Sunday, September 14, 2008

Voter-Owned Democracy, pt 9: "We don't need no stinking debates!"

By Sean Cruz

The Oregonian’s recent editorial, “A race run for pols, not for voters”, made several important points about elections in general and about what Oregonians want in particular, points that few would argue with:

1. “Challengers always want more debates; incumbents tend to want fewer.”

2. “Voters benefit from seeing and hearing as much as they can from the people who ask to represent them in (Salem)….”

3. “What Oregonians hunger for is the authentic voice of a person with a passion to serve them. They want their candidates to demonstrate an understanding of the issues and reasonable approaches to addressing them…What Oregonians hope for is some evidence of original thought and real humanity.”

Oregonians also want to have a choice between qualified candidates. They want to know their options so that they can choose among them.

Across the nation, voters are clamoring for CHANGE, in capital letters! Even the Republicans are trying to climb aboard the change wagon.

But across the City, Portland voters will soon mark their ballots in a process that is more an acknowledgement that the system itself trumps the body politic than it is an actual election.

Most of the races were decided back before May 20.

In Oregon, the legislature maintains an approval rating of only 30%, setting the stage for change, for new voices to emerge, but many Portland legislative races were settled as long as a year ago, long before the March filing deadline.

We approach the November election with a host of single-candidate races, just like in the former Soviet Union, like present-day North Korea, not much to be proud of in the democracy department.

Those incumbent candidates that had the power to restrict debate and candidate forum opportunities did so, a strategy built on running out the clock for the May 20 primary. There was little public discussion in legislative races.

The contests for Senate District 23 in NE and SE Portland (and its two House Districts, 45 and 46) offer a prime case in point, with two open seats at stake:

There were no challengers, no contest, no debates and no campaigning at all for the HD 46 spot, a race decided back at the March 15 filing deadline. No prospect of change, or for a new voice to break in there.

However, with well-qualified candidates competing for both its Senate and House open seats, HD 45 offered real opportunity for an exciting public process and a thorough discussion of the issues that matter.

The Oregonian editorial board found that both Senate candidates, Sean Cruz and Jackie Dingfelder, were qualified for the job, yet there were no debates. The first and only time that the two Senate District 23 candidates were on a platform together was on May 3rd, after the ballots were already in the mail, and that event occurred in HD 46, where there were no House candidates, instead of in HD 45, where there were.

The Oregonian editorial board endorsed the marvelously-gifted Cyreena Boston for HD 45, and found much to like about Michael Dembrow, her main challenger, but there were no debates held in the district.

The entire primary season passed without a single opportunity for the voters of House District 45 to see and hear together the candidates who would represent them in the Oregon Senate for the next four years, and in the Oregon House for the next two.

You would think that the voters would be upset about this….

There was no opportunity for the voters of Senate District 23 and House Districts 45 and 46 to hear where either the candidates or the incumbents stood on the issues, standing on a platform at the same time, with an opportunity for audience participation, because those events did not occur.

There was no actual public process in these key races. Instead, the candidates met privately and separately before representatives of a variety of special-interest organizations, focused entirely on their respective, private agendas.

The endorsements and special-interest cash flowed from those private meetings.

The political parties had no interest in providing candidate forums. The incumbents wouldn’t like that.

The normally-conscientious Oregon League of Women Voters overlooked the legislative races entirely, and the new, utterly inept Oregon League of Minority Voters could not locate these two races that actually featured minority candidates and the state’s largest concentrations of minorities (see Voter-Owned Democracy, Portland Style: “The Oregon League of Minority Voters and the Suppression of Opportunity,” coming soon).

A public platform would have forced the House District 46 incumbent, Ben Cannon, out of his house during the runup to the primaries.

Even though he was "running" unopposed, Representative Cannon would have had an important role in participating in the process of providing his constituents with an opportunity to hear all of the candidates for the seat that would represent them in the Senate.

But staging a debate in the district he represents would have worked to level the playing field among the candidates in both Senate District 23 and House District 45 races, where an all-out union-based effort to elect Jackie Dingfelder and Michael Dembrow was underway.

I intend to comment further on these and other issues, after having taken much of the summer off to give my readers a break, and to take some time for myself.

