Three from the Campaign Trail

Evan Manvel

It's crunch time for primary campaigns.

While I hate to add to the general over-fascination on the Portland mayor's race while there are other important races like the Attorney General race, the Reardon-Schaufler race, the Nolan-Fritz race, the Metro 5 race, the Clackamas County chair race, etc., there is fresh mayoral content that goes beyond the 30-second television spots or just the rehearsed talking points.

Here are three pieces; I encourage others to add additional news in the comments.

First, there was the Think Out Loud program yesterday with the three major mayoral candidates. A lively twitter discussion followed along, including remarks on visual reactions, which you can see on video. The pre-show, unscientific twitter survey went for Smith, 54-23-23% (not surprising, given Smith's lead in social media).

The policy conversation varied from urban renewal districts to police action to the sustainability center. Jefferson reminded listeners of financial realities and equity, Eileen talked jobs, and claimed it would have been "easy" for her to oppose the CRC (?!?), and Charlie played up his experience and the Katz and Oregonian endorsements. There were lighter moments, but I'm more interested in the significant chunks of policy discussion that happened. Listen to the whole program, watch the video, and catch the twitter feed over at OPB.

Second, there's a long interview with Eileen Brady over at BikePortland. Unlike some of the discussions and debate formats, the one-on-one interview allows editor Jonathan Maus to really explore some issues and get beyond talking points. It's a fascinating discussion that leaves the commenters, at least, skeptical about Brady's answers. Here's one back-forth:

Maus: "If you were mayor, would you look to maintain, increase or decrease the amount of money directed toward projects that improve biking?

Brady: "Let's put it this way, I'm committed to implementing the most cost-effective pieces of [the bike] plan as soon as we possibly can."

Maus has previously interviewed Hales and Smith.

Third, there's the Northwest Examiner's April issue, where the paper comes out in favor of Hales (with Smith a close second), Nolan, and Novick. Editor Alan Classen doesn't pull his punches in his write-up, but it's even more interesting to read the candidates' responses to some of the leading concerns for Northwest Portland that aren't always talked about - parking, garbage collection, and the PDC, among others. Read the PDF of the paper over here.

Disclaimer: I volunteer for a variety of causes and campaigns. I've endorsed Nolan, Novick, and Smith. I've done some paid work against the current costly, risky CRC highway mega-project. I speak only for myself.

UPDATE: Over at The Portland Mercury Blogtown, Denis Theriault has announced the Merc is endorsing Cameron Whitten. We think that's in jest. And they have video of the Working Families Party dance party, and report on controversy around statements about Occupy Portland.

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    Progressive and Portland Green Parties strongly endorsed Cameron Whitten. It was not in jest. His Progressive Plan and issues pages are miles ahead of the monied candidates, including out of state darling Smith and carefully-couched Brady.

    While the Mercury may have canceled their interviews in jest, leave open the possibility Cameron walks away with their endorsement for the primary election.

    The other candidates debate what they would have done with Occupy.

    Cameron was there. Taking in all the ideas and discussion. Power to the People.

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    On trying to rationalize your BWV endorsement of Smith who nobody has ever seen on a bicycle you go after a statement that she is for cost-effective parts of the plan ignoring the emphasis on what effect we are actually looking for, which is providing safety and the means to get people within a quarter mile of bike boulevards. Her pattern in this campaign has been to not commit to anything that could be considered wasteful spending, including scaling back the CRC to a cost-effective solution that connects multi-modal transit to Vancouver. Smith on the other hand supposedly opposes the CRC but leaves a gigantic loophole called Plan B. Does anybody know what he meant? Just saying you oppose the current plan is not enough, you need to propose a replacement. So as a staunch environmentalist I am stymied how Smith could be supported by anybody who is skeptical of the CRC. Just saying no to it does not solve the problem of no light rail to Vancouver. So he came up with a metasyntactic variable, Plan B, as a catch all to bucket up whatever idea anybody may want to apply to Smith. It is a good way to get votes but it signals his immaturity when it comes to how to govern. Is Smith ready to lead Portland? Maybe when he starts verbalizing his opinions in specifics rather than emotional appeals to vision, he will be ready. Right now? Stick to electing centrist Dems in suburban districts with Ché t-shirt wearing college kids.

