Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in Oregon Politics: Charlie Hales, Amanda Fritz, Kate Brown
Friday, January 30, 2015
Mayor Charlie Hales
If you were one of the few able to spend the money for a golden ticket, you too can hear the Mayor give his State of the City Address in person at the posh Sentinel Hotel over lunch Friday. If not, you can catch it on OPB tonight. The Mayor should be riding high into this address, yet recent topics dog him. From the Portland street fee to his recent suggestion he might shake up Portland’s bureaus, the Mayor has his work cut out for him in this speech. City Hall insiders were rankled by the latter, finding out the news of a potential reshuffle, not from his office, but from the media. Let’s hope he gave his colleagues a preview of his speech if he is planning to announce any major initiatives.
BOLI Commissioner Brad Avakian
This week the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) Commissioner Brad Avakian announced two major settlements. This position, the least known of the five statewide elected offices in Oregon, is low profile yet plays a substantial role in protecting Oregonians civil rights – especially in housing and the workplace.
In the first case, Commissioner Avakian announced that Daimler Trucks North America agreed to a $2.4 million settlement because workers at their Swan Island plant “endured racial slurs, threats of violence and assaults.” The settlement also included a handful of non-monetary items in an effort to protect employees from future discrimination.
The second case stemmed from the owner of an apartment complex in Lake Oswego and the expectation that landlords should provide a reasonable accommodation to a disabled resident. James Calogridis had requested a disabled parking space in the complex. He did not receive one and slipped and fell in the parking lot. He died several days later. Under the agreement, Prometheus Real Estate Group will pay a total of $475,000.
Unfortunately, rumors that Commissioner Avakian also debuted a new Armani wardrobe this week could not be confirmed by press time.
Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz
While she had previously indicated plans to leave the council when her current term expires in 2016, Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz announced her plans to run for a third term this week.
Commissioner Fritz spent the final night of her husband’s life last September at a neighborhood association meeting (which I happened to be Chairing), making the case for voting to support funding for a Portland parks levy. Less than 12 hours after the conclusion of that meeting, Dr. Steven Fritz’ renowned Zentra crashed and took his life. Amanda is the last true citizen in City Hall. I didn’t know Dr. Fritz, yet I cannot imagine him looking down and not having a smile on his face, because in the face of great tragedy, Amanda refused to give up and instead doubled down.
New lobbyists are advised above all else to be honest. Rule number two is to be nice to staff. You wouldn’t think that a reminder would be needed for either of these but, you know, human nature. While some staff come and go, there are some veteran staffers that have been around for years and have become fixtures in Salem. You always hear the legislators’ names but you rarely hear the staff names: Folks like Logan Gilles, Alan Fleishman and Annette Rose, just to name a few. These people are the ones that make sure the trains run on time in Salem.
At the end of the day once the citizens and lobbyists have gone home, it’s often the staff with the last word in the legislator’s ear. Don’t forget that. With Oregon’s lack of a anti-nepotism law, that staffer may well be the legislator’s daughter, nephew, or even spouse (though none of the above are in that category nor have any of them been a source for this column. Hint hint).
Kathleen Mazzocco tops our Not list this week. After the last week’s post about the Zidell family’s interest in Lents and disinterest in affordable housing in South Waterfront, Mazzocco saw fit to correct my piece. Fair enough. I inaccurately suggested they were under an obligation to build some level of affordable housing in exchange for their near $30 million public subsidy. She made it crystal clear they are under no obligation and, it seems, they have no interest.
Wait… but that is not all. She both attempted to correct my reference to the Zidell family, citing they are ZRZ Realty and had no interest in developing one of Portland’s least successful urban renewal areas (Lents). With 20 years in the PR business, I cannot easily give her a pass for being so wrong in her correction. I wasn’t talking about one corporate entity. Her correction was in itself fraught with errors, including suggesting the Zidell family had no interest in Lents. The Portland Business Journal reported on January 9th, a proposal had indeed been submitted (it has since been announced it was not selected to move forward).
Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown
Seriously, Secretary Brown? A letter in defense of Comcast solidifying their ham-handed customer service monopoly on our personal entertainment is bad enough. I don’t think it matters it was ghost written by their lobbyists. The excuse of “everyone else is doing it” isn’t going to fly with frustrated cable subscribers when the gubernatorial race comes around.
