Transcript of 4/9 City Council meeting
Following is part of the transcript of the Portland City Council meeting last Wednesday. The Citizen Campaign Commission (including myself) brought a recommendation that Council approve $150,000 in public funds in the event that we have a Special Election in July. Commissioner Randy Leonard, although he recused himself from the final vote, took exception to our methods in reaching our recommendation, and expressed concern that we were trying to push through our own agenda, rather than drawing an impartial conclusion. His concerns are unfounded, and I explained why in the discussion that follows. (The video was posted on PortlandOnline on Monday; if you have RealPlayer, click here for the video. Public financing discussion begins about 12 minutes in, and lasts just over an hour.)
(I have filled in some of the more glaring typos and missing names. -Pete)
Mayor Tom Potter: Aye. Please read the 9:30 time certain.
Potter: Auditor blackmer?
Auditor Gary Blackmer: Good morning, mayor, members of council. Gary blackmer, Portland city auditor. What you have before you is an ordinance that essentially is built around a draft ordinance that commissioner Leonard and mayor Potter put together several weeks ago. But as the council subsequently asked the citizen campaign commission to look at the numbers and make a recommendation, the commission had several meetings on the topic, did a considerable amount of research, and then we basically put those numbers in the place that commissioner Leonard and mayor Potter had suggested. So that’s essentially the ordinance before you. With me on my direct right is Leslie Hildula. She’s the chair of the citizen campaign commission. On my left is Pete Forsyth, another member, and on my far right Dylan Amo, another member. I’d like to turn it over to them, and they can kind of talk a little bit about what — how they got to where they made these recommendations and can help field any questions you might have.
Leslie Hildula: Good morning. Leslie Hildula, chair of the commission. Thank you for having us here today. It is an honor to be serving on the commission. We appreciate the opportunity to observe and report on the process of voter-owned elections and to make a recommendation. We also very much appreciate the support that we’ve received from the city elections officer and angie bryant and of course gary blackmer, the city auditor. They have been hugely instrumental in our ability to do a thorough analysis of the issues as they come up and to provide our recommendations to you. The special elections that we are currently in, there has been a request from council to ask the commission to look at the amount that will be given if there is a runoff. And in spite of concerns about changing city code at this point in the election, there does seem to be probably the majority of feeling that the $200,000 for that runoff, if there is a runoff, I perhaps excessive given the short timeframe. So we took a deeper look at special elections over time, at elections in general and specifically special elections over time. Over a course of four meetings, we looked at data from past races. We listened to campaign consultants, people who run campaigns, people like c.n.e. Systems who have a lot of public records and data at their hands. It made it easy for us to get ahold of a lot of data quickly. We got input from janet thompson, jeff malakowski rick kaufman, names I know are familiar to you as campaign experts yourselves. And in looking at that, like I said, overwhelmingly people said, yeah, $200,000 is a bit much for two and a half months. And the biggest cost of election is voter outreach, which is the same regardless of how much time you have to run. So we looked at what are the overhead costs. Can they be prorated to some extent? What kind of of money does it take to do good, expected voter outreach? Because we felt like there’s a deal that’s involved here, and the deal is that — to the citizens we are going to offer them viable candidates and reasonable election expenses but also, to the candidates, that we will provide them a decent amount of money to run a campaign. Not excessive but not so bare bones. And that’s why we game up with the figure of $150,000 if there’s a runoff with the ability of an additional $225,000 in matching funds. I know you have a packet of information about all this data i’ve talked about, emails that we looked at and wrote to each other, past letters and all that sort of thing in front of you, so I won’t get into all that detail. I just wanted to assure you that the commission takes its responsibility seriously. We have a code of ethics that we created when we first got together that we do not as individuals support any candidate for city office. We don’t publicly endorse them, give them money while we’re commissioners. We take the system very seriously. So I guess, in summary, I encourage you to consider our recommendation of $150,000 as an adequate amount. Yes, there are people who have done special elections with less money. There are many more who have done it with much more money. And we think the $150,000 is a fair and adequate amount for a voter-owned election candidate, and that’s our recommendation to you. Thank you.
Potter: Further comments?
