Thursday, May 6, 2010

2010 Primary: Portland Commissioner 3

May 18, 2010, Oregon Primary Election
City of Portland Commissioner Position No. 3 Four-year term, $102k salary (PDF)

[_] Rudy Soto
  • Ugh. Campaign website unfinished: "Come back SOON and check out the NEW SITE"
  • Yikes: Did not respond to League of Women Voters timely. (PDF)
[X] Dan Saltzman
  • Good: "Precinct Reconfiguration: Dan cut management and overhead to address the city’s budget cuts..." Made tough decision
  • "...Dan secured funding for a program that assists chronic offenders in finding treatment and housing, helping break the cycle of criminal activity that fund their addictions saving taxpayers millions..."
  • Excellent: "...Dan recouped millions of dollars from telecommunication companies that were not paying their fair share to the city..."
  • Good: "...Payday Lenders: Dan wrote the city ordinance cracking down on predatory lenders..."
  • Excellent: "...Dan led the charge to reform the Fire Police Disability & Retirement system, preventing a financial catastrophe and instituting independently audited system..."; " the face of runaway costs and outright abuse, Saltzman pushed reform of Portland’s Fire and Police Disability and Retirement system. That didn’t earn him many union friends but should earn him gratitude from taxpayers."
  • Good: "Major League Soccer: Dan ensured the protection of taxpayers on the stadium deal by requiring that no urban renewal dollars be used..."
  • Good: "...Dan created and renewed the Portland Children’s Levy.." A bit tired to campaign on.
  • Good: "...Reexamine force policies and the use of lethal and non-lethal tools. More focus on scenario based training and real world skills to deescalate situations. Union contract should include: drug testing, annual performance reviews, better ability for discipline that is imposed to be upheld by arbitrations. I support current proposed changes to IPR system"; "...In agreeing to oversee the police, Saltzman shouldered a thankless job the mayor shrank from performing. Gumption? Nerve? Leadership? Saltzman fits the bill..."
  • Good: "Currently enforcement is focused when camps block pathways or when health and safety issues are presented. I support this level of enforcement, but more attention needs to be put into preventing those from becoming homeless in the first place, and helping those who currently are. Unfortunately, too many of our homeless are either mentally ill or former/current foster children. I support innovative programs which find foster kids permanent loving homes and families."
  • Good: " 2000 he supported a successful charter amendment to end civil-service protection for bureau chiefs, making it easier to fire incompetent directors...."
  • Good: "...Saltzman remains an independent voice on the council. More than anyone else in City Hall, he offers much-needed balance to Commissioner Randy Leonard. And while some see in Saltzman a lack of charisma, we see a politician who doesn’t need constant coddling."; "...Saltzman -- in a City Hall crippled by the mayor's woes -- is a consistently courageous voice and the true center of gravity on this council. "
[_] Martha Perez
  • Yikes: No statement in the official voters' guide.
  • Interesting answer regarding police: "...Provide mandatory mental health/steroid testing of personnel" LOL! Huh? The other candidates recommend drug testing, but I guess steroid testing is good too.
  • Good: "...Police identify those with criminal and drug history and are moving them into treatment. This needs to be continued. Homeless families and individuals are job and housing placements (sic) but the waiting list is long and must be expanded. The challenge is with those who refuse help and perhaps returning them to where they grew up with resources and contacts might help them. Enough study, time for action." Not sure police really move homeless into treatment. Deporting homeless is controversial, but smaller towns do buy one-way bus tickets to Portland.
  • Interesting: "I would make all city employees...decide between a parking space or a bus pass. ...I would earmark funding for more air testing as Federal mandated. I would encourage Tri-Met to consider looking for corporate sponsors for assistance with marginalized communities.." Well, at least her answers regarding climate change are doable. TriMet is already corporately funded.
  • Good: Only candidate to take public transit to WW interview.
[_] Spencer Burton
  • Good: "...tell the federal government that we are not going to put in one hundred million dollars to build a filtration system that we don’t need...."
  • Development killer: "..."Portland Feed-in Tariff" for renewable energy production and a requirement that new buildings have solar panels on their roof tops..."
  • Unlikely: "...have the Portland Light Rail Network, including the Vancouver, Powell Boulevard and Tigard-Sherwood Lines fully built by 2020..."
  • Unlikely: " the nation's first electric vehicle network..."
  • Unclear implementation: "...have farmers markets in every neighborhood..."; "...have neighborhood based cultural centers where artists, craftsmen, musicians, actors and freemen and women can express themselves and earn a living." "Freemen"? Huh? "...pension funds should be invested in local green businesses..."
  • Yikes: Did not respond to League of Women Voters timely. (PDF)
[_] Mary Volm
  • Excellent: "...Over the years, the City's elected officials have talked about the importance of maintenance, but have decided instead to invest scarce city funds in new enterprises. The City should be heard on the vital issues that affect our livability, but we must take care of our responsibilities first..."
  • "...the Portland Development Commission and the private sector must work together to identify new opportunities to attract and expand business, as well as keep existing businesses ...Currently, all City rules and regulations are applied the same, regardless of the type of business. Common sense must be applied to make it affordable for small businesses to stay open in Portland."
  • Good: "...improve communications between City Hall bureau and union. Ensure the budget is earmarked for training and a timeline of training goals at all levels is created, implemented, and post-process review performed..."
  • Good: "...A former city employee of 20 years who most recently was involved in the first effort to recall Adams, Volm has experience and passion for the job. ...we also think she’s unprepared to manage complex bureaucracies..." Huh, WWeek? Who else but a 20-year city employee would be prepared to manage city bureaus.
  • Good: "...She seems an edgy person, and her personal affiliation with the zany Adams recall guy hasn't gained her any mainstream cred. But she's the only one in her race expressing a lick of common sense about the dangerous direction in which the city is headed..."
[_] Edward (Ed) Garren
  • Okay: Campaign website/blog features an overwhelming collection of ideas: Transparency and Accountability in Government, "bring green technology to Portland", Working Parents & Schools, Sustainability, etc.
  • Unlikely: "...Union contracts should require more community involvement (volunteering), as well as drug and alcohol testing, and specific policy to eliminate 'the code of silence' among officers..." (PDF)
  • Ugh. Strange answer regarding homelessness: "...There appears to be an obsession with 'fitting in' rather than with celebrating diversity and encouraging people to honestly share our differences. We also do not talk enough about our historic racial and social differences (racism & homophobia)..." (PDF)
  • Meh: works seismic concerns into question about climate plan:"...We need to create ways to specifically encourage (or require) energy (and seismic) upgrades to our buildings and homes to reduce energy use by at least 50%, and assure that when our big quake comes our homes and buildings will survive..." "Require" upgrades??? (PDF)
[_] Jesse Cornett
  • Good: "...opposes using taxpayer money for a soccer stadium..." Voters' Guide
  • Meh. Too little, too late: A Plan For Jobs
  • Meh. Police plan with some good ideals, but unclear execution.
  • Good: Opposes current Vancouver SUV bridge plan
  • Good, but obvious:: "...From day shelters, treatment programs, and employment counseling, there needs to be more of a concerted effort to reduce homelessness in Portland." (PDF)
  • Interesting: "...Cornett raised 1,000 donations of $5...and thereby qualified for $150,000 from the city's taxpayer-financed campaign funds..."
  • Ugh. "...Jesse Cornett is the next Erik Sten, all the way down to the "clean money" machine. You can almost smell the dopey ideas in his pocket..."
[_] Michael J Courtney
  • Ugh. Glenn Beck-like free association rant: "...Bureaucrats and Union executives are rounding up the troops under the Socialist banner...we invest vast sums in our illegal immigrant population. Nearly 18% of our population doesn’t speak English and about 12% of our school kids don’t either...we have been #1 in unemployment over the last 15 years.); Hunger (Nationally #2); Worst schools (#3 in the Nation of the most failing schools...We lead in the culture wares [sic] and class warfare...lead the way in failed transit and in running[sic "ruining"?] our own business..."
  • Yikes: Did not respond to League of Women Voters timely. (PDF)
[_] Jason Renaud
  • Yikes: No statement in the official voters' guide.
  • Yikes: Declined to respond to League of Women Voters. (PDF)

