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Monday, March 27, 2006

Memo to the Arlington Club set

I've been reading around about the Portland City Council race for Erik Sten's seat, and it seems to me it's not looking too good for Ginny Burdick. All the baggage she's carrying with her because of her employment at Gard & Gerber -- the official p.r. firm for the aerial tram, Neil Goldschmidt, PGE, OHSU, etc. -- is just too heavy. She can't beat Sten. The only hope to unseat the guy is to sell yourself as an agent of change, and let's face it, you can spend all the king's treasure and you still won't succeed in painting the Gard & Gerber crowd as that. Just ask the Scone.

If the downtown old money realy wants to get rid of Sten, it ought to take a look at Lister, and soon. Granted, he'd be a longshot in a head-to-head against Sten, but any of them will be. I'm convinced Lister would have a better chance of winning one-on-one than Burdick or Boyles. If he can get in a fall runoff with big bucks to spend, he'd be a heck of a candidate. He's smart, and he has an honest, appealing message.

Some of the business folks may figure, hey, I'll vote for Burdick in the primary, but if Lister gets in the runoff, I'll switch to Lister. Flawed reasoning. If Sten runs against Burdick, Sten will surely win 55-45, with a lot of disgruntled Portlanders sitting it out. Against Boyles it would be 60-40 or worse. At least with Lister, you'd get a real fight.

While on the subject, I understand that Lister's taking some heat for not spouting the prevailing party line on the homeless last week at the City Club. Sten apparently paints himself as the champion of the downtrodden. But ask yourself, folks, after 10 years of Opie in City Hall, are Portland's homeless better off or worse off than before he got there? To me the situation appears as bad as ever. He's had his chance, made 10 years' worth of speeches, and he's gotten next to nothing done.

Then there's his line about "I'm the only one who says he loves Portland and loves the direction it's heading." Nice try, bud. I think we all love Portland. The only question is the direction. It's pretty clear that most folks feel it's wrong these days. And you, sir, are a huge part of the problem.

Comments (44)

Wouldn't that just transform Lister in the stalking horse for the power brokers?

I doubt that he'd listen to them, although obviously his basic orientation is more to their liking than Sten's is.

Whereas a G&G employee? Money in the bank.

Were it not for Dave's support of Measure 37, I'd be more tempted to look his direction.

Litmus tests are odious. They're why George Bush is President.

Measure 37 is only part of the problem. Look at the stuff he's written for brainstorm magazine. the guy has a lot of baggage. his measure 37 views are a bellwether, not a litmus test. caveat emptor.

I dont like any of the candidates, but I agree that Lister has absolutely no chance. Portland is not going to elect a Pro-37 conservative. Sten would absolutely love to run against Lister and dredge up all of his reactionary quotes from Brainstorm and other sources. Sten is probably going to squeak by due to the weak field. I will probably vote for Burdick unless Boyles all of a sudden comes on strong.

We are more likely, imo,to build genuine consensus on land use issues if we realize that there are indeed fairness issues to be resolved. Measure 37 may not be workable, but neither has Portland style "planning" where any land scam goes within the UGB and its fringes proved workable. Both "sides" of this can be as doctrinaire as the day is long, but I have seen more arrogance from the anti 37 forces who are so convinced of their hipness that they develop tunnel vision. One thing for sure, we need someone other than Mike Thorne of the Port leading this discussion. And demonizing the 60 percent of the population that voted for M37 won't do it either. My questions about Dave Lister will be: Is he smart and honest? Does he listen and think critically? Can he grow and change?

All the baggage she's carrying with her because of her employment at Gard & Gerber -- the official p.r. firm for the aerial tram, Neil Goldschmidt, PGE, OHSU, etc. -- is just too heavy.

Jack, I think you are right that she's got this baggage, but my question is whether or not the average person who is inclined to vote against Sten will know about it? WIth all due respect, I think maybe 5% of the voters know what "Gard & Gerber" is, and I just don't see that hurting her.

As for Sten's "champion of the homeless" bit, I must say I'm more than a little surprised that you haven't said anything about the mentally-ill transient who snatched a two-year old off the MAX in downtown PDX yesterday. That single incident seems like a perfect storm of problems--underfunded mental health, homeless problems, poorly secured light rail, etc.

