Jack Pollock
RALPH QUIXOTE

Add "bullheaded persistence" to the list of attributes describing perennial presidential candidate Ralph Nader. He first tried to find a shortcut onto the state's ballot by hosting a mini-convention this spring. Under state election laws, any independent candidate who hosts a conference with 1,000 eligible voters can qualify for November's ballot. But pulling in only a few hundred eligible voters, his first attempt failed.

In late June, Nader's campaign took another whirl, hosting yet another conference here in Portland. But this time around the Nader-fest became a vehemently contested forum.

Democrats encouraged their members to attend the conference--but not sign the petition. Under election rules, after the requisite number of eligible voters show up, election officials must close the doors and begin petition signing. By crowding out legitimate Nader supporters, Democrats hoped to keep the 2000 election year spoiler off the ballot.

At the same time, Republicans had their own strategy: Far right zealots like Lars Larson encouraged their followers to attend June's conference, place Nader on the ballot, and siphon away lefty votes.

Last week the results from that conference were released: Although enough people attended the conference, Nader supporters fell about 50 signatures short.

Nader has one last chance: Gather 15,000 signatures by mid-August. PB

BREAKING DOWN WALLS

Two weeks ago, City Council Member Jim Francesconi tried to introduce an ordinance requiring more police accountability. However, Mayor Vera Katz scolded Francesconi, pointing out that she was the one in charge of the police bureau.

That power struggle set the stage for last week's city council meeting, when the otherwise taciturn Dan Saltzman spoke up to suggest a new operating procedure. Under current rules, only the council member (or mayor) in charge of a bureau could suggest policy changes. By not allowing anyone else to stick their noses into the other commissioners' bureaus, these operating protocols have allowed individuals to create fiefdoms.

Saltzman suggested a new idea: Why not let any elected city official make policy suggestions? The proposed change quickly passed, ushering in a new free-for-all era in Portland politics. PB