After two weeks of devoting this space to Sho Dozono's $27,295 poll problem, I'd hoped to turn my attention to what the current city council has been up to.
Not a whole lot, it turns out. Commissioner Sam Adams is bringing a resolution to the council on Wednesday, February 27, buying his staff more time to craft a ballot-ready transportation fee. Commissioner Randy Leonard is poised to bring the duct tape ban to the council for a vote. Commissioner Dan Saltzman is holding community meetings about a fee on new construction that would pay for parks. And Mayor Tom Potter hopes that the council will adopt a "five-year plan to increase community involvement in Portland." Yawn.
So... back to that poll!
In his first floor city hall office, City Auditor Gary Blackmer is engaged in "additional administrative steps and analysis" before Dozono can become a certified publicly financed candidate. The auditor is declining comment on further questions about the poll, which Dozono finally reported to the state as an in-kind contribution on February 15 (backdating it to December 21). "It would not be appropriate to engage in public discussion of the particulars of this on-going certification process," Blackmer says.
Undeterred, Adams' mayoral campaign manager Jennifer Yocom sent City Auditor Blackmer a 17-page memo on Monday, February 25, requesting clarification "of the applicable and binding rules of the Voter-Owned Elections system so that all candidates, participating and non-participating, have a clear understanding of the law."
Yocom outlined information that's come to light since the auditor initially decided that the poll wouldn't be a problem for Dozono's certification—including that Dozono "still does not appear to have reported the in-kind contribution to the auditor." The auditor previously determined that Dozono wasn't a candidate when he saw the poll results in late December, so they don't count against him. But in her memo, Yocom makes the case that "there does not appear to be any language in [the city code] that actually provides for such an exception." Furthermore, his contribution of the poll—Dozono announced he was paying for it on February 15—happened "after his candidacy [had] been established."
As far as I can tell, she's completely right. The Oregonian might think Dozono "deserves a break," as the paper wrote in a February 26 editorial, but I've still got concerns that the hugely expensive poll violates a cap on in-kind contributions. Ignoring that issue threatens the integrity of the public financing system, and takes away from the multiple candidates running for city council this year with public financing who are not only following the letter of the law, but the spirit of the system as well.