Saturday, May 13, 2006

Fritz Gets Political, Nails Saltzman on Overspending

In my piece that was mostly about Burdick otherwise, I posted a story with a sidebar line on Saltzman exceeding his self-imposed funding limit of 150K, and also cited a Stanford column from The Trib where he dissed Amanda Fritz's political chops.

Fritz read it and in less than 24 hours tied those two together in her most sternly worded attack on the incumbent, released by email and submitted for publication at BlueOregon. As I said yesterday, I confirmed with her staff that they wouldn't be taking the matching funds available by Saltzman's overage. Fritz makes it clear herself:
I will not be requesting the $9,651.90 in matching funds I am entitled to under city code, because I believe in sticking to a budget and saving citizens' money. I am planning to return several thousand dollars to the city from my Campaign Finance Fund allocation, after final bills are paid following May 16. My campaign has exemplified frugal, wise, honorable use of campaign funds and will continue to do so.
This woman is like the proverbial Italian trains...on time with a tight budget. There's been a lot of talk about who can run the City like a business, or at least with a no-nonsense, no frills accounting for detail. There's no doubt Fritz wants to make a statement and a political issue about the way campaigns should be ethical tests voters give to candidates--because it's a test Fritz (probably alone in the entire field) passes 100%. And she's not afraid to put others to her choice of test:
His filing five days before the end of the election exposes another issue in the Voter Owned Elections system... Non-participating candidates with connections to wealthy campaign contributors eager to donate can overspend in the last few days of the campaign, with limited options for participating candidates to respond. Commissioner Saltzman continues to spend money in a last-ditch attempt to win this election, despite exceeding the limit. His campaign is running automated phone calls from Mayor Tom Potter. Over the weekend, he could buy more TV ads or hold expensive attention-grabbing publicity stunts. Certified Campaign Finance Fund candidates' capacity to respond to late overspending by non-participants is limited.

I am urging citizens to consider whether an automated phone message purchased by exceeding promised limits is more valuable than demonstrated ability to contain costs and live within a campaign budget that is already more than double what the average family in Portland earns in a year. Cost overruns and exposing the city to additional expenditures, or cost containment and savings returned to the city's coffers? Your choice, Portlanders.

I treated Saltzman's overage as a sidebar, like I said. I wasn't planning on saying anything else about it. And I didn't even mention what Stanford said about Fritz's political neophysm, but when I read it I wasn't sure I agreed. And now that she has capitalized in the final weekend with a fair statement of the choice voters face, I'm pretty sure I don't. We spend a lot of time wishing that normal, sensible people would take the time to be our politicians. Not that Saltzman's not normal, but the word "sensible" starts with her nurse's shoes and just moves on up. She claims that her party Tuesday (paid for out of Fritz's pocket and recorded as an in-kind donation, dontcha know) is a victory party no matter what, but if she doesn't end up in the Council seat by November, it's the City that will lose.