Wow, that's ridiculous. There's just no excuse for that - of *course* it was a conflict of interest. He should have recused himself from the vote AND any discussion of the grant. What kind of mindset does he have, that he thinks no one would care?
Matt, did you 'break' this story? If so, that's a great job, sir. Maybe that deportation order should be delayed....
@Reymont. I did, sir. That's why I wrote "BREAKING" on it, although you'll probably see James Pitkin pick it up in a few hours without giving credit.
Thanks for making my decision on Jesse Cornett that much easier, Mr. Saltzman. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
That was pretty stupid of him. I believe that there is an explicit period to declare conflicts of interest before every council meeting, so this shouldn't have been a new concept for him. When you do this, you don't do any favors for the agency in question, because now their grant looks tainted.
Jesse Cornett is a loser.
@Matt - Oh, I thought "Breaking" just meant something like "This Just In," not necessarily that it was your own investigation. Very cool.
@ Veronica-C. Try to stay on topic...if you can.

So, how does Saltzman have $600,000 dollars to just give away?! What are the taypayers of Portland paying him? Or...more to the point...where is Saltzman getting this kind of money?

Hmm. Richie Rich has got to go.
@lew archer

Don't lecture me, and don't assume I'm a moron. Is it not apparent to you that Cornett is behind revealing this story?
lew, this is money from the city's Children's fLevy. He sits on the board that hands it out.

But my understanding is that Saltzman is personally pretty well off from family money.
Yeah, you kind of missed the point there, lew. If it WAS Saltzman's money there wouldn't be any problem with him giving it to his girlfriend.
Thanks, Blabby. That makes sense. Man, I wish I had Saltzman's power to spend $600,000 that's not even mine on my girlfriend's charity! :) Nope, that's not a conflict of interest. Not at all...

...and speaking of delusional...

@Veronica-C. It doesn't matter who revealed Saltzman's $600,000 conflict of interest. It's still a conflict of interest. And if you think your first comment is adding to the discussion or staying on topic? Wow. In all honesty, I didn't assume you're a moron. But I do now.
Portland is such a small city. It's going to be incestuous no matter what.

@lew archer I won't be speaking to you in the future. You're a troll.
Pot, kettle, etc.
:) Clearly. I am indeed the troll between us. But no matter what you think of me (sniff!), I shall do my best to valiantly soldier on as I continue my project of printing and framing all your historic missives for posterity.
I hate to jump into the middle of this thing but veronica-c, you started your posts in this thread with a troll.
So, what's the conflict exactly? Saltzman is not related in any way to Ms Burns, stands to see no personal gain, and unless there's some direct funding line that is the difference between her having a job or not, she sees no gain either.

In other words, for a potential conflict to be meaningful, somebody in the conflict needs to be getting ahead based on his action. Who was that?

And Matt, if you were tipped by Cornett, his campaign or anyone ELSE affiliated with running against him, you need to disclose that IMO.
Why does he need to disclose that? Do reporters ever disclose their sources?
I wonder if Amanda still thinks that "Dan is principled and fiscally responsible" with his actions?
Excellent story Matt. Good job breaking this and getting people on the record!
The attempt to present wrongdoing by a candidate as suggested by a political opponent is vital context, IMO. Anonymous sourcing should be for situations where there is some reason to fear revelation.

At the least, it should be said whether an unnamed opposing campaign provides the tip to what looks like publically available info.
@Mary Thanks. I appreciate it.

@torrid: I'm interested in your journalistic thought re.revealing sources. As a graduate of the Shonky Journalistic College(TM), London, I happen to disagree with it, but where the hell do you think a story like this might have come from? I mean, I would have thought it were obvious. As is the conflict of interest in Saltzman's behavior, I would have thought. Have you actually read the city's ethics code? Here are some relevant sections:…

"1.03.020 Trust. The purpose of City government is to serve the public. City officials treat their office as a public trust.
1. The City’s powers and resources are used for the benefit of the public rather than any official’s personal benefit.
2. City officials ensure public respect by avoiding even the appearance of impropriety."

"1.03.030 Objectivity. City officials' decisions are based on the merits of the issues. Judgment is independent and objective.
2. If an individual official’s financial or personal interests will be specifically affected by a decision, the official is to withdraw from participating in the decision."

"Just because an action is legal does not necessarily mean it is right or good. Similarly, not every action that is wrong needs to be punished under the law. The role of ethics is particularly to question those actions which are neither prohibited nor required by law."