Dylan Amo: I’ll speak next. My name is Dylan Amo, downtown member of the citizens campaign commission. I wanted to thank you for your recent inclusion of me, putting me into the commission. It’s been a pleasure to serve with them. Also I wanted to thank my fellow members of the commission and city auditor’s office for creating a very inclusive and respectful work environment. It is a pressure to work with them. I look forward to serving the rest of my term with them. As the council might be aware, I was the lone vote against the recommendation for you on this, council. I wanted to share with you my perspective. I saw this first as a vote whether or not to change or not to change. Even before I get to the identification of the appropriate number, I wanted to figure out whether or not we had gotten enough information together to make a conclusion. And as of now, I don’t think that the answer before you in the recommendations from the committee is inclusive enough to make an answer on the issue of special elections. First of all, I think the committee did a great job. They created an intensive work schedule, making lots of different meetings, as leslie pointed out. They were very inclusive in providing — drawing out from the audiences at our meetings and trying to get their perspectives. Additionally, more than any other committee that i’ve been a part of, they really did reach out to members of the public to get their perspective. Leslie and I know gary and all the emails that you have before you talk about all the different professionals that were included in our decisions. But I think questions still exist. I know that you have had heated debates within this, in private and public, as the directions go, and I think that, within you right now, you know that there are plenty of questions. I think first the one of nonparticipating candidates still needs to be dealt with. The first is whether they can raise enough money to meet the amount we are recommending out of this. I don’t necessarily know that we got an answer to that. I think a lot of time was spent by the committee in coming up with an answer as to what the appropriate number is going to be for a participating candidate to go out and get votes adequate to — you know — have a successful campaign, what is necessary to get voter outreach, but I think we need to spend more time in getting nonparticipating candidate information. One of my biggest problems was the question of nonparticipating designation of money. If a nonparticipating candidate raises more money in a shorter timeframe or raises more money that would come up to the matching cap that they would have the ability, since it is a shorter timeframe, to designificant mate that money towards the future runoff election rather than exceed the matching cap. I think that is a penalty on nonparticipating. I think that the physicians campaign commission still exists out there. In conclusion, I said that I did not want to change, and I just wanted to get more input from the public. I know that this is a significant problem that we have a special coming up, but I would rather not create more problems that need to be addressed in the future and deal with it now I thank you all for your time.
City Commissioner Randy Leonard: Your position, you think the $200,000 is too much or that we should change that amount?
Amo: I would not change that $200,000 number. The question isn’t necessarily what number do I think is appropriate to give to a candidate, ’cause I think —
Leonard: Before we get there, can I focus on this? Your position is that leaving everything status quo means that a runoff candidate has $200,000?
Leonard: And you understand that the council had to actually adopt an ordinance for — ordinance for special elections to create that.
Leonard: So we were actually changing the system by adopting a mechanism for special elections.
Amo: It’s my opinion that we didn’t create a new ordinance, that what we did was apply the existing ordinance.
Leonard: We had to pass that.
Leonard: So it isn’t a matter of opinion. The fact is we had to adopt an ordinance. We’ve since rescinded the ordinance, which means there is no rules for runoff candidates. So i’ve been confused about this position i’ve heard that the council’s changing something, because we had to create something for runoff candidates.
Amo: Well, as I was trying to layout in my remarks, I don’t think that we can come to a fair number. In my opinion, I don’t think we have come up with a fair number yet. We have focused almost exclusively our committee time on what is a number that is appropriate for a participating candidate to reach out to the public. I think we need to spend more time reaching out to nonparticipating and including them in the discussion. I think that the number that they have come up with is a fair number as to what it make takes for a participating candidate to be in the system, but I think we need a better number for nonparticipation, not just what it takes for them to rave against a participating candidate but also the issue of designation of cap money. Some people refer to it as earmarks in the emails, but I refer to it as designation.
Leonard: I guess another part that’s somewhat mystifieded me in the discussion that’s inherent in any amount that’s been helped about is that a nonparticipating candidate that raised $66,000 or $100,000 or $150,000 or $200,000, any nonparticipating candidate that raised private funds above that that we would match dollars for dollars for the participating candidates. So i’d be curious that that hasn’t been part of the discussion that it really almost, in some ways, becomes not so important what the amount is if the theory is we’re trying to reduce the cost of elections. Then the nature of whatever the cap is, however low it is, is to send a message to nonparticipating candidates. Whatever you raise above that, the participating candidate —
*****: I can address that. First of all, the figures that we looked, we looked at past special elections. I mean, if you think about it, those were all nonparticipating candidates that we were looking at, so the data, we think, is very reflective of what a current nonparticipating candidate would be faced with and what they could raise. But in terms of the idea about what’s wrong with starting low and then use matching funds if they’re needed, there’s some sense of course to that argument. And when we look at these, we try to look not just at today’s race but other races, different scenarios that might come into play. So, for example, if you have a participating candidate who perhaps is relatively unknown, running against an incumbent, i’ve heard there are advantages to incumbency, that you have your name in the paper. You’re now the there doing good work. And so there is some advantages to your candidacy when you run as an incumbent. Perhaps, as a campaign strategy, you could keep your campaign spending relatively low, starving funds from a challenger. Or, as another scenario that could possibly happen is that, if a person who is a participating candidate thinks that they have $100,000 to run, they have a campaign strategy built around that and then, at the last minute, a nonparticipating candidate is able to put a bunch of money into the race and sort of as a strategy do some last-minute serious spending, that participating candidate will be scrambling and having to change their strategy. Now, granted, that is campaigning. Right? As you all know, people are responsible for their own campaign strategy.
Leonard: With all due respect, I think this is where you guys have gotten yourself in trouble, because if an incumbent finds himself or herself in a runoff, they’ve got a lot more problems than strategizing the amount of dollars they’re not going to spend. They’re in trouble. And the real world is an incumbent on the city council is running for reelection and finding that, in the primary, he or she cannot garner 50% plus one vote, they are in a lot of trouble, and they’re in a lot more trouble than gaining the amount of dollars that they’re going to get. I would argue the opposite. You’re an incumbent and you find yourself in a runoff, after having been an incumbent, and you decide as a strategy you’re going to underspend the person that’s in second, you might as well start pulling the pictures down off your wall, because you’re done.
