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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 10, 2006 8:57 PM. The previous post in this blog was Is there an echo in here?. The next post in this blog is Emilie Boyles's "clean money" -- it's half gone. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Where those "clean" tax dollars are going

Well, it's that time again. The candidates for municipal office in Portland have reported on where their campaign money is coming from, and where it's going. For politics fans in town, it's a field day. Betsy over at Metroblogging Portland has picked up a couple of interesting things out of Emilie Boyles's expenditures -- including $15,000 paid to Vladimir Golovan, whose antics crashed her campaign -- and so we'll start elsewhere.

How about the godfather of "clean money" himself, incumbent Erik Sten? We already know where his "seed money" has been coming from. But what has he been blowing the taxpayers' dime on?

$10,600 to Grove Insight for polling. How much does it cost to find out that every pet project you've pushed for 10 years is now a liability?

$2,400 to Mandate Media for web services. This, of course, is the outfit run by Kari Chisholm, host of BlueOregon, where Portland "progressives" gather 'round the Kool-Aid and get defensive about Sten.

$2,033 to an advertising outfit in Omaha, Nebraska. What, he didn't use a Portland firm, like Gard & Gerber?

Just over $5,600 to C&E Systems to deal with the accounting and reporting hassles that come with being a political candidate in Portland.

And yes, the jugglers at his kickoff event did indeed juggle for free.

Actually, it could have been much worse. Still, pardon the broken record, but I don't think the average Joe out there in town should have paid for any of it before getting a chance to vote on the prospect.

Comments (32)

I'm doing "clean money" first. I care more about what I'm paying for than what the Goldschmidt folks are paying for -- they can more easily afford it.

I hope Mr. Sten and Ms. Fritz are prepared to return their money in the event of unforeseen, or foreseen, events.

Ron, your interplanetary musings often distract from the true issues.

8c)

Damn, I should get into polling. Or maybe bookkeeping.

He he! I think signature gathering among the Slavic community is much more lucrative.

But not sustainable :-)

Whether the citizens vote on it or whether it is passed by the city council is irrelevant to its' force of law. (The M37 case may be fresh on some people's mind to clarify that a legislative act and that of an initiative are identical for purposes of examining the validity of a statute, and the same for a city code provision as here.)

I did file to put my name on the ballot for the auditor slot and Mr. Blackmer's unique claim to a placement on the ballot is not based on merit or ethics that are amenable to review and oversight by a state board in Oregon in like manner to CPAs, but membership in a private out-of-state outfit with some non-US-citizen board members.

I did also file to be allowed to gather the signatures and the five dollar donations. I can gain standing on the issue of clean money and attack the validity of the scheme based on state law grounds and free speech with an eye toward voiding the delivery of money to anyone. Were I in the position of the auditor I could take a position that the present city code is not lawful, and so too could Mr Blackmer.

The adversarial position of both Mr. Sten and Mr. Blackmer would be problematic. Ms. Fritz would also be in an awkward position.

If they have spent their money and are ordered by a court to return it then this surely is game for discussion.

Earlier argument here and here.

Jack, this statement: I'm doing "clean money" first. I care more about what I'm paying for than what the Goldschmidt folks are paying for -- they can more easily afford it.
seems hypocritical for one who blogs incessantly about the incestuous and damaging impact that the "Goldschmidt" folks have had on this town.

The VOE folks would say that, even with warts, VOE is better than the "dirty money" of the past. What's your reply to that? Tossing rocks at Emilie Boyles is child's play. She's clearly an idiot and probably corrupt as well.

How would you fix the system?

I'm certainly not conceding it's a better system. Look at what's happened so far -- Sten has more money to play with than either Burdick or Lister, maybe more than both combined. And only one other candidate qualified for funding. She herself admits she would have run anyway.

I'm not sure it's worth it.

Assuming that it's a valid concept, the current comedy act needs a complete overhaul. First and foremost, it can't be funded out of property taxes. It needs to be made voluntary, as with a tax checkoff system, or at least clearly financed in a way that provides a complete firewall to property taxes.

Qualifying $5 contributions need to be restricted to check, money order, credit card, or some other method that provides a clear paper trail to the real donor. Only those whose signatures can be verified should be eligible to donate -- if that means only registered voters, fine. Maybe driver's license signatures could also be used.

There should be no exception to the $5 rule for "seed" money.