When the Oregon legislature convenes on Monday, the implementation of Measure 91, legalizing recreational marijuana, will be front and center. Legalization champion and Chief Sponsor of the ballot measure, Anthony Johnson, should be the preeminent voice in Salem as legislators begin their work. To date, he is not registered as a lobbyist, according to the Oregon Ethics Commission website.
Johnson has represented two organizations, first is New Approach Oregon, the political action committee formed exclusively for the passage of the ballot measure. The other is the Oregon Cannabis Industry Association, which he resigned from after the election. Other marijuana entities are filling the void Johnson seems to be leaving.
Have any suggestion for who is hot or who is not? Email them to me at [email protected].
Jesse is an East Portland resident, political junkie, snowboard fanatic, and former pub owner.
Related Slideshow: Slideshow: 14 Biggest Political Stories of 2014
INVESTIGATION: Merkley Spends 78% of His Campaign Funds with Businesses Outside Oregon
In Sept. GoLocalPDX reported: While incumbent Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) talks a lot about his effort to grow jobs in Oregon, a GoLocalPDX investigation found that Merkley’s campaign spends millions of dollars of campaign funds with businesses in Washington, DC, California, Minnesota and Wyoming to name a few of the locations.
According to an analysis of federal campaign reports, Merkley spent $3,276,106 - 78% of the dollars spent - with printers, copywriters, designers and consultants outside the state. Only 22% was spent with Oregon-based businesses.
Oregon Drivers Card, Measure 88 Fails
Measure 88 was voted down on Nov 4, meaning four-year driver licenses will not be available be to undocumented residents. GoLocalPDX reported at the time:
The measure was put on the ballot after a 2013 Oregon legislature passed SB 833 that allowed the DMV to issue driver cards to undocumented residents. Two groups, Oregonians for Immigration Reform PAC and the Protect Oregon Driver Licenses Committee, led the petition campaign to put the decision to voters.
Oregon Candidates and Their Biggest Donors
In Nov. GoLocalPDX reported: Oregon is one of only five states in the country with no limits on campaign contributions and it’s reflective in the hundreds of thousands of dollars that poured into statewide candidates' pockets this election cycle.
As voters complete their ballots by Election Day on Nov. 4, they might want to take note of who gave candidates the most money and who might have their ear if they’re elected. From Nike Chairman Phil Knight’s $250,000 donation to Gov. John Kitzhaber to a $33,000 individual contribution for state senate candidate Dave Dotterer, it’s clear big money is a player this election season.
“It (limitless campaign contributions) creates a breeding ground for corruption,” said Daniel Weiner, counsel in the democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.
History of Insider Dealings Dogs Alberta St. Developer
In Oct. GoLocalPDX reported: The Southern California developer of a controversial project on NE Alberta Street has a track record of funneling money to officials who end up in hot water.
Majestic Realty Co. is developing a 20,000-square-foot shopping center with Natural Grocer as the anchor store at the intersection of Alberta and NE Martin Luther King Jr. Streets in Portland. The site sparked controversy earlier this year when the city struck a deal with Trader Joe’s to build a store there. Trader Joe’s eventually pulled out over community concerns of gentrification.
Federal Investigation into Cover Oregon Costs Ore. Taxpayers $146K
federal investigation into Cover Oregon, the state's failed health exchange website, has cost Oregon taxpayers over $146,000 as of Oct 21.
A law firm hired to represent the state in a pending FBI investigation has invoiced for over $123,000 and the state fund set up to represent employees embroiled in legal trouble has spent over $23,000, according to records obtained by GoLocalPDX.
“The price for two years of gross mismanagement at Cover Oregon keeps adding up, especially because the current administration doesn’t have a problem throwing good money after bad," Senate Republicans spokesman Michael Gay said.
Ethics Commission Denies Governor, Investigation Moves Forward
On Nov. 7, the Oregon Government Ethics Commission denied a request by Governor Johns Kitzhaber to advise him on whether his fiancée Cylvia Hayes had broken ethics rules and whether or not she even qualified as a public official.
The Commission ruled that it could only give advice on hypothetical situations not situations that had already happened. This sets up a full ethics violation ruling.
Kitzhaber requested an opinion from the commission on Oct. 13, after stories surfaced in the media saying that Hayes had obtained unethical benefit from her duel role as a paid consultant and “First Lady” of Oregon.
Oregon GOP to Demand State Ethics Commission Investigate Kitzhaber
On Oct 15, as the Cylvia Hayes scandal began to gain steam, The Oregon Republican Party called for an investigation by the state ethics commission into Gov. John Kitzhaber, over alleged ethics violations committed by the governor and Cylvia Hayes.