*****: I appreciate that point.
Leonard: I mean, this is what we do for a living. And I think where you guys have gotten into trouble is in an attempt to be fair you’ve outthought the practical implications of what you’re doing, and it appears as though you’re not fair. It appears that way. I don’t think that that’s the case, but I think the appearance is not good. And so the part that’s been mystifying for me has been almost a spin, it feels like. The council’s changing the rules. The council’s not changed the rules. The council is adopting rules for special election. And then second trying to second-guess what the experts are recommending the amount should be. I mean, I looked at your report and frankly was flabbergasted that you had liz kaufman, who everybody recognizes, who’s nationally known as one of the best political consultants in the nation. Any candidate who gets liz for a consultant has a leg up. It’s an axiom of politics in this area. And then you have an anonymous source who comes up with $150,000. Liz comes up with approximately $100,000. You picked the anonymous source. Well, it appears that way.
*****: I can understand it appears that way, but that’s not how it worked.
Leonard: It may not be, but what has troubled me more and more throughout this experiment is that the architects and administrators haven’t stepped back to look at what their actions are doing to the appearance of the program, and the appearance of the program is that, if we tried to do anything up here — I mean, if I issued a report that had a named consultant, liz kaufman, that recommended $100,000. I, commissioner randy Leonard. And then I had an anonymous source that was recommending $150,000 and I was known to favor the participating candidate and I picked at anonymous source, I could stand here all day long and say, I know it looks bad, but I really picked this number for other reasons, and I would be hung out to dry.
Hildula: I think there’s some congruency in those recommendations that perhaps gary can explain better than I can, because he’s much better at numbers.
*****: The second consultant who wished to remain anonymous basically ratified everything that liz kaufman had laid out in calculating how to get a message out to a certain number of voters. The only difference between those two consultants was the projection of the turnout rate for a special election. Liz kaufman talked about a 25-30% turnout rate for a special election. Her experience covers a wide range of elections. But when we looked at what the consultant said, it was that given the political climate with hotly contested presidential race, I think we’re going to have a higher turnout in july. That was enough for the commission. Janice Thompson have brought in the fact that the last two special election runoffs for council races, the first one was 38.6% turnout. The second one was 40.7 or 8% turnout. Essentially right around 40%.
Leonard: And I really appreciate that, gary. I really do. But what you’re telling me in essence is that you discounted the advice of a recognized expert. Let me finish. And accepted the advice of one of the architects of this system that analyzed a consultant’s report who chose to remain anonymous. Then the question I have to ask is did the person choose to remain anonymous because they’re advising one of the candidates and didn’t want that disclosed and have their numbers analyzed in view of the fact that they may be advising one of the candidates? It raises a number of credibility questions.
*****: The only thing we accepted from the consultant, from this architect, as you describe her, was two statements of fact which were the turnout rates for those races which were contrary to liz kaufman’s assumptions. And using liz kaufman’s logic, applying a more realistic turnout rate brought the numbers higher.
Leonard: I can imagine the scenario in which I as a candidate would tell liz kaufman her analysis, which is what I pay her for, is wrong. You have to show me why it’s wrong, and you’re relying on an anonymous consultant that’s having the numbers tweaked by one of the architects of the system.
*****: I’m sorry that we can’t convince you.
Leonard: Is that wrong?
*****: You’re wrong.
Leonard: I thought you just said that democracy in action.
*****: You said we accepted the word of an anonymous consultant.
Leonard: From janice thompson?
*****: Sure. She volunteered it and brought it in. She brought in two pieces of data anyone can get off the internet.
City Commissioner Dan Saltzman: Didn’t those special elections also have ballot measures on them?
*****: I don’t believe so.
*****: Something small on fairview on one of them. I think there were issues but small issues.
*****: No one can predict what the turnout rate is going to be, but what we can best do is work on what we had historically experienced here in Portland, and it was a higher turnout rate than liz kaufman was using in her assumption. It’s not that we’re disagreeing with what she’s saying. We’re just taking what she’s got as an estimate, questioning one of her estimates and saying, well, it doesn’t quite match up with Portland’s experience. So — you know — it’s really council’s call here. Frankly, I think the commission about a lot of thinking and tried its best to come up with what it thought was a fair amount, but ultimately — you know — arguing about whether there was intentional or accidental bias one way or the other doesn’t really get to the answer, so I would just ask council to —
Pete Forsyth: Pete Forsyth, commission member. And just in response to commissioner Leonard, I think the characterization of what advice we took is inaccurate. The prevailing message that I understood from council in sending the question back to us was that you wanted input from the public and you wanted a deliberative process. In response to that, I feel that we as a group generally did a very good job of seeking a variety of input. I don’t remember the exact number, but somewhere on the order of five, six, seven people who gave significant and detailed response to the situation and, in my mind, the anonymous person was an extremely minor factor, and I really don’t remember putting much consideration into that.
Leonard: I just read your report. I didn’t listen to the discussion. I read your report. And you cited two consultants in your written report. One was liz kaufman. One’s anonymous. I suppose, if I was you, I wouldn’t have put that in the report.
Forsyth: If I can just speak to what occurred at the meeting, there were — the two specifics that I think were — that in my mind framed the issue, if you were to look at two of the most high-profile political consultants we got response from —
Leonard: Who’s the other consultant?
