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Friday, February 17, 2006

More "clean money," comin' up

If Portland residents are feeling a little lighter today, it's because $300,000 or so more of "clean" taxpayer dollars are about to go out the door to pay for politician junk mail and people calling your house at dinnertime.

Erik "Opie" Sten says he's got his 1,000 $5 checks to get his head in the city's new "clean money" trough, and the press is reporting that a gal named Emilie Boyles has turned her sigs and checks in to the city. She had better be 110% sure there isn't a bad one in the lot -- the people who do the checking work for the city.

So in that race, it's two "clean money" candidates so far, and two old-fashioned "dirty money" (Ginny Burdick and Dave Lister). No word on how much additional cash Burdick can raise by driving her car around and billing for it twice.

Throw in Amanda Fritz, who's got her clean dough to take on Big Pipe Saltzman, and that's three for "clean money." I'm feeling lighter already. How about you?

Comments (29)

There are other candidates in the Sten race, but none have either qualified for "clean money" or said they wouldn't take it.

So that's $850,000 of public funds for private political campaigns ($150k x 3 primary candidates = $450k, plus another $200k x 2 for the general election = $400k) just for Amanda Fritz, Emily Boyles, and Erik "the MasterMind" Sten.

Plus another nine aspiring candidates that are collecting $5 contributions in order to qualify for VOE funding. If just one of them succeeds, it will hit the million dollar mark for sure. Heaven forbid if Ginny tries to spend more than Erik, and he'll get matching funds to boot. Who's idea was this whole "clean money" thing, anyway?

How much money is that cellphone tax supposed to raise? Remember, it's for the CHILDREN and Amanda, Erik, and Emily too!

Hold those thoughts.

From what I understand, this is the experiment. I think the real question is, "Will it really free us from monied interests controlling City Hall?"

How will we know?

I don't think the monied interests are in control at the moment. I think it's more out of control than anything else.

If Sten and Saltzman both lose, then I'll be serving (and drinking) the punch at the next clean money hearing at City Hall.

If they both get reelected in the primary, then I'm of the opinion that the experiment failed.

I can only hope that Erik consumes the full $750k of public subsidy in his quest to defeat Ginny Burdick and Emilie Boyles. That will be rich irony of the highest order: CLEAN MONEY DEFEATS GENDER DIVERSITY! WHITE GUYS WIN AGAIN!

It's time for the anti-Sten forces (which are in the majority right now) to start thinking about how to stop him from dividing and conquering them. With several decent people running against him, he should have to go through a runoff in the fall. But which opponent will do best against him in a head to head? To me, so far it looks like Mr. Lister.

Boyles and Sten have had enough signatures for a week now. They were reported in media last Friday as having passed 1,000, and said they would be in next (this) week to certify. Boyles turned hers in, as you say, but Sten got more signatures and hung on to check them all. One bad address and you get zilch, no do overs unless MAYBE the info is just incomplete. Anybody who turns in signatures to the city or county and doesn't triple check them after this week's events, doesn't deserve the elective office or their petition heard anyway.

The total committed outlay is about 80 cents per Portlander so far. I might feel its absence, but I'd never consider myself "walking lighter" over that, for that investment.

It's fun to play "how much might it cost," but supposing Fritz and Boyles win outright in the primaries--450K would be the end of the money. Or Boyles and Fritz both finish 3rd or worse (Boyles to Burdick and Fritz to whomever, or Saltzman takes 50+1). That would be $650 total.

Nobody else I talked to was more than halfway. Casper and Tate were that far. Hinds was trying, seemed he was further back. Nasset's a maybe, somewhere between those two groups. The Voodoo Doughnut Team was harder to pin down. If anyone talks to Tres Shannon and finds out if he's taking it seriously, let us know.

for that investment

Or money thrown down a rat hole, depending on your perspective. How many teachers or police officers would 80 cents per Portlander buy?

I think Fritz will make it to November, and if Burdick or Lister make it past the primary, Opie will get a boost if either raises a gazillion for the general. Burdick is certainly capable of it. I suspect Boyles won't be around past May. But look for a final tab of well over half a million, of which maybe $300K will go to Sten himself.

And if it's only Fritz, Boyles and Sten getting the "clean" dough, I'm having a hard time seeing how this "opened up the process" and attracted a more diverse field. What it mostly did was give Opie the year off from having to fundraise.