The ORP complaint triggered an investigation into both Kitzhaber and Hayes. The party claimed both Hayes and Kitzhaber violated the Oregon Government Ethics law, or ORS 244.320.
The GOP filing came on the heels of Kitzhaber’s request that the ethics commission provide an opinion on whether Hayes is a public official and subject to the ethics laws. The request was later denied.
Is Portland City Council White By Law?
When GoLocalPDX launched on August 31, we asked the question, is there anyway for minorities to get elected under Portland’s commissioner system:
In the past 100 years, only 4 percent of Portland’s city council members have been racial minorities.
According to legal experts, it is almost impossible in the current structure of city government for minorities to get elected.
"When people see that there are no people of color represented on the city council, they automatically assume there are no people of color that live in the city," said Cyreena Boston Ashby, director of the Portland African American Leadership Forum.
GMO Labeling, Measure 92 Goes Down
Oregon voters have rejected a statewide ballot measure that would have required the labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients, according initial projections that came in Nov 4.
With 94 percent of the votes in, the measure is failing with a 51 percent to 49 percent margin.
Opposition to Measure 92 received more financial contributions and spent more money than any other political campaign in Oregon’s 2014 election, raising over $17 million and spending a total of $20.6 million.
The final tallies came in closer and triggered an automatic recount, but in the end the measure failed by only 800 votes.
Hayes Scandal Could Implode Kitzhaber’s Campaign
In Oct, GoLocalPDX asked local political experts if the emerging Cylvia Hayes scandal might impact Kitzhaber’s political fortunes:
If the scandal over Cylvia Hayes, Gov. John Kitzhaber’s fiancee, continues to unfold, even with a locked-in-place electorate like Oregon’s race for governor, political tides could shift, political experts say.
“Kitzhaber’s going to be in trouble,” said Bob Moore, owner of Moore Information, an opinion research group that conducts political polling. “Here’s somebody that calls herself the first lady of Oregon. It’s like, ‘c’mon, you have to be above reproach.'
"You’re embarrassing the governor, for one thing, and is the governor paying attention?”
Kitzhaber Does Not List Hayes on Financial Disclosures
In Oct, GoLocalPDX revealed that Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber didn't list his fiancee Cylvia Hayes in a 2013 ethics document that required him to name lobbyists he had a relationship with.
In a Statement of Economic Interests document obtained by GoLocalPDX and filed with the Oregon Ethics Commission, Kitzhaber stated that his household received income from two companies, Energy Foundation and Resource Media, that had contracted with Hayes' consulting firm E3 Strategies.
But under a section that required him to disclose “any compensated lobbyist who was associated with a business with which you or a member or your household was associated during 2013” Kitzhaber simply put “N/A” or not applicable.
Recreational Marijuana Legalized in Ore.
Voters passed Measure 91, making Oregon the third state to legalize and tax marijuana for recreational use on Nov.4.
Yes on 91 volunteer Martha Duff said, "Tonight Oregon won a great victory, decades in the making."
Supporters of the measure held a Portland party on election night evening to celebrate the new law. While a number of attendees were from the Portland area, some supporters made the journey from out-of-state to witness, what they called, history in the making.
"Oregon First Lady" Role is Legal Fiction
GoLocalPDX reported in Oct that a “state ethics investigation into the actions of Cylvia Hayes will be complicated by the fact that her role as a public official and as “First Lady” of Oregon is nowhere to be found in Oregon State law.”
After the state GOP filed an ethics complaint, Cylvia Hayes will be the focus of an ethics investigation to determine if she, as First Lady, broke rules governing the behavior of a public official. The problem is, there’s no such thing as a “First Lady” under Oregon state law.
“There’s no such thing if you look it up in the statutes,” said Christopher Shortell, an Associate Professor of Political Science at PSU’s Mark O. Hatfield School of Government.
Biden Lauds Oregon Senator Who Resigned Amid Sexual Harassment Claims
During a speech to women on Sept 19, US Vice President Joe Biden praised former U.S. Senator Bob Packwood, the Oregon Senator who resigned in 1995 amid numerous accusations of sexual harassment.
During a Democratic National Committee's Women’s Leadership Forum meeting, Vice President Biden held up Packwood as an example of Republicans who previously championed issues now mostly favored by Democrats, such as raising the minimum wage.
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