Forsyth: Kari Chisholm gave a recommendation not to change the system, that $200,000 was an appropriate number. In my mind, it was a range between $100,000 or $200,000, between those two or if you looked at the entirety of what we looked at, there was $160,000 was another recommendation and then there were others between 100 and 150. Ultimately what we did was not to take any one person’s recommendation. It was to engage in deliberation, which included the members of the public that came to the meeting. There was no one by the end of the meeting that seemed to feel that they hadn’t had their say or had input into the process, which I really give leslie a lot of credit for.
Forsyth: As the discussion progressed, the number of reasons to move in on a number like $150,000 seemed to increase as we looked at it from a perspective of time in the race and percentage that went to overall funds versus time base funds, comparing a general to a special election.
Leonard: Did you have a methodology to do that?
*****: There was certainly a methodology for that. We looked at the breakdowns from several historical campaigns. That’s where a lot of testimony from C&E Systems came into play comparing the kinds of costs that you need to run over an entire campaign versus the kinds of costs that are depending, like office space rental and salaries. Len reason I didn’t see that in your report.
*****: There’s a lot of data here from — these pie charts —
Leonard: I’m saying the 150 — I mean, I understand you haven’t agreed with the two formulas that i’ve supported, but they’re formulas, and I can sit down and explain them. People at the end of the day can say, I don’t agree with the bottom line, but if you ask me to explain how I came up with either $66,000 or $100,000, I would hand you out a formula and say, this is how I got to it. Did you use such a formula to get to this? It sounds like you listened to a lot of testimony and then by consensus came to $150,000.
Forsyth: No. By deliberation.
Leonard: That’s not accredit, but i’m observing that I couldn’t go through there and see, ok, you did these things and it popped out to 150.
Forsyth: I think there were three elements to it. There was the process that we’re talking about, which we can certainly answer in detail, came to a figure that ranged from, I think, roughly 134 to 152,000 depends on how you set a few different variables at the beginning, which were the percentage of fixed costs versus time-based costs and also — I forget exactly what the factors were. That was the one approach. Another approach was looking in general at the kind of turnout that we get in different kinds of elections. To me the salient point of that is that special elections including city commission seats are roughly in the realm of what we see in primary elections, not general elections. So the idea of setting a number that’s roughly similar to what we’re setting in primary elections seemed to have some parity. And then the third consideration was that the candidates involved in the present race entered into it with an understanding of what the rules were that would be governing that race, and so, at least to me, there was a desire to, as much as possible, put the rules that we adopted roughly in a framework that has been developed over a more deliberative process. And it came from something that they knew of going into it. And so the number that’s currently fixed for primary systems, the fact that that fell right in the range that was developed from all the other methodologies, seemed the appropriate response.
City Commissioner Sam Adams: Can I summarize what I think you’re saying? I’m looking at the page 3 of the report, and it has laid out the kaufman assumptions and the anonymous assumptions, and basically, when you go from kaufman’s 30% expected turnout to anonymous’ 40% expected turnout, you increase the number of votes by about 20,000 and the number to win by about 16, 17,000. And total voters to reach by 20,000 as well. So what I think I heard you saying and I just want to confirm is that you took the spending per vote assumptions of liz kaufman and you went and checked with past voter turnout in municipal special elections and determined that liz letter number was about 10% lower, and you simply raised the factors based — same unit cost but raised the factors by about 10% additional turnout. Is that an accurate summary?
*****: Accurate, yes.
Adams: It is a little odd to have a citation from someone anonymous. Why is it anonymous?
*****: One of the commission members contacted several consultants, liz being one of them. The other just preferred not to put their name forward. And the main thing with that consultant — main thing that that constant did was ratify the methodology of liz. This many mailings at this much cost, and we walked through that and said, well, but I think it ought to be higher. That was the only difference. So to a certain degree, anonymous was ratifying hoffman’s methodology except for the turnout. And then the commission got more information and, yeah, let’s raise that turnout estimate.
Adams: And so did you independently verify the information that was brought to you by janice thompson regarding the turnout being actually about 10 percentage points higher than assumed by liz kaufman?
*****: That’s all available on the web through the county elections office.
Adams: My concern going into this issue was that you had made up your minds ahead of time, ahead of us giving you your charge to go back and dig into this and look for some facts, so I wanted to just give you an opportunity, if you went through this process ’cause of the letter that we got or an email we got from you at the very beginning that said it should stay at $200,000. For your own legitimate conditions, but I felt like this issue warranted some deeper study. You’ve done that. So I want — I seek your assurance that you’ve done that a fair and open mind.
*****: Sure. I appreciate that. In an ideal world, you would want every candidate, when they decide to run, to know what the rules of the game are and have there be no changes, but the reality is that we’re in a system that’s pretty new to our city, and you came back to us and said, that’s not good enough. We want you to take a good look and give us a recommendation. That’s what we’re here for. We said, ok. That’s right. That’s why you made us commissioners, and we’ll do that. And I thought it was our responsibility to come back to you and say, we looked at the facts. This is what we think the facts show us. And you have an election that you have to run for the city, and we’re not going to sit on principle and say, eh, you guys deal with it. We said, no. It’s our job to tell you our recommendation based on the facts. And we’re happy to do that. That’s why we exist.
