All the self-righteous preaching about Portland's new "clean money" system -- taxpayer financing of politicians' campaigns -- cracks me up. It's going to get the City Council out from under the thumbs of the moneyed interests, it's going to bring all sorts of new blood into local politics, yada yada yada.
Where's all the new blood? What we got this first time around was Amanda Fritz, who's a brilliant politician and probably would have run for something eventually anyway; and Emilie Boyles, whose point I am having a hard time figuring out.
Oh, and Erik Sten gets a free ride for his re-election campaign -- no having to spend time dialing for dollars. For this we take $750,000 or more out of the city's till this year.
The whole selling point about levelling the playing field is also starting to smell a little fishy to me. Only the little people will contribute, it's said, and they'll give only $5 apiece. Too bad, fat cats. You're out.
Well, not exactly.
I was just leafing through Sten's most recent campaign contributions report (a big file -- takes a while to load), and gee whiz, in addition to all those moms, pops and toddlers coughing up their five-spots, there is an interesting cast of characters way in the back who each gave Our Boy Erik $100 of "seed money."
Oh what a list it is, including:
Robert D. Ball, real estate investor $100
Page 295 (the trifecta page)
Thomas Walsh, contractor $100
Joseph Weston, real estate investor $100
Homer Williams, developer $100
James Winkler, developer $100
Serena Cruz Walsh, county commissioner $100
Douglas Obletz, real estate developer $100
"Voter-owned elections"? I don't know. It looks to me like a lot of the usual suspects are lining up to kiss up. It's just a lot cheaper now that they have you and me paying for the junk mail and push polls. Great idea, Opie!