And most importantly, the system needs to be put up for a popular vote before it takes effect. But of course, that would kill it. As much as the "clean money" people deny it, they know it will go down in flames. Voters don't think tax dollars should be used to finance political campaigns. I'm sure Sten has a poll that clearly shows that, but you'll never see it.

I can't help but note that the Oregonian reports Amanda Fritz spending $15,000...just a little over what Emilie Boyles has paid her 16-year-old daughter to date.

Amanda's a very, very viable candidate, who worked damned hard at following the rules. (And, Jack, even if Amanda had run anyway --which I'm not sure is the case-- Saltzman would've been able to run with no limit on his campaign contributions...and with his flip-flop on the tram, there would be a lot of well-heeled developers feeling very generous.)

I do feel extremely frustrated over the lackadaisical attitude represented by the "investigation" of the perceived fraud of Boyles and company. We're going to let them spend the money unobstructed, with an investigation sorta kinda happening somewhere? Maybe? Yeah, the citizens will get it back from Emilie, if she's found guilty, with 12% interest? She'll be taking out a Payday Loan I suppose.

Walk out a bank after a hold-up, and caught red-handed, the police don't let you hang onto the money until your day in court. There needs to be a mechanism in this system --if its to remain viable, as I think it could-- that lets the City step in and freeze the assets of the campaign when there is readily apparent fraud.

In looking at Amanda's expenses, I see a lot of EFTs to Paychex, classified as wages, salaries, and benefits... While it is probably good that she is using a company to do payroll, so taxes are properly paid, etc. It would be nice to know who all those payments are going to. I, also, think it is interesting she has bought insurance, but hasn't appeared to buy any assets like computers, etc..

I'll have to spend some more time looking through all of these..


Chris,

On your Blueoregon article, why don't you mention Saltzman is getting his money from the same type cast of characters and Sten's seed money while you are at it.

Remember the Fox News motto, fair and balanced, it goes both ways.

Michael,

If you looked at the C&E for Amanda's campaign, you probably noticed the handwritten corrections made on the Paychex entries. Paychex is the company that manages our payroll and ensures taxes are paid ontime and that all paperwork is done accurately. I originally thought I needed to itemize each payment made by Paychex, but was told by the SOS Election division that it was not necessary and the "A" code was not the correct code for a payroll service.

However, we have nothing to hide and are glad to give more details on request. Therefore, the employees we paid through Paychex are: Nathaniel Applefield, Kelvin Hall, Adrienne Hill, Rita Oviatt, Kelly Thoen, and Bill Michtom, none of whom had any connection to Amanda Fritz prior to her campaign for City Council.

The insurance payment listed on the form was a requirement of our office lease, for liability indemnity. The campaign has purchased no computer or office equipment.

On your Blueoregon article, why don't you mention Saltzman is getting his money from the same type cast of characters and Sten's seed money while you are at it.

Undeniably true (and I've already given Erik's campaign a piece of my mind about it), but the denominations are $500 and $100, not $10,000 and $5,000, which I believe is still a HUGE step forward.

Although, it is probably obvious, I failed to state above that I am the treasurer for the Amanda Fritz campaign.

"Saltzman would've been able to run with no limit on his campaign contributions...and with his flip-flop on the tram, there would be a lot of well-heeled developers feeling very generous."

Right on Frank Dufay! Did anybody read the Oregonian article where Saltzman states that his new-found willingness to have the city cover the "unexpected" millions in new tram costs is the "right" thing to do even though "harmful to my campaign"?

Nice spin, Saltzman! Harmful, but appreciated by certain huge donors.

Uhhh... Erik Sten spent money on polling, web services, advertising and accounting...

Outrageous! None of his opponents spent cash on such foolish frivolties... or if they did, we'll read about it here, right?

Jack,

Nice response. I'm with you on everything but the public vote. I'm a fan of legislatures, representation,and responsibility. If we don't like VOE, vote out the incumbents and have the new Council change the system.

We're already in deep trouble (in my opinion) in Oregon by sending everything to the electorate.

I just want to remind people that all this hubbub over campaign expenditures would not be possible without a very open reporting system where we can actually *see* the expenditures.

Browse on over to the FEC and look at some congressional campaign spending reports. There is lots and lots of wasteful spending that takes place in campaigns.

It's the nature of the business--trying to inform and educate hundreds of thousands of citizens in a month takes money, money, money.