Adams: Is there in your mind a rationale for having $100,000 as the amount?
*****: You know, we looked at that percentage of how much a campaign fund goes to overhead and how much goes to voter contact or marketing, advertising. The problem is that’s not a set amount. You look at one campaign and somebody did it at a ratio of 85-15. Another campaign, it was 70-30. At some point, you make a judgment, because there isn’t — it’s not always one way or the other. It depends. Right? So we made a judgment that 150,000 was a fair and adequate amount based upon all the different types of data we had in front of us. If you make it 130, that’s probably still going to work. If it was at 160, it was still probably going to work. 150 is not the only right answer, either. We just think it’s a good answer.
Forsyth: I think we looked at every deliberation that came to us. I think we all looked at commissioner Leonard’s breakdown of the spending over the campaign as much as every other one. At the end of the meeting, there was a question whether there was any other amount. I think immediately before the vote on this proposal, whether there was any other amount that we should be looking at after all the deliberations that we’d all gone through, and there was silence from the entire room, from the commission and guests. So I feel that there was extensive deliberation that went into this number.
Leonard: This 30% turnout liz kaufman projected we focused on quite a bit. If you look at your report, she has a 25% cushion. It was just pointed out to me by my staff that liz has said that that 25% cushion was in addition to the 30%. So essentially almost 38% is that her $100,000 is based on is almost a 38% turnout. She projected 30 but in your 25% cushion in your report, it allows for up to a 38%. I’m being told by the experts in runoff elections when there’s one issue on the ballot in the middle of the summer, there is absolutely no way the turnout will be above 38%.
*****: It’s happened in Portland in the past.
Leonard: What was on the ballot?
*****: We had commissioner hale who was up for election and I believe commissioner Blumenauer.
Leonard: What I just said is in the middle of the summer, and it’s very important to look at the date of the election when people are on vacation and they’re distracted and the kids are out of school. I personally know that the hale’s runoff election occurred after the kids were back in school and programs were home. You don’t schedule, from my experience, union meetings in the summer. You don’t schedule neighborhood meetings when you have a major initiative in the summer. And if you are running for office in the middle of the summer, you’re going to have a real challenge getting people who would otherwise happily vote and always vote, be home to home. Again, i’m not trying to debate whether or not that’s right or wrong. That’s not what I do. What I do is I look to people like liz kaufman, high happen to know. She says it’s 30%, i’ll make a major for you right here it’s going to be 30%.
*****: You know, listening to you talk about your experience, as a commissioner, we had consultants in the room as well testifying. And I forget her name, but I think she said that’s even more reason why we need to have a sufficient fund, because it is so hard to get people’s attention in the summertime. You can’t run a bare bones campaign and expect a candidate to be able to reach people. It’s difficult.
Leonard: And I totally agree with you, and I think the part that I wish somebody would have, on the commission, more forcefully acknowledged is, if you have a lower amount, it’s going to affect — in this instance, there is an incumbent. It’s going to affect whoever the privately funded candidate is. If that person makes a decision that they cannot reach the voters with $100,000, then they’re going to raise $150,000 or $200,000, and the voter-owned candidate gets matched. It looks like this has been constructed — the earlier email that came out makes it appear as though there is a bias. Well, if you’re a privately-funded candidate and you’ve learned the candidate in the runoff gets $200,000, tough. Too bad. That’s how it feels. And that’s not how this system is supposed to be constructed. It’s supposed to level the playing field, not give a leg up to the voter-owned candidate. And it feels like nobody in the room said, hey, just for the purposes of discussion, can we talk about that?
*****: Well, actually we did. Actually we did. And, again, people who were in the room testifying said they’ll be able to raise the money. Look. Historically they’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Leonard: Why don’t you turn that argument around and say, let’s just take all of the energy out of the process. This is going to make us look biased. Take the number given to us by the consultant and, if they’re going to raise more money, the voter-owned candidate gets it. Problem solved.
*****: To some extent, we do. If you look at the numbers people spent, they are a lot more usually than $150,000, so we are counting on the matching funding to be there. It’s just a matter of judgment as to what is a fair and sufficient amount.
Leonard: Right now, literally, we have no rules for a voter-owned candidate. None. I would argue that you don’t need any, because whatever the runoff candidate who’s privately funded gets — and if we just say the voter-owned candidate gets matched — that’s what it is. Some have suggested it be 200 or 250. I’d say ignore them. Whatever that person raises, the voter-owned candidate gets. I mean, that’s a radical approach, but it illustrates the point i’m trying to make is this is a debate that feels like it’s tilted one way for just the reason that you picked the number that ever sustainability just accepting a lower number and say if a privately funded candidate attempts to raise more, that’s fine.
Adams: I do think there’s merit in their argument that having some sort of threshold and being able to plan a campaign based on some sort of threshold is a compelling argument. You’re not suggesting that the expenditure of funds be entirely reliant on the nonvoter-owned candidate, are you?
Leonard: No. I’m just saying the thrust of the argument so far has been that the voter-owned candidate, the appearance — you’ve even acknowledged in your discussion this is going to be a challenge for the privately funded candidate to catch up. That’s not why we created this system. Just the opposite. It was to level the playing field so unknowns could get in and compete with privately funded candidated. All of a sudden we’re having a discussion by even one commission member saying the privately owned candidate can’t catch up, and it feels like the decision has got off track a little bit and we should be talking about how you keep money out of campaigns, how we can lower the cost of campaigns. It seems like it’s just done a 180.