Over the summer, I learned how to install new floor and countertop tiles in my kitchen and bath, worked in my garden, walked my dog a whole bunch, and started playing Texas no-limit Hold-em poker online fairly regularly. I plan to sharpen my game up a bit and take a big bite out of one of those Las Vegas casinos some day.

More to come….

Future Voter-Owned Democracy, Portland-style topics:

1. AFSCME-gate, early insider endorsements, and how the unions locked up
2. The Oregon League of Minority Voters (OLMV) and the Suppression of Opportunity
3. Cruz vs Dingfelder—on Renaming Interstate Avenue and a related topic: The Revenge of the Avenistas
4. Cruz vs Dingfelder—for Barack or Hillary?
5. Cruz vs Dingfelder—on the Legislative pay and Capitol furnishings controversy
6. Cruz vs Dingfelder—on Veterans, the Oregon National Guard, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
7. Cruz vs Dingfelder—on Immigration, race, color and ethnicity in Oregon
8. Predatory Patrol Towing—Portland’s #1 Predatory Patrol Towing Horror Story continues

and more….

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Voter-Owned Democracy, part 8: In a wired world, the end zone is now the 50-yard line

Portland, Oregon—

“The era of top-down politics—where campaigns, institutions and journalism were cloistered communities powered by hard-to-amass capital—is over. Something wilder, more engaging and infinitely more satisfying to individual participants is arising alongside the old order.” –Micah L. Sifry, The Nation, Nov 2004

Oregon residents will find themselves on the cutting edge of the transformational politics a wired world enables in this 2008 campaign season, the birth of a new Direct Democracy.

In the Old Order, the party system, the lobbyists and the special interest PACs combine to produce a favored candidate, such as my opponent, Jackie Dingfelder in Senate District 23.

New voices have little opportunity to succeed against a sitting legislator, and so few even take a run at it.

When I took this race on, I knew that none of the special interests, none of the lobbyists, would oppose a sitting legislator, particularly not one with the single-minded determination of my opponent.

Among members of the public, the Oregon Legislature has only a 30% approval rating, but among the lobbyists, a sitting legislator is the key to the bread and butter, the bacon and the thousand-dollar shoes.

Going into the campaign, I knew about the 30% approval rating, the fact that the voters want change, and—most crucially for a campaign like this—70% of Portland voters are wired, and are thus capable of getting past the gatekeepers and making decisions independently (not that they will).

Oregon’s mail-in balloting system is the other factor that makes a write-in campaign entirely feasible in the 2008 election cycle, kind of like an open book test with more than two weeks to fill in the answers.

The stage is set then, for a transformational change in campaign finance and election reform and Senate District 23 will be the first opportunity to test a new paradigm in Direct Democracy.

The party primaries are now the 50-yard line of electoral politics, and the traditional gatekeepers aren’t going to like it one bit.

The general public in Senate District 23 had few opportunities to gain an understanding of the choice before them, between two well-qualified but differently-qualified candidates.

There were no meaningful debates or public forums in Senate District 23 during the course of the entire primary race. I had a five-minute speaking opportunity in March and two minutes each in April and May.

The subjects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and of veterans and military families’ issues never came up.

None of the special interests represented veterans or the people paying the price in Iraq and Afghanistan.

None of the special interest endorsement groups that interviewed me ever wondered at all about issues specific to Senate District 23.

In House District 45, the northern half of Senate District 23, which was going to have both a new State Representative and a new State Senator in 2008, no public forum or debate addressing the fact was held at all.

If this is the way you are going to choose a legislator, then you have no business criticizing the legislature afterwards.

Fortunately, in the New Order, the party primaries are not the last word.

The May 20 Democratic Primary will not represent the End of Choice in Senate District 23.

Now we move into Write-In Mode, and we will celebrate the end of the Old Order in November.

More on this later

---Sean Cruz

Rex says, “Arf! Woof! Arf!”

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Voter-Owned Democracy, pt 7:The Williamette Week interview and the answer to the Firefighters endorsement question

Portland’s Williamette Week, or The Paper That Has Never Sent a Reporter to the State Capitol, turned up some information that ought to be of interest to the constituents of Senate District 23.

You can see/hear for yourself here:

Scroll down to the bottom of the main page.

Decide for yourself if you agree with the paper’s endorsement.

You may form a different conclusion.