By the way, I'm being just as hard on Chris over at BlueOregon.

Paul,

let me get this straight:

We can't trust the voters to decide whether VOE is a good idea, but we can trust them to select a politician who can make that decision for them?

Is that really your position?

You don't like some of the decisions made by voters, so you'd prefer they have less authority with respect to important government decisions.

How progressive of you.

No campaign contribution limits.
No VOE BS.
Easily accessed, detailed disclosure of contributions.
Independent audits of compliance with above.
Harsh penalties for violations of disclosure laws.

If voters are too stupid to figure it out, then they get the government they deserve. (QED)

I, for one, don't need progressives' protection from the "confusion" of the real world of politics. Everyone who tries to 'splain it to you has an agenda; especially those who are trying to "help" you.

Help yourselves!

Tim: However, we have nothing to hide and are glad to give more details on request.

Tim, thank you very much for taking the time to come over here and answer questions. I assumed that you were using Paychex to make your life easier, as well as the employees of Amanda's campaign. I think that was a very good choice.

The only thing that seems a little weird to me, is that in addition to the Paychex, there are checks written directly to some of those people, again classified as Wages.

Also, do I understand the report correctly that some things are sort of double listed? (Once showing the expense itself, and the other showing who personally paid for it.) For example a 3/13 personal re-imbursement of $5693 to Patriot Signage appears to match to a check made out to yourself on 3/20. I have a feeling I have seen a lot of the signs that that $5693 paid for. :-)

Chris-

Thanks for your post acknowledging the issue,

To follow up here is a copy of Ryan's City Hall Weblog,

You will note Salztman and Ginny are on the same endorsement "list"

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

PBA Endorsements
If you read the campaign finance reports, there's no surprises here. The Portland Business Alliance came out with endorsements today:

The Portland Business Alliance Board of Directors on Tuesday voted to
endorse candidates for a number of local elections. This endorsements
are as follows:

Multnomah County Chair: Ted Wheeler

City Commissioner (Public Works): Ginny Burdick

City Commissioner (Public Affairs): Dan Saltzman

Metro District 1: Rod Park

Metro President: David Bragdon

-- Ryan

Pancho -- I think the point Paul is trying to make isn't about voter trust, it's about whether or not the voters should vote on every government decision, or whether we should allow our representatives to make those decisions and then cast a ballot for or against that representative given the totality of their votes.

America was founded as a representative democracy. Oregon is leading the country in the move towards direct democracy. That has some serious costs, not least of which is that the "majority" often holds views that conflict with one another. A majority will vote to cut its taxes at the same time it votes to increase the number of state police and invest more in Oregon's higher education system. Individual votes on every issue will lead to a nightmare of conflicting statutes.

And yes, some of my opposition to direct democracy also is a result of the ignorance of large swaths of the public. When surveys show that less than 50% of Americans recognize the First Amendment when read to them, can name the President and Vice President, or can name all three branches of government, I have serious doubts about their ability to decide complex issues of public policy.

Just to be clear, I personally think public financing of elections is the perfect issue FOR a public vote, and I hope it gets one. But the larger point you made about voters being able to vote on every important government decision is, well, un-American.

Michael,

Those were salary/wage advances.

Form 3a lists the specifics of the reimbursement checks, in this case one to Nathaniel Applefield and one to yours truly for yardsigns that I put on my personal credit card.

Miles,

I don't think anyone advocated "...voters should vote on every government decision...". I think the point is that elitism, of the type that your comment demonstrates, has no bounds. Your statement: "I have serious doubts about their ability to decide complex issues of public policy" betrays the implicit prejudgement you use to support your point.

What's next? Only landholders can vote? Only college grads? Only white people?

Pancho,

Yes, that is my position, the same position taken by the Founding fathers, by most scholars and political philosophers.

I assume you mean the 19th century progressive, the same movement that, along with its many attractive features, included moralistic crusaders, religious zealots, and anti-immigrant groups?

Or do you mean that "liberals" or "progressives" must automatically assume that the mass public is best positioned to decide the complex issues of public policy?

I don't see that as progressive at all. That's populist perhaps. As well as being fundamentally wrong-headed. We don't have a direct democracy, and for good reason. We live in a republic.

You don't like VOE. Vote out the folks that voted for it.

rickynagg: easy reply. Everyone gets to vote. For candidates. That's it. There are the bounds, plain and simple. What's the problem?