"To function effectively, the City needs the public’s respect and confidence that its power will be used on behalf of the community as a whole. In this context, improper acts are doubly wrong: a selfish decision is not only wrong in itself, but also wrong because it violates the public’s trust in government."

"Public service requires a continual effort to overcome cynical attitudes and suspicions about the people in government. For example, conduct which could appear dishonest to a reasonable observer will undermine the public trust even if the conduct is not illegal."
Well of course he should have disclosed this, and of course they had an advantage. I applied for our agency, also new to this whole thing. After we were rejected, I had a very good meeting with their staff and learned why, and what I did wrong in putting it together. It would have been a DISTINCT advantage to have had this coaching before our proposal was submitted. $600K is also very very high for a new agency. It was pretty obvious during the public hearing, watching Saltzman and the others, that they already had their minds made up as to what they would fund.
@backbeat If you'd like to talk about this a little more on the record, I'd be delighted to hear from you. Cell number: 503 502 2106.
go visit the Legislature in session, and at almost every floor session, some Rep or Senator will stand up to note "My father serves on the Board of a bla bla bla...." or "I am a member of...." or such -- and this is just during floor discussion! the effort to avoid even the slightest hint of conflict-of-interest is something an elected or appointed official needs to err waaaay on the side of consertative. even the slightest possibility someone will construe coi? you say something. keeping silence, even for "common knowledge" is wrong on so many levels. in the midst of an election, it's especially problematic: it's probable there was nothing wrong with the allocations, but that's completely irrelevant. Saltzman didn't think the public should be informed, and that's a violation of his responsibility as City Councilor.

and now it's come back to bite him in the ass. that, of course, is Problem #2.
Saltzman's family is rich. That's how they ended up with a road named for them (N.W. Saltzman Rd.). The rumor is they tried to bring Dan into the family business, but he was so incompetent they had to find something for him to do. Their answer was to buy his way into politics and he's been there ever since.
I think he should have said something, but now the best thing to do is to Vote for Volm and see what kind of batshite crazy Jasun Wurster stuff she throws money at...
While I, like you Matt, disagree with torridjoe’s views about revealing sources I also feel where he’s coming from. If this information did come from a Saltzman opponent, or affiliate, it in no way impinges your journalistic reputation, but it makes you kind of a tool.
What do you think "development specialists" do? They are the fundraising staff. If you are a development specialist and bring in $600,000 new dollars, you are a freaking hero, which equals job security. I am unable to tell you how much that is of their annual budget because they seem to be a part of Legacy Emanuel Hospital, not a stand-alone charity. If they were a regular nonprofit, I could look up their IRS 990 and tell you exactly how much that means to their budget. But $600K is an amazing amount for any nonprofit org, particularly as a first/new grant. So yes, I do see a conflict of interest and Salzman should have disclosed the conflict and left the room during deliberations.
Throttle down there Econoline,

There will never be any type of interoperate or ethics violation between Volm and myself.

Saltzman gives you money to his girlfriend and Cornett gives your money to out of state firms. Vote for who ever you want... but let's keep it civil.

Jasun Wurster
TJ, does it matter what the source of the story is if the story is accurate? it's one thing for a campaign to try to plant a false or misleading story; this one is fully accurate. no one is denying a thing. if the Cornett campaign alerted Matt to the story, they did so by doing homework, or from a tip from a supporter. any of these are above-board & legitimate. what would be a different story is if a campaign were trying to mislead journos about an opponent; in this case, they may have provided the Merc with a real story that Matt then followed-up on -- properly.
Jacob, journos are often tools; it's part of the gig. if you get a story from a source, that source probably has an agenda. you can't avoid using good info just because it serves someone else's purposes. most reporting is to the benefit of some and the detriment of others. the Watergate story sure made a tool of Woodward & Bernstein ... helped the Dems get rid of Nixon.
It makes absolutely zero difference who Matt got the information from. At least, not to me.
@tabarnhart @Jacob I don't think many people would dispute that I'm a tool. Wokka wokka.
@tabarnhart, well stated. @Jackattack, I also don’t really care where the information came from. Politics just feels icky. Matt, keep up the good work.
You aren't a tool but you do have a funny accent.
The real question is *if* other media will pick up on this story. The WWeek, Oregonian and Tribune have endorsed the Dan. Hell, the owner for the Tribune gave Dan and Nick $500 before their endorsement interviews even happened.

