City council candidate Ed Garren has removed the gloves, calling his fellow rivals to take down Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman a "bunch of clowns" in a late night blog comment posted here in the early hours.

Garren was photographed with the other candidates on Sunday at the Overlook Cafe, and council candidate Spencer Burton put out a notice saying all five would be at an event on Alberta this Friday night. But Garren says he hadn't agreed to that just yet, and is angry that Burton notified the media without his consent. Posted last night:
The open letter I sent to this bunch of clowns, who have REALLY pissed me off !!

Dear Spencer, Mary, Jason and Jesse:

I came last Sunday to see what you had to say. While I appreciate your desire create a more "collegial" perspective among candidates, I think I made it VERY clear in the meeting that I was opposed to any scheme which would attempt to conspire to get $750,000 out of the city.

The entire reason for the Qualifying Contributions process is to see if there is genuine public support for an individual candidate to warrant PUBLIC MONEY being awarded to that individual candidate. It is NOT a scheme to just get money out of the city because a group of people are angry about an individual elected official, or a single issue.

I also made it very clear that I did NOT want the photo of me with the rest of you published until my campaign steering committee had considered and approved our participation in such a scheme. I asked your photographer to take a second set of photos of the four of you, with me not in them, and you did.

The Steering Committee of my campaign also agreed with me about this endeavor and felt equally uncomfortable with it.

Yet, before I could notify you of that decision, I get notice of my photo, with the rest of you, published in the Willamette Week (online…).

What this blatant disregard for my request confirms is that my instincts were correct, and I do not wish to be publicly associated with this group, this series of endeavors, or the reactionary impetus which appears to drive your endeavors.

I am running for City Commission because I believe the city needs change. While I share your concerns about many issues, I am not interested in any conspiracies to try to manipulate the Public Financing system.

I ask you to do a public disclaimer, and ask the Willamette Week (and any other media) to remove the photo with me in it.

Regards, Ed Garren

If you'd have checked Blogtown, Ed, you'd have known about this two hours and four minutes earlier. Anyway, commentator Kari Chisholm at Blue Oregon, who happens to have prepared Jesse Cornett's rival website, hits back:
He called his fellow candidates a "bunch of clowns, who have REALLY pissed me off!!" and suggested that the meet-the-candidates concept was a "scheme which would attempt to conspire to get $750,000 out of the city."

Sure, Ed. Can't have candidates talking to voters or anything like that. That would screw up that whole "democracy" thing we have going on.

Agreed. I can't see what Garren would have to lose by showing up to this event. On the other hand, I can see that he'd lose a great deal of good will by calling his rivals clowns. Rivals, feel free to chime in in the comments! Do you mind being called a "bunch of clowns?" Is it better to focus on the issues than these kind of spats?

Update, 12:23: Garren called earlier this morning to say he's "not sorry" for calling the other candidates a "bunch of clowns."

"I'm really pissed," he says. "I feel violated, and I don't want anything to do with any of them after this."

Garren repeats that he went to the meeting but that he was scandalized by the idea of trying to get $750,000 in public financing out of the city council, if all six candidates were successful.

"It felt really icky," he says, of the meeting. "In the shrink business, they say to kids, if someone is touching you and it feels icky, then it's not right."

Garren, so far, has gathered 160 $5 contributions, he says, of the 1000 needed to qualify for public financing by the end of the month. He says he'll decide at the end of the month whether to continue a campaign even if he doesn't qualify for the public money.

"I really respect the intelligence of the voters in this city," he says. "And that's what this comes down to. This is not about manipulating people so that you can get $150,000 in taxpayer money and pump up your ego."