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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 17, 2005 12:58 AM. The previous post in this blog was Odd Factoid of the Week. The next post in this blog is Dumb and mean. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

It was just lunch

What a day yesterday was. We played both Santa (shopping for an adopted family) and Scrooge (inflicting a four-hour tax exam on students). Somewhere in there we met Amanda Fritz, who's running for Portland City Council, for lunch.

Fritz is obviously a bright person with sharp political skills who's been around the block a few times in volunteer positions related to city government. She's all about singing the praises of the city's new "voter-owned elections" system of public campaign finance (originally called "clean money" until some folks wanted to know who had already taken the "dirty money"). That's not surprising, since by raising $5,000 at the rate of $5 each from 1,000 different Portlanders, Fritz gets something like 50 times that much from the taxpayers to buy media ads, yard signs, direct mailings, high-priced campaign consultants, and whatever else she wants to try to unseat incumbent Dan Saltzman.

At least on the surface of the conversation, Fritz and I are in agreement on many things. As I told her, at the moment she's the only candidate for either City Council seat that I can envision myself eventually endorsing. But the jury's still out. Perhaps readers can enlighten me as the campaign starts in earnest -- which I assume will be just after the holidays.

Meanwhile, back to the shopping, and avoiding even thinking about the grading...

Comments (18)

Years ago, when I was struggling with how to "fairly" help SW Portland develop its infrasructure needs, providing oversight to the City's Local Improvement District process, I met two especially extraordinary neighborhood activists among the many I met. One became my wife. The other, Amanda, became a good friend.

We don't always agree --I'll leave her position papers to her campaign-- but she's always asked the hard, thoughtful questions...not gotcha politics, not party-line rhetoric, but how DO things work, and how do we make them work better. I've learned a lot from her, and her perspective from the neighborhood side, and how the City's policies work in the real world (or don't, which is too often the case.)

Though not a fan of publically-financed campaigns, I've even had to re-think that because Amanda is what the system was intended to produce...someone not beholden to deep-pocketed special interests. Just someone on the Council from --and representing-- the neigborhood, citizen perspective. There's something refreshing about that.

You want to see what this "Voter Owned Elections" are really going to be about.

Candidates like this
www.myspace.com/knottforportland

Wingnuts pulling money to forward wingnut ideas. I'm convinced Sten was expecting a serious challenge and passed the voter owned elections to create cover for his reelction bid. The larger the slate of low ID candidates the more likely the incument can pull 51%.

RO, if you really believe that person will manage to qualify for public funds, you're the real wingnut.

Oh, and as for the "larger slate" question, did oyu bother to pay attention during the last election cycle, when the slates for positions were positively massive (especially for Mayor), both wingnut and otherwise, and none of it had anything to do with there being public funds available?

Call me cynical, but I think the good ol boy sytem makes it nearly impossible to get real grassroots candidates on the slate. I will ask someone canny on this issue to post.

Actually B!X I remember the slate well. The majority of the "grass roots" crowd was aligned directly against Leonard in the hopes that as a group one would cause a run-off.

And I met Knott in a downtown bar as he was collecting signatures. He pulled two five dollar donations from my table of six once he promised that he wouldn't spend the money on alchahol - it didn't look that hard. He has a good as chance as anyone else including someone like Phil Busse, Xander Paterson, Mike Milluci, Liz Callison, or that really angry liberal dude who used to have the blog everyone used to fawn over.

IF ... IF vcter owned elections work as advertised, Portland will have quite a feather in its cap. This would be the first place I know of to return democracy to the people rather than the monied few. Red Oregon may not want to live here after that. I am looking forward.

Raising 5K a Lincoln at a time is a lot more work than a 250 a plate fundraiser.and it forces actual face time with the citizenry.

Does a wingnut stand a chance? maybe a persistant one. But VO elections probably stand the best chance for a populist like Amanda. Thats what scares them.

The cost of voter owned elections is far less than the millions in tax breaks and PDC money that the powers that be are getting with their influence peddling sponsoring the major candidates. These developers and the Portland Power brokers trading favors over drinks at the Arlington Club are not going to underfund a candidate that can keep those tax dollars flowing their way. I also have met Amanda and think she has the committment and ethics to start asking the hard quesitons, Her Website on the Tram, her support of OHSU nurses, she is a hard working determined person, and I felt struck by her Honest no nonsense approach.

As I understand it, Amanda was on the Planning Commission when all this tram stuff was actually approved. That worries me.

Actually B!X I remember the slate well. The majority of the "grass roots" crowd was aligned directly against Leonard in the hopes that as a group one would cause a run-off.

That wasn't even the largest set of candidates. The mayoral race had more than twenty people running. Do you think somehow public funds are going to give us forty candidates, all with public funds?

And, ooh! Ooh! Anecdotal "evidence" of two $5 contributions being conflated to mean getting the whole amount is easy!

Be still my heart.

Jack, I took the lead in opposing the tram at the Planning Commission, in partnership with Ernie Bonner. Due to excellent neighborhood testimony, and lack of evidence in the record to support OHSU's claim that the tram is needed, we won the support of the majority of the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission's recommendation told Council the case for the tram was not proven, and that they shouldn't move forward with it without further public review of the pros and cons.

Council ignored the Planning Commission's advice, and after months of public process it rapidly became clear they'd already decided to grant OHSU's demand for the tram a long time previously. Council also reversed many of the provisions for the Corbett-Terwilliger-Lair Hill and Homestead neighborhoods that the Planning Commission had recommended.

