Thursday, May 11, 2006

VOE Haters, Meet Burdick Lovers...Oh, You've Met

The contributions and expenditures (C&E) reports are out again, and while I found some interesting items on all the reports (Dave Lister: paid endorsee of the Trib's publisher), I do confess I was most interested in Ginny Burdick's. She pledged that PGE/Enron would not contribute to her fund, and she kept that promise. (She didn't avoid $331 from her own company, Gard and Gerber).

But that's a red herring; as if PGE isn't interchangeable with Qwest or Comcast or NW Natural? It's not that she's the torchbearer for a monopoly utility per se, but that she has a torch for all of them at the same time. If she made it to Council, she'd never leave downtown for all of the office tower meetings she'd sit in. No, what was more interesting to me was how much overlap we'd see between her list and that of the VOE repeal petition effort, which spent $350,000 in a failed attempt to make the ballot. How many people and companies signed on for both?

How's 40%? {xls file} If you rearrange the file to put her best contributors at the top, 50% of the entities who gave $1,000 or more also gave to VOE repeal. Roughly speaking, every other person she hit up for money was willing to back her twice. That's some effective buy-in, and given how vastly unimpressive her public appearances have been so far, you have to assume it wasn't the charm and the come-hither look that shook the trees for so much coin. The motivation for Schnitzer Steel and Melvin Mark and the Goodmans must be pretty strong, and ask yourself: are they really spending this much because they think the public process has been violated without a vote? Do these multimillionaires running manymillionaire companies truly get up in arms about $1 million being spent at City Hall?

Hell no. They're upset because the incumbent does not actively work with them to give unfettered access to the taxpayer's wallet. They're upset because they have to pay licensing fees and dues to PBA to pay for TriMet and the Clean and Safe people to clean up after the homeless. They're upset because they can't get the Council to roust homeless "criminals" from the sidewalks. And frankly, I think they're secretly pissed that the Council is falling all over itself to accomodate OHSU, which technically isn't even a for-profit business.

All of which--hey, god bless 'em, it's their right to spend recklessly--would be fair if Burdick represented their Joan of Arck and they pushed her candidacy and that was it. But the expenditure reports make it clear that to her contributors, VOE is just another front in their war. Either they are just opposing it because it's Sten's baby (which I doubt), or because they are truly worried that VOE will hamper their influence. If they've seen the numbers I've seen from Follow the Money, where total contributions for the two races this year are less than 2004's Fish/Adams race by itself (and waaay less than Francesconi's million dollar blowout), they should be worried. And if that's the case, neither they nor Burdick should ever get their way.