Litmus tests are odious. They're why George Bush is President.


"Litmus tests are odius" So, you'd vote for a pro-tram candidate? Let's face it, one person's litmus test is another's deeply-held, well-reasoned conviction.

Actually, I'd still vote for Fireman Randy, even though he hasn't voted against the tram once yet.

Portland is not going to elect a Pro-37 conservative.

Measure 37 is very popular, even in Portland.

Measure 37 seems like old news to this voter. First the voters, then the courts decided the issue.

Perhaps if the tin-ear progressives had paid more attention to the voters, Measure 37 would not have been necessary.

The official results for Multnomah County on M37 were 174,397 "yes" and 164,428 "no." That's 51.5% "yes" to 48.5% "no."

Dave J. at March 27, 2006 Were it not for Dave's support of Measure 37,
arne at March 27, 2006 Measure 37 is only part of the problem.
Do you want more traffic congestion?
Do you want more pollution?
Do you want another skinny house next door?
Do you like the giant apartment farms spring up all over town?
Do you want New York style density in your neighborhood?

If you oppose M37 then you are wishing for the above.

If you DONít want the above, you should support M37 because, by allowing building on land outside of Portland, it will relieve some of the pressure to stuff more people into every Portland neighborhood and the consequential increased traffic congestion and increased pollution and reduced livability.

It will also help the cost of housing problem by allowing more supply to satisfy the demand. Basic economics.

It will also allow builders to build houses where people want to live instead of where the planners want people to live. Metroís current plan of putting housing in Damascus while the jobs are in Beaverton, will just create longer commutes and more congestion in Portland. But that is what you get from the politically driven decision process. M37 restores sanity by cutting out the politiciansí top down dictates as to where and how people should live.

Plan for the way people want to live, not the way planners want people to live.


"Tin ear progressives." An excellent phrase. They don't listen because they are sure they are smarter than the rest of us and can learn nothing from us. That we are so stupid that we don't realize we are stupid. If they could simply drop all the pretense and presumption, perhaps Portland and Oregon really could overcome the stagnation that so easily besets us...

Jack's blog "Actually, I'd still vote for fireman Randy, even though he hasn't voted against the tram once yet." needs to be extended to the whole City Council including Mayor Potter. Not one has voted against the tram. Jack, would you vote for any of them again based on this premise? Adams?

Small business is the life blood of Portland's neighborhoods, paricularly on the East side of town. Dave Lister knows this from growing up on the East side, but more important, because his business was located there, up until the business license fee drove him to relocate. Dave lives on the East side and understands Portland can't simply treat small business as a cash cow. Erik Sten just doesn't get that.

Dave has momentum: he got into the Portland City Club debate and came out the winner. How? You say: people at the debate were impressed, he was relaxed, down to earth, and established himself in the middle, between the all encompassing overreaching of Sten, and the grasping, suck the money to a few developers and utilities of Burdick. Burdick is a rented politician who doesn't feel comfortable in her own skin (her debate performance reflected that). Steve Duin came away from the debate predicting Lister will beat out Burdick to take on Sten (What he doesn't know is how many average folks are sick of the Sten approach at city hall.).

Portland can have a business friendly commissioner, who doesn't cowtow to the downtown types or allow them to game the system to get all the tax money.

I sit here amused by all of the laptop experts who think they can predict the outcome of the May primary, based on their own "wishin' and hopin'". Truth be told, the best outcome would be a Lister vs. Burdick race in Nov., because "Opie" hasn't delivered and cannot state his case for re-election - "I saved $7-Million from a system that cost you'all $35M." Or his support for Dignity Village at a time when lots of us lost our jobs and started scratching for other thintgs.

I think that marginalizing Burdick based on past connections (read Goldy), or her employer (G&G) means nothing east of 39th. When Ginny and Dave and Boyles keep reminding folks of their water and sewage rates, and the last minute efforts of Sten to join in on saving schools (pretty obvious, don't you think?), he's probably sitting in third.
I don't agree with his buddy Steve Duin (will a journalist with a plum source ever criticize said source?) that Erik the Blue has an easy race, or that a City Club debate, which, let's be honest, no one really pays attention to or cares about outside BoJack or BoyOregon, will make or break anyone. Duin's column isn't that important to anyone.
What this will come down to is who can look forward. I don't know if Dave is the one (of course, the Weiner crowd will remind us of his thoughts about 37), or Ginny (who tried so hard with her Senate colleagues to help schools, only to be thwarted by Darth Minnis).
I hope we have two races in Nov. with no incumbents and the possibility that our uptight white council may change.