Ugh. I put off working through this ridiculous list of candidates. It seems whenever there is a hint that a spot on the city commission is open or vulnerable, anyone with a slight political dream runs for the office. Understandably, city commissioner is an appealing position -- $100+k salary, control of some city assets, and access to taxpayer funds rather than dealing with the poor/sick/criminal as a lowly county commissioner ($88k salary), fixing the state's budget as a part-time legislator ($21k salary), or doing time in an unpaid elected position like school board, etc. So, I can't really blame any wannabe politician dreaming about becoming a city commissioner, but it takes some hubris to run for this office first without considering a more attainable public office.

I previously voted for Saltzman and didn't really have strong negative or positive feelings about his long tenure on the council. I was concerned about his role as police commissioner during the bureau's on-going controversies, but he seems to be trying. The latest alleged scandal involving Saltzman's girlfriend receiving a city grant does suggest maybe he is getting too comfortable in the office (but, really, this is the best dirt after 12 years in office?). Willamette Week and The Oregonian make convincing arguments that Saltzman has been burdened with fixing problem bureaus and deserves to be re-elected. I agree.

I spent two days reading these about these other kooky campaigns, Mary Volm is the only candidate I seriously considered voting to replace Saltzman. A run-off between her and Saltzman could be interesting. considering her public support of the Adams recall, I hope she spends more time either running against Adams or recruiting someone to run against Adams in 2012.

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