Anyhow, will the other media in this town pick up on this story and inform voters that the incumbent who touts the 'Children's Levy' was unethical by giving $600,000 to his girlfriends charity?

This could seriously sink Dan's chances of getting elected and most likely put Cornett and Volm into a runoff... if only the public knew.

BTW: Nice work Matt.
Matt, it would seems you're admitting it came from the Cornett campaign, which makes me wonder why you didn't simply note that in the piece, since we both appear to agree there's no protective incentive involved. As to where else it might have come from, it's now clearly foolish to include it among options for stories written by you--but sometimes stories come from the journalist investigating public documents themselves. Maybe you're not old enough to remember the industry pre-stenography era?

Moving to the specific issue--I've read it and others like it enough in the past to know that it is used to prevent personal gain based on one's vote. So I'll ask you again: where is the conflict? Who is benefitting personally in your story, or at a bare minimum what are you alleging is the gain to be potentially realized in this situation?

You made two big mistakes here: first, you reported an item that you purport to be newsworthy, but failed to explain what made it newsworthy--why is this a story; don't poll me, tell me why you published it and think there is an issue to be raised.

Failing substantive newsworthiness, the other option is that it's worth noting bcause it represents charges made in the context of a political campaign. That would appear to be what you're sitting on--but by failing to cite who tipped you, that angle is lost as well.

TA, the accuracy is irrelevant to the disclosure. The story is "accurate," but it's also of questionable importance. The disclosure of the source is by far the most salient part of it, because that's the only part of the story we KNOW is worth reporting.
@torrid I think others have said pretty well why it's an obvious conflict here, and to repeat them would simply be to repeat them. I think this is a brilliant story, and also, that I'm a much better journalist than you. There. Does that satisfy your desire for a little justification on my part?
@torridjoe - if you don't know why an elected official like Saltzman using his influence to give $600,000 (which wasn't his) to his girlfriend's charity isn't newsworthy? Then we can't help someone like you.

For the rest of us readers, we'd like to know why Saltzman funneled $600,000 to his gf's charity without disclosing their relationship.

I'd definitely like to see the WW and the O cover and provide their perspective on this story.
Trevor and Matt have got it right. We can't break it down into words any smaller than we already have, torridjoe.
nah Matt, Cares NW seems like a good program and I have no beef with the selection process in general. I'm sure we could have put together a better proposal, and hope to do so in the future. But I stand by my comment that he should have recused himself. $600K is a phenomenal amount of money for any nonprofit program.
Stipulated - Cares NW is "a worthy nonprofit."
Stipulated - In respect to the public trust, the flight of the message is immaterial.

5-0 was a bonehead move. Saltzman could have counted heads, smiled, and taken the 4-0 victory without voting. What's to be gained? Nothing. So he forgot who he is and who is lover is and works for? Unlikely. So maybe he just doesn't care? Here's the deal - speculating is fruitless.

The charter, quoted above, is clear -

1.03.020 Trust.

The purpose of City government is to serve the public. City officials treat their office as a public trust.
1. The City’s powers and resources are used for the benefit of the public rather than any official’s personal benefit.
2. City officials ensure public respect by avoiding even the appearance of impropriety.

The penalty is also clear -

1.01.140 Violations - Penalty

It is unlawful for any person to violate any provision or to fail to comply with any requirement of this Code. Any person violating any provision or failing to comply with any requirement of this Code, unless provision is otherwise made herein, shall upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine of not more than $500, or by imprisonment for a period of not more than 6 months, or by both such fine and imprisonment. However, no greater penalty shall be imposed than the penalty prescribed by the Oregon statute for the same act or omission. Each such person shall be guilty of a separate offense for each and every day during any portion of which any violation of any provision of this Code is committed, continued, or permitted by such person and may be punished accordingly. In addition to the penalties herein above provided, any condition caused or permitted to exist in violation of any provision of this Code is a public nuisance and may be summarily abated by the City as authorized by this Code. In addition, property shall be forfeited and City license may be suspended or revoked as provided in this Code.
Nah, Matt. I have no beef with the selection process and found the staff to be very helpful and professional. We could have done a much better job with our proposal and hope to be more competitive in the future. What I will stand by, however, is that it clearly represents a "perceived" conflict of interest, regardless of whether he coached her/gave her inside info or not. As such, he should have heeded that perception and recused himself from the discussion and voting. The person who is perceived to have benefited is the staffer, who just did a fab job getting that massive grant. $600K is big, especially if a first time grant. Personally I don't think there was any funny business, and many may even say this org just knew how to better play the game. But he should have disclosed it just to be sure.