The state and local politicians never learn. They tune out the citizens on the big issues of the day because they "think" they know far more than the general public.

The results? Try Measure 5 and Measure 37 to just name two. Neither is really great law but if all those "smart" politicians aren't paying attention to who they are supposed to represent then that's what happens.

Small business is the life blood of Portland's neighborhoods, paricularly on the East side of town. Dave Lister knows this from growing up on the East side, but more important, because his business was located there, up until the business license fee drove him to relocate. Dave lives on the East side and understands Portland can't simply treat small business as a cash cow. Erik Sten just doesn't get that.

And yet, look, small businesses endorsing Sten.

Hmmmmm....who are the other 4,000 endorsing?

To move this city forward:

The city needs to get out of picking winners(Homer Willams,et al), and losers(the pizza parlor charged $27,000 for crossing the sreet).

Get back to the basics of providing services(paving the streets before they need to be rebuilt, taxes for schools-not tax abatements for developers, police and public safety).

Cut the waste(water billing fiasco, failed attemps to buy utilities, PGE Park-$40 million- inside deals, iladvised reservoir covers, poorly managed trams)

Don't take outer East Portland for granted(Take their tax money and give crappy service in return.), or small business for granted.

You have to well manage what is there, before managing what to waste.

Dave Lister can move this city forward.

It's beyond litmus tests, "progressives" have no test other than being seen to be on the correct side of anything. It's the "pack mentality" drawn to the extreme. The well-being, fiscal and cultural, of the city is a distant second to the need to be accepted by those whose approval defines their lives. It's impossible to have a reasoned discourse with "true believers" of any stripe.

The essence of this race, which should surprise no one, will be money as it affects public awareness of Sten's "follies". And Jack's right - the smart money should get behind Lister now and not play games.

The "booby" prize would be another term of arterial STENosis.

I was just talking to the pizza parlor owner not more than 15 minutes ago. Various versions of my group played there and the old place many times. "It's a Beautfiul Pizza" moved across Belmont and suddenly Carl was on the front page as the leading example of out of control city taxation. He's a great guy and deserves the support of all of Portland. Tonight there were around 12 musicians on various stringed instruments, circled around a standup bass player. It's a good scene.

To The One True b!X 8:57,
Can you name any policy that Sten championed to help small business?
I took a look at the link and Sten failed to mention any that I saw.

what is the point Lister's "eastside guy" slogan? as far as I can tell from some online research, the following local politicians reside on the east side of the Willamette:
Tom Potter, Eric Sten, Sam Adams, Randy Leonard, Diane Linn, Serena Cruz, Lonnie Roberts, Robert Liberty, David Bragdon, and Rex Burkholder. It looks like the eastside guys and gals greatly outnumber the westside politicos.

Being an Eastside Guy is not an address. It is a state of mind. And Rex Burkholder is no Eastside Guy.

If you have to ask...

Which one of these is Bess

Tom Potter, Eric Sten, Sam Adams, Randy Leonard, Diane Linn, Serena Cruz, Lonnie Roberts, Robert Liberty, David Bragdon, and Rex Burkholder


Who do you favor?

"And yet, look, small businesses endorsing Sten"

And yet, look, who else is endorsing Sten:

2006 Sole Endorsements for City Council, Position 2
Thank you to all partners and friends for your early endorsements. We will be adding to this list as Erik completes more interviews and we receive more pledge forms. We look forward to getting to know you and continue discussions on your issues throughout the election season.

Grassroots supporters list coming soon...add your name here.

Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV)

Portland Association of Teachers (PAT)

District Council of Laborers for Oregon & Southern Idaho

Stand for Children

Oregon Action

Laborers 483

Laborers 320

Portland Firefighters Association

AFSCME Local 189

Oregon Natural Resources Council PAC

United Food & Commercial Workers Local 555

Multnomah County Dems (Dual Endorsement)

SEIU Local 49

Teamsters Local 37

Letter Carriers Branch 82

African American Alliance

Communication Workers of America (CWA) 7901

On tonight's menu...

