Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Trib: carrying the Portland Business Alliances anti-VOE water

[This is Carla's take on the Tribune story. Want Torrid's? Go here...]

The Portland Trib continued its insufferable anti voter owned elections bias today by trotting out some PSU professor by the name of Melody Rose.

Rose is described as a "self styled progressive" (what in the world does that mean?)who has strong concerns about the VOE system. Namely that the VOE critics are marginalized as being in favor of "dirty money". Uh..okay. So Rose is upset that a spade is being labeled a spade? The money coming into campaigns by corporations and folks entrenched in the power structure isn't coming in for nothing. There is an expectation that the recipient candidate will give them something for that money. That inherently makes that money dirty. Rose's discomfort with this characterization doesn't change what it is.

The bigger question I have is did Trib writer Nick Budnick dig Melody Rose up on his own..or did connections with the Portland Business Alliance (the STRIDENTLY anti-VOE, pro current power structure group) make it just a little bit easier for Budnick to find her? This whole article looks as if it has PBA fingerprints all over it. It would have been more honest to just cut Budnick out and let the PBA publish the piece in the Trib themselves.

Interestingly, Rose's views seem vastly out of step with women and VOE organizations.

For example, Arizonan Betsey Bayless was originally not a clean elections supporter in her home state. But after it passed she says their state noticed "a substantial increase" in the number of candidates. Many of those candidates said that they'd not have been able to run (at least competitively) without clean elections laws due to lack of access to campaign funds. In Maine, Marilyn Canavan was initially skeptical about that state's voter owned elections laws. But after deciding to run for office, she said,
“As a Clean Election candidate,I feel completely unencumbered—free to decide issues strictly on their merits. My first term, I served on the Joint Standing Committee on Insurance and Financial Services, one of the most heavily lobbied committees in the Legislature. Walking through the State House the first week was like running a gauntlet. It didn't take lobbyists long to see I was a lost cause,though. I'm open to all sides of an issue, but in the end, thanks to Clean Elections, I'm answerable only to my constituents and I wouldn't want it any other way.”

Not exactly on the same page as Melody Rose, are they?

The Trib piece also has some nasty, not-so-hidden biases against VOE. This one stands out:

In the election that just concluded, three candidates qualified for public financing, including Sten and neighborhood activist Amanda Fritz, a nurse and former planning commissioner.
But to the dismay of the system’s proponents, the candidate whose campaign drew the most attention — of a negative sort — was Boyles, consultant to nonprofits and an activist who now is under investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice after a series of articles by Oregonian reporter Anna Griffin questioned both the means Boyles used to gather signatures, and how she spent the money.
Specifically, Boyles employed Volodymyr Golovan, a Slavic church activist, to gather signatures largely from the Russian and Ukrainian immigrant communities. Many of the signatures appear to have been written by the same person, suggesting they were forged. Some of the signers who supposedly gave Boyles money told The Oregonian they had no recollection of doing so.
Boyles also spent the money in questionable ways, including paying her 16-year-old daughter $12,500.
Even before the Boyles scandal blossomed, her receipt of public funds for her campaign chafed critics who felt their taxes and water and sewer bills should not subsidize the campaign of someone with whom they disagreed. Boyles’ campaign style underlined this concern for people like candidate Dave Lister, who said his opposition to the ordinance was heightened after seeing Boyles in a City Club debate. There, her erratic speaking style had audience members laughing at her — Oregonian columnist Steve Duin described her as an “energetic train wreck.”

What the Trib is shaky on here is that Boyles violated VOE laws and the system caught her. It worked. Boyles was indeed a mess...and the VOE system weeded her out. It did what it was designed to do. But the Trib couches it as a failure rather than the law working correctly. This entire passage leaves any halfway informed person scratching their head wondering why the Trib has such a passionate need to see VOE take a dive.