This is the key to Direct Democracy.

Access to the information; information in context; time to think; time to decide for yourself before you mail those ballots in.

Look for these exciting Voter-Owned Democracy Commentaries, coming soon (all are derived from the Williamette Week videotape):

1. AFSCME-gate: The AFSCME $5,000; Who is Tom Gainer, and why did AFSCME fail to disclose the conflict of interest during the endorsement interview for Senate District 23. What is the value of an AFSCME endorsement after this?

2. The candidate who loves dogs, and the candidate whose union-boss husband doesn’t.

3. What Sean Cruz had to say about veterans, about the sacrifices military families are making, about the case for a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

4. What Sean Cruz really had to say about the stupid “tattoo” question.

More Voter-Owned Democracy Commentaries are on the way to your inbox and on the web. Don’t miss these exciting episodes, coming soon:

1. The Interstate Avenue Renaming Committee and the race for Senate District 23. Will the Committee’s secret membership decide who will represent the constituents of Senate District 23, even though Interstate Avenue is not in the district? It’s up to you to decide. See "The Revenge of the Avenistas", coming soon.

2. Why will none of Portland’s current and (possibly) future leaders speak up against Mike Erickson and his racist-based campaign to steal Darlene Hooley’s seat?

3. What Sean Cruz has to say about Mike Erickson, immigration and the unasked Question of Mexico.

4. Senate District 23 and the DEQ Conundrum: The Department of Environmental Quality has been without a permanent Director for nearly six months. The Governor has announced that the DEQ needs an Environmental Champion. Former Senator Brad Avakian turned down the post more than a month ago. Are they holding this post open for Jackie Dingfelder in the event that the voters decide to send Sean Cruz to represent them in the Oregon Senate? Will the search for an Environmental Champion to lead the agency have to turn out of state?

Wow! These are some great questions!

Here’s your link to the Voter-Owned Democracy Commentaries, your ticket to see beyond the special-interest PACs and old boy-old-girl networks that want to ensure their grip on power:


How the Firefighters Endorsement interview turned out: the Answer:

HERE it is! The long-awaited answer to which Senate District 23 candidate received the Firefighters coveted endorsement, the cash and the 1,000 free lawn signs.

Was it candidate “A”?

Or was it candidate “B”?

Here is the link to compare the candidates’ respective qualifications

Candidate “B”: with four campaigns, four firefighter contributions, a letter and a phone call (and a union-boss husband), won the boodle.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

VOD, part 6: The Portland Mercury endorsement

Portland, Oregon--When I received the invitation to meet the Portland Mercury Editorial Board to discuss the issues important to the constituents of Senate District 23, my heart soared with gladness and anticipation.

Here’s how the Portland Mercury Editorial Board interview process unfolded:

Step 1: I received this invitation:

Date: Fri, 21 Mar 2008 18:12:32 -0700

From: Jonathan Shapiro"

Subject: Portland Mercury Interview for Endorsement Issue

We basically just want to sit down for an hour with the candidates in our conference room and ask questions.

Our office is 605 NE 21st, Ste. 200.

We're shooting for April 4 at 11am

Let us know if that works for you.

Thanks, Jonathan Shapiro, cell: 561 427 4466

Step 2: I replied that I would be there, giddy with excitement and the aforementioned anticipation.

Step 3: I identified who the Portland Mercury Editorial Board is from their website, where their high endorsement standards are proclaimed:

“The Portland Mercury's editorial board is Wm. Steven Humphrey, Amy J. Ruiz, Matt Davis, and Jonathan Shapiro. We do not make endorsements in uncontested races, or spill much ink on U.S. Representative or Metro councilor races where incumbents face weak challengers.”

Step 4: I thought to myself, “This interview should be very interesting”. After all, Amy Ruiz and Matt Davis were all over the Interstate Renaming Committee issue, may even have access to the Committee’s secret Membership List, and they know that my opponent and I are on the record on opposite sides of the controversy.

My opponent strenuously insisted on renaming Interstate Avenue, even though no part of the area is near Senate District 23, the district she seeks to represent, or House District 45, the district she was representing at the time.

Here’s the link:

I opposed the renaming, in part because it is in a different part of town than Senate District 23, and I wanted to find a way to honor my Mexican American Chicano hero Cesar Chavez over here.