Herring, red.

Don't forget:

Robert D. Ball, real estate investor
Portland Trail Blazers
R.B. Pamplin Corporation
Tom Moyer Theaters
Thomas Walsh, contractor
Joseph Weston, real estate investor
Homer Williams, developer
James Winkler, developer
Serena Cruz Walsh, county commissioner
Douglas Obletz, real estate developer

Grassroots, my foot.

Well, as far as I can tell, what needs doing is refocusing the municipal resources on saving and maintaining what we have adequately before adding new commitments. We are chasing big visions at the cost of an extreme erosion in public assets. Buildings age, need upkeep to keep from aging too fast, yet one of the first things cut in municipal budgets during belt-tightening time is deferring maintenance on major assets. We been doing that for more than 10 years now.

I think that puts me in the "conservative" crowd. I wish to see our urban infrastructure and public assets preserved and maintained.

I'd rather see public/private partnerships that benefit both partners, not just a private contractor at the expense of the public. That's doubly so if knowing the "right person" gets the contractor on the "A list".

If this is what Lister is interested in doing, then I'd probably support him. Burdick interests me not at all. We don't need any more puppets. I don't think Sten has provided a sufficient basis to garner my vote.

Yet, at least.

Herring, red.

The point was that people start throwing around this small business thing as if small business were some monolithic one-opinion, same-concerns entity. It's like saying all people of one race have the same politics.

So it's the "Lister has a small business, so there" thing that's a red herring.

And to Steve's question, I've already posted my observations, as Jack has already noted in a post unto itself.

Take a closer look at that Sten list - how many of those 'small businesses' are in fact individual consultant-types living under a business name? Looks like a bit of list padding to me...

Hell, I've done it myself to get free industry magazine subscriptions, or a Costco membership. Didn't mean I suddenly became a 'small business' stat to trot out...

""And to Steve's question, I've already posted my observations, as Jack has already noted in a post unto itself.""

OK so I read it. Just another grasp at reasons to block any changes while helping the never qualified Sten get reelected yet again.

You seemed to have deliberatly missed the elephant in the room.

That being, who will be more likely to scrutinize and better question the various Urban Renewal public private-partnership boondoggles?

A vote for Sten is a vote to keep the cover on the reports and a steady stream of approval without adequate review.
****Reports and budgets that I have been reading which have entries and questions jumping off the page but have yet to get the attention of Sten and the rest.

There is no question that had Lister been a sitting commissioner his scrutiny and questions would have been aligned with the enormous public
critiquing of the Tram and SoWa with the very important added ability to get agency staff to respond.

We don't need anymore, we were mislead, excuses.

What's more is there is much more and much worse "misleading" and obsolete budgets emerging and continuing right now on the greater SoWa.

Sten doesn't get it.

When he and Potter voter in favor of the failed SoWa Alexan luxury apartment tower 10 year property tax abatement that said it all.

Sten's inability to study and decipher the public's interest with such a money grabbing PDC-developer scheme is proof positive he has no learning curve.

In regard to the notion that Lister on M37 or Lister writes for Brainstorm, what could be more of a guarantee that the desperately needed scrutinizing management will come than from an outsider and genuine critic of the status quo?

This is exactly what must happen.

Support for or against M37 means little for the city council but the majority of Portlanders who voted for the measure currently have zero representation on the current council.

As 100% of them are opposed to the measure.

Is it any wonder that so many big spending boondoggles never have any champion of genuine scrutiny or opposition actually sitting on the council?

To The One True b!X 12:20,
I read your comments (on your blog) and you failed to reach a conclusion, other than "I don't like Burdick", but fence stradling doesn't seem to be your style. On the other hand, you do seem to lean toward Sten. Why?

Also, while I know you read my question:"Can you name any policy that Sten championed to help small business?" b!X, you gave no answer. Is that because Sten failed to champion even one policy? So far, you have no answer. Thats not your fault, its Sten's fault.