*****: I think that’s why not everybody but the majority of people who talked to us thought that coming back to 200,000 was a good idea, because they thought it perhaps would be an unfair advantage in a short timeframe. And that’s why we didn’t come back to you and say, no. After much deliberation, we think we should stay at 200,000. We came back and said, yeah, when you have two and a half months, there is a than overhead cost. We should lower it to a lower amount. And we did do that.
Leonard: I appreciate that.
Potter: Other questions? Thank you, folks. Do we have folks signed up to testify on this matter?
*****: Clerk: We have three people signed up.
Potter: Please call them forward. When you speak, please state your name for the record. You each have three minutes.
Carol Cushman: i’m Carol Cushman representing the league of women voters of Portland. The league of women voters commends the citizen campaign commission for its thoughtful approach to the city council’s request for reconsideration. The commission relied, we feel, on a credible group of individuals. I’m sorry. I was a couple minutes late to this, but it seemed we got focused on just two, I heard, in attending the meetings. Many more than two people referenced as far as information coming in. The individuals have considerable campaign expertise, and they provided information needed to reach what we feel is a defensible conclusion. This is the purpose of the citizen campaign commission is not to try and stay out of the political nature of the discussion, which can happen at city hall. A reasonable compromise was reached with the 150,000 allocation proposal. From the first meeting, my thought was that the 160,000 they had started with sounded reasonable there, because it was done on a 70-30 allocation of the 200,000. And so it was a straight mathematical formula of taking 30% of the 200,000 and cutting it by two-thirds and adding it to the 70%, which is, I believe, 140,000 and then the 20 for overhead. A reasonable compromise was reached based on the expert’s advice. The commission considered expected voter turnout in a special election and reduced overhead costs for a shorter time period while still allowing sufficient funds to reach potential voters. The experts said that a nonparticipating candidate could expect to raise funds needed for a viable campaign and also said that 150,000 was a reasonable amount to assume that could be raised for a july runoff. The commission intends to revisit this policy at some point after the election and use the lessons learned for future recommendations. A critical element of a successful voter-owned election system is sufficient funding in the initial allocation to plan and execute a credible campaign, and this proposal accomplishes that. Relying on matching funds would be a departure from the principle. The candidate’s ability to run an effective campaign is important so that they do not need to adjust tactics based on spending by another candidate that might trigger matching funds for them. The league urges you to take advantage of the research and careful thought of the citizen campaign commission devoted to this and adopt their recommendation.
Janice Thompson: Janice thompson. I also want to commend the city council for its work on this as well as the citizens campaign commission. I do support the citizens campaign commission recommendation. I think they’ve done a very transparent, thorough job the citizens campaign commission had already been in process to take a look at the whole elections issue. They were probably as disappointed as anybody to get caught by surprise by having — you know — not have that process done. But I really wanted to be clear this was not something that — you know — they had forgotten about. I think they made the accurate judgment call on the information they had to focus first. They kind of were convenes with new members over the summer and fall, an independent spending issue. I think the way — the breaks didn’t cut their way in terms of how the special election stuff issue came up before they were done. So I just want to be clear that I think that all this discussion will help them in their long-term work but that they were definitely in process. So that’s all.
James Lee: My name is james lee. I reside on southeast mitchell street, and I speak only for myself. Thank you for hearing me today. I must also state a disclaimer that I will appear on the primary ballot for mayor in may. Riding in to the council meeting this morning, I had an interesting little chat with commissioner Leonard, and we were reminiscing about the situation that occurred when mayor goldschmidt resigned to go to work in Washington, d.c., and the consequences for that where we had to replace two people. In those days, of course it was done by appointment of the council. I point out, when we used that procedure, it went reasonably quickly. And most important lee we got two excellent people. We got connie mccready for mayor, who I think was one of the best mayors — I think almost certain live the best mayor at running the council that i’ve ever seen. And of course we got mike lindbergh who I think most people would say, in the last 30 years, was the best council member we have ever had, certainly the most diligent. So I would just like the council generally to consider — to entertain at least the possibility of going back to the old system. Now I have a very disagreeable duty, because I would like to call for the resignation of mr. Blacker as auditor. This is a man who seems to shovel out our public funds without — with only marginal concerns for where they were going. He couldn’t tell the difference between amanda scripps and emily boyle which ended up in a successful criminal prosecution, but we’re still out the money. The piece of paper I handed out to you is my previous testimony of february 6th which I subsequently submitted to mr. Blacker as evoking serious concerns with the things mr. Dozono and mr. Mid dahl were doing, and these were dismissed summarily. Mr. Blacker was always polite to me. The judge in this case also overturned mr. Blackmer’s judgment about the funds that were supposed to be given to mr. Dozono. So i’m sorry to have to make that recommendation, but I think mr. Blackmer has done an immense amount of harm to the principle of public finance and elections. Thank you.
Potter: Thanks, folks.
*****: Clerk: That’s all who signed up.
Potter: Council discussion?
