Thursday, March 30, 2006 there are some kinks to iron out

Voter Owned Elections may be suffering a bit from the laws of unintended consequences:

For fans of so-called "voter-owned elections," Emilie Boyles is precisely the kind of candidate the new public financing fund was designed to attract: She's enthusiastic, creative and a longtime activist with little financial firepower.

For opponents of so-called "taxpayer financing," Boyles symbolizes all the problems they predicted: She's eager but awkward on the stump, touting ideas that can seem as impractical as they are innovative. And the way she collected her money -- the 1,000, $5 contributions needed to qualify for $150,000 in taxpayer help -- illustrates the broad constructs of the law and the lack of direct accountability inherent in this new system.

Nearly 950 of her seed donations came from Russian, Croatian and Slavic immigrants living in east Portland -- at least nine of whom say they don't recall contributing.

Boyles apparently relied on a man named Vladimir Golovan to raise a good chunk of this seed money. Golovan is the head of the Russian Chamber of Commerce in Oregon. According to the Oregonian, Golovan filled in the information on the collection sheets for many of the donors. Some of whom don't recall giving to Boyles.

It appears that a more careful process might be needed to make VOA a cleaner process.

Ironically, the Oregonian chose to take commentary from Jason Williams of Oregon Taxpayers Association. Williams, who is against VOE says that he believes contributors should have to be at least 18 years of age to donate to a VOE campaign. I don't necessarily disagree. But coming from Williams, that's a bit of a crock. Especially given his own attempts to make a mess of the ballot initiative process in Oregon.

Talk about digging a log out of your own eye before examining the speck in your neighbor's. Sheesh.