For weeks, the backers of Mayor Tom Potter's charter reform package have stayed silent, except for a peep here and there from the ever-popular thinkers at the Portland Business Alliance (PBA) and the Oregonian. PBA board member Sho Dozono helped scrape up money for a poll, but so far it hasn't been released.
Last week, though, seven former members of the Charter Review Commission filed a campaign committee to back all four of the proposals—right out of the gate, they're trying to distance themselves from the PBA.
"I'm happy they support us, but this is a citizen-led campaign," says committee member Bob Ball, a real estate developer who led a failed "strong mayor" change five years ago. "This is not a Business Alliance ballot measure."
The committee, Citizens to Reform City Hall, will square off against the Committee for Accountable City Government, the opposition campaign, this May. Good luck keeping the names straight.
But! Since the State of Oregon has finally rolled out its hot-shit new campaign finance system, Portlanders can keep an eye on who, exactly, is funding the "reform city hall" campaign (coughPBAcough) on a day-to-day basis. In elections past, though, the PBA has done a good job of hiding their campaign contributions; during the failed bid last year to repeal Voter-Owned Elections, PBA money was filtered (laundered?) through an organization called the "First Things First Committee."
That's assuming that anyone actually gives money to the campaign—considering the odds they're getting in the city at large, the "strong mayor" backers might be better off shooting the horse before the race starts.
Meanwhile, at last Wednesday's city council session, the mayor and commissioners—for the second week in a row—fiercely debated a proposal to urge the state legislature to amend labor laws so that public employees (cops, firefighters) can talk about safety issues during their normal collective bargaining negotiations. Makes sense, no? But Potter and Commissioner Dan Saltzman, backed by Police Chief Rosie Sizer, were adamantly opposed, saying that such an amendment could open the negotiating door too wide.
Commissioner Erik Sten asked that all sides get together to agree on a version of the proposal, but nobody bothered, not Sizer, not cop union head Robert King—nobody. Potter, though, decided to give them all one more shot, hoping for unanimous support.
Commissioner Randy Leonard couldn't pass the chance for a dig. "Oh, we're going to work collaboratively now?" he asked the mayor. "I've been waiting a long time for that to happen."