City Commissioner Dan Saltzman: Well, i’ll make a motion. I do truly appreciate the work that the campaign commission has done on this issue at our request — you know — and I certainly want to lend my support to auditor blackmer. I think he has done a lot in sort of uncharted tear for rehere, voter elections. It requires good uh judgment, and I think he’s exercised that judgment throughout. I have total, complete faith in our auditor. I think two different scenarios were presented, ranging roughly 100,000 to 150,000. As the initial report for voter-owned election ms. 2004 stated — in 2005 stated, funding must be sufficient to allow candidates to get their message out to the public. The way I look at it really, in an election cycle, runoff cycle that’s going to be an election of 45 days, I believe the figure of $100,000 is sufficient to get their message out. I say that for two reasons. One is I think we all know we’re going to have low turnout, but secondly the expected amount of voter outreach that is spent on radio or tv, those rates are going to be a real deal in july compared to what they are in a november election or any other regular cycle election. It’s a supply and demand thing. And I can tell you, when the supply is there, if demand is there like it will be this november, the rates go through the roof. I would wager to say that you can buy as much media with $100,000 in this 45-day election cycle as $200,000 will get you in november. So I think this is a fair number. I think it does allow the candidates to get their message out, and I think it is — strikes a fair balance with nonparticipating candidates in terms of the hurdle they have to achieve of raising $100,000 in a short amount of time. Again, summertime, as commissioner Leonard noted, everybody’s gone, even those people who nonparticipating candidates will be counting onto answer the phones. They’re also gone. So it will be tough to raise $100,000 in 45 days, and especially since you need it really sooner than 45 days. So I think $100,000, and that’s what I would move to make the amount for the runoff on july 15th.
*****: I’m sorry. Your motion is to replace 150 with 100 wherever it appears in the ordinance?
Saltzman: Correct. That’s my motion.
Potter: I have a question. Does this also then change the other amount, the subsequent matching if it exceeds the 100,000? Because here it says 150% of 100,000. That would be 100,000. And that would then make it — what? 150 as opposed to 225?
Saltzman: Yeah. I would go with that ratio, so I would change that number, too.
Potter: Do I hear a second?
Adams: I’ll second it for the purpose of discussion. I want some feedback from the experts on the assumptions conveyed by commissioner Saltzman.
Leonard: And just for the record, i’m going to recuse myself from the vote. Some have argued that, because of my position in the current race, they’re worried that my vote reflects the politics. I don’t think it does, but I understand the perception, so i’m going to recuse myself.
Potter: Call the vote.
Adams: I’d like some discussion. If I could have — in terms of the issue of advertising being less expensive in the summer, I see sort of the other tradeoff is voters are harder to reach. So did you all look at — did you have a discussion around those issues?
*****: That did come up as an issue that it was cheaper for the media during the off-season period because there was less demand for time on the radio and television. However, at least liz kaufman’s view was that, given that runoff period being as short as it was, it was hard to schedule the radio and television buys in there, too, and she had said a mail ballot, because of the turnout — I mean, a maiming campaign would be the way to go. So whether that plays out in terms of the decision around the money available is really kind of what the strategy is for what kind after campaign to run.
Adams: Commissioner Saltzman, I have to ask how did you sort of decide from 150 to 100 as opposed to 150 to 130, 120, 110?
Saltzman: Well, I think I did rely somewhat on liz kaufman’s recommendations as well.
Adams: Which specifically was —
Saltzman: Well, I think it was closer to 100,000 if not 100,000 being the right amount. But I think part of it’s intuitive, too. From the very get go of this issue, I appreciate commissioner Sten wanted the campaign commission to look at it. I thought the original proposal for 66,000 was too low from the very get go, and 100,000 struck me as intuitively the right number to be at.
Saltzman: I don’t have a grease board that I can do a formula that tells you exactly how I got to that.
Adams: 100,000, what’s your reaction or reaction of the committee to 100,000 since we’re making sausage here? I guess I should ask some of the other ingredient makers if some of the committee would come up and comment on it.
Hildula: Leslie Hildula. This is why we spent two hours with the data in front of us is, ’cause we didn’t want to do it just based on intuition. I understand at at some point intuition comes into play, but the data shows us that, when you do a mailing campaign — what we heard is that people tend to do a mailing-heavy campaign or media-heavy campaign. Past data shows that. Cost of mailing in the city, they’re expensive as well. You’re right, commissioner Saltzman, it is cheaper probably to buy media in the summer than in the fall. However, the cost of mailings are also going to be pretty much the same. And so that 100,000 never came up as a reasonable amount. It was always more 130 to 170. I mean, there are always outlyers out there, people who say 200,000 isn’t even enough. And then of course we have people saying 66,000 should be enough. So we kind of thought let’s look at what the majority of data, majority of past races, majority of opinions are and balance it within that range of more 130 to 170. And that’s where we came up — at some point you’re right you kind of use your judgment and say, all right, 150 feels good based upon all this data, some of which contradicts each other.
Leonard: But, leslie, as I understood the discussion, you agreed with liz kaufman’s methodology except for the voter turnout. And as I pointed out, her high-end voter turnout ends up being 38% for july elections. And so it’s just hard to understand how you picked a number other than that given her track record, her methodology and you used elections to contradict that that weren’t analogous. They weren’t in the summer. I’m trying hard to understand the fairness of that.
