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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 11, 2010 12:45 PM. The previous post in this blog was Having a bad spell. The next post in this blog is You've been sued!. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

No, it isn't worth it

Hard to know what to make of this story. It's an obvious puff piece on Portland city commissioner Amanda Fritz. But WW is trying to spin out a tale that the upcoming vote on Portland's "voter-owned elections" system (which it will no doubt endorse) is somehow a referendum on Fritz, who has had not one but two campaigns paid for by the city's taxpayers.

To us, it's a referendum not only on Fritz, but also on John Branam, Jesse Cornett, Chris Smith, Jim Middaugh, Jeff Bissonnette, Charles Lewis, Erik Sten, and of course Emilie Boyles, who together with Fritz have eaten through around $2 million of tax dollars on mostly throwaway campaigns while schools rot, police precincts close, and streets decay. "Clean money" is also an elaborate incumbent protection system, effectively insuring that no challenger will ever be able to outspend an incumbent (which is the only way to beat one). And it greatly favors union-backed candidates, who can get their hundreds of "seed money" contributions with a single phone call to union local headquarters.

About the only good argument we've heard so far for "voter-owned elections" is that Fireman Randy's against it.

Comments (18)

I'll say this about Amanda--I have written emails to her on two occasions, and both times she has written long, eloquent, well-thought out responses. The first was about something on which we disagreed. I still disagreed after reading her response, but I appreciated her taking the time to draft what was clearly a non-form-letter response. I don't agree with her every time, but I think, attitude wise, she's a breath of fresh air compared to Randy et al.

No doubt a self-serving head fake from Leonard. He knows the unions are in his pocket and vice versa.

I'll say this about Amanda

But the referendum election is not about Amanda. Amanda could have, and should have, been elected to her office without using public money.

I'm sure I'll take some hits regarding my following comment, but I believe it.

Welcome to the world of the progressives, where taxpayer money is wasted on campaigns and vote-by-mail encourages voter fraud like never before.

The dollars come from our water and sewer rates to fund voter-owned elections. We will have the opportunity to chime in as to whether to continue to pay for this in November.

Over the years, I have commented enough on this ridiculous concept that there is nothing else that I can really say except, "Please vote against this ridiculous waste of money. Not every idea needs to be publically funded."

With apologies to Ross Thomas, Portland voters think "publicly funded" means that the money comes from the other guy.

So despite all the griping here, it turns out you're actually cool with letting developers call the shots. You must have loved Citizens United.

OMG Roger, are you so naive as to believe "voter owned elections" makes a hoot of a difference??

First, spending $2 million so ONE person gets elected over two election cycles is the same fiscal irresponsibility but with another name.

Second, the freakin' genius of this idea, Mr. Sten, was completely in the pockets of developers. So, what makes you think the source of the money has any rational relationship to who calls these shots once they are elected?

Third, even supposing that persons elected under this scam do not let the developers call the shots, who says that they are independent of other special interests?

The reason this city is at the edge of a fiscal cliff isn't because of "developers," per se. It is because city leaders do not have a lick of business sense. They fund whatever "good idea" comes along without a second thought to budgets and priorities, whether sponsored by "developers" or by "voter owned election" whack-jobs.

Maybe if these good ideas were flushed down the toilette, the city could earn some additional sewage fees for future capital improvements.

"cool with letting developers call the shots."

Travis nails it pretty good.

Has VOE Amanda ever stood in the way of any developers or planners?

Would like to know more about the organization that has filed with the SOS--Portlanders against Taxpayer Funded Political Campaigns.....what a long winded name but sounds like something to support

One can be a thoughtful, hard-working, self-confident person and still be entirely unsuited (and ineffective) for public service at this level. To make a difference as a City Council member means having some guts and vision and making tireless efforts to serve *all* citizens. Fritz has none of those, really--she's entrenching (like Fish) to make a long-term job of it. And that's exactly what was never intended for public service jobs of this kind. In difficult issues, she punts. She's made her first ally--Saltzman--by basically adopting much of his playbook.

And the soft-core porn-like statements made in the article about Fritz voting "no" repeatedly concerning the soccer stadium is gag inducing. In the end (and all along the way, really), Fritz chose to don a soccer scarf, make a sweet deal with Paulson, and play to the crowd. She knew where her re-election lay.

For example, Fritz wrote another one of those "thoughtful" pieces where she lays out her concerns about the Paulson/MLS deal:

http://blogs.wweek.com/news/2009/03/05/commissioner-amanda-fritzs-goals-for-major-league-soccer/

There she is, over a year ago, with a long list of concerns--gender equity, living wage jobs, the actual viability of soccer in PDX, the impact on the city, wise use of prime land, *no* financial risk for the City, no provision of basic services in PDX neighborhoods, and so on. A long list of major concerns that affects hundreds of thousands of people.

