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Thursday, March 2, 2006


Buried in a Willamette Week murmur about Portland's new "clean money" public campaign finance system is this tidbit:

"I'm very popular in the Slavic community," Boyles says, adding that she doesn't know how many of her supporters are registered to vote (contributors need not be registered but must live in Portland).
That raises an interesting question: If all that's required is city residency, not voter registration, when the city "clean money" czar (or czarina) "checks" the 1,000 contributions ($5 each) that come in from a candidate, what does he or she check against? Maybe voter registration would be a starting point, but how would a person not registered to vote have their address verified? Does the city just accept the address printed on the check?

Comments (55)

what i found amazing is that 950 of her 1000 donations came from the slavic community. i guess whether it be big business, developers or cultural enclaves, we're all beholden to some group

"Popular in the Slavic community" sounds like the setup to some David Hasselhoff joke, no?

If you're not registered, "voter-owned" seems to be a bit of a misnomer...huh?

I'm guessing they check the DMV file. Or maybe they just open the phone book! Seriously though, even DMV is not a definitive source. It's a tricky issue. Maybe for unregistered contributors they'll have to implement a burdensome system like HAVA did for new voter registration, which requires proof of ID. I suppose they check every name rather than run a random sample, like the system that tubed the fat cat recallers...

And one more thing (this is NOT directly at Emilie Boyles in particular, but your post about her list makes me wonder), how does the City certify the donor as a US citizen? Non-US citizens are prohibited from making political contributions by federal law, and that provision is referred to in the city regulations. How do they verify it???

If she wins, can we call it Slavic Owned Elections?

Jack and all these postings; very good points. I believe you have an issue bigger than the "Sizemore" issue. I'm sure the unions and ACLU will come down hard on this pandoras box.

Jack and all these postings; very good points. I believe you have an issue bigger than the "Sizemore" issue. I'm sure the unions and ACLU will come down hard on this pandoras box.

Are you going to offer a solution?


I gotta ax:

Was the reference to the "...czar (or czarina)" an intentional funny? I laughed!

How about "Mafiya Owned Elections"

The State of Oregon has no requirement that you prove U.S. Citizenship in order to register to vote.

I heard the Director of the Oregon State Elections Office say that on Victoria Taft's show about two months ago.

Re: the 1,000 needed $5.00 donations for Portland city council candidates to obtain tax funding for campaigns --

Correct me by citation to the Portland ordnance if I'm wrong, but as I read the ordnance, the Portlad program requires only $ 5.00 donations from 1,000 different folks. There is NO, repeat NO, requirement that:

(a). the donors be registered voters;

(b). the donors be residents of Portland;

(c). the donors even be adults, i.e. over 18 years of age.

What a system.

It is very odd to see someone get 95% of their contributions from one community, whether ethnic, business, regional, etc.

On the other hand, I'm very pleased to see someone not of the typical inner SE/SW/NW white upper middle class cloth.

Most eastern european immigrants live in lents, kenilworth, and other outer SE neighborhoods that, in my opinion, have been essentially unrepresented in recent city elections.

Jim, see City Code Chapter 2.10.010:

T. "Qualifying Contribution" means a Contribution of exactly $5 in cash, or in the form of a check or a money order made payable by any Resident to the Candidate or principal campaign committee of the Candidate. ... V. "Resident" means an individual residing within the City limits of the City of Portland.

So you have to live in the City limits. I don't see that you have to be a citizen. And you don't have to be 18. I know that on the latter point, legal review suggested that such a requirement would be unconstitutional. I don't remember the discussion on the citizenship part.

Part of the reason to not limit contributions to registered voters is that verification of such would have brought the county elections office into the process and there was a desire to keep it simple and in the City elections office.

P.S. I'm trying to get the info on how the auditor verifies residency.

I'm looking at the qualifying contribution collection form, and it says nothing about citizenship, only about residency.

And I would note of course that the traditional campaign finance system does not restrict contributions from:

1) Children (including young children of major donors)

2) Non-citizens

3) Non-residents

4) Corporations

no age requirement on donors?!? we should get the senior class presidents of each high school to run for city commission. they could raise $5 from 1,000 fellow students in a snap. it would be a great civics lesson on how easy it is to bankrupt the city's general fund.