If it greatly frustrates the Goldschmidt crowd, though, as it apparently does, I'm all for it. The petition drive signature flop has got to be one of the most amusing things to happen around here in a while.

I hope the people who signed twice are sleeping with one eye open. The law enforcement folks, old Hardy Myers and Mike Schrunk, are not on Team Sten.

Hmmmm, so if Erik Stench gets tax dollars to spend
this time, then he's supposed to be different from what he was in earlier campaigns when he
received lots of what is now supposed to be
called "dirty" money?

Bob Tiernan

With him, it's not so much clean or dirty, as jerky.

Eric is running against (I wish I were making this up, but I'm not):

1. A Ferrari Mechanic
2. A non-profit consultant
3. The Owner of Love Music
4. The corrupt Corporate Mouthpiece (and experienced State Legislator)
5. A Pollyanna ("Mason/Artist/Activist")
6. A small business owner
7. The Sam Adams intern (candidate's name withdrawn on 5/26/05).

My advanced polling software predicts that only candidates 4 and 6 have a snowball's chance (that's insider jargon fer ya' neofights) of placing in the top 3, together with Erik.

My wild ass guess is published below (please credit Wild Ass Polling Techniques for republication):

Sten 59%
Burdick 21%
Lister 17%
Others 3%

If Burdick or Lister stumble upon glossy photos of Erik prancing naked on the internet, or he bungles up another $40 million software project, then Burdick or Lister could survive until the general election. Without Stenudity or Another Demonstration of Gross Negligence (ADGN), Erik is likely to win it in the primary.

Maybe we ought to start calling Opie the Mayor in Waiting. Or how about, The Politician who Came to Dinner.

If Boyles really gets "clean money," she'll pull in more than 3% herself. And I think "anybody but Sten" should do better than 41%, but I could be wrong about that, especially with Potter hugging the lovable little tyke for the cameras for most of April and the first half of May.

Burdick's crew, which bombed with Francesconi and now with clean money, probably isn't going to take her very far. Both she and Lister have to start talking about what they're going to do differently, and let others beat the drum about what an incompetent Sten has been. Of course, they need to keep it as vague as possible, just like Grampy did, letting the big negatives that the incumbent has already drawn sit there and fester. They need a big turnout from the east side, particularly the disenfranchised folks in southeast. And they'd better not coast like Fish did in the last month, when he let Adams and Sten put out the "shake up City Hall" lawn signs and take it from him.

With the school tax and clean money off the table, the turnout is going to be lighter than it might have otherwise been. I'm not sure which way that cuts. Probably in favor of Erik.

Twelve years of the Bushes (maybe more when Jeb beats Hillary), 14 years of Erik Sten (maybe more, he'll never want a real job) -- what the heck.

I would not discount Boyles.

During Friday night's county dems endorsement meeting both Sten and Boyles received the endorsement from the party. That could mean a lot during the race. Add in the fact that Boyles is active in the county party, which means she is more likely to get support from fellow PCPs than the other candidates.

Fritz received the endorsement for Position 3.


And if it's only Fritz, Boyles and Sten getting the "clean" dough, I'm having a hard time seeing how this "opened up the process"

I'd offer that I don't think Amanda Fritz would be running...and now that she is, on relatively low-budget terms, it puts constraints on Dan Saltzman's campaign. Under the rules, such as they are, he can't easily turn this into a million dollar commissioner's race.

I could prove to be wrong, but I think the focus in this race will be changed from "how much money can you raise?" to a real debate on city policy. This works to the advantage of both Dan Saltzman and Amanda Fritz, and feels sort of liberating, like what political campaigns are really supposed to be about...ideas, not money.

You could put out a call for a CPA to run for City Auditor.

You see, the same reason that the current Auditor won't file my declaration is the very reason that he himself cannot continue to serve. He could only continue to serve if he allowed my filing.

The way one becomes a Certified Internal Auditor is through an outfit in Florida. Dare I say diploma-mill, or is that election-prequalification-mill as in prerequisite membership in the blankblank-party or non-affilliation with the blankblank-party?

The CPA, though, could not seek to get triple damages. I don't think it will be resolved before the election, let alone by the deadline for delivery of 1000 5 dollar contributions. If only the amount was higher then I could claim more, darn.

