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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 3, 2004 10:58 PM. The previous post in this blog was Y'all miss me?. The next post in this blog is Two kinds of six-packs. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Sunday, October 3, 2004

Outside in

I've been a Nick Fish supporter all year, ever since I first took a look at the contrasts betwen him and his opponent for Portland City Council, Sam Adams. To me, all I need to know about Adams is that he was the "chief of staff" (these City Hall types are so self-important) for Mayor Vera Katz. Sorry, that's an automatic dinger right there.

One thing I've particularly liked about Fish was that he represented badly needed new blood for city government. His campaign themes have reinforced my hope that he would be a voice of change in a city that has gone mad, speeding like a crack addict on tax-subsidized condo tower development and all the theme-park toys that go with it, at the expense of basic needs. I've also hoped he would talk some common sense in a City Hall that has thrown more than a precious $100 million at fiasco projects like the Convention Center expansion, luxury boxes for minor-league baseball at PGE Park, and the ill-fated reservoir covers (which I hear are going to be on Craigslist next weekend).

Now, I'm no innocent, and I know that it takes money to win an election, but when I clicked on the latest campaign finance disclosure reports for Fish and Adams, I expected to see the campaign images reflected there -- Fish the edgy outsider, Adams the pet candidate of the entrenched West Hills interests.

That's not what I found.

Oh, yeah, Sam's got some of the usual suspects with their checkbooks open behind him. You see entries like these:

American Property Management - $3,143 Homer Williams - $4,000 Gerdling/Edlen Development, LLC - $5,000 Hoyt Street Properties - $2,000 Wayne Kingsley, Spirit of Portland - $2,000 Robert Ball - $2,000 Thomas J. Imeson, LLC - $500 Enterprise Rent-a-Car PAC - $500 Kevin Neary, Enterprise Rent-a-Car - $100 Maria Rojo de Steffey - $500 Friends of Maria Rojo de Steffey - $1,000

But then you go to Nick Fish's report, and well, stand back, people:

AFSCME Local 189 - $6,000 Portland Police Association - General Fund - $5,000 Waste Management, Houston, TX - $2,000 Hoyt Street Properties, LLC - $1,000 Joseph Weston - $500 Natural Gas PAC - $2,500 Bank of America Corporation PAC - $1,500 Clear Channel Management Services - $1,000 Comcast - $3,000 Gerdling Edlen Development Company LLC - $5,000 Melvin Mark, Jr. - $1,000 Naito Corp. - $900 Portland Metro. Assn. of Realtors PAC - $2,500 Portland Trail Blazers - $2,500 Schnitzer Investment Corp. - $5,000 Albert Solheim, real estate developer - $2,500 Stormwater Management Inc. - $1,000 Peter W. Stott, Crown Pacific - $1,500 Robert S. Walsh, Walsh Construction - $1,000 James Winkler, real estate developer -$500

And the list goes on. There are quite a few hotel companies pitching in a grand or so apiece -- you wonder if they're the same people. Plus unions galore.

Is this the contributor list of an "outsider"? It sure doesn't look that way to me.

I'm going to leave my endorsement of Nick Fish intact. I still think he deserves the job more than Adams.

But I'm no fool. Even as a teenager, I knew when I was going out with a girl who had been around.

Comments (18)

Mmm, endorsement time rapidly approaches.

b!X, you've never liked Fish, and I doubt you've changed your mind. We do see eye-to-eye about "the Scone," however...

Oh, I like Fish. I just prefer Adams for the position. I tend to be in the camp many other people are in, namely: It's too bad we can't just put them both on.

When does Saltzman have to run again?

Heh. I'm willing to bet you would not be surprised at how often Saltzman's seat comes up in the conversations I've had with people about Adams and Fish.

"Legend has it that a young congressman came to him, and asked to be excused from voting with the party on a particular bill on the grounds that his biggest contributors back home opposed it. Sam Rayburn told him;
"Son, if you can't take their money, drink their whiskey, screw their women, and then vote against 'em, you don't deserve to be here."

Excuse the coarse language, but I just did a cut and paste for the above quote.

I agree, however, 100% with the sentiment.

Randy: I've heard you say a few times that you've never changed your vote based on a campaign contribution. And I believe that. But there's (1) access, which everyone admits money buys, and (2) the appearance of influence.

I see your good buddies at Clear Channel throwing tens of thousands around in Portland politics, at the same time that they've got the city tied in knots and the front of the Mirador boarded up. I wish guys like Nick would very loudly and very publicly send them their money back, rather than asking me to trust them.

Ironically, as I wrote that last post, the shuffle function on my Media Player landed on the old song "First I Look at the Purse"...

Boy, Jack, you really are naive. Not only is Randy Leonard right in principle, but his approach is the only one that can work in the world of practical politics.

Once it appears likely a candidate will win, the usual suspects start sending in money even if that candidate doesn't see eye-to-eye with them on their issues. Witness the article in today's Oregonian business section where Portland developer Pete Mark, who gave $10,000 to Francesconi in the primary, suddenly gives $100 to Potter and says he's starting to get a whole new appreciation for Potter's willingness to work with business.