Forsyth: The thing that sticks out to me is that, well, liz kaufman didn’t attend, so she wasn’t able to go through detailed deliberations on this, but the numbers that — she looked at a much larger number of elections and a number of the elections that she looked at didn’t include a race for the city commission. So — you know — we had — and I believe there was a race that had — there was a 64% turnout in one. I don’t remember which race that was, but that was once of them that did include a city commissioner and a special election. So, to my mind, it wasn’t very relevant to be looking at issues where there was simply a ballot measure that might or might not be of interest to —
Leonard: With all due respect then, you’re saying you substituted your judgment.
Forsyth: It wasn’t my judgment that I substituted. This is something that multiple members of the public and political consultants brought up in the meeting.
Leonard: What i’m saying is liz kaufman is the only name here that anybody recognizes ’cause you have an anonymous source, and liz kaufman is widely known to be the best in the business. So she came up based on her judgment what the cost would be. She put in a 25% cushion, and it feels like you didn’t like the amount, so you picked some other amount.
Forsyth: Oh, no. I think what liz kaufman did is she did us a great service by giving us a very detailed formula of how she got to her final number. When we went into our meeting, there was broad consensus, I think, from everyone involved in politics, everyone that came to testify who looked at the turnout numbers separately.
Leonard: Except competitor all the advocates of the —
Forsyth: I don’t think that’s the case. I don’t know that to be the case.
*****: I’d like to raise one more point, too, to what commissioner Saltzman brought up about cost of running a special. One of the gentlemen that testified repeatedly at our meetings from C&E Systems talked about the effect of giving participating candidates all their money up-front and the ability to buy cheaper tv and media time. A reflection was brought up on all the budgets seen in previous specials, and he brought the numbers of what traditionally had been done for voter outreach in certain situations and what was needed in them.
Leonard: C&E Elections is an accounting firm. You gave them your money, and they gave you a report of how much money.
Adams: I think what he’s saying, commissioner Leonard, is that he provided trends based on actual spending and actual campaigns. Is that right?
> kevin neeley provide product trends and actual data from past races. In the last two meetings he attended and provided this data, that was just as influential, because we weren’t looking at some consultant’s analysis of what she would do. We were actually looking at what campaigns did. And he had those records available. They’re publicly available records.
Saltzman: If you get your $100,000 check on may 21st and you can buy media for the future, you’re in a better position.
Adams: When we sent this to the commission, I said I would give great weight to their recommendationfy felt it was — if they took an open mind and approached the issue with an open mind and did a thorough job of outreach, and I think they’ve met that condition that I applied with them. It sounds like, though, that the majority of people voting on this don’t support that, so I would be willing to compromise somewhere between 100 and 150, but I think that 100,000 is too low. And since we have to come up with something we all agreed to to get to three votes, we get to see democracy in action.
Potter: I think you referred to it as sausage making.
Adams: Yes. I think 130 is a reasonable compromise.
Leonard: I’m not going to vote, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get to ask questions. Explain to me the methodology. If you can explain to me the methodology, i’ll be happy. I can explain to you the metgy of $100,268, but I — making sausage is fine if we’re doing land use. It isn’t fine if we’re deciding who the citizens get to elect to represent them.
Adams: Well, the commissioner before you get too down that track, the 100,000 is based on a certain assumption about touchout. 150 is based on certain assumption about turnout.
*****: Ling len i’m looking at the report. We have a written document that the public has a right to rely on.
Adams: That’s why we have these hearings. So the 100,000 that commissioner Saltzman proposed is based on intuition and listening to the facts. It sounds like clearly the commission had to make some judgments as well. So i’m just saying that we need to — I think that we need to get closer to the commission’s recommendation who looked at this in great detail.
Potter: Mr. Saltzman, do you wish to amend your —
Saltzman: Baring in mind that in the nonparticipating candidate raises over 100,000, the participating candidate gets matching funds. I still think and everything I said previously 100,000 is about the right number. I guess, in the interest of trying to strike at something the three of us can vote on, i’d be willing to go to 115,000.
*****: [laughter] but I do think 130, 150 is too high.
Leonard: Do you want the undercoat? That undercoat, if you have salt on the road, preserves the car.
Adams: What are you talking about?
Leonard: Well, it feels like we’re buying a used car here. [laughter] at ad well, the 100,000 is intuition. The 130 and above is based on a lot of judgment and exploration.
Leonard: You want the extended warranty so it will pay for itself.
Adams: I’m trying to get to something in between what the commission recommended and what the council is comfortable with.
Adams: I agree.
Potter: Call the vote?
Potter: Well, I have to say you folks are watching something similar to democracy in action. I think it is closer to the sausage. I felt at the time that, when commissioner Leonard came up to his proposal, that that would be something fair. I think that the current recommendation I think is high, but I think that, in order to move this through — I think it’s important for people to remember, however, that this is just applied to this one particular election. So we have to resolve this issue for future special elections, because otherwise these very same things will occur. So I strongly recommend that, in the interim, the citizens campaign commission look very seriously at a formula that we can assume is both reasonable to the v.o.e. Candidate as well to the non v.o.e. Candidate. And with that I vote aye.