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Thursday, October 14, 2004

New! Improved! Election endorsements

As posted prior to previous elections, here's whom and what I'm voting for this time around. But this year, not only am I going to tell how I'm voting, but I'm also going to list an enthusiasm (E) factor, signifying on a scale of 1 to 10 how strongly I feel about the race or issue; and a confidence (C) factor, indicating how likely I believe that my vote will come out on the winning side.

Therefore, if I give a high E score to my vote, it means that I really, really believe in the vote, and I urge all readers to vote likewise. A low E score means that I won't hold it against you if you vote the other way. A hgh C score means that I think I'm voting for a winner; a low C score means I realize that I'm spitting into the wind.

Here goes:

POTUS: Kerry/Edwards, E10, C6. If America re-elects the Evil Chimp, we deserve everything bad that happens to us over the next four years and beyond. God help us, folks, we don't need three or four more Scalias and Clarence Thomases.

U.S. Senate: Ron Wyden, E5, C10. Ho hum.

U.S. House, 3d District: Earl Blumenauer, E5, C10. Yawn.

Secretary of State: Bill Bradbury, E8, C9. The sooner Betsy Close gets out of public life, the better, as far as I am concerned.

Portland Mayor: Tom Potter, E6, C8. Tom's emerged as a major bag of hot air, but he's got the Scone beat by a mile. And Potter might actually be able to do something with the Police Bureau, which has been without an intelligent leader for many years. The big downside: with Potter holding the nominal title of mayor, Erik Sten will be running most things.

Portland City Council: Nick Fish, E7, C3. Fish has feet of clay, but he deserves the office more than his opponent does. I'm starting to think Adams is going to pull an upset, though. Whatever Fish has done with his campaign money, I haven't seen a word of it in months; meanwhile, the new, blue-collar-looking Adams signs are everywhere. This is going to be darned close.

Multnomah County Commissioner: Lisa Naito, E4, C8. Lisa's not a portrait of competence, but her opponent is a bozo of the lowest order.

State Treasurer: No endorsement. Too much hanky-panky going on with public money.

Attorney General: Hardy Myers, E3, C9. The corruption in Oregon's state and local government has finally become so blatant that this guy can no longer completely ignore it. But he's not exactly a ball of fire when it comes to the cleanup (or anything else).

State Representative, 45th District: No endorsement. I've been gerrymandered into a district that I have nothing in common with. And our representative, Jackie Dingfelder, is ding-y indeed.

Metro Councillor: No endorsement. We need strong land use planning, but we don't need this layer of government to do it. And Rod Monroe, although a stellar shooting guard when he played for the New York Knicks years ago, has a slight Goldschmidt odor about him.

Multnomah County measures:

26-57, requiring runoffs: Yes, E5, C8.

26-58, salary commission to set salaries: No, E2, C2. This lets the politicians off the hook. If they think they deserve a raise, let them vote for it.

26-59, county lobbyist: Yes, E6, C8. It's a shame that county governments should have to hire lobbysists. You would think that elected representatives at higher levels of government would routinely consult the county on matters of interest to it -- for free. But there's no sense in having Multnomah County at a disadvantage compared to all the other counties, which have these. So let's pay Len Bergstein or whatever the heck his name is a few more tens of thousands a year out of the public trough. Or maybe Bev Stein needs another gig.

26-60, repeals term limits: No, E7, C5. It's time for Lisa and Diane to start thinking about their next jobs.

26-61, county officials can keep one office while running for another: No endorsement.

26-62, shorten term of civil service commissioners: Yes, E4, C8. Er, sure.

26-63, dead candidates replaced: Yes
, E6, C9. Sounds good to me.

26-64, repeal county income tax: No, E8, C8. If asked, I won't vote to renew this tax unless and until there's mandatory withholding and better enforcement. But we voted on this a while back, and the tax won, fair and square. So let's live with it for another year and a half.

Statewide ballot measures:

31, election postponed if candidate dies: No
, E7, C2. This measure makes sense on its face, but it leaves too much open for the Salem "political process." You want authority to call off an election? How about telling me for how long?

32, mobile homes taxed as houses, not motor vehicles: Yes, E2, C8. Whatever.

33, medical marijuana changes: No, E7, C8. I don't care how screwed up the current law is or how sick you are, nobody should be allowed to have six pounds of pot in their house.

34, state forest logging restrictions: Yes, E4, C2. I've got misgivings about this one, but on reflection I've decided that forest conservation in this state is actually a war at this point, and the bad guys are winning. So here's a vote for the good guys.

35, limits on pain and suffering awards in medical malpractice cases: No, E10, C4. I've already outlined my feelings here. Right now in Oregon, you can find out more about the past screwups of the guy who's painting your deck than those of the doctor who's about to operate on your newborn baby's brain. When that's fixed, and the proposed limit is something like $5 million for a lifetime of excruciating pain, maybe I'll consider this kind of measure.

36, ban homosexual marriage: No
, E7, C1. What kind of people are we who would constitutionalize discrimination? We're about to find out.

37, government must pay to regulate property uses: No, E10, C2. Some people just can't handle the modern world. They believe we're all still in some state of nature, and every time they have to stop for a red light, they expect a check to compensate them for the inconvenience. Turn off the Rush Limbaugh Show and get a grip, people.

38, abolish SAIF: No, E7, C9. SAIF has always been borderline crooked, if not outright crooked, but this isn't the answer. The boys at Liberty are every bit as cut-throat and venal, and their weak advertising campaign shows how little their complaints matter to the average Oregonian.

