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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 3, 2007 6:09 AM. The previous post in this blog was A math word problem in Portland. The next post in this blog is Bar bar bar, bar bar review. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The party's mostly over -- for now

The comedy that is Portland's "voter-owed elections" system -- taxpayer financing of local politicians' campaigns -- has probably now reached the zenith of its hilarity with the conviction of Vladimir Golovan on 10 felony counts. Yesterday's courtroom action provided a few climactic yuks, as reported by the O's Anna Griffin:

Jurors said they didn't buy the blackmail. But they also said they were not sure whether Boyles and Broussard, who testified that they were innocent victims of Golovan's maneuverings, were telling the truth either...

"Everybody was pretty slimy," Pastene said. "We all said that, of all the characters up there, Golovan was the most trustworthy at many times."

And of course, the joke writers left room for the sequel:

Public financing will continue in the 2008 election with a few tweaks....

Candidates will not, however, be required to show proof that they raised $5,000, or evidence that the money came from individual donors.

Meanwhile, Emilie Boyles is back in eastern Montana at her just above minimum wage TV job. She still owes Portland north of $100K. The city says it will stay in touch with her about collecting it. But unless the godfathers of "clean money," Sten and Blackmer, have figured out how to get blood from a turnip, there's not much to talk to her about.

Ironically, Golovan wasn't convicted of any crime in connection with the Boyles campaign -- he was found guilty only in connection with the campaign of Lucinda Tate, which actually didn't cost the city a dime. On the Boyles case, which is the one in which the city forked over the six figures in "clean money" based on fake signatures and contributions, indeed, no one's been held responsible.

Comments (12)

"Everybody was pretty slimy," Pastene said. "We all said that, of all the characters up there, Golovan was the most trustworthy at many times."

Well that about sums up Portland politicians, eh?

What is especially slimy about this expensive joke is that the voting public had absolutely opportunity to see if they even wanted "Voter Owned Elections". It was dumped on them by the "brains" at City Hall.

And who pushed this public feeding (please, let's not call it "voter owned elections), as it's more like "voter bowed elections". Every time I hear that phrase, I'm reminded of that great movie line:

"Bend Over".

"Pleased to meet you, Mr. Dover!"

Candidates will not, however, be required to show proof that they raised $5,000, or evidence that the money came from individual donors.

That's incorrect. Each donor will be required to sign an individual triplicate form, stating they gave $5 and understand what it means. The solicitor has to sign at the same time. The donor keeps one copy, the campaign the second, the third is submitted for verification. The form the donor signs specifies that they gave the money, and states the penalty for false signing - a huge fine or imprisonment, for the donor, if they didn't actually give the money without receiving anything in return.

Last time, donations were collected on forms with space for ten signatures (when I collected them - it changed to five, with more space for other information, later), and far less detail about what the $5 meant and/or the penalties for misuse. No receipts to donors were required the first time around. The way the form reads now, I think even some legitimate donors may have second thoughts about participating.

And, candidates will be required to file reports of donors and donations with the state on-line reporting system, within a few days of receiving each one. Last campaign, I voluntarily posted the number I'd received on my web site, starting with fewer than 200 when the site went up at the end of the first month. This time around, all candidates will be required to report how many they've collected, every week. So it will be obvious if someone suddenly dumps a few hundred donations into their total, and the public will be able to check the names and investigate.

Amanda, better tell Anna -- she still doesn't get it. From today's story/editorial:

To make sure that everyone involved knows what's expected -- $5 in cash, check or money order -- next time around, the city will require fundraisers to use a new form that includes only one signature per sheet and specific language about the need to include $5. The new form includes a copy for donors to keep as proof of their contributions.

Still, candidates won't be required to prove they raised $5,000 or that contributions came from 1,000 individuals.

Thanks for directing me to that article, Jack. I don't remember seeing a column with the label "Analysis" in the news part of the Metro section before. Seems like it belongs on the editorial page, or in the cutesy Thursday InPortland section.