Wow. It's startling to see a progressive wrapping himself in the federalist papers these days.

As if Jefferson and Madison would have approved of elected officials passing a law allowing them to draw their campaign funds from the public treasury but would have vehemently opposed allowing voters to decide if such were prudent.

Cut the cr@p.

You're an elitist who wants to have it both ways. Time to own up.

I'm sure that you help clamor for the registration of every 18-20 y/o MTV wastoid as a new voter because you think it will help get your favored candidates elected.

But you're also bothered that after all that effort by celebrities and rock stars to convince them that your soundbite candidates are "cool", those neophyte voters will also have the chance to weigh in on real public policy issues somewhere farther down the ballot.

The solution: remove the important decisions and let them vote for Leonardo DiCaprio's favorite candidate.

Introducing DemocracyLite. All the hip kids are drinking it.

The problem, Paul, is the lack of checks and balances. As Pancho asserts, and as the current mayor and city council demonstrate almost daily, organized, well-funded special interest groups can get almost anyone elected. It's the way we got Erik Sten, for example. How is the public served by suffering the vagaries of government by the obviously unqualified? Does it teach them a lesson? Is that the way the system works? Doesn't the same power vested in the citizens to elect representatives imply the right to change their minds - or to express their will at any time? The built-in inertia of representative democracy does serve a purpose - to help prevent anarchy. I don't think that's what's at stake here, do you? Besides, the Portland's weak mayor/city council system is as much an administrative as a legislative entity and, as such, doesn't really fit your "founding fathers" analogy.

As for Portland's city government, I agree with you that...

"I have serious doubts about their ability to decide complex issues of public policy."

and

"Just to be clear, I personally think public financing of elections is the perfect issue FOR a public vote, and I hope it gets one."

Interesting to see that your measure of the legitimacy of direct democracy is flexible when it comes to your personal judgements.

Government of the me, by the me and for the me.

Sorry, Abe.

I think this thread is dying, but . . .

Ricky, I think you are confusing my comments with Paul's. Regarding the public's ability to decide complex issues, do you think they have that ability? You accuse me of being elitist, but I view it as being honest. I am continually shocked by the level of ignorance about public affairs that exists amongst even well-educated people. If acknowledging that truth makes me elitist, so be it, but I'm curious why you think voters have either the time or expertise to weigh in on tax policy, economic development, health care, law enforcement, and all the myriad other issues that our elected officials must deal with. Isn't that what we pay them to do?

Do you ever wonder why Oregon's legislators seem even worse than the generally low bar set for state legislators? At least part of the reason is that in Oregon they don't have to solve the most pressing problems because someone will come along with an (often poorly written) intiative that solves it for them. Other states don't have that luxury. And even when Oregon legislators step up and make a hard decision, it gets referred to the voters. So they focus on their pet projects instead of doing the hard work required. And maybe you disagree, but I have a hard time seeing how the dozens of often conflicting initiatives passed in this state over the last 20 years have done us much good.

And finally, my belief that VOE should be voted on by the public doesn't have anything to do with my personal views on it. . . I support it, and it will almost certainly be repealed, so a vote is not in my best interest. It's because I believe there are some issues where it is appropriate for a popular vote. Changing the election process is one of them, and certainly the introduction of public financing is something the public should decide.

But the larger point is that we need politicians who spend the time understanding complex issues and doing what they think is right, not just what they think is popular. If we don't like what they do, we vote them out the next time and try again.

The public's ability to decide complex issues depends upon variables that are impossible to predict. Anyone who presumes to judge that ability arrogates undemocratic power. The public's right to decide them is basic. I also wonder whether your assessment of the quality of state legislators confuses cause and effect. As for the net effect of the system of I&R's, it all depends on how one has been affected - we probably disagree there - but I can't help wondering whether, if state government had been controlled by R's for the past couple of decades, you be singing a different tune.

At the federal level, I agree with you regarding the necessity for professional (in a good sense) politicians. At lower levels, especially the city level, I think "professional" politicians are a curse.

City government IS the place for direct democracy - that's where this dying thread started - representative government becomes more necessary and desireable at the state level. Even then, democracy is not so ungainly as to preclude initiatives and referenda as outlets for the popular will.

One too many.

Otherwise "...you WOULD be singing a different tune." and I'd be able to spell desirable.


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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: 212
At this date last year: 60
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


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