Frank, I agree it should be about ideas.

You should be happy with the advent of VoE. From this day forward we will only be talking about real issues and no evil developers will ever have a say in public policy.

This is because of VoE all of our commissioners have rid themselves of the stain of dirty tainted money and are instantly recreated into competent and intelligent leaders. Gee, that was so easy!

Wow. Incumbency sure causes all these problems! It sure is maddening to try to figure out what to do.

Campaign finance reform? It is becoming more painfully (and expensively) obvious that Free Money for politicos is a Trojan Horse, tricking challengers into thinking they have a chance to defeat an incumbent seeking reelection. We'll see them at the slaughterhouse.

There is a very simple answer that will generate regular open seats and competitive election contests. It's no panacea, but nothing is; however it will certainly curtail perpetual incumbency and some of the untethered behavior that accompanies it [rim shot].


One re-election (if you do a good job) and OUT. There are plenty of good people available to do the job of representing us, who, sensibly, will not step up to challenge as long as the system is rigged. The sad fact is that elections are of, for and by incumbents - no matter how much Free Money is dispensed.

Long term incumbency used to be a shame in Democracy. Cicero and George Washington understood this and set the example for others of turning in their swords for plowshares. But where are the statesmen today? Busy building monumental Trams and Bridges to Nowhere while pretending to make wine in Dundee.

Until incumbency becomes subject to restriction (voluntary would be best, but mandatory will do), we should not expect anything different, even when a new face accidentally slips into office now and then.

You should be happy with the advent of VoE. From this day forward we will only be talking about real issues and no evil developers will ever have a say in public policy.

I don't disagree, Steve, that VoE is not a panacea. I think we only need to look at Federal financing of presidential elections to see where it can go...which is ever spiraling election costs. Good intentions aren't enough.

However...in the real world, in the City of Portland, right now: Amanda Fritz represents a credible challenge to Dan Saltzman thanks to VoE. And she is NOT the candidate of business as usual, nor is she beholden to a list of campaign contributors. She is beholden to over a thousand residents from nearly every neighborhood in this city, who gave her $5, hoping to have a stronger voice in how our city is run, by having her represent them.

I'm a pretty cynical guy, and I don't doubt that powerful and influential people will find new ways to assert their influence. But right now, the ground has shifted a bit, there's a possibility for serious change...and I'd hate to see us lose that opportunity.

Fritz's reach across the city is phenomenal. She's volunteered in every single neighborhood at one time or another, and collected signatures from 75 of them. She had fellow nurses and activists collecting signatures like they were dragging a lake, and you can see based on how long it's taking others that she found it relatively easy to win support on the streets.

She is also whip smart without being aggressive, and talks like a regular person (a British regular person, but so). Saltzman is overmatched IMO, and without VOE his one advantage --money--would have been decisive. He's going to have to take her seriously now.

What we won't know until we've done one of these before, is to what extent the VOE candidates in each race will automatically be considered by the public and media as the frontrunning challengers. Obviously Boyles won't be because of Burdick (I think Alice overstates Lister's impact) but Fritz will. If Tate makes it too, she would enter that race legitimately as well.

To answer Jack:

the 80c wouldn't buy cops OR teachers; neither would come from the accounts feeding VOE.

Sten will get $350 unless he is caught dancing at Darcelle's before May. And even then only if he dances badly.

You say "giving Opie the year off from fundraising" as if that were a bad thing. It's a large part of the intent. How about we let them govern instead?

Thanks for your comment, loadedt. Minor correction on the details: My supporters and I collected signatures & donations from 90 of the city's 95 neighborhoods, including all the neighborhoods east of 82nd and all in SE (I live in SW). I've done volunteer projects in 77 of the neighborhoods so far. Rather than having a fundraising goal, one of mine is to serve by volunteering in all the remaining neighborhoods before the end of the year.

The next one on my schedule is planting trees in the CENTER neighborhood on March 11 -- please join me there, taking action not just talking. In a traditional campaign, I'd be on the phone dialing for dollars on a Saturday morning. Thanks to Voter Owned Elections, I can be out where neighbors are working on improving their community, and listen to their concerns instead of asking for money.