Shortly thereafter, she voted yes. Guess how many of the issues she was "concerned" with were addressed? Here's a hint: NONE.

Even though Amanda got the funding, for the most part she tends to go along to get along. Although the article does state some good she has done within the community, she has not been independent enough for my tastes, as I will most likely be drinking degraded water. Our microbrews will not be the same with added toxic chemicals in our water. That is unless we get a Waiver from this LT2 rule.

If I were funded by public dollars I would have gone over Randy and Sam's head and voted NO on that UV 200 million dollar treatment plant and I would have made a special trip to DC to lobby for an exemption for my constituents from that EPA LT2 Rule that will cost our community another billion dollars with debt. I would have pushed for the delay when in July 2009 many citizens and organizations asked for it.

Since she is a nurse, I do not understand how she could vote to move forward on anything that would add toxic chemicals to our drinking water or make decisions that could lead to radon being backed up into our homes.

If she claims no knowledge of this, and that is the case, her staff needs to educate her on the matter, or she simply really doesn't get it. It seems citizens "get" it, why doesn't she?

Sending letters back as a nice gesture doesn't really cut it for me. I expect more from my elected officials.

Two facts, one observation:

1. Fritz was a consistent "No" vote on the soccer deal; final vote on that was 4-1. Her concerns about the living wage were addressed, sort of, though continuation of the city subsidy for PGE Park workers.

TOM is right about her putting a scarf on, but she voted "No" that day.

2. Per WW, VOE has cost $2 million over five years. Taking that out reduces Jack's Long-Term-Debt-O-Meter from $10,657 to $10,652.

What I don't get is the antipathy toward trying to change a system in need of change. I come here often enough to expect discontent. I'm very surprised, though, at the accompanying willingness to preserve the status quo.


Fritz was a consistent "No" vote on the soccer deal; final vote on that was 4-1. Her concerns about the living wage were addressed, sort of, though continuation of the city subsidy for PGE Park workers.

And you know very well that (a)she knew in advance how others were voting, and (b) that a "no" vote that has no effect was being done for political points, not fiscal ones.

TOM is right about her putting a scarf on, but she voted "No" that day.

So if we accept that the "no" vote was made because she thinks the deal was a bad idea for Portland citizens, why did she make repeated public efforts (8-9, at my count) to publicly support Paulson bringing MLS to Portland?

What I don't get is the antipathy toward trying to change a system in need of change. I come here often enough to expect discontent. I'm very surprised, though, at the accompanying willingness to preserve the status quo.

I'm confused for two reasons: first, I've read a large number of comments from readers who want anything *but* the "status quo"; second, what change, exactly, has Fritz wrought in how local government works?

Given that, there seems to be some sharply defined irony in what you're saying. I, for example, would like to see quite a bit of the "status quo" changed in local government. Instead, what I've seen from City Council members (all of them) is a strong desire to look good, to mold policy to their own pet visions, and to put down roots in the office they're inhabiting.

How does Fritz feel about what's happening on West Hayden Island, for example, and how does she plan to vote? I'm going to make a prediction--go with the "status quo", and develop the heck out of it so that coal and cars have a place to be staged for shipping and receiving.

Here's Fritz's "reasoned" opinion on the matter of West Hayden Island, for example:

http://www.portlandonline.com/fritz/index.cfm?a=311282&c=49233

Consider this for a moment, because it's a typical Fritz behavior now: "further study".

There's a simple answer for what to do with this particular project--that is, if the city has its priorities straight. That answer is: stop developing the remaining undeveloped, unique areas like this one at a time until they're gone.

If nothing else, I'd like to see Fritz apply what she so fervently promised when asking for hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to help her get elected--that she'd be a watchdog for human health.

Does development of several hundred acres of fairly unique land serve local human health, or contribute to its impairment?

Calling Fritz's actions on this issue "reasoned" is like saying a 10-lane CRC bridge is sustainable, but a 12-lane one is not. In the end, developing several hundred acres is developing several hundred acres, and those cars and coal containers aren't going to do a thing for protect, enhance, or improve human health in Portland.

ecohuman:If nothing else, I'd like to see Fritz apply what she so fervently promised when asking for hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to help her get elected--that she'd be a watchdog for human health.

Amanda, you or your staff must be reading this -
what have you all to say about being a watchdog for human health? Please, if you do not know your actions are degrading our drinking water and toxic chemcials added will affect the health of the community, then get the info. You do know who to get this from and it is not Randy!


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