Council's approval of the tram contrary to reason, public testimony, and the Planning Commission's advice was probably the most significant single issue prompting my decision to seek election. It showed beyond doubt that we need someone on the Council who understands and cares about land use issues from the neighborhood perspective.

The Planning Commission's recommendation told Council the case for the tram was not proven, and that they shouldn't move forward with it without further public review of the pros and cons.

Since you are doubtlessly going to hear about this issue during the campaign, Amanda, it might make sense for you to document this. If you send me written evidence that this is what happened, I'll post it.

B!X -

The majority of the people running for Mayor weren't actually running. In order to be a real candidate in my mind you'd actually have to attempt an organization and show that you could lead and manage something beyond your PAC paperwork. If you don't have the credibility to ask your friends and acquaintences for support you shouldn't even be considered a real candidate. If you don't even make an attempt to campaign beyond showing to meet the editorial boards of the local media outlets your shouldn't be considered a real candidate either. And this statement comes from someone who loves Lou Humboldt - anyone with a hobby that involves getting smashed and running for Mayor is alright by me.

The only grass-roots people making a full on active effort with organization behind them were the anti-Leonard camp. Then you had the well funded other candidates. Name one person in the slate who actually worked neighborhood associations, business associations, called the bigger donars and unions to talk. Basic campaining tactics provided in any $10 book on ths subject. To just file doesn't make you a candidate - going out and meeting people does.

The clean money program currently devised just requires one person willing to float a petition. The more bodacious and out there the more likable someone is Portland alternative media (Trey Arrow would definitly pulled it). After 1000 sigs the city will provide enough money for the candidate to hire a staff and my bet is the standard-bearer media consultants and campaign float-arounds will gladly take their money to run the campaign. This to me doesn't help democracy, it doesn't reform our city council, it doesn't improve the transparancy of the PDC, it just creates a distracting amount of noise that pretends to be reform.

I saw someone actually working a room of people. Thats makes him a real candidate and the fact that he could be honestly called a wingnut qualifies it as worth mention. It seems to me from first hand experience, anecdotal though it may be, anyone with half a personality could acquire 1000 signatures within a few months on the campaign slogon "PBR as the Oregon State Flower."

Also
Love how you get mean when questioned - just like a real journalist. Its cute.

I can vouch for much of Amanda's analysis of how the tram issue came before the Planning Commission, and with Ernie Bonner's concerns. Now, could Amanda and Ernie have done more, and later at the City Council level and through the media? I think so, but as volunteers we can do so much, right? Many groups and neighborhood representatives put forth many questioning opinions about the tram. What I regret is that our commissioner members and others do not "put their foot down" when we get so many bogus answers to the hard questions. We need followup from our commissions, advisory boards, etc. Amanda and Ernie knew that the tram was first presented as a $8.5M idea. It grew to a $30M idea before it left their table where they could have commented and publically asked for a "life cycle cost analysis". But they tried, at least,while many others did nothing.

If a myspace profile makes you a candidate for the city council, ummm, well I guess I'd like to throw my name in as well.

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=6233048

"Also
Love how you get mean when questioned - just like a real journalist. Its cute.

Real journalists don't mind being questioned, actually. You may be confusing them with government paid mouthpieces. Red staters often do-- nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

Someone needs to ask Mrs. Fritz why she needed to turn in a neighbor for removing weeds and blackberries from their property to the city.Resulting in a $18,000.(yes eighteen thousand dollars)fine. This was later reduced to only $10,000 but it was Mrs Fritz that made the time to testify at the hearing and almost demand that the fine be enforced!
Also ask her how she feels about property rights and restrictions imposed by the city. she believes that property is fair game and that property owners should give up any or all of it to any restictions that the city comes up with.
It was Mrs.Fritz, Leanord Gard,and Mari Johnson (from plannig) that decided to opting-out large areas of land in S.W. portland (about 14,000 acres according to Mrs Johnson) from Metros goals and also Portlands Comprehensive plan by changing the zoning in selected areas from R10 (10,000sq ft per lot to R20 (20,000sq ft, 4 times the average size! Let me see what's going to better for the city one house/family or four on average lots) thus affecting sprawl/development/affordable housing /schools/traffic/infil, and keeping Portlands URBAN LEGAND alive.
How many of you remember getting notices of a major zone change affcting 14,000 acres or having discusions about telling Metro and Portlands comp. plan "NOT IN MY S.W. NEIGHBORHOOD".

You would think that some of the other neighborhoods would want her to change thier zoning also!

RedOregon: "Love it how (B!X gets) mean when questioned--just like a real journalist. It's cute."

I compliment you, RedOregon, on your nice way of rebuting B!X, except I don't agree that it's like a "real journalist." It's very unjournalistic. He can keep his leftists Lars Larson/Bill O'Reilly/Rush Limbaugh routine for his own blog. It sticks out like a sore thumb on here and it violates the bojack blog policy.

I just like to read this site for its candid discussion of certain issues, not put up with his angry diatribe. If somebody wants to spend a couple thousand dollars of their own money to run for office and bring issues to public attention, why shouldn't they? The odds of winning without a lot of money and strong resume (professional, political, or non-profit), is practically nil anyway. Why be mean to people who choose to exercise their right to participate in political elections just because you don't agree with them?

Anyway, Fritz has my support. I'd like to see a woman and/or Registered Nurse on City Council. I think the more diversity of background the better. I think term limits would be a good idea, too, so we don't have career politicians like Erik Sten, who wants to go on for 16 years on City Council.


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