Boyles is a fringe candidate. She doesn't have a snowball's chance of more than 10% of the primary vote (I forecast 3%). The fact she's "qualified" for $150k of taxpayer funding underlines the folly of VOE.

Here are the issues highlighted on her website:

Inclusive forecasting of housing stock.

Workforce Development.

Hold recipients of corporate tax breaks accountable for delivery of promises to the City.

Metro Policy.

Profit Point entertainment.

Inclusion of non-profits in City planning.

Affordable utilities that are fiscally accountable to Portlanders.

Realistic City Emergency Plan

Fire/Police Pension including a fair and sane Union friendly environment that makes financial sense to average citizens.

If you eyes didn't begin to glaze over by the fourth bullet point, then you're likely a fringe voter. What is "profit point entertainment" anyway? She offers two sub-headings:

1. Evaluate existing recreational ventures for both bottom-line profitability and regional economic effect.

2. Evaluate City ventures for contributing factors necessary to be considered in budgetary decisions.

I guess that means she's going to terminate the PGE park lease and sell the facility to the highest bidder. Maybe Parks and Recreation ought to ask Emilie if they need to generate a profit to maintain program viability. I would build my entire platform around the above number 2, but it's practically a footnote on her website.

I've never met Emilie, but if she receives more than 10% of the primary vote, I'll buy her a steak at El Gaucho. Unless she's a vegan, then it's all you can eat at Veganopolis!


Does the word "governing" mean telling the people what they want to hear in order to get reelected?

If you want the focus to be on governing, then let's prohibit the incumbents from asking for any and ALL donations (including the $5 variety) between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., because they should be working for City (not their campaign) during the weekdays.

Also: Erik will likely be entitled to more than $350k of VOE, assuming Ginny spends more than that. He may wish to avoid the backlash of taking the full $750k subsidy he may eventually be entitled to receive.

I think the most interesting part of the experiment is about to start: what kind of campaigns will these folks run?

With $150K, you can't do any significant TV, and it's pretty bare bones even for a combination of radio and direct mail, so we're going to see some very deliberate choices being made, and probably a lot more grass roots activity. I think this is one of the key benefits of the system.

Even Dan is apparently voluntarily limiting his fundraising to around $150K, so he's going to have to make the same choices.

Ginny is going to stand out like a sore thumb if she goes the traditional route.

the focus in this race will be changed from "how much money can you raise?" to a real debate on city policy.

In the Potter-Francesconi race, the focus was changed to "how little money did you raise?" and a bunch of really vague platitudes.

People were tired of the Scone. I don't think Saltzman has the same negatives. Sten might, but "clean money" gave him a year off from fundraising.

Let's see, if everybody spends the same money, who wins -- the challenger or the incumbent?

I don't think Saltzman has the same negatives

I agree, Jack. Which is why I think Amanda Fritz's campaign can't be just about platitudes, or going negative. With little money for sound bites, I'm hoping to see more substantive discussion about policy between the candidates.

if everybody spends the same money, who wins -- the challenger or the incumbent

That's where the advantage of incumbency comes in. As "Parks Commissioner" et al, Saltzman has the whole city apparatus to keep his name before the public. All he has to do is call a press conference to announce the latest "green project", park acquisition, or big pipe thingy.

On the other hand...when the last park acquisition was overpaying for a site in SoWa, the public holds you responsible for the decisions you've had to make as a public official. Incumbency cuts both ways.

Incumbency cuts both ways.

Only among the small portion of the electorate that's paying attention. With the vast majority of voters, incumbency is a major advantage.

Ramon is right.

Term-limit the Mayor, the City Council, and the City Auditor. If you have open races on some regular frequency, then "free money" might have some bearing on the outcome.

There are unilateral disarmament drawbacks to term-limiting our national legislators, but I can't see any downside in city or county races.

With the exception of Randy Leonard, Dan Saltzman, and Lonnie Roberts, the rest of our local crop of "public servants" are inept, corrupt, or near-socialists in their approach to economic development and the appropriate role of government. What's Bud Clark doing these days?

"I don't think the monied interests are in control at the moment. I think it's more out of control than anything else."

OK Jack. I'll hold you to that statement. I too believe that our elected leaders pay no attention to irrelevancies like who's coughed up a few thousand to their reelectin campaign.

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