Bess, that's exactly what my friend (and fellow VOE supporter) Jake Oken-berg did (well, he was a college sophmore at the time), running against Vera and getting a respectable percentage of the vote.

yeah, but now kids like Jake have $150,000 of taxpayer money to play with. that will pay for a lot of keggers, er, I mean campaign events.

If all the kids are as responsible as Jake, I have no worries.

How many high school kids have checking accounts? My understanding is, only old-fashioned checks count. So 20th Century, Opie.

Isn't it great to know that, instead of paying for schools and cops, our property tax dollars are now paying for Erik Sten's freakin' JUGGLERS?

How progressive.

Jack, cash is just fine. Credit cards and online payments are NOT. In part this is to make it a little bit harder (you can't just get a bunch of people to click on a PayPal link). So you have to go out and interact with people face-to-face.

Yeah, well, that sounds totally unconstitutional. Plus, are you sure? I remembering hearing "checks" time and time again.

Jack, the auditor did in fact say 'check' every time he testified in front of Council, and I kept trying to get him to say 'contribution'. The form explicitly allows checks, cash and money orders. I collected contributions for both Amanda and Erik, and in both cases had a few five dollar bills.

Here's the code:

T. "Qualifying Contribution" means a Contribution of exactly $5 in cash, or in the form of a check or a money order made payable by any Resident to the Candidate or principal campaign committee of the Candidate.

We really did think about this stuff before we urged Council to pass it. What you describe as 'incompetent socialism' I prefer to think of as 'responsible progressivism' :-)

I wouldn't be bragging about the cash part. If a gang of 15-year-olds gets together and pools their $5 bills, one of the high school kids gets $150,000 to hire jugglers with? The donor doesn't have to be 18 -- can I give my 5-year-old a five-spot and tell her "give it that man," and she counts? Does she have to be able to write her full name?

Interesting definition of "responsible."

Do you now if and how Susan Francois (or whoever it is) checks residency?

Your daughter has to be able to provide her name, address, occupation and sign to indicate her affirmation that she is a resident.

I'm trying to run down the answer on verifying residency.

I'm afraid I missed the juggler reference, what's that about?

How do they verify residency? The phone book, or I-Tax/property receipts are the only references I can think of.

Erik Sten's campaign kickoff party.

I suspect you'll be hearing that one a few more times.

The phone book? Who lists their home address in the phone book any more? And what if the phone listing is to an address other than one's principal residence?

Do you have indication the jugglers didn't donate their services?

No. Do you have any that they did?

And if they donated their services, I assume we'll see them as in-kind donors on the campaign finance reports?

If it's so gosh darn easy to get 1,000 $5 donations, why haven't more people done it? More to the point, why haven't the naysayers on this list done it?

Perhaps it's because getting 1,000 people to hand over money is a reasonably high hurdle that indicates some seriousness as a candidate.

Chris -

Thanks for the correction on "residency".

jim McLaughlin

Sorry to end the fun, but juggler-gate is over. I spoke with my contacts at the Sten campaign (the great thing about the vast liberal-progressive conspiracy is that we all have cell phones) and the jugglers were volunteers. Note the emphasis there, this is not an in-kind contribution, that would require a 3rd party to pay the jugglers. These are Sten supporters lending their talents to the campaign.

The reason I made this assumption earlier is that the candidates who have qualified for VOE are running to WIN, not party. The $150K they each have will be VERY carefully spent to get their message across, not on frivolities. $150K was deliberately chosen as about the lowest amount that allows you to get a message out city-wide (yes, I know that if you're the former police chief, you can do it for less).

But I would hate for you guys not to have something to talk about, so I propose Murphy-gate. If you look back up this thread, a commenter named Murphy has an e-mail address that looks a lot like Laura Imeson's. Now I don't know if Murphy is pretending to be Laura, or Laura is pretending to be Murphy, but shouldn't someone investigate?

I've also gotten educated about the verification process.