In fact, I wrote extensively about the utter incompetence of all parties involved, about their failings in both cultural awareness and public process, a series of commentaries called “Teachable Moments.”

Earned me a lot of enmity from the secret membership of the Interstate Renaming Committee, which has to this very day only revealed the identities of its two co-chairs.

Surely, the Portland Mercury Editorial Board would want to tear into this, get the opposing candidates talking about an issue that is still out there, yet to be resolved.

Step 5: I approached the Portland Mercury offices at the stated hour, and spotted Editorial Board Member Matt Davis loitering outside, leaning against the building, smoking a cigarette.

He put the cigarette out and told me that they had rescheduled the glorious event for the following week, April 11 at 10:00 a.m.

They hadn't gotten around to notifying me of the change.

Step 6: Some days later, I received a phone call from the Portland Mercury, with apologies that their Editorial Board consists of some Very Busy People, and asking if I could endure yet another week of raptureless waiting, perhaps to April 18, at 1:00 in the afternoon.

Step 7: I arrived at the Portland Mercury on April 18, and waited for the Very Busy People on the Portland Mercury Editorial Board to assemble themselves so we could go forth into the interview room and what lay beyond.


Matt Davis.

That’s what lay beyond, Matt Davis, a man who has probably never seen the state capitol or voted in an American election.

Matt Davis, who weeks earlier couldn't take the time to interview me because he was holding the building up.

No Editorial Board that took three weeks to assemble, but Matt Davis, a man singularly unqualified for the task, was going to represent the entire Portland Mercury Editorial Board, which was then going to represent to its readers that some thought and actual research had gone into its deliberations.

Matt Davis.

We conversed for an hour, my opponent reading from her scripts, Matt Davis and me in a small interview room with no one else present.

I didn’t bring up the Interstate issue myself, in part because I was in shock, having waited three weeks to meet the Portland Mercury Editorial Board, and here is nothing but Matt Davis.

Matt Davis was too lazy to listen to his own recording of the interview, and if he still has it, he might listen to it for just one time, because I never said a fucking thing about ending the war.

What I said was that we needed to care for the people who are fighting it and for their families, and that is definitely on the tape.

Here’s what the Portland Mercury printed, representing that it was the position of the entire Editorial Board, and maybe it is, but they were not there and probably never heard the tape of the interview:

“In senate District 23, Sean Cruz, former legislative aide to Avel Gordly, has been running on an anti-war platform. We couldn't agree more that the war is a bad thing, but it's not necessarily within Cruz's prospective remit to bring it to a conclusion (and the guy couldn't even get his act together to submit a statement for the voters' pamphlet). Meanwhile, his opponent Jackie Dingfelder has the experience of representing her neighborhood on a wide variety of issues, thanks to her past role in the house, a seat she vacated to run for the senate. She wants to upgrade and replace Oregon's aging schools and reduce Oregon's greenhouse gas emissions to 75 percent below 1990 levels in the next few decades. Vote for her.”

Matt Davis.

The value of a Matt Davis endorsement…is a popcorn fart in the wind.

VOD, part 5: How the Firefighters Association interview went

Portland, Oregon:

The battle for Senate District 23 has mostly played out behind the scenes, with few opportunities for the public to weigh in or participate.

In VOD Part 5, we will scrutinize the Firefighters Association role in the race, and...


You will select the better-qualified candidate for The Endorsement, the cash and the 1,000 free lawn signs!


Public Safety, Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response in the state of Oregon

The qualifications of both candidates shall be identified! In public!!!

The question: Oregon could experience a disaster that would quickly overwhelm the state. Which candidate is better prepared to improve the state’s readiness and protect the constituents of Senate District 23?


