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Monday, May 15, 2006

Election Eve

As I pulled up in front of the Multnomah County Elections office today to drop our ballots into the collection boxes there, two figures caught my eye. On one corner, a sheriiff's deputy -- is she there every election, or only when her boss is on the ballot? And on the other, somebody dressed vaguely like Uncle Sam -- something told me not to explore too much further than that.

On the car radio, Lars was blathering about the low turnout, and his wife's kidney stones. At this point in the campaign, the stones have become somewhat more interesting.

By this time tomorrow night, we'll know where things stand. Something tells me we're in for more years of mediocrity in government around here. The old boys appear to have most of it wired. Good for blogging, but bad for living.

Comments (41)

And did you wave as you passed SE 15th and Belmont?

Didn't get that far east. Didn't dare -- it was a hellish midday on the roads. A crazy, fatal accident on the Banfield had everything screwed up. Then a motorcyclist bit it at Fremont and 70th. Good day to be on a lounge chair somewhere with some Mount Angel strawberries and Meyer lemonade.

I've seen deputies guarding the boxes before...

Yeah, I think that's for all the elections. They were around doing it in 2000 before she was the Chair. People listen to someone in a uniform when the crowd gets to big or the traffic needs to shift and what not.

By "her boss," I meant Bernie.

Speaking of Bernie, I met Paul van Orden yesterday. Apparently he was all over town with his bicycle pulling a small cart with campaign signs. He was very nice and sincere. I was happy to be able to tell him that I wrote him in - there is no way I could vote for Bernie.

It'll be really interesting to see how Van Orden does. Twenty percent? Higher? Or is that crazy talk?

We just had an election here (Newark)and finally we were rid of a mayor of 20 years with a new and hopefully dynamic Mayor, Cory Booker!

If I hadn't had two jokes on the Tonight Show last night, I'd be tempted to go after our favorite local chicken hawk. It would be something along the lines of, "At least someone in the family has some stones." Fortunately, I have way too much class for that.
The first joke got a medium reaction: President Bush's approval rating is so low, that Barbara Bush wouldn't take his call on Mother's Day.
Here's the second joke: West Wing is over but NBC isn't worried. They've got a show that's even closer to the real president: My Name Is Earl.
That one rocked the house.

Good Job, Bill M. Speaking of politics as usual, check out Steve Duin's column today. He can't really believe that, can he?

Yea Cynthia,

Kind of reminds me or Renee Mitchel's article a while back. Just makes one wonder even more about the O and who is pulling the strings, we just saw "Thank You for Not Smoking" last night, a good flick that kind of explains we all gotta pay the mortgage, and put the kids through college. I wish we lived in a place where we didn't have to sell our souls to do it.

Seems like journalists would want their kids to grow up thinking their parents had integrity, even if they didn't end up at prestigious private universities. Looks to me like Duin is projecting his own inferiority complex onto anyone who challenges Homer. If the press started funtioning as the true fourth estate, I think newspaper circulation would increase.

I know everyone here is anti-Homer, but I get where Duin is coming from. Sometimes you wonder about 'access' and what it costs, but at least someone in the private sector has stepped up to create economic activity near the city core. Portland isn't anti-business, it's anti-change.

Here's the second joke: West Wing is over but NBC isn't worried. They've got a show that's even closer to the real president: My Name Is Earl.

With Earl's brother Randy serving as the model for Dubya.

I think Portland is in favor of wise planned change that doesn't deplete basic services or threaten bankruptcy. This notion of Homer as the progressive visionary change agent is worn out imho. There is a difference between being pro-business and pro-Homer. A lot of it has to do with healthy competition. When a cabal of developers and other assorted "good olds" has the market sewed up with the CoP's help, we don't have a healthy competitive business climate

Oh please TK, Homer may take risks, but the fact he's so well connected with the Portland 'elite' reduces his risk substantially.

Never forget, SoWa could have easily been privately paid for if it wasn't for Homer's minions; Katz and Sten.

I'm still watching here for endorsements:

I'm sure they'll come in one big surge.

She lists Frank Lloyd Wright as one of her heros. She should follow his advice about 'Less is more." (rimshot).

We can only hope that the incumbents all remain in office to continue the good public-private partnerships Homer has championed.

Through creative agreements and Urban Renewal
the city has been riding Homer's wave of progress while investing in the future.

As the Tram and South Waterfront become the envy of all other large cities perhaps some component can be named after Homer or Vera.

In just a few short years, after the public investment debt is retired South Waterfront property taxes will provide a windfall for basic services for years to come.

This model of planning, including affordable housing, green building practices, transit oriented development, parks and a river front environmental friendly greenway will be home to Portlanders of nearly all income and societal levels. With OHSU research jobs, retail, restaurants, commercial space, offices and condos all within walking distance, life will be good.

