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Thursday, January 3, 2008

And now, your moment of Zen

Comments (13)

Two fresh faces? Doesn't he expect Sam the Tram to win?

Is it all just a trial balloon?

As of 9:10 AM Mr. Sten had not yet submitted his formal resignation to the city's election officer.

There is a state statute (ORS 236.325) that appears to be applicable to resignations with a prospective effective future date. It provides in part:

"(5) A resignation is binding unless withdrawn in writing by the end of the third business day after the resignation is made."

The news item in WW does not constitute an effective resignation. Nor a YouTube posted video. (Or does it?) (Would Nixon's Checkers speech be on YouTube if made today, to explain his use of campaign funds and that he --too-- did not claim it as personal income but only for campaign expenses. You must listen to the full audio.)

I suppose we could all just wait until Mr. Sten is "absent for three consecutive meetings without permission of the council" for his position to be declared vacant. ORS 221.904. Then at that time the remaining council members could appoint a replacement member pending an election of another replacement. (Unless the Charter provides something different?)

The first opportunity for a vote for his replacement though looks like it should be November and not May. This would be consistent with providing the full opportunity for prospective publicly funded candidates to gather their signatures and fives. This would also mean that we would have an appointed council member from April through December of 2008.

"Notwithstanding any other provision of law" (ORS 236.325) "the vacancy shall be filled at the general election next following the effective date of the vacancy" (ORS 236.325(6)).

November not May?

-- Make Sten cover the full cost of public funding of campaigns to fill the position that he is vacating early . . . because he used public funding to obtain the position!

I got to thinking why Sten might be a little miffed at Jack's Blog. "Opie" is not exactly very respectful. As for Sten's departure: I'm all for it if it brings about less borrowing, taxing, and spending by city hall. Opie didn't seem to be the main pusher of big development projects although he supported them, and then there was his push to buy PGE for billions. Thankfully, PGE had some dirt on city hall to stop it from borrowing, taxing, spending and social engineering in a quantum leap. We've never heard whether this war is actually over. Randy Leonard spent hundreds of thousands of dollars getting a cursory review of the 2000-2001 western electric energy crisis. And for what? Angst, I tell you. Angst.

PDXNag: The City Charter does not provide for any means of appointing a replacement in the case of a vacancy. (There are some provisions regarding lines of succession in an emergency -- bureau heads, chiefs of staff, etc. -- but that's not applicable here.) The seat will be vacant until a successor is elected. The primary election must happen within 90 days of the date of resignation, and the run-off election (if necessary) 45 days after the primary. Sten's successor will only fill out the remainder of his term and have to run for reelection in 2010.

It's interesting to note that from April 1st until a successor is chosen (either early May or late June), Council will only have 4 members. Could be lots of 2-2 ties.

That's a very smart and insightful statement by Cmmr. Sten.

Since white and middle-aged are out, sounds like Serena Cruz Walsh (Sten protege) is about to stage a comeback with Opie by her side.

While Charter provision 2-206(b) specifies that the first of two possible special elections must be held within 90 days of a "vacancy" (the second, a run off, if needed, no less than 45 days after the first) it also provides this exemption: "unless the Council finds reasonable cause for delay beyond ninety (90) days."

Would it be safe to assume that "reasonable cause" could be to allow the full amount of time now presently allowed for participants in the publicly funded campaign scheme to have a meaningful opportunity to participate? The date of interest here is a function both of the anticipated "vacancy" and the date of the advance notice (binding notice as per state statute) of the planned resignation.

Assuming a maximum number of days of 250 (chosen by example from ORS 249.037) from the Sten notice -- presuming Sten formally tells the election officer by Friday and it becomes non-revocable by Wednesday next week -- would give us a date in mid-September. A runoff 45 days thereafter would be almost exactly on the same day as the general election.

If we assume that there will be a runoff, then we will have one with a special election following the May primary anyway. Or if we instead planned for an initial vote (special election) for a replacement in mid September then the runoff would coincide with the general election. The cost for the special election (one only) would be precisely the same. That is, there is no cost savings difference for the city for a Sten resignation today that pegs either April 1 versus any date between mid-June and the date that the General Election results are set to be certified.

The question then is why April 1 versus mid-June (a mere ten weeks), leaving a period of vacancy?

And why not the date that the General election results are set to be certified, leaving no period of vacancy? A planned vacancy that would also allow the full measure of participation in the publicly funded campaign scheme.

One can conclude that something more important than voter owned elections is at work here when Mr. Sten can't see fit to sit out ten more weeks of boredom/rigor on the Portland City Council.

Ten weeks more!