On Experience
On Preparation for the responsibility in the Oregon Senate
On Commitment
On Information obtained in the interview
On Wired Connections

Candidate “A”:

[] Volunteer, Portland Police Crisis Response Team, since 1998
[] Volunteer, Portland Police Chief’s Forum, 2005-2006
[] Volunteer, Appointed by the U.S. Attorney, Albina Weed & Seed Steering Committee (priorities: crime reduction, neighborhood restoration)
[] Volunteer, Founding Board Member, National Organization of Weed & Seed, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.
[] Chair, Faith Community Committee, National Organization of Weed & Seed, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.
[] Oregon Senate staff experience, more than five years
[] Staff for Committee Chair, Joint Ways and Means Public Safety, 2005 legislative session. All state public safety budgets and plans move through this committee.
[] Observer, TOPOFF, 5-day dirty bomb exercise (here are the links)

The Scenario: The T4 full-scale exercise is based on National Planning Scenario 11 (NPS-11). Terrorists have planned attacks in Oregon, Arizona, and the U.S. Territory of Guam. They have brought radioactive material into the United States. The first of three coordinated attacks occurs in Guam, with the detonation of a Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD), or “dirty bomb,” causing casualties and widespread contamination in a populous area. Within hours, similar attacks occur in Portland and Phoenix.

More than 4,000 gear up for dirty bomb exercise in Portland
Posted by The Oregonian October 04, 2007 13:36PM
Categories: Breaking News

Gov. Ted Kulongoski joined Portland Mayor Tom Potter in Salem today to announce that final preparations are under way for Oregon to be part of the largest anti-terrorism exercise in the nation's history later this month.

A fictional "dirty bomb" will go off in downtown Portland, crippling transportation and sending a radioactive cloud over the city, as part of the five-day Top Officials exercise -- dubbed "TOPOFF" -- starting Oct. 15. It will involve more than 50 local, state and federal agencies, and five counties.

Read a state report on the exercise here.

But ENOUGH about Candidate “A.”

Candidate “B”:

[] Four campaigns, four Firefighters Association contributions
[] A letter
[] A phone call

Support was signaled for Candidate “B” nearly a year ago, days after Candidate “B” announced candidacy, long before Candidate “B” had an opponent.

Posted by: Randy Leonard Aug 6, 2007 11:41:02 PM

No legislator worked harder than (Candidate “B”) to pass a biofuels package in the last legislative session. As important to me, (Candidate “B”) was the City of Portland's champion in preventing the oil industry from inserting language in the biofuels legislation that would have nullified Portland's ordinance requiring 5% biodiesel in every gallon of petroleum diesel sold.

(Candidate “B”) is the real deal. (Candidate “B”) will be an outstanding State Senator and I am going to do whatever I am asked to help (Candidate “B”) succeed.


Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard was President of the Portland Firefighters Association, 1986 to 1998.


The interview was held January 29.

Candidate “A” attended the closed-room event. Nothing is known about Candidate “B’s” interview



Who won The Endorsement?

Who won the CASH?

Who won the 1,000 free lawn signs?

You be the judge!!!

Find out who won in the next exciting installment of Voter-Owned Democracy!!!

Look for future exciting, behind-the-scenes updates and installments on:

1. AFSCME-gate

2. The Revenge of the Avenistas

3. …and more….

Believe it!

VOD, part 4a (Power to the People: the Magic of ORESTAR

Portland, Oregon--Oregon voters have many new tools with which to evaluate candidates for public office in this election cycle, and one of the most important is ORESTAR.

ORESTAR is accessible online through the Secretary of State’s Office here:

To gain information about where, when, how and from whom a candidate receives cash and in-kind support, all you need is their committee ID number, as registered with the Secretary of State.

To examine the books of the candidates for Senate District 23, for example, you enter either of the candidate committee ID numbers and “search transactions” (the numbers also indicate how long one candidate has been at it, compared to the other).

12548 Sean Cruz

4090 Jackie Dingfelder

The ORESTAR data doesn’t give you the “why” of the contribution, but if you look, you can learn some amazing things, all in the interest of getting a good look at the wizard(s) behind the curtain(s) (to borrow a metaphor), and broadening public access to the political process.

Some of this will take a little explaining. I’ve extracted data from ORESTAR to illustrate several points:

1. Transaction date: This is the date recorded with ORESTAR. The date the contribution was received could have been 30 days prior to the entry, and the deal could have been struck at any time before that.
2. Source of the contribution
3. Type of contribution, cash or in-kind
4. Amount or value of the contribution

Amazing Facts regarding the Dingfelder campaign for Senate District 23

I have learned many amazing facts with just a few hours of scrutiny (which is why this post is titled “4a”).

1. It appears that my opponent’s campaign headquarters is located outside of the Senate District she seeks to represent and that most of her campaign funds are both raised and spent outside of the district.