Anna's final line is key: "That's a pretty good rate of return -- if you don't count the legal fees." (regarding solicitors profiting from ponying up the money themselves). Stealing money is always a good rate of return - if the thief doesn't get caught. The revised system makes it far more likely cheats will be caught, faster.

No system is free from all potential for abuse and evil. But at least with public financing, the deals can be examined under bright lights. Under the "traditional" system, the huge campaign contributions from wealthy individuals and corporations are reported, but the influence they buy within the Good Ol' Boys network is not so clear. Public Campaign Financing alone may not be able to fix that. But without campaign financing that may allow someone to be elected without kneeling before the rich and powerful, nobody outside the network has any realistic hope of changing the power structure in Portland.

The Portland politicians have always given receipts, Amanda. Look at the aerial tram.

With all due respect, Amanda, there's a big difference between giving someone a form that says, 'You gave $5, right?' and requiring candidates to show the city their bank statements.

The changes will certainly make it harder for a few individuals to perpetuate fraud, but they also certainly won't make it impossible.

The new form doesn't say, "You gave $5, right?" That's essentially what the forms used last time said. The new one says:

"I, the CONTRIBUTOR, UNDERSTAND AND AFFIRM THAT:
- I reside in the City of Portland;
- I have registered to vote;
- I have written all of my own personal information and signed my own name below;
- I have contributed $5 to the candidate (fill in name) _______________________________;
- I support allocation of public funds to this candidate;
- I have received nothing of value in return for my signature and contribution.
I ALSO DECLARE, UNDERSTAND AND AFFIRM THAT THE ABOVE STATEMENTS ARE TRUE AND SUBJECT TO PENALTY FOR PERJURY, A CLASS C FELONY PUNISHABLE UP TO 5 YEARS IN JAIL AND A $125,000 FINE.
Note to contributor: you may NOT sign this form on behalf of a family member or friend."

Emphasis in original. I think that's pretty clear, don't you? And more than a little intimidating, actually. Then the campaign is required to file the record of the person's donation with the state on-line reporting system, I think within a week of receiving it. So you or anyone else, Anna, can go to the supposed donors immediately, and ask if they did give the money. A lot more easily than most people could go to Mr. CEO and ask, "So, what promise did you get in return for your $10,000 donation to Candidate X?"

The rough, tough language where the donor is supposed to sign wouldn't have helped in the Tate and Boyles cases -- there, the real people didn't sign anything. Only the crook signed!

What is the language under which the solicitor signs?

I do agree that the new "system" is better than the old, but that's what they call damning with faint praise. And someone will check the signatures -- how revolutionary!

On the same triplicate form, the solicitor signs the following and gives one copy to the donor, one to the campaign, one to the City:

"I, THE UNDERSIGNED SOLICITOR, AFFIRM UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY THAT I WITNESSED THE SIGNATURE AND RECEIVED A $5 QUALIFYING CONTRIBUTION FROM THE PERSON NAMED ABOVE,AND GAVE NOTHING OF VALUE IN RETURN. I HEREBY DECLARE THAT THE STATEMENTS MADE BY THE CONTRIBUTOR ABOVE ARE TRUE, TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE AND BELIEF.

SOLICITOR’S NAME: _________________________________________________________________
ADDRESS: __________________________________________________________________________
Address City State Zip
___________________________________ ____________________________________
signature of solicitor date
RECEIVED (circle one) $5 cash $5 check $5 money order"

I'll be writing a commentary on the Golovan trial on my blog, whenever I can stomach it. But the bottom line is, the candidate is responsible for making sure the donations are collected properly. The rules, even last time, were very clear on that. I can understand why Golovan wasn't convicted for what he did on the Boyles campaign; what is much less clear is why she wasn't and apparently won't be on trial.

Amanda, I think we agree that Boyles and the city knew/knows that candidate Boyles did not file proper forms from contributors; and as you state the "candidate is responsible" for proper collection. That being fact then why is not the DA and the city "voter owned" staff not pursuing Boyles or any of the other
candidates that not not follow the rules? Why in the heck in this city can't we get enforcement and stop giving the excuse "hard to prove". We need accountability and it's cost should not be a major consideration because the city has lost respect with the taxpayers and voters.


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