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      I'm going out a limb here, but I'll bet this is the first time the term 'metasyntactic variable' has made an appearance on Blue Oregon.

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        Some grammarians might argue the term is misused above, but I'll tip my hat to it. I like it.

        The content of the argument, however, is full of errors.

        (a) I've seen Jeff on a bike. I've biked with him. I've got photos of it. Hence "nobody has ever seen on a bike" - wrong.

        (b) Just to be clear, Bike Walk Vote isn't just a bike group. We focus on biking, walking, transit, land use, and transportation equity. Our questionnaires are transparent and public. And I think it's fair to say we think more funds should be invested in biking, and that questions should actually be answered by candidates, instead of dodged with vague statements no one could disagree with.

        (c) The assertion that Brady has a "pattern to not commit to anything that could be considered wasteful spending?" is so far from the public record that, I don't know where to begin, except with the most wasteful, expensive public works project in the region's history that won't solve the problem (CRC megahighway), and continue with the Oregon Sustainability Center, which at least half of the legislature apparently considers wasteful spending, and then go to... well, heck, I don't have the time.

        Jefferson has actually held elective office and governed. He's received awards for his work in the legislature (including recognition from OLCV for his environmental work). He co-led bringing together one of the most important water management agreements in 30 years in Oregon. He's passed a lot of bills with a lot of unusual suspects, and has been involved with oversight on huge budgets.

        Seth, we should have a beer instead of blog-attack each other's arguments without really understanding. I think we share similar values, if not similar conclusions.

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          I stand corrected that he's not seen in bike. I did a Google image search for Jefferson Smith on a bicycle and I did find a single instance. It was a photo-op when you announced he was endorsed by BWV:

          I suppose you really needed to have a photo of him with a bicycle for that article. Next time though, make sure he's responsible and wears a helmet. ;)

          In your own questionnaire, he points out that he bikes "far too seldom" and he has pointed out that he's not really a cyclist to others and that would be a good thing for supporting cycling. I don't really get that. I support legalization for most drugs and decriminalization for the rest, but I don't do drugs myself (not even alcohol or caffeine), is that kind of the same thing? I would be the best advocate? I really doubt I could explain how much somebody loves pot to handle their cancer recovery like how it eliminates nausea. I wouldn't know how to describe it.

          As far as "metasyntactic variable"'s proper use, I took "plan b" to be "bar" in alternative to "foo" (the current CRC proposal) where bar is something other than foo in many computer science examples. As I'm an experienced software engineer, have seen them in use dozens of times in specification documents, and have written them in documents I've written, I think I can use the term correctly.

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          Smith argues against the CRC as currently designed and wants something that isn't a waste of money. That doesn't mean he doesn't want to see a multi-modal and pedestrian and bicycle friendly retrofit or replacement. From Brady's position statements they appear to be on the exact same page. I've seen Smith try to position himself as if he's fiscally conservative in opposing the CRC. The rub is everybody else is opposed to the same as-it-is-now CRC plan just like he is. So what's the difference? I don't really know what Smith really wants to see because he leaves such a wide possibility of solutions that I can't interpret his answer in terms I can actually directly compare. Things like the number of lanes, retrofit or replace, will we require light rail and better bicycle access, will we remove other parts of the CRC design plan that don't include the bridge, etc. ... lots of little details. Smith has mentioned many of these without much of a commitment so I don't know what's really going to happen. My impression of Jefferson Smith is that he will do whatever Kitzhaber wants for the resultant CRC once Smith has pushed back a little bit in public as some sort of a Green credential. Based on his personality, I then expect him to take full credit for the result despite his being "opposed".