2. West Hills-dweller and Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler was one of the first contributors to the Dingfelder campaign for Senate District 23, way back last summer when she was the only candidate:

08/31/2007 Ted Wheeler Cash Contribution $1000

3. A staggering amount of free wine and scrumptious delicacies are flowing through the Dingfelder campaign (triggering a future post, to be titled “Democracy by the Glass”); looks like at least a couple of thousand dollars of free wine, beer and rare comestibles so far (can’t be certain):

09/29/2007 Ponzi Vineyards In-Kind Contribution $240 wine for kick-off event
10/04/2007 Willamette Valley Vineyards In-Kind Contribution $468
10/04/2007 Laurelwood Brewing Co. In-Kind Contribution $128
10/04/2007 Provvista Specialty Foods, Inc. In-Kind Contribution $404.08
03/11/2008 Lemelson Winery In-Kind Contribution $264 Wine for event
03/27/2008 Provvista Specialty Foods, Inc. In-Kind Contribution $112.46 Refreshments
04/09/2008 Pour Cash Expenditure $562

4. If this contributor is a member of the Coe family that operates Retriever Towing and other patrol towing-related enterprises in Portland, then I imagine this contribution was given with great enthusiasm, as I led the workgroup that hammered the predatory patrol towing “industry” in Oregon during the 2007 legislative session with Senate Bill 116 and Senate Bill 431, under Senator Gordly’s sponsorship. If this contributor is not associated with patrol towing, then my profound apologies:

10/09/2007 Michael Coe In-Kind Contribution $450 set-up and use of office equipment

5. The single largest contributor to the Dingfelder campaign is AFSCME with FIVE THOUSAND BIG ONES! (Where did they get that kind of money?) Hats off to the rainmaker, the candidate’s own husband, Tom Dingfelder, who is an AFSCME official (bringing home the salted bacon):

04/03/2008 Oregon AFSCME Council 75 Cash Contribution $$$5000

It would have been gracious of the AFSCME group who interviewed me in January to disclose the obvious conflict of interest.

It is absolutely in the best interest of voters to be aware of such conflicts of interest.

Parenthetically, I learned of the AFSCME conflict a week earlier on January 19 during the SEIU interview.

The SEIU process began with each candidate having two minutes to state their qualifications in front of everyone, before breaking up for interviews in small groups.

Speaking before me, my opponent declared that her qualifications to represent Senate District 23 included the fact that her husband was “an AFSCME official.”

That statement certainly explained a lot about what else was going on with the PACs.

I said nothing about the conflict a week later when I appeared before the AFSCME panel, because I felt it was their duty to disclose (which they did not!). Other than that, I believe the interview went all right. No hard feelings on my part!

But I never heard from them again, and have just learned about the size of the bundle of cash by referring to ORESTAR. FIVE GRAND!!!

In their defense, they were not the only PAC that failed to disclose conflicts of interest.

Senate District 23: Priorities, Priorities, Priorities!

An obvious contrast between the candidates in this race is their connection to the senate district they seek to represent.

Everyone I know is worried about health care, the economy, housing, hunger and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (not necessarily in that order), but then I am focusing my time, my campaigning and my public service on those who actually live and work in Senate District 23.

You can bet that everyone who attended this Dingfelder event is secure in their access to health care ($75 minimum to sip the free wine, engorge oneself with salivary-gland-stimulating exotica, plot the future of Senate District 23, without actually being in the district):

Here’s the invitation:

Posted by: Jackie Dingfelder Mar 10, 2008 1:58:47 PM

Josh, and anyone else interested,

Yes, Governor Kitzhaber is hosting an event "Greens for Jackie" for me next week. We are expecting a large turnout from the environmental/sustainability community. Evan, thank you for canvassing with me! Jason, I will be knocking on your door soon!

Here are the details.Please join special guest Governor Kitzhaber, and other 'Greens' in support of Jackie Dingfelder for State Senate.

Enjoy delicious wine from Lemelson Vineyards and mouthwatering appetizers from POUR and Provvista Foods.