If a candidate gave back every donation from the usual suspects who do you think would pay for the campaign? Should only independently wealthy people who are willing to fund their own campaigns be able to run for office? Or should candidates just hope their opponents will use their massive warchests like Francesconi did in the primary, and advertise all the reasons voters feel uneasy about him?

One of the reasons politics continues to attract fringe candidates is that there are so many fringe voters, which I define as the people who don't like to vote for any candidate who might actually get elected. Holding your candidate to standards that make it impossible for him or her to win is one way to avoid responsibility for anything the successful candidates do that you don't like.

I'm supporting Sam Adams in this race. Two years ago, when I was doing battle with City Hall to convince them they did not need to blow another twenty million for water billing software, I was rebuffed by nearly everyone. One person came to my office, extended me the courtesy of showing him what we did and how we did it, and then made sure that the city would be able to obtain the source code for the new system in the event of a breakdown with the vendor.
That person was Sam Adams.
Politically, we are at extreme ends of the spectrum, but Sam is an intelligent listener who I think recognizes good ideas when he hears them.
I don't hold against him his tenure as Vera's chief of staff. He was a hired gun. When the boss says do something, you do it.

If a candidate gave back every donation from the usual suspects who do you think would pay for the campaign? Should only independently wealthy people who are willing to fund their own campaigns be able to run for office?

No. What should happen is that we should engage in a pilot period of the Clean Money proposal and see what it does.

Will the "Clean Money Proposal" be any better locally than Campaign Finance Reform on the national landscape?

I trust the people behind it less than I do either of those here whose financing has been (rightfully) called into question. More than that, I distrust ... well, I guess the possibility.

I'm almost a fringe voter, more often in sentiment than action, but, interestingly, two candidates or office holders I would unhesitatingly vote for (and have) are posting in this very discussion. You almost wonder if it does or will come back to placing trust in the candidate.

Hmmm, "Waste Management," "Stormwater Management," and the Teamsters. I wonder who that is.

Jack-
I can only give you my personal experience.

I meet with anyone who calls to make an appointment. My philosophy is as long as a person is not a threat (I have been dealing with a guy who falls into that category lately) I believe everyone deserves a chance to make their case.

That means I have met with the folks -individually and collectively- who were camped across the street from city hall. That means that when Arthur Palmer, an elderly African-American man, went knocking on doors to tell anyone who would listen that he was being harassed by a housing inspector, I answered.

The reality of public service is that it is a life filled with meeting people who have their own axe to grind. I long ago quit worrying what peoples motives were and settled on supporting good ideas and opposing bad ones. Admittedly, I use my own filter based on living my life and all of the experiences and relationships I have acquired to determine what is good and what is bad. That sounds simple, but it isn't. I have, and will continue to do so, pissed off a lot of people by calling issues as I see them. No holds barred. No favors granted. I only promise to try my level best to be fair.

The test for judging a good candidate should not be who they take money from. For an example, I was the only democrat in the Oregon Legislature to not sign a pledge to take no tobacco money. Why? Because I believe by refusing money from one group, one is implicitly admitting that taking those dollars would influence how you vote. (By the way, I took every sent the tobacco industry gave me and tripped over myself to vote for every anti-smoking piece of legislation I could lay my hands on).

The best predictor of how a candidate will perform if elected is their experience and record of public service. Is that a perfect test? Of course not. But, ironically, I have found self described “populist” elected officials that refuse to take donations from certain groups because it may "taint" them to be almost uniformly ineffective, arrogant and, worst of all, usually wrong. Ron McCarty, County Commissioner Lisa Naito's current opponent, comes to mind.

And just for the record, those that compare Bud Clark and Tom Potter forget that Bud Clark had no limitations on contributions to his campaign.

Well said, Randy. Why aren't you running for Mayor? Can we write you in?


To me, all I need to know about Adams is that he was the "chief of staff" (these City Hall types are so self-important) for Mayor Vera Katz.

Well, you've obviously never met the man, and don't know a lot about him. Sam Adams went to South Eugene High School and was living on his own at 16. He never graduated from college until about 4 years ago, while working at City Hall, when he he decided to finish it.
I would never, ever, no-matter-what-I-think_about-his-policy-opinions, ever consider him a 'self important type'. In fact, knowing his hard life upbringing, I would consider him overly endowed with humility. Even when he has ideas for the city that I in no way agree with.

Living on your own at 16, trying to juggle high school, and coming to terms with your sexuality all at the same time- these are things that will make or break you to become the person you will be.
I, for one, think he's done well.

For me the choice between Adams and Fish does come down to the personal level. Like many others, I agree that policy-wise the two are about as close to a wash as you can find.

So, all things being equal, I just feel that a candidate with the personal life experiences that Adams has would make a better representative than someone like Fish.

What a crock. So Jack R., why do these special interests start sending money to a candidate they expect will win? Are they all idiots? Or has experience shown that they will get a return on their investment? Something tells me they wouldn't be giving money away if they weren't buying at the very minimum, access. Unfortunately, a look at many of the decisions of our city council and state legislature would lead a cynic to conclude that they were buying more than access.


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