Sten has zero business experience, period; Dave Lister has lived that experience. The voters can tell Sten is tone deaf to the challeges of small business. b!X are you possessed of a tin ear for small business? I'm sorry, I had to ask.


Are you really that concerned about the presence of just one quasi-fiscal-conservative voice on the council?

If Lister (somehow) prevails in this election, he'll be just one of five guys - far short of a veto.

I'll be happy if Lister is content with (1)setting an example as the most efficient manager among the 5 commisioners for his assigned bureaus, (2) being a prudent steward of public funds and (3) publicly calling bullsh@t on some of the ridiculous ideas floating around city hall.

For fiscal conservatives to hope for anything more is delusional (and meeting just one of those three goals would be a vast improvement over the status quo).

What's wrong with individual consultancies? I have one, and I have to make payroll, deal with suppliers, keep track of expenses, etc. Just because I don't have a physical storefront doesn't mean I'm any less devoted to my customer base. If Portland became a city of 10,000 individual consultancies instead of one with a single employer of 10,000 people, would that be so bad? The economy is moving that way anyway, so big deal.

But I agree with b!x that "small business" is thrown around a lot to try and take some sort of moral high ground. I don't think all "small businesses" (however you want to define it) think Sten is bad. Does this evangelizing of small business mean that when a business actually succeeds (i.e., stops being small) it can't have a voice in the process?


No, the small business that grows into a large one does not become voiceless. It's impact grows. However, the problem with Portland that Dave Lister (and those who have fought before him) is trying to bring to light is that the big businesses that we have left are leaving and to replace those, we need an environment that allows small businesses to succeed.

Note - I'm not saying, nor is Dave or anyone else, that small businesses need the city's help. For God's sake, the last thing a small business wants is the city's help. They just want a competitive tax and regulatory environment. Generally, that's it. The SBA and local banks provide fair capital access. The marketplace provides labor and consumers. The city can really only get in the way.

Dave is not wrapping himself in the small business cloak or claiming that all small businesses are endorsers. Dave isn't that political. He's simply pointing out that he (a) runs a small business, (b) has dealt with the city on many issues, and (c) didn't like the taste in his mouth afterward. Pancho's comments are right on, as well. It wouldn't kill us to have a fiscal conservative on the Council. It's not like Dave's some right-wing social conservative. He's a reasonable guy.

Don, besides having a "competitive tax and regulatory environment" businesses of all sizes also want a decrease in subsidies in all their various forms so that we all compete on a more level playing field. For example:

Why should private health clubs compete against OHSU's Health Club in North Macadam with all their tax subsidies and paying no taxes of any kind?

Why should other doctor clinics through out the city compete with the few doctor offices in the OHSU NM building enjoying the Urban Renewal tax subsidies and paying no taxes.

Why should privately owned hotels compete against hotels (convention center hotel and the proposed North Macadam hotel) that are subsidized and pay no taxes because of Urban Renewal?

These are just a few examples of how Urban Renewal has created an unfair playing field.

And there are other tax abatements, subsidies (transit oriented, low/median income housing, historical, etc.) that create an immense uneven playing field. It is time to analyse all of them for their benefits and negatives.

I also hope that businesses of all sizes begin to speak up and not worry about their supposed PR fallouts about this issue of an "uneven playing field" and subsidizing their competitors.

Those seeking public subsidies are "rent-seekers" who use political power to accomplish what they are unable or unwilling to do in the competitive marketplace. They want the rest of us to pay so they can be at an advantage, or to place their rivals at a disadvantage.

Rent-seeking is a direct result of the so-called "progressive" mindset: If it can be sold to the public as "bad", then ban it. If it can be sold as "good", then mandate or subsidize it.

Thus the big con job proceeds: lobbying and political one-up-manship are now critical and celebrated skills, and even taught in the schools; as when milk was declared the state drink after Tillamook kids pressed the Legislature.

Thanks to the success of rent-seekers, once-reasonable and long-established legal limits on the use of government authority to disturb ordinary economic activity become obsolete, relegated to the dustbin of history.

From the rent-seekers' and rent-givers' vantage, this is so sweet. The rest of us get to pay for dismantling our own liberty.

I thought beer was the state drink. Make Mine a Rogue!

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