Thank you, Homer, for your vision.

TK: I know everyone here is anti-Homer, but I get where Duin is coming from. Sometimes you wonder about 'access' and what it costs, but at least someone in the private sector has stepped up to create economic activity near the city core. Portland isn't anti-business, it's anti-change.
JK: Where do you get that stuff? The owners of the SoWhat were STOPPED BY THE CITY from developing their own land into a medium density neighborhood that would be PAYING TAXES NOW, instead of draining city services for decades.

Instead the city is giving millions to a project promoted by a guy that “agreed to what amounted to a lifetime ban on serving as a savings and loan officer or director� and whose “partner in the South Waterfront venture, Thorndike "Dike" Dame, had been convicted of bank fraud in 1988� (JEFF MANNING, Oregonian, 10/24/03).

Then there’s this little gem:
Developer Homer Williams is the driving force behind South Waterfront. In July 2005, his firm North Macadam Investors bought two blocks of bare land south of the condominium towers rising from the ground today. Pacific N.W. Properties sold the parcels, known as Block 46 and Block 49, for $3.1 million.

Nine months later, as part of the latest funding deal, the PDC agreed to pay $5 million for Block 49 -- about 40 percent of the total parcels, county property records show. The PDC also will clean up petroleum contamination, which it estimates could cost $100,000. Further, the city has agreed to make Williams' company the developer of the affordable housing envisioned at the site rather than open the project to
competitive bids.
The Oregonian, Sunday, May 14, 2006 RYAN FRANK and JEFF MANNING

In my opinion, it is not about business friendly, it is about favoritism. Maybe even corruption.

Now the city is about to pump another $69 million into the SoWhat. There will be much more.

JK (who receives no income form city planning, city policy, city projects or smart growth

Steve S' new persona: "Stepford Steve"

Police State?

Steve S' new persona: "Stepford Steve"

I think its a very effective strategy. Pretend to drink the Kool-aid, parrot the party line, and the humor is almost overwhelming.

Looking at the election result updates...the only "anti-establishment" candidate to apparently make it past the primary is the longest-serving city council white-guy who got seed money from Homer Williams. And public financing for his campaign from Voter Owned Elections. (And I'll be voting for him in a nano-second over Ginny Burdick!)

Can we spell i-r-o-n-i-c?

Frank Dufay(And I'll be voting for him in a nano-second over Ginny Burdick!)
JK: No need to.

Sten passed 50% in the 4:38AM update. Voter owned elections worked just as intended - the incumbent is guaranteed to win because it requires a lot of extra money to oust and incumbent. Unless he is a total screw up.

Updates can be found here:

Frank Dufay Can we spell i-r-o-n-i-c?

JK: Can we spell s-c-r-e-w-e-d a-g-a-i-n?

Anyone for a term limits campaign?

How about a borrowing limit?



Voter owned elections changed NOTHING!

Five white guys WHO CANNOT BE DEFEATED without a strong challenger that is able to outspend them in order to overcome the natural advantages of incumbency.

VOE is a "status quo" straw man, because spending parity is the death knell of any challenger running against an incumbent.

VOE is a "status quo" straw man, because spending parity is the death knell of any challenger running against an incumbent.

And in the case of Sten, if a privately-funded opponent of a VOE candidate goes over the $150K limit, the VOE candidate can just take out more VOE money to meet that spending level. It's a total joke. Politicians simply will not institute a system that does not give them a built-in advantage--expecting otherwise is the height of naiivetee.

VOE may have some wrinkles to iron out but who better to do the ironing than Commissioner Sten.

This proven innovator and problem solver, if given the nod in November, will be on the job for four more years.

Time enough to fix VOE, move more homeless off the streets, deliver affordable housing to South Waterfront, guide more stunning public-private partnerships and graciously accept accolades for the Tram's triggering & zipping magnificence.

Late Tuesday, Lister said he was supporting Sten over Burdick if there's a runoff because he thinks the incumbents stand for something -- while Burdick's candidacy is a creation of the Portland Business Alliance.

OMG. It seems that Steve may not be the only one to have gone symptomatic. How unfortunate to be among the 1 in 4 of us who exhibit outward manifestations of the Sten-Blackmer Virus.

You remember this pathogen. Anyone who spends time or money in CoP becomes infected although 3 out of 4 are carriers only. In the presence of any trace of negativity, the S-BV undergoes a slight mutation in order to maintain immunity. Then, in its imperceptibly-altered but still-contagious "What, Me Worry?" way, the virus subsumes the host. Thus former critics are reduced to sycophants.

The experts continue feverish research for an antidote. Listerine looked viable there, but did not quite pan out. However, there is emerging evidence that the Sten-Blackmer Virus can go into remission in conditions like these, once a "crescendo threshold threat event" has receded. We can only hope.

