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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 15, 2008 11:42 AM. The previous post in this blog was "Hey, Honey?.... The next post in this blog is Hail to the Chimp. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

More "clean money" shenanigans

Even if using property tax money to pay for politicians' political campaigns was a good idea -- and it probably isn't -- it's way more trouble than it's worth. Just figuring out how it is supposed to work is more than the minds inside Portland City Hall can manage, and a troubling new question arises just about every day.

Here's the latest query, posed by an alert reader yesterday:

[Candidate Jim] Middaugh goes around saying he's got a big advantage because he'll get $200,000 for a six-week special runoff election against [Nick] Fish (assuming he gets that far).

Next, his boss and election czar [Gary] Blackmer propose a resolution to change the VOE rules to give that payoff to Middaugh. Apparently, the resolution is vague enough that [Tom] Potter and [Randy] Leonard say they didn't understand what they were voting for. Middaugh obviously knew what was being concocted for his benefit -- because he had already been crowing about it before it even got to Council.

So, does Middaugh have to declare all the "service" he got from Blackmer and [Erik] Sten -- who he works for -- as an in-kind contribution worth $200,000? Don't the rules say something about help from your employer counting as in-kind contributions?

I am not entirely sure, but I believe that under the city code, it depends on whether the employer or employee is wearing a bicycle helmet at the time the aid is rendered.

Comments (14)

Kind of makes you wonder about a candidate whose greatest claim is that he can use a pile of taxpayer money to clobber an opponent. BTW, why does the entire VOE process assume that a candidate who legally and ethically raises funds for a campaign is evil. The VOE zealot position also assumes that if 100 people each give 100 bucks to a candidate then those contributors are also evil or corrupt. There is a unmistakable self-righteous arrogance in claiming VOE gives one the moral high ground. And now that we see the backroom games around Middaugh's $200K, it is clear that VOE is subject to all the same ethical issues. To repeat myself, those voters, so loved by VOE candidates, never got to speak on the creation of the VOE process in the first place.

The stench from VOE has reached toxic levels causing most of the participants to become manipulating scoundrels.

"Even if using property tax money to pay for politicians' political campaigns was a good idea -- and it probably isn't --"

Better that that the dollars you send them to pay your sewer and water bill. Don't forget - they're using those dollars to pay for VOE too!

:... under the city code, it depends on whether the employer or employee is wearing a bicycle helmet at the time the aid is rendered."

That really says it all.


Keep Portland weird!

Are the ordinances that affect Middaugh, and Middaugh alone (because the cutoff date has expired and the first vote on the Sten replacement was not extended to mid-September along with setting a new cutoff date post adoption), administrative acts rather than "law?"

Which is to say: "What then-existing law were they applying when making their administrative decision?"

I think VOE is the best insurance voters have that their public officials will be free to serve the public interest. It's not that VOE and it's supporters assume privately funded candidates or their contributers are "evil." It's that those contributions afford the contributors access and influence which the average citizen doesn't have. That's inherently unfair. Moreover, the only candidates voters ever get hear from under the old system are the ones annointed by these private contributors as "financially viable." What you then get over time is plutocracy: government by the wealthy few. No citizen or interest group deserves any more influence over public policy than any other just because they have more money. Democracy is supposed to be about votes not dollars. Portland's system is only one election cycle old. It's to be expected that "bugs" will take a while to be sorted out and dealt with. Arizona and Maine have systems that cover all their statewide elections and over the last few election cycles they've got them pretty well honed but it's taken some trial and error. Portland is doing the same and given democracy's inherent messiness, I think they're doing it pretty well.

I think they're doing it pretty well.

Fleecing the voters? You're right!

Looking at Sam Adams, I think Dunkerley might be right.

The only candidate that gives me any hope for VOE optimism is Amanda Fritz, and we all know how she fared against a lackluster incumbent.

Voter Owned Election (VOE) is jive. It was contrived by Sten as a way to get funding for his last re-election, as even the milk toast like Portland business community wanted to get rid of him. VOE also limits freedom of speech. How much passion can you express for a candidate with a measely $5 contribution. With the exception of Charles Lewis I don't find any of the VOE, PDX candidates all that impressive. Look at Dozono Sho. He probably could easily afford to run for mayor using his own finances but instead chooses to use public monies instead. Makes you wonder how much he really wants to be Mayor if he isn't even willing to use his own finances or fund raising abilities. When people find problems with government programs, they usually are prone to saying, all we need is more government rules to fix it.

If Portland elects Sam Adam as Mayor, Middaugh to replace Sten and Chris Smith to Sam's old seat Portland will become a laughing stock.

Because of Supreme court rulings, I consider wrong, The rich man has more free speech than the poor man. Hence, a corporation can finance a pol with extraordinary amount of advertising and the biggest user of advertising usually wins. Public financing, while needs improvement, allows the poor man to have a voice. So do you want a corporate shill, or a shot at having an honest Pol?

Honest Pol = oxymoron

"What you then get over time is plutocracy: government by the wealthy few." This is exactly what we already have (Goldschmit, Vera and Developers)and it is what VOE is designed to keep us with.

Dunkerly, I have a hard time believing your premise that VOE $5 contributions insures that your "average citizen" buys "access" and influence from the VOE candidate that wins. Do you believe many of Stens $5 contributors got his ear? Do you think Potter, who limited his contributions to $25 dollars, opened his doors to every contributor? No. The same game continues with VOE.

Then assume that the $5 or $25 dollar contributor did get access to Sten or Potter, do you think that someone from Dames/Williams, Walsh Construction, Hoffman Construction, Portland Business Alliance gets equal or less amount of attention and consideration? The real world says "NO!- they get alot more".


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