          Brady too wants to see the project turned into an alternative vision, too, one that is fiscally sound. Do they really disagree? Does Smith want to restart the federal funding process? Brady wanted to move forward for that reason while pointing out it needed to be "right sized". So far I have yet to see Smith actually contradict anything Brady has said about the project in her full context. I've read over your questionnaire, the PBA questionnaire, and many others. Maybe I missed the real difference? I've asked others to read them and tell me what the difference is too, and none have been able to do it so far. Maybe you can be the first, or at least tell me what you think the outcome will be if Brady and Smith are elected. I'm more concerned about outcomes than promises since there's usually a process that goes on after the promise and before each vote. Predicting that result is admittedly as scientific as divining water from rods, but I think we should at least make an attempt.

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          I personally think there's no reason to work on the CRC unless it is a retrofit to replace a lane with light rail and to widen the bike lanes with improved railings for bicycle traffic. I've been over the interstate bridge on bicycle and it's a good way to get some thrills, trust me about that. It would really be nice to get that fixed. I don't think we should spend any money on new bridges period, just maintenance and retrofit. Do I have a candidate that fits that vision? I'm not sure. And yes, I would rather see other infrastructure that would be more likely to fall down in a mega quake get attention first and would like none of the city money to be obligated to the CRC project since it shouldn't even be part of our budget as it's a federal bridge. If the feds come up with a plan that isn't fully funded by other sources than us, I'm not sure I want to spend even a dime on infrastructure for cars.

          Though we have to acknowledge the freight traffic issues if we don't spend any money. I work on logistics with detour routing algorithms to avoid congestion problems and I-205 is the preferred route for almost all traffic, but I-205 is in pretty good shape and probably won't need much help for a while.

          Legislators rack up interest group rewards all the time just by the act of voting, and most Portland Dems vote the same way on most of the bills by the time they are murdered in committees, so I don't take "scorecard" awards and such seriously. As far as OLCV, Jon Isaacs is a Brady campaign manager and she has the endorsement of the Portland Green Party (along with Smith and Whitten). Is being "involved with oversight" as a legislator a statement filled with significance? As far as many of the bills he has passed, I'm simply not impressed at his bills versus others. I'm on all the legislative email lists and the committee lists and know what they are all doing on some level, and Jefferson Smith didn't impress me by his bill load or the bills he supported.

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          If you can't tell yet I don't hold legislators in high regard unless they start working to dismantle the status quo politics they have become a part of, so talking about his being a legislator usually works against him in my mind unless he become famous like U'Ren who was there to change the system fundamentally. Legislators like Smith who didn't introduce bills to require the Secretary of State to enforce Measure 47 for example are added to a my list of "didn't even try" on the issue of legalized bribery I want to end. Ironically, most legislators know how terrible unlimited campaign funds are. Smith himself even talks about how campaign donations are the one exchange where the donor doesn't "officially expect" anything in return (though that's not exactly true, many non-profit donations aren't self-benefit driven, especially small ones that Measure 47 would allow). I know Smith could do better but why didn't he? His questionnaire response to us was pretty unclear -- he said he would love to see Measure 47 enforced but never once ever before then to anybody we know has he ever done anything in support of campaign limits. You'd think he would have said something before Occupy made my primary issue something that required constant protest when nothing was done. So I'm not convinced it isn't just simple pandering on his part, or a true change of position. That he didn't change his priorities in the February session sent me a signal that he's simply pandering.

          Smith also refused to answer our questionnaire question on election method reform to open up access to the election system to minorities. Ironically he sent out our questionnaire to a bunch of lefties to edit on google docs before sending them back to us. They asked me what the answer should be on a number of questions. I provided an ideal answer for a number of the questions, and they came back either deleted entirely or mostly removed of meaning.

          Suffice it to say, I wasn't impressed. He's had a chance to show his true colors and I don't think he's the best candidate in the race as a result.

          Perhaps we'll talk this over, over some Italian sodas. You can have a beer; I don't mind that, either.

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