I picked up the WW and felt that Sten was making the most sense he has ever. I was almost moved to send him a note and wish him good luck. I don't agree that he's always owned up for the $40M Water Bureau disaster the way he claims to have, but he's right about too many City insiders screwing the pooch on City Council.

Anyway, I felt proud of Sten as I read the WW article until the very end with the Chavez Street comments. Sten said, "The process exposed a major rift between the emerging Latino communty and White Portland. The inability for two sides to hear each other was unbelievable.....(Latino) People were feeling like, 'I thought people wanted me here, but in fact they hate me.'" Sten paints the whole mess as a racial issue, saying it's "really scary" and "not good for this very white city."

The fact that Sten and his opportunistic cohorts on City Hall tried to ram something down the throats of a neighborhood that already felt slighted by the Rosa Parks renaming. People in North Portland took one shot for the purpose of diversity, but having City Hall blatantly disregard ordinances that were put in place to ensure residents have a fair say and disrespect a part of Portland history (Interstate Ave. in the Motor Age of America) was too much to take. North Portlanders are proud of their diversity and are very neighborly to each other. The racism accusation by Sten is shameful.

Sten becomes the sympathetic white guy playing the race card to deflect responsibility for his failure to abide by city code and provide any real facilitation of community involvement. Sort of like Adams and Saltzman and Leonard on the initial Tram approval. None of these career city insiders ever seem to make a mistake, it's always someone else's fault. I'm glad he's gone.

Another race card being played from a mansion in the Portland West Hills. Quite comical.

That's an interesting point, PDXNag. Either option would only require one special election, and the later election would allow candidates to use public financing. However, it does leave an open seat on Council for longer and with the current Council split, that could cause significant chaos.

Does anyone know why the public financing signature deadline for a regular election is January 31st, when the filing deadline for the primary isn't until March? If someone decides to jump in now, there's no way to gather 1,000 sigs and fives in less than a month.

Since white and middle-aged are out, how about OLD? It is about time this culture join the rest of the world and learn to respect the wisdom of age?

Serena and Maria did such a GREAT job as county commissioners, let's elect them again to the city council. If that happens, I will be convinced Portlanders have no learning curve.

Staggering an election serves to reduce chaos too, among the pool of candidates and the voting public alike. A later election for the vacant Sten position could be isolated to choosing a tie-breaker and/or settling a runoff or two in the general election for the other slots. The top, but rejected, candidates for the May election could try once again for the slot now filled by Sten. It is this competition that I think informs the judgment of Sten as to when to make his resignation effective.

A quorum requirement could be construed as creating chaos, but that is not a sufficient excuse to do away with it. Democracy has a lot to do with placing road blocks in front of our selected representatives so as to try to maximize the preservation of individual freedom. For example, an "activist judge" that uses a constitutional provision as authority to strike down a legislative/administrative act is just such a road block, not a maker of chaos. It is a feature not a bug. All the Bill of Rights could be construed as creating chaos, and no one could object to the validity of that argument . . . while simultaneously rejecting the result of seizing on that single point to the exclusion of all others.

The Charter does not preclude the selection of a temporary appointment; for which the state statutory position would support (much like the gap filling feature of the UCC for terms left out of some contract) and would leave the state (or unhappy elector) without much legal basis for objection. It is expressly temporary in statute (and in old case law resolving the definition of vacant) until the selection of a replacement via the electoral process is complete.

The Charter envisions the staggering of elections by having preset terms rather than merely X number of years from the date of an election of a council member. Honoring the spirit of this could at least be an argument ("reasonable cause") that one could raise in an objection to the chaos that is Sten's timing for the effective date of his change of heart about serving the public, as a duty rather than whimsy.

Another race card being played from a mansion in the Portland West Hills. Quite comical.

Posted by Jack Bog

Yep, $1.2M isn't a guarantee of entry-level "mansion" status anymore in much of the U.S. It's a pretty damn average home in San Francisco or Seattle. Nice, but not a mansion. In Portland, I think that $1M still gets you into "mansion" accomodations.

What Sten really illuminates is how a kid born to privilege, who's never had to really do what most Portlanders would consider a hard day's work (mmmm.... lot's of Beatles' puns coming to mind), views racism. He's never lived in a racially mixed environment, but he feels quite at liberty to judge the racial dynamics of a neighborhood he clearly feels himself economically separate from.

Let's face it... If Sten wanted to make the ultimate statement about racial harmony, he would have bought into a more mixed neighborhood. Instead he went from Piedmont to the West Hills. Now he wants to tell the people of N/NE that they have a racial problem.


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