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Thursday, February 28, 2008

"Clean money" tab for May: $841,254 and counting

The cost of taxpayer handouts for the campaigns of the politicians running for two Portland City Council seats in the May primary now stands at $841,254. The current tale of the tape is here. And that is not counting a couple of additional items that could raise the total public payout for this spring's municipal campaigns well over $1 million.

Additional Item 1 is mayoral candidate Sho Dozono. If he doesn't somehow pull himself out (or get kicked out) of the "voter-owed election" pool, or otherwise self-destruct, will likely get close to another $200,000.

Additional Item 2 is the extra bill that the taxpayers will get handed if the "unclean" candidates in various races raise more money than the "clean" ones are initially awarded. Unless the city has changed these rules on the fly (which seems to be an almost daily occurrence), if "dirty money" folks raise more than the "clean money" allotment, the taxpayers get to match the excess for each "clean money" candidate in that race. So far we know of at least two candidates who are going to rake in big dough from the usual suspects: Sam the Tram for mayor and Nick the Fish for council. If they decide they need to blow past the "voter-owed" limits, we all get to pay more for their opponents' junk mail and robo-phone calls.

At least one City Council race is virtually certain to head for a runoff, and so there's some more hundred thousands out of the taxpayers' pockets this summer. But hey, it'll be worth it, because now the people with money in Portland will no longer control City Hall.

Uh huh.

Comments (14)

Don't forget the hundreds of hours of staff time devoted to signature verification, fielding inquiries from the candidates and interested parties, prepping for the CAC, and "whadda think" discussions with the City Attorney.

All things that would be unnecessary if VOE didn't exist. I wonder home come nobody is using VOE to challenge Fireman Randy? Mmmmmmmm.

Here's where the irony gets rich and smoothy: what if the winning council includes the Incumbent Fireman, Tram Boy, Son of Opie, Streetcar Smith, and the incumbent Big (silent) Pipe.

Women and minorities encouraged to apply. Here's some money: go buy yourself something pretty. Just don't get your hopes up too high. You go girl.

Unless Amanda Fritz wins (which seems unlikely, given the vitriol), the CoP Council will still be all white and male, with their gonads still firmly in the palms of the unions and condo/streetcar mafia.

Anybody know any good municipal bankruptcy attorneys?

I'd rather see the the public campaign money go to pay down debt or something else basic. I'm not seeing much actual change in the city's direction and relations to business because of this so called "voter-owned" elections regulation. Now that Sten is leaving and the other encumbents are not taking public campaign monies (supposedly), why do we have to wait until 2010 to vote on it?

As I've pointed out before, we may never get to vote on it. The council that enacted VOE had no power to bind a future council to put it on a ballot. That was one of the reasons Randy Leonard was the lone no vote. I would like to hear the current candidates make a pledge to bring it to a vote, but so far I haven't heard that.

Given that VOE is focused on long term change, I don't think it's realistic to expect change in one, or even two cycles. Then again, it looks like we'll have a couple VOE beneficiaries on council this next term, and it will be interesting to see what effect it has on them.

One other interesting political sidelight of VOE is similar to the analysis of Senator's Clinton's spending -- which city council candidate accepting public funds can claim the mantle of efficiency and "bang for the buck"? Seriously, given that members of city council are responsible for economic efficiencies, one very real issue for me is how each of these candidates spend the public money they are being given to run for office. (This isn't too far from the questions about Comm'r Sten's obligations with regard to his VOE money.) In fact, it may be more important for me to see how they spent their money, than it is to hear about their platitudes on green spaces.

Given that VOE is focused on long term change...

Even were I to accept your assertion, which I don't, how many "cycles" would you suggest as realistic before we see the yearned-for "change"? Put another way, how much money are you willing to p*ss away on this farce before you judge its merit.

And what will be the objective measure of its success or failure?

And will you please stop making sense about efficiencies - it throws me off.

That's further off, to you, Allan...

My guess is that we'll be able to evaluate whether it's created real change as soon as those winning with VOE don't have to constantly talk about VOE, and we can instead look at (a) whether people are winning who would normally never have the financial connections to get in the game, and (b) those winning create a more interesting City Council. As an example, I know Jack hates Chris Smith, and Chris certainly is focused on a very specific set of issues, but I'll bet he'd be a good person to have on council.

On an analogous front, related to my first point, I think it's kind of ironic that there's the ongoing skirmish between McCain and Obama about whether or not to take public funds. No one is bitching about publicly financing the election, because everyone's used to it.

I know Jack hates Chris Smith

I don't hate Chris Smith. I do hate what he stands for.

No one is bitching about publicly financing the election, because everyone's used to it.

No one bitches because everyone gets to opt out if they don't like it. Indeed, they have to opt in on their tax returns, and most people don't.

The other small difference is, the federal government gets to print more money whenever it wants.

You know what they say:


So what else is new?

As I've pointed out before, we may never get to vote on it. The council that enacted VOE had no power to bind a future council to put it on a ballot.

Technically you're right, Dave. But I really doubt that VOE won't come up for a vote in 2010 (is that when it's scheduled?). Those who support VOE won't want to break the promise, and those who oppose it will want to see it referred. We know Leonard will support the referral, so he only needs two of the remaining four to send it to the ballot.

The irony is that I think Portland voters would have supported it had it been referred two years ago. Given how it's been administered so far, though, I think it's chances diminish with each election.

Given how it's been administered so far, though, I think it's chances diminish with each election.

WTF were you expecting, Miles - given who's administering it?

Well, VOE is all about "change". There's no indication that the "change" must be positive - or negative. As long as there's "change" of some sort, everybody should be happy.

I thought VOE was about enabling the candidacies of women and minorities, and those who speak truth to power?

With the exception of Amanda Fritz and (ahem!) Emilie Boyles, it looks like we're just attracting the same candidates as before. Perhaps the Voodoo Donuts guy and Sho Dozono wouldn't have come forward without the promise of free money, but should free money be a source of great motivation to any candidate?

The successful candidate is going to make a six figure salary (plus whatever he can steal), which is a fairly attractive wage to many of those who are underemployed or underpaid. Perhaps we've made it too easy to get $145,000.

Good candidates will always attract private donations: I don't think the same can be said for roads and sewers.


Arrow to the heart!

According to Jack's rules, succinct is good - that was perfect!

Well, since they all read this blog I will ask them:

Candidates for mayor and council, will you pledge to bring VOE to a vote in 2010 as promised, if not before?

Enquiring minds would like to know.

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