As many of you speculated, there is no big-brother database of where we all live. The Auditor's office checks a sample of the contribution sheets to make sure that all the addresses are actually real, valid addresses in the City of Portland (using the City GIS system).

So how do we figure out if someone is fibbing about their address? The old fashioned way, the other side can pour over your names and file a complaint if they see something fishy.

So privacy lives in Portland. And if you're concerned that this is not sufficient verification, I'll again point out that it is still much more restrictive than the way big-money candidates are funded.

So let me get this right. In order to have a true democracy and have the public decide if they want to own elections, you must have REGISTERED voters sign the petition to put the issue on the ballot? But in order to qualify for the public funds you only need to have contributions from residents? Wow you can have your cake and eat it.I like how the voter owned elections people can dictate democracy



You point out the ultimate irony of this whole "experiment".

The city council justifies SPENDING hundreds of thousands with the assent of 1000 residents? - who may or may not be VOTERS who pay $5 each.

But any attempt at SAVING this money has to run the gauntlet of Blackmer's traveling circus (featuring Bradbury and MultCo Elections as the clowns) complete with rules that change by the week.

Wasn't Blackmer one of the SPONSORS of VOE?

What's HE doing supervising the count of petitions?

Who says elections can't be bought - it looks to me as if the going rate is $5000.

We didn't dictate anything, we convinced four members of City Council that it was good policy.

And I think your analogy is wrong. Initiative petitioning is more analogous to a candidate getting signatures to be on the ballot (I'm not an expert, but I think those have to be registered voters). VOE is analogous to raising the money to wage your initiative campaign after you've qualified it for the ballot. It's the distinction between a nominating signature and a qualifying contribution.

In an environment where the Supremem Court equates money and speech, putting any limits on who can provide a contribution is tricky, but we felt we were on pretty firm ground limiting it to residents.

I see, so you're worried that money equates to speech and is protected.

But actual POLITICAL SPEECH, in the form of initiative signatures, is... what, again?

As Tommy Magliozzi would say:


At the risk of descending into a policy seminar, that's the whole point of public financing. Constitutional limits (especially in Oregon) prevent us from restricting contributions, so instead you entice the candidate to voluntarily enter into a contract to limit fundraising. The enticement is public funding.

VOE is an entirely voluntary system for candidates. If you don't like it, don't use it.

Wait, VOE was dictated, i do not remember voting on it. Im just being told how I need to be a good citizen and let city council make my decisions for me. They are after all protecting me from big business contributions, more importantly they are probably protecting me from myself, givin the oppotunity to vote on important issues like this... wow who knows what us crazy plebian citizens would of done. Im so glad I dont have to think for myself any more.

VOE, Trams,.... The only way to get around this city is either be an ill educated PSU progressive, or a deep pocket "favored" developer.
pass the kool aid please.

Chris --

Of course you "dictated" the thing. And your abettors on the City Council purported to preclude any atual voter input on voter owned elections by delaying any vote on he system until 2010.

So where is he voter consent component on voter owned elections?

Accountability is where it always is for Council actions. Elect a different set of bums. In fact we made it easier for you to do so.

"In fact we made it easier for you to do so"
I rest my case. I should just stop thinking for myself and realize that City Council and Chris Smith have my best interest at heart and will relieve me of the burden of having to actually think for myself--- why look they even constructed an election scheme without me having to think or vote on it!! Wow democracy in action.
Im starting to hold "activists" and "developers" in the same hand...

"Accountability is where it always is for Council actions" in the spirit of "nice week", even though its over, im going to let this slide...

Not at all, gl, our goal was to give you more candidates to think about in our elections. We want your brain activated :-)

Mr. Smith

Please do not pee on my feet and tell me it is raining.

Boy gl you got that right.

He should have to identify himself as well.

Chris Smith says,

""" In fact we made it easier for you to do so"""
""""" We want your brain activated :-)"""""

This from a guy who works nearly full time conspiring with Burkholder and company to make sure the public never votes on light rail, the Transit Mall, Trams or any other transportation decisions no matter the cost or usefulness.

I'm sure he would prefer his club make all the decisions around here.