I don't understand the anti-VOE line of reasoning that the system grants more favor to incumbants than they already enjoy. In one commissioner race the VOE incumbant handily beat the VOE and non-VOE challengers. In another race, the non-VOE incumbant trounced the VOE and non-VOE challengers by an even wider margin. Incumbants have the upper hand... Who knew?

Please connect the dots for me that this makes a case one way or the other because I don't see it.

Ramon, first time funny, second time silly, third time...

Well, hate to break it to ya, kids, but the latest (but not final) MultCo returns show Sten above 50 percent.

Erik Sten . . .49,725 50.52%

That's great!
Now the council can get back to work and hopefully approve additional funding for the $75 million linchpin Tram and other investments in South Waterfront.
Perhaps the Trammel Crow tax abatement for affordable housing in their planned luxury apartment tower will resurface for approval.

All of which are heavily supported by Homer and PDC's Bruce Warner.

This election shows what an asset it is for the city to have such predictability.

This outcome will immediatly stimulate other plans including the Convention Center Hotel.

Boo hoo, Sten's gonna win. For all the b**chin' in here from folks who seem to know who's who in local politics, next time find and back a worthy challenger with wide appeal. Until then, an incumbant like Sten is gonna look like a better option to most voters... Portland or otherwise.

Frank, I agree with you that SS's stategy is ironic and effective.
He points out that we are living in Stepford. Nice-nice, but not real. I have no problem spelling "ironic".

You mean a transparently engineered challenge cooked up by an out-of-touch business elite which manifested itself in negative ads on lite-jazz radio didn't pull though? I thought this was America!

exactly my point...

Clay, let me connect the dots:

Incumbents have tremendous name recognition, TV/press visibility, and a natural constituency of people they have met/worked with while "just doing their job". Plus, their work day activities frequently look a whole lot like campaigning, except they're still on the City's payroll.

Challengers generally have to neglect their F/T employment (thereby reducing their income) to campaign, find it nearly impossible to attract TV/press coverage, and any name recognition was generated doing something else (i.e. neighborhood activist, consultant, small biz owner, etc.).

One method that successful challengers may employ to raise their visibility is to buy TV/radio exposure. This method is very expensive compared to lawn signs, volunteer phone calls/canvassing, and neighborhood coffees.

If you are precluded by the VOE ordinance from spending more than the incumbent, it creates a Catch 22 paradox: you need to spend a lot of money to raise your public profile; yet the VOE ordinance has a hard cap on how much you can spend.


Dots connected.


The VOE rules in no way limit the amount that non-participants can spend or receive. There is no hard cap.

Do you think Erik Sten would have had access to more or less campaign money if he had opted not to participate in VOE? How about Amanda Fritz?

I am unable to predict who would have raised more money if neither particpated in taxpayer funded elections.

I can tell you that it is nearly impossible to defeat an incumbent (at any level of government) without outspending the incumbent.

If the objective of the VOE ordinance was to increase the applicant pool, and decrease the incumbent retention rate, term limits achieve both objectives.

In point of fact, the incumbents would never have voted in favor of any ordinance that would have diminished their own job security or tenure.

I amazed that so many intelligent people can't understand this simple fact.

If the advantage to incumbants is so clear and those who voted on the issue (i.e. incumbants) are powerless to vote in a fashion that goes against immediate self-interest, then why wasn't the vote unanimous? And why didn't all of the incumbants take advantage of VOE funding?

But even supposing that the adoption of VOE represents the pursuit of pure self-interest on the part of those who voted for it, I strongly prefer those whose sense of self-preservation benefits from receiving guaranteed and impartial funding rather instead of requiring obeisance to corporate masters.


All of the incumbents (except Erik Sten) recognized the inherent conflict of interest in voting themselves as much as $350,000 in taxpayer funding.

Dan Saltzman refused to take VOE funds on this basis, and Randy Leonard, Sam Adams, and Tom Potter have all publicy stated they would do the same.

It is naive to suggest that any politician would support campaign finance reform that is likely to result in their own demise. That's why term limits are uniformly the result of voter initiatives, rather than legislative passage.

If your goal is to keep the current roster of City Commissioners in office until they choose to step down, then VOE should be considered a huge success. If your goal is to make the transition from City Commissioner to Mayor an easier fundraising task, then Mission Accomplished.

VOE will do nothing to level the playing field or make local elections more competitive.

If public funding of campaigns is such a fine idea, why not pay each voter $5 cash upon submission of their ballot. Or how using postage paid envelopes for all Vote by Mail elections? I'm not certain it would help the incumbents as much as VOE funding, but at least voter turnout would increase.

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