Comments (12)

So here they are again, in descending order of enthusiasm:

Kerry/Edwards (10)
No on 35, pain and suffering limits (10)
No on 37, pay to regulate (10)
Bradbury (8)
No on 26-64, repeal county income tax (8)
Fish (7)
No on 36, ban gay marriage (7)
No on 26-60, repeal term limits (7)
No on 38, abolish SAIF (7)
No on 31, postpone election (7)
No on 33, medical pot changes (7)
Potter (6)
Yes on 26-59, county lobbyist (6)
Yes on 26-63, dead candidates replaced (6)
Wyden (5)
Blumenauer (5)
Yes on 26-57, requiring runoffs (5)
Yes on 26-62, shorten terms of civil service commissioners (4)
Yes on 34, state forest logging restrictions (4)
Naito (4)
Myers (3)
No on 26-58, salary commission to set salaries (2)
Yes on 32, motor home taxation (2)

Votes I'm casting with little confidence that they'll prevail:

No on 26-58, salary commission to set salaries
No on 31, elections postponed
Yes on 34, state forest logging restrictions
No on 35, limits on pain and suffering
No on 37, pay to regulate
No on 36, ban gay marriage

Jack, if lawn signs were effective in motivating voters, McDonalds and Coca-Cola would be buying space in your yard. Sorry, but divining anything from how many lawn signs are out there is rife with peril. Sam Adams may pull a surprise upset, but it has nothing to do with his lawn signs.

This is one of those massive misconceptions that the vaguely-interested-in-politics segment of the public has. They are worthless.

So, why do campaigns use them? 1. It gives volunteers tangible, visual evidence of their canvassing activity. (Campaigns just want the ID'd voters - but that doesn't give volunteer warm fuzzies.) 2. Supporters get VERY upset when they don't see lawn signs, so we give them signs.

It's like the old rule about billboards (also useless, and expensive too.) If you absolutely must have a billboard, put it halfway between the candidate's home and the candidate spouse's place of work. Keeps the spouse happy. Otherwise, worthless.

A final thought: The most valuable lawn sign is not the one on a busy intersection. It's in front of the house at the end of a cul-de-sac, at the home of that great family that always throws the neighborhood BBQ each summer. Only five other families will see it - but it's a big endorsement for them. Vacant lots on busy highways are worthless.

Spoken like a true guy-who-makes-a-living-convincing-politicians-to-use-the-net-instead-of-lawn-signs. 8c)

It's not just the signs. Fish raked in hundreds of thousands. The last campaign ad I saw from him -- in any medium whatsoever -- was a thank-you right after the primary. Weak, weak, weak.

He told me himself that KGW and some others wouldn't take any more ads in his race. So where did the money go? Nowhere that I saw.

As for the signs, it's not just a slight differential. It's 1,000 to 2.

Kari's point about lawn signs and billboards is generally correct, but there is an exception and that's where one candidate clearly dominates, as Adams is apparently doing here.

If the disparity is so great that someone not affiliated with either campaigns thinks it is 1,000-to-1, they've accomplished their purpose; namely, created exactly the impression Jack has, that the candidate with the 1,000-to-1 advantage is working harder and has more support than the candidate on the wrong side of that ratio.

If other people have that same impression, that helps Adams.

You hit a nail right on the head. "With Potter as mayor Erik Sten will be running most things". And that, my friends, is the unkindest cut of all. Scary.

"Jack,You hit a nail right on the head."With Potter as mayor Erik Sten will be running most things". And that, my friends, is the unkindest cut of all. Scary."

One disgruntled Portland expatriate could not agree more.

Apropos of lawn signs and billboards, one of the factors that persuaded Portlanders that Bud Clark was not a fringe or vanity candidate for mayor, when he challenged Frank Ivancie in the 1984 primary, was that Mr. Clark put up lawn signs and had billboards. Uncle Frank was so confident of being re-elected that he had no lawn signs and put up only a few billboards, late in the campaign. Mr. Clark's lawn signs and billboards made it respectable to vote for him: voters who didn't like Mayor Ivancie could vote for Mr. Clark without feeling that they were throwing away their votes.

FYI, some of Fish's money has gone into new TV spots. Just saw one on KPTV.

Yard signs are definitely overrated, and I am certain they have no influence in national/statewide or congressional elections - just like newspaper endorsements.

But the lower you go on the visibility totem poll, the bigger difference they can make. At the soil and conservation district, judges, and even city commissioners level, name familiarity is the biggest hurdle. That is why I have a yardsign for Terri Preeg Riggsby in my yard next to my Kerry/Edwards sign (and Sam Adams sign).

No one should have six pounds of pot? Really, why not? Who does that hurt?

I'm voting "no" on that measure also, but your argument makes no sense.

Fish saved his money to be able to afford to reach voters on TV in the last two weeks, a very sensible approach to a difficult task. With so many voters in this Presidential general election -- and so many undecided voters in the City Council race -- TV is the most cost-effective medium for reaching them, even with the inflated prices the stations are now charging for air time. Many folks don't understand that mailing a few times to several hundred thousand Portland voters is more expensive than reaching them on TV. And, although KGW isn't taking any ads for local candidate races (because the station can make more $$$ selling time to ballot measures and advocacy groups -- they pay higher rates than candidates), all the other Portland stations are selling time. By the way, don't know what you saw, but there weren't any Fish commercials after the primary. How do I know? I produced Nick's ads.

Medical Marijuana:
The Nov. 2 ballot creates state regulated dispensaries authorized to supply up to six pounds of marijuana per year to qualified paitents, although they could possess only one pound at any given time. The rational for the increase in amount of pot allowed is that if you can have more you can obtain the medical benifits of pot by cooking with it and eating it rather than smoking it and inhaling the tar.

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