He lobbies to make light rail a requirement on any new Columbia Crossing (and everywhere else), advocates for NO congestion relief and allies with his Washingtonian peers to make sure they don't vote on light rail either.

He likes VOE for one reason and one reason only. He sees it as a way to continue a stream of status quo elected officials (clones) to keep doing exactly the same things we've been witnessing for the last 25 years.

He thinks it's all working fine including Urban Renewal & SoWa.
He's a proponent of spending the $50 million for the Burnside couplet,
a proponent of the $200 million to tear up downtown for the Mall we don't need. (but it will get light rail)
Probably for the convention center hotel and everything the PDC dreams up.

A proponent of endless millions for Transit Oriented Developments which we have seen fail all over the region.
I'm sure he is a nice guy but not good for voters, taxpayers, commerce, traffic or good transit.
Check out his blog at

In Chris's defense, which of the Council's decisions do you want to vote on? All of them? None of them? Only decisions that cost more than $100,000? $200,000?

Or what, do you want a big Athenian polis debating every single decision, otherwise you object that you are disenfranchised?

Look, you may want to argue on some principled basis that the Council should have put VOE in front of the voters. But it must be something about VOE specifically, not just random hand waving.

VOE was a major change and should have been voted on. But not because of the dollar amount.

However the largest csoting decisions like light rail, Transit Mall, convention center hotel,
and much of the larger UR should be voted on.

Of course the outcome of the vote should be sustained. Unlike the previous down votes on the convention center expansion and light rail.

The reason to avoid votes is not fear of having to "vote on every single decision".

That's the excuse to avoid the votes they don't think will get approved.


I do not feel the need to vote on every decision the council makes, lets not be infantile, we both know the mire that would cause. VOE does significantly change the way our city leaders are chosen. Im not on a mission to derail the VOE, but im sure many people see the irony of champions of VOE cheering that it did not make the ballot. And the utopian smack of VOE supporters telling me its being done in my best interest, this is perhaps the most painful aspect.

Paul --

No, I don't want to have the whole city vote on every council decision.

Hwever, the council itself, with VOE, set up a vote in 2010.

That is at best, wait, its flatly corrupt.

That allows all the incumbents if he want to pony up to the cash till at the city treasurer's office for welfare for pols and wannabes like Saint Amanda, , for several years, while giving the illusion of having direct citizen control of the decision. The councils hope is that in 4 years, folks will foret about the issue as the council wastes other money on other pet schemes.

If, in the council's view, its important enough to refer for citizen vote at some future date, its important enough refer to a citizen vote RIGHT NOW.

Just remember one thing:

The current council cannot bind a future council to bring forward a vote on VOE.

The vote in 2010 is at best a recommendation.


Revenue bonds are just moral pledges too, by the way.

PERS stuff, to the extent of cover for private investment loss, is at most a moral pledge too, by the way. The Portland Schools Foundation cannot and will not be able to find a way to blend this moral obligation into a Constitutional mandate that schools be "adequately" funded; without adding even more absurdity, and I say criminality, to the whole business of public service.

The legislative folks recently took pot shots at each other about passing a law that directed that percentage X or Y of the tax revenue must go to education. It would have absolutely zero force of law.

I do not think that any private party in a UR district can legally claim that they can lock-in, as a contract, favorable tax treatment if a future council, or even a court, desired to reapply uniform taxation across the board.

Shall I go on?

The hunt for snippets of the law that are "not arbitrary" seems to be the greater challenge today. The purpose for laws is not really to authorize government to do stuff but rather to restrain government through restraining the exercise of arbitrary power by government officials, by setting standards at a minimum that are reviewable by a court. VOE is all upside down, wholly without regard to whether it is the council or a public initiative that puts it on the law books. Its' entire premise is to license the assertion of arbitrary power because VOE is supposed to brand someone as a less evil person to fight the evilness of the evil ones, as they see fit without standards. Shall we be more tolerant of Mr. Sten's arbitrariness in office because he got public funds to speak more loudly than an opponent?

I must be evil to oppose VOE, by definition. See how it works?


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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: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
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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