I am not currently a Portland voter, have no skin in the game or candidate preference. Just tired of boards that don't follow strict ethics policies and feel he should have known better, so it is disappointing.
It is hard to convince politicians that conflict-of-interest rules protect them as much, if not more, than they protect us.

Cornett, if he was the source, evidently is a much smarter politician than old Dan.
Good thing for Saltzman our DA and AG are also ineffectual leaders!

See: § 162.405

Official misconduct in the second degree

(1) A public servant commits the crime of official misconduct in the second degree if the person knowingly violates any statute relating to the office of the person.
(2) Official misconduct in the second degree is a Class C misdemeanor.

Or even § 162.415¹
Official misconduct in the first degree
(1) A public servant commits the crime of official misconduct in the first degree if with intent to obtain a benefit or to harm another:
(a) The public servant knowingly fails to perform a duty imposed upon the public servant by law or one clearly inherent in the nature of office; or
(b) The public servant knowingly performs an act constituting an unauthorized exercise in official duties.
(2) Official misconduct in the first degree is a Class A misdemeanor.

If he has a duty to disclose and didn't....
I would say that Mr. Saltzman shows a lack of judgment in not recusing himself on the vote. As a fundraising professional who has signed the Association of Fundraising Professionals Code of Ethical Principles and Standards, I strive to avoid even the appearance of conflict. Here are two of the standards regarding conflict that one might apply in this case:

3. Members shall effectively disclose all potential and actual conflicts of interest; such disclosure does not preclude or imply ethical impropriety.
4. Members shall not exploit any relationship with a donor, prospect, volunteer, client or employee for the benefit of the members or the members’ organizations.

Speaking of conflicts of interest, I guess Emerald Bogue, now Saltzman’s Campaign Manager, learned something from her current employer. As I recall, Emerald was formerly a staffer for Mayor Adams. I believe she also at one time wrote for The Mercury [Ms. Bogue has never written for the Mercury—eds]. Speaking of conflict of interest, Emerald Bogue is listed as an endorser of Dan Saltzman on his campaign website, but nowhere could I find her listed as his campaign manager.

I guess Brendan Finn, Saltzman’s Chief of Staff, missed the memo on the Children’s Levy being born of politics. His quote makes it seem that he’s chosen to miss the point!

Information about the Children’s Levy is public i.e., your tax dollars at work. No informant or campaign operative necessary to obtain this type of information.
Based on The Mercury blog post, I would say that Mr. Saltzman shows a lack of judgment in not recusing himself on the vote.

Speaking of conflicts of interest, I guess Emerald Bogue, now Saltzman’s Campaign Manager, learned something from her current employer. As I recall, Emerald was formerly a staffer for Mayor Adams. I believe she also at one time wrote for The Mercury. Speaking of conflict of interest, Emerald Bogue is listed as an endorser of Dan Saltzman on his campaign website, but nowhere could I find her listed as his campaign manager.

I guess Brendan Finn, Saltzman’s Chief of Staff, missed the memo on the Children’s Levy being born of politics. His quote makes it seem that he’s chosen to miss the point is all the more irritating!

Several of the posters seemed to have overlooked the fact that the information about the Children’s Levy is public i.e., your tax dollars at work. No informant or campaign operative necessary to obtain this type of information.
is it too crass to call this what it is?

saltzman's 600K city funded blow job for the kids
Really odd to see Mary Volm's comment that this kind of reporting is a good thing after her boyfriend hijacked the recall sam adams campaign website to her advantage without disclosure...
Oh my god, this is the second best blogtown post EVER.

This is how Mary and Jasun grieve.
Dan Saltzman is "disappointed that folks are playing politics with the Children's Levy"? Rich irony, that.

I'm moving before we get our new City/County income tax. Or carbon tax. Or "real estate transfer tax". Or "fat tax". Or "flush tax...". Or ZOMG-you-drive-an-SUV tax." Later skaters.

Are you referring to the website that I pay for with my own money and started over a year ago:

See that, I got to rebuke you and get the link out there for people to see the new information where we are posting all the information of those who give money to the incumbents and Sam. Soon there will be two more projects on my site (I am sure you will love) that will increase transparency of government and allow citizens to participate in shaping an honest government.

