1) Citizens become cynical when they see the concentration of donations from a few large donors"""""""""""
I think he was talking about you.
And you took more than few checks from big developers.
Irrational? That's easy, weak and lazy.
Come on big guy.

If you want to name call and make dark, accusatory comments, be my guest. Its your keypad.

However, if you actually want to contribute to a legitimate discussion, stow the venom.

Chris and I have disagreed on a few issues. However, I have uniformly found his disagreements to be thoughtful, earnest and deserving of respect and consideration.

If your goal is to participate in a discussion earnestly, you really should think about how you treat those that disagree with you. However, if you just like to see your name in print and you don't really care what others think of your comments, I guess your on the right track.

You should take your own advise.
Referring to someone as "irrational" vs. responding the the valid points I made is your typical play.
I need no lecture from you sir.
Sound public policy would be better.
Get to work.

Randy, Randy, Randy...

Did you really say:

"If you want to name call and make dark, accusatory comments, be my guest. However, if you actually want to contribute to a legitimate discussion, stow the venom."?

This from my favorite KXL Sunday morning demogogue? The one who regularly accuses me and Larry George of "hating poor people" or "hating gays" because of arguments we make?

Sure, Steve can be pretty harsh in his debate style, but I'm not sure you are the best example of how to "treat those who disagree with you"!

PS: Why do you hate black people? (Inside joke, everyone.)


I guess that means you're retracting your statement about the "norm" being $1000 and $5000 contributions? Seems to work only for 1998 and not any other campaigns, either of Saltzman or of other candidates.

The percentage of total money raised from large contributions--that's what you want to talk about, and it's a valid point.

Please show me the data for your claim #1 about cynicism. I asked multiple times during this campaign and what I received was anecdotes. I see no evidence of this in Portland.

I don't know what to say about #2. The evidence from Arizona and Maine shows that more candidates run but there is no evidence that is has changed the outcome--that different kinds of people win or that policies change. And it may be that the inability to run a well-funded campaign may actually say something about the depth of someone's political support--thus the data you cite argue precisely the opposite.

As I said before, I supported VOE. But I object to advocates rejecting every contrary piece of evidence or misrepresenting evidence in their favor. If we're going to change our system of government, we HAVE to be well-informed and balanced in how we interpret the evidence.

Such as this: I continue to believe that Dan's choice is already an indication of VOE beginning to affect #1 (at least it gets partial credit) Huh? You have ZERO evidence that Saltzman's pledge has decreased public cynicism in Portland. But it doesn't stop you from claiming that it already has made sucha difference.

Paul, all we are doing is arguing about what 'the norm' means. I meant it in the sense of what set of contributions drives the financials of the campaign. I did not mean to say that large contributions were more frequent than small ones. Any vonuntary funding effort takes the shape of a pyramid. The issue is how top-heavy the pyramid is :-)

I'll get back to you with evidence on the cynicism. And you're twising my words a little bit. I did not mean that VOE had instantly reduced cynicism. But I do believe that an ongoing pattern of choices like Dan's to cap contributions will go a long way to reduce that cynicism.

Paul, here's a recent piece of research on voter participation:

(warning, it's big - 3.7MB)

Page 8 of the report (14th page in the PDF file) lists the top five reason infrequent and non-voters don't vote:

1) “Politics are controlled by special interests” (66 percent of infrequent voters and 69 percent of nonvoters agree);

2) “I don’t feel that candidates really speak to me” (49 percent of infrequent voters and 55 percent of nonvoters agree);

3) “It is too hard to sift through all the information available to make good decisions on how to vote” (45 percent of infrequent voters and 52 percent of nonvoters agree);

4) “I am too busy with work or my family” (43 percent of infrequent voters and 46 percent of nonvoters agree); and

5) “The issues are too confusing” (42 percent of infrequent voters and 48 percent of nonvoters agree).

I would argue that VOE addresses #1 and #2: The 'special interests' issue by working to remove large contributions from races, and the 'candidates don't speak to me' issue by making candidates spend the shoe leather to get the 1000 contributions and giving them a relatively limited sum of money so they have to continue more grass roots campaigning.

If it was hard for you to read my advise, please know that I needed to be resuscitated when I read yours.

Come to think of it, you and Steve do have a lot in common. Your both handsome, witty and just plain fun guys to hang out with.

And by the way, why do you hate gay people (not an inside joke)?


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Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
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 DermoČ—t - 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: 113
At this date last year: 155
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
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

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