Where: POUR Wine Bar and Bistro
2755 NE Broadway St. Portland, OR 97232

When: March 19, 5-7pm

Suggested minimum donation $75

Hope to see you there,

Co-hosts: Governor Kitzhaber, Jonathan Poisner, Sybil Ackerman, Stephan Kafoury, Jeremiah Bauman, Nicole Cordan, Lindsey Capps, Mary Scurlock, Randy Tucker, Katy Daily, Meryl Redisch, Kevin Gorman, Louise Tippens, Tom Wolf, Wendy Novick, Gayle Killam, Bob Stacey, Scott Pratt, Regna Merritt, Jeff Bissonnette

P.S. Oregon taxpayers can receive a $50 tax credit, $100 per couple - for political contributions every year.

I stand corrected. The wine was "delicious" and the appetizers "mouthwatering." --SC


Where the Dingfelder campaign money comes from

(I didn’t know some of these PACS existed until I saw this report!)

Important points to note:

As of today's date, April 10, 2008, there has been NO public forum or debate in this race.

Some of the contributors made their endorsement decisions without holding candidate interviews.

Many made their decisions when there was only one candidate in the race, long before the candidate filing deadline.

Early endorsements serve to deter potential candidates from emerging, narrowing the field.

These decisions were all made by small groups or individuals meeting privately, with no opportunity for the public to participate, often without even a pretense of impartiality.

No conflict of interest disclosures were made by any interviewing body.

All of the interviewers save one were white. No racial or ethnic minorities or immigrant populations were present in the interviews, although Senate District 23 is the most diverse Senate district in the state.

All of these PACs and wealthy donors added up together do not represent the makeup and character of Senate District 23 or the priorities of its constituents.

The questions remain:

Who will serve on the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, taking the seat being vacated by Avel Gordly?

Who will stand for our veterans and their families in a new Senate Veterans Affairs Committee?

Who will speak for the underserved when Avel Gordly leaves the Senate?

Who will focus on health care, on services for seniors and people with disabilities? opposed to promising to vote for someone else's work.

Who will focus on the work we as a state need to do to reduce the stigma of mental illness, to replace the Oregon State Hospital and build the statewide network of community-based care so badly needed?

This contest to succeed Senator Avel Gordly deserves far more than the superficial look it has received so far, particularly from these folks, already ordering the curtains for the Senator's new offices:

Tran Date Contributor/Payee Amount
08/15/2007 Northwest Strategies, Inc. $500
08/15/2007 Veterinarians Organized to Elect $500
08/20/2007 Witham & Dickey, Inc. $500
08/31/2007 Ted Wheeler $1000
08/31/2007 Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation $500
08/31/2007 Women's Investment Network PAC $500
08/31/2007 M. Albin Jubitz, Jr. $1000
09/07/2007 Oregon Optometric Public Affairs Council $500
09/07/2007 John Emrick $1000
09/24/2007 William Lazar $2000
09/24/2007 John Russell $1000
09/29/2007 Ponzi Vineyards $ 240
10/04/2007 Willamette Valley Vineyards $468
10/04/2007 Oregon Refuse and Recycling Association PAC $500
10/04/2007 Lisa Naito $150
10/04/2007 Laurelwood Brewing Co. $128
10/04/2007 Provvista Specialty Foods, Inc. $404.08
10/04/2007 Portland General Electric Employee Candidate Assistance Fund $1500
10/09/2007 Betsy Johnson $500
10/09/2007 Michael Coe $450
10/09/2007 Pour $450
10/14/2007 Christine Vernier $500
10/28/2007 Susheela Jayapal $500
10/30/2007 PPM Energy, Inc. $2000
10/30/2007 Mark Edlen $500
11/01/2007 Pour $450
11/07/2007 Cascade Grain Products LLC $1000
11/13/2007 Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association PAC $500
11/13/2007 William Blosser $150
11/13/2007 American Federation of Teachers PAC $1000
11/13/2007 Waste Management Service Center $1000
11/21/2007 Gun Denhart $ 750
11/23/2007 Pour $450
11/23/2007 WinningMark $2930.4
12/05/2007 Holding Onto Oregon's Priorities (HOOPS) PAC $500
12/07/2007 Foresight Ophthalmology PAC $500
12/07/2007 Oregon Medical PAC $500
12/07/2007 Container Recovery Inc. $250
12/07/2007 Container Recovery Inc. $750
12/07/2007 Cable Operators PAC $250
12/07/2007 Conkling Fiskum & Mccormick PAC $500
12/07/2007 American Institute of Architects Oregon PAC $500
12/07/2007 Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc. $1000
12/07/2007 Oregonians for Affordable Housing $1000
12/11/2007 Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde $2000
12/11/2007 Pacific Ethanol Inc. $1000
12/12/2007 WinningMark $2500
12/15/2007 Pour $400
01/02/2008 Kenneth Lewis $1000
01/11/2008 Kenneth Hayes $500
01/17/2008 Brian Houle $1000
01/17/2008 Robert Doneker $500
01/17/2008 GlaxoSmithKline $500
01/17/2008 Credit Union Legislative Action Fund $1000
01/25/2008 James Winkler $500
01/25/2008 Rob Miller $500
01/28/2008 John Miller $500
01/31/2008 Pacific Seafood $1000
01/31/2008 Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs $1000
01/31/2008 American Council of Engineering Companies PAC $500
01/31/2008 David Evans and Associates $500
02/01/2008 Edmund Hayes, Jr. $500
02/01/2008 Neil Kelly $500
02/01/2008 Oregon WheatPAC $250
02/01/2008 Debi Coleman $500
02/01/2008 Oregon State Fire Fighters Council $1000
02/27/2008 Scott Lewis $500
03/04/2008 Mark Rosenbaum $500
03/11/2008 Lemelson Winery $264
03/14/2008 Oregon State Fire Fighters Council $1950
03/16/2008 Sarah Baker $500
03/16/2008 Natural Gas PAC $1000
03/20/2008 Teamsters No. 37 Political Fund $300
03/20/2008 United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 555 $1000
03/20/2008 Fisherman's Marine Supply, Inc $150
03/20/2008 Cable Operators PAC $500
03/20/2008 Oregon Nurse PAC $250
03/20/2008 Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association PAC $750
03/20/2008 Ice PAC $500
03/27/2008 Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association PAC $250
03/27/2008 Credit Union Legislative Action Fund $500
03/27/2008 Holding Onto Oregon's Priorities (HOOPS) PAC $500
03/27/2008 Provvista Specialty Foods, Inc. $112.46
03/27/2008 Teachers Voice in Politics $1000
03/27/2008 Citizen Action for Political Education $500
03/27/2008 Oregon Business Association PAC $1250
04/03/2008 Oregon Climate PAC $2000
04/03/2008 Oregon AFSCME Council 75 $$$5000
04/09/2008 Pour $562
04/09/2008 Qwest Oregon Employees' PAC $500
04/09/2008 Citizen Action for Political Education $2500
04/09/2008 Oregon AFLabor-CIO Committee on Political Education $250
04/09/2008 Boora Architects, inc $250

An equal opportunity candidate

The foregoing information is provided as a public service. I invite the public to give the same scrutiny to the Sean Cruz for Senate District 23 campaign.

I look forward to the discussions that will ensue.—Sean Cruz

VOD, part 3 (Portland legislative candidate forums absent from the public discussion)

With three key Portland-area legislative contested primaries looming on the May 20 ballot, opportunities for the candidates to appear in public forums and debates have been strangely absent.

This week alone, both Elders in Action and the Oregon League of Minority Voters will hold candidate forums, and neither will include legislative races.

It is easy to explain the lack of interest regarding the many uncontested legislative races, as those “contests” were decided back at the filing deadline in March.

But House District 42, House District 45 and Senate District 23 feature well-qualified contenders for these three open seats, and how all three races have slipped below the radar is hard to understand.

The several candidates offer competing views on the state’s policies and priorities, and yet no opportunity has emerged for a public discussion.

The Urban League and its partners will be the first to offer a platform featuring the race to succeed Senator Avel Gordly in Senate District 23, on May 2 at Highland Christian Center, an event that will also feature the contest for Oregon Attorney General.

It is the lone scheduled event for this key race that will determine the policy direction for Oregon’s underserved populations for years to come.

Recently, the Oregonian ran an editorial stating that the most important races on the May 20 ballot might be the legislative contests, and they are correct.

Each of these races are worth far more than the superficial look they have received to date, simple measures of money raised, special-interest and insider endorsements gained, lawn signs staked and paper promises printed.

Behind the scenes, political payback, petty jealousies and kneecapping are in full