But back to the very serious ethical lapse of the chair of the Children's Levy and elected official allocating $600,000 of Portland taxpayer money (sorry Alexjon, you live in Seattle) and not fulfilling his legal obligation (per city code).

Omission of information is... lying. Hence, Saltzman just did a 'Sam Adams' and I have a feeling that with ballots out the voting public will vote accordingly.

I hate to say this (like really hate it), but Jasun's right. I am thanking my lucky stars that my wife and I haven't sent our ballots in yet.

Of course, I was going to vote Cornett anyway, but she was (previously) undecided.
Bruce, you moving to Monaco? i mean, you want to avoid taxes (and, i guess, public services that you can afford to pay for privately). don't let the door hit your selfish ignorant ass on the way out. and leave behind your publically funded education, stay off our public roads, don't use our public airports or airspace, and generally just stop using anything you don't pay for 100%. just so you're happy.
If you imagine Jasun as McCarthy, it gets even funnier.

Congrats on stating the obvious about ethics, though. Didn't think you knew what those were.
Amazing. Dan Saltzman appears to have no issue whatsoever with a sexual predator perching precariously on the top of the Portland political food chain, but he cares so much about the children.

Oh, right, it was all legal. Breedlove was an opportunist. Dan Saltzman loves kids. I got it.
T.A. Blowhard:

Washington County is my destination, not Monaco.

You don't know me, or anything about me, so your personal attack is motivated by dissonance in your life, not mine.

Portlanders are taxed too much, and those who have the ability to leave are voting with their feet. If you are very wealthy, or a recipient of social services, then PDX is a fine place to live. Who cares if Saltzman treats the CIF like his own little piggy bank? It's for a good cause. And his girlfriend is probably really nice. Ditto for all of the Sam/Rand follies.

I do mind. And it will get worse before it gets better. I don't have that kind of patience.
Simmer down, people. Let's stay focused on the story at hand. Update: It turns out that Saltzman's girlfriend may have misrepresented her role in the grant procurement process...…
If the mayor doesn't need to be held accountable for violating the city code of ethics, why should any other elected official be held accountable? We've got an unethical liar for mayor, therefore everyone below him gets to be unethical as well.

We're stuck with this scenario for 2.5 more years....

Vote against ALL incumbents!
Funny, our organization was not even called upon, let alone allowed to ask the committee to broaden the definition of what qualified.
Good Job Matt,
If only the rest of the press in this city would do its job, as well as you have.
I'm wondering why this is *not* being covered by the local TV stations and radio stations. How much dirty money has he spent hoping to get re-elected. How much more fraud, waste and abuse of office are the residents of Portland suppose to put up with. This is utterly ridiculous!!! I have not nor will I vote for him. He's too sleazy.
@Matt you can stop patting yourself on the back anytime now and go eat a slice of humble pie or two.

That said, its a good story and speaks volumes to the lack of ethics that is the current Portland City Council. Sounds like Dirty Dan lied about a personal relationship. My only question is where are all the defenders of the personal lives of politicians? It seems to me that you dare mention "Sam Adams" and you get a bunch of screaming idiots who suggest politicians have an absolute right to privacy in their personal lives. What is peculiar to me is these same people are silent right now. Guess they only defend lying sex predators like Sam.

When you have a Mayor like Sam, this unethical move by Saltzmen seems but a mere drop in the bucket. It is clear that Portland does not want ethical leadership and it cares little for kids when so many support Sam and his questionable personal relationships. If Saltzmen wanted to take a stand for kids he would have never condoned what Adams did. All the ill gotten grant money in the world, for his lady friend, does not erase the fact that Saltzmen supported predator Sam and could give a fly f**ck about kids.

So it looks like as long as Sam is Mayor sleeping with a City Council Member gets you grant money. Something tells me 600k isn’t enough to sleep with creepy Saltzmen or his fugly cohorts but to each her/his own...
bruce, i know your whining & that's what i responded to. please do leave. more room for people who actually want to live here, enjoy a quality of life that is not based around the automobile, your own special brand of corrupt officials, a devaluation of livability in pursuit of development money. and please, yes, keep showing your class with the 3rd-grade-level name calling. awesome.
Dan has now told the Oregonian that maybe he should have disclosed the relationship -- but he's shy. seriously. "i can't follow the Code of Ethics because i'm shy." sweet jesus.
How DARE he give money to victims of child abuse! Wow! What a story!

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