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Monday, August 17, 2009

Guess it *wasn't* a crime

We've received an unofficial report that Multnomah County's fearless district attorney has decided not to prosecute reporter Lee Perlman in connection with his allegedly defacing a petition to recall Portland Mayor Sam Adams. If true, this report would not be surprising, as the D.A. has washed his hands of the Adams scandal right from the beginning. First he said he had conflict of interest; this time, apparently, his conscience is clearer as he lets Perlman walk away scot-free from a fairly egregious disruption of the electoral process. We won't try to figure out what motivates the prosecutors around here; we gave up on that long ago.

Comments (23)

Forget that this was about Sam Adamas for a moment.

Does this mean that if there are future petitions around town, one can simply scrawl and deface any petition sheet one does not like, obliterating other valid signatures? Will the authorities view theses sheets as still legitimate?

On the other hand for petitions that get rejected due to extraneous marks on some of the pages, will there be provisions for a challenge for legitimacy?

Do critics of the referendum process now have a new tactic to deploy against unwanted signature drives?

I think this should be a civil matter not a criminal matter.

In the case of political speech such as Perlman's I am uncomfortable saying that the harm outweighs Perlman's interest in political speech via conduct to such a degree that society is harmed and the government should get involved. The political angle should be sufficient IMHO to implicate the First Amendment, although I admit it probably doesn't satisfy the current legal standard.

However, the 8 signators and the individual or group collecting signatures was clearly harmed by this conduct. If they want to press a civil suit against Perlman for destroying personal property, let them do so.

The county DA and state AG are both elected officials who seem to be afraid of the same thing.

Sadly another petition has been scribbled across at the Hawthorne street fair yesterday.

It is truly a sad state when intimidation and fear has replaced our democratic process.

With your help by volunteering to get signatures from your community, we will send a clear message that lies and negative campaigning are no longer welcome in our city.

Please volunteer today to hold Sam Adams accountable and be a part of changing Portland for the better.
Jasun Wurster


The one important thing to note is that the scribbles on the page did NOT invalidate the signatures. They will still count, and the county elections bureau (or whoever is going to be approving the signatures) has said so, officially. That's not to say what the guy did was OK, but I would imagine that most of the things you could charge him with would disappear once it was discovered that the signatures are all still valid.

I would imagine that most of the things you could charge him with would disappear once it was discovered that the signatures are all still valid.

And there's one more signature that could be valid on said petition: Perlman's. He did, after all, go on record as saying "I have very sloppy handwriting". The mark he made, the WW reporter's notebook with this quote, and an affadavit supplied by the signature gatherer that it indeed was Perlman, could be used to assert that Perlman indeed signed it.

Dave J:

I agree with you. If the rest of the signatures are visible valid, then fine.

Just consider what would happen. if the other signatures were no longer visible.

What is being missed here is that the acts of scribbling across a petition then taunting the volunteer collector is intimidation. The intent of doing this act is to use fear to demoralize and dissuade people from collecting signatures.

Portland is better than this.

We need a change and with your help you will bring this change.
Jasun Wurster


Pretty funny:

"In the case of political speech such as Perlman's I am uncomfortable saying that the harm outweighs Perlman's interest in political speech via conduct to such a degree that society is harmed and the government should get involved.

This is about petitions developed to satisfy government regulations to force the government to hold a recall election of a government official for lying to obtain a government office . . . and you don't want the government to get involved?

Bradbury used to throw out whole sheets of signatures when they had any kind of mark on them like this. (Although it seemed as if he did this only on petitions he didnt particularly agree with.)

If that signature sheet gets removed, how is Perlman's action any different than blocking the door at a voting station or purposely throwing out ballots?

"Political speech"....nope. This was done with a clear intent to interfere with the rights of others engaging in the democratic process via a recall petition. The DA needs to grow a pair and do his job. This guy needs to be held accountable for his actions. The fact that the signatures are still valid is irrelevant to the charge of disorderly conduct. Lets all go downtown and take a leak on the front door of the DA's office in protest of this decision...hell they won't do anything.

Dave J.
You write that the scribbled over signatures, "will still count, and the county elections bureau (or whoever is going to be approving the signatures) has said so, officially."

Maybe, but remember: Assurances from a government official is how we got into this mess.

I am simply *NOT* shocked that the DA's office is letting this go. I called it from the beginning. The statute of Justice on the Multco DA's office has the blindfold removed and the scales heavily tipped.

So I guess it's ok to go spraypaint something like "Scam Adams is a liar" on city hall and get away with it since it's "politcal speech?" Adams supporters are destroying this city!

Also, people need to wake up and NOT vote for DA Schrunk when he is up for reelection again. Multnomah county needs some new blood in the DA's office, someone who will go after corruption!

Couldn't agree more, WestSideGuy, but voters are seldom presented options. We have arrived at a moment in this city and county when we really would benefit from a "None of the Above" alternative. Of course, current office holders, who have benefitted from the absence of opponents, will never approve such a democratic option.

Will not vote for Kroger again. He has made clear that he'll ignore blatant violations of the law, even ones that compromise the integrity of the democratic process, depending on who the perp is. What does he think that looks like?

Dear Jason: I am paranoid signing any petition for fear that it will never be counted. Please centralize, (outside of fareless square,) the gathering process so signers can have some reassurance that their vote will not be tossed or cause a statistical invalidation. Surely the City of Portland can facilitate this recall effort with a $35,000 contractor. I only wish my Washington County residence didn't allow me to weigh in the process.

An "insider" probably told the DA's office to leave Perlman alone, that he was "one of them". Junior high schoolers are more mature these days. This insider v. outsider stuff has got to stop; as it is now, the majority of us is subject to the corrupt few and their followers.

I think Kroger Will catch on eventually, but made some serious mistakes in deciding whose advice to follow. He is a philosophy major: the kind of guy who thinks things through until he figures them out. I just hope that not too many more people will have to be hurt before that happens.

Lee has messy handwriting?

What about if I have a twitchy elbow? Oops, sorry about your teeth?

So if I try to rob a bank but never make it out of the doors with the money, does that mean I haven't committed a crime?

Lawful, shmawful. We don't need no stinking 'Justice.' Let the people believe their votes are counted and voices are heard, and then just us can go on running the country/state/county/city.

I can't tell if this is off-topic or not; it seems all of-a-kind to me. It seems to me that the only change there can be is where we declare our sovereignty of the land that supports our lives and living, and run it ourselves.

Scalia says there’s nothing unconstitutional about executing the innocent, By Ian Millhiser, ThinkProgress.ORG, Aug. 17

Almost two decades ago, Troy Anthony Davis was convicted of murder and sentenced to die. ... In light of the very real evidence that Davis could be innocent of the crime that placed him on death row, the Supreme Court today invoked a rarely used procedure giving Davis an opportunity to challenge his conviction. Joined by Justice Clarence Thomas in dissent, however, Justice Antonin Scalia criticized his colleagues for thinking that mere innocence is grounds to overturn a conviction:
This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is “actually” innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged “actual innocence” is constitutionally cognizable.
So in Justice Scalia’s world, the law has no problem with sending an innocent man to die. One wonders why we even bother to have a Constitution.


there is good reasons why the DA is called
"Mike Skank" in laughing manner, cause his
sense of "justice" is just so skanky!

Recall Mike Shrunk anyone?


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