Aaron Renier
As the rest of the nation continues its countdown to Election Day, Portland entered its peculiar final stretch--a 16-day period during which we can already cast a vote. That's right: You Type-A's can send in your vote even before the last-minute pleas for your support and any final-moment campaign developments (Will Tom Potter finally release a detailed platform? Will Sam Adams and Nick Fish reveal themselves to be the same person?).

If you can't wait one more week for the Mercury's endorsement issue, here are a few tidbits to chew on before casting your vote.

TRUTH SQUAD

In the fight over same-sex marriages, hospital visitation rights have emerged as hotly contested turf. Radio ads for Defense of Marriage Coalition have a man claiming to be gay, who also claims he had no problem visiting his partner in the hospital. That claim is and isn't true.

Providence, Legacy, and OHSU have open policies regarding who can visit patients, as long as the patient is capable of making the decision. But if the patient is incapacitated, the situation gets muddier. A Providence spokesman said those situations are dealt with case-by-case.

However, the policy regarding who can make medical decisions is far clearer. Legal spouses top the list, followed by family members. "Adult friends," as one hospital spokeswoman put it, are further down the pecking order. That list, however, is superceded by contracts assigning power of attorney.

But proponents of same-sex marriage argue that Measure 36 could negate those very same contracts. SCOTT MOORE

THOU SHALL NOT PROFIT UNDULY

The lines between political cause and business enterprise continue to blur. Tim Nashif is the director for the Defense of Marriage Coalition. He is also notably the CEO for Gateway Communications, a local printing company. At the same time, Gateway's president, Michael White, is also DOMC's executive director.

Of the $685,000 raised to push the measure, DOMC has given $130,000 to Gateway for rent and printing services. Interestingly, although companies that support political causes will often provide services at discounted rates, Gateway has charged DOMC full price for everything.

When the Mercury attempted to contact DOMC donors to find out how they felt about their donations being funneled into Nashif and White's company, the Mercury was instead contacted by Nashif himself, who claims the campaign is actually taking away from more lucrative Gateway commercial projects. He also claimed his company plans to bail out the Yes on 36 campaign, which is reportedly $350,000 in the hole, by handing over a $100,000 loan plus an as-yet undisclosed cash donation. Also, from here on out, they will give in-kind discounts on campaign mailings. SM

NUMBERS SCHNUMBERS

The first poll conducted in late September by the Portland Tribune/KOIN team-up showed a surprise result: Mayoral candidate Jim Francesconi had surpassed his rival, ex-police chief Tom Potter, 41-38 percent. So shocked were Tribune editors, they immediately commissioned another poll. This one showed Potter edging out Francesconi 44 to 39 percent. But a week later, a poll conducted by the Oregonian had wildly different results. Potter was leading by 25 points.

Why the difference? Traditional polling methods may be outdated. Because most polls are conducted via land phone lines, they tend to ignore young urbanites--75 percent of who have a cell phone as a primary contact number. ALISON HALLETT

LIGHT RAIL POLITICS?

Heading into the primary election, Jim Francesconi was saddled with the reputation for being in the pocket of big-time downtown developers. But a scuttled city council hearing over a transit mall may have begun to finally rehabilitate Francesconi's reputation--and, in the process, has raised important questions about his opponent, Tom Potter.

The story begins with Francesconi, who oversees the bureau of transportation. For the past 16 months, city planners have patched together a sprawling $160 million to extend light rail options into the suburbs. To help finance this project, city council has proposed a "local improvement district" under which 1,000 downtown property owners would be taxed. (That tax is geared to raise $17 million; the federal government has pledged to match that revenue with $20 million.)

The matter was scheduled for a public hearing last Wednesday--but a few days earlier something very interesting happened: Several powerful property owners dropped a two-inch thick economic analysis on Francesconi's desk and threatened to sue if the plan went forward. That group was led by Greg Goodman, a major downtown property owner, and Tom Moyer, the owner of Fox Tower who was indicted last month for illegal contributions to Francesconi's campaign.

Goodman is part of a powerful family who have pulled political strings in town for decades; they have long enjoyed a lucrative contract to manage the city's parking lots. Goodman had also been a vocal supporter of the transit mall. But earlier this year, city council awarded the parking lot contract to another company. In response, according to city hall insiders, Goodman pulled his support for the transit mall and sought revenge against city council--especially Francesconi.

(Although Goodman had originally been a Francesconi supporter, he yanked his backing after the May primaries. More recently, the Potter campaign announced that Goodman was throwing his support and money behind the former police chief.)

In the face of a threatened lawsuit, Francesconi pulled last week's public hearing over the transit mall and scheduled it for November 10--a week after the elections. In response, an Oregonian article intoned that Francesconi was ducking a tricky vote against powerful downtown developers.

But Francesconi angrily refutes that interpretation. "From my perspective," Francesconi said, "I'd rather have the opportunity to publicly disagree with these people right now."

Meanwhile, Potter jumped on the Goodman boat and has spoken out against central tenets of the transit mall. The night before the matter was pulled from city council, Potter made the following claim at the Concordia neighborhood forum: "We can reduce the impact of transportation on our community without additional sums of money thrown into light rail."

That statement came in spite of overwhelming public support for the transit mall and its plan for light rail expansion. In spite of Goodman and Moyer's dissent, more than three quarters of the downtown property owners continue to support it. If nothing else, this recent development would seem to belie Potter's prior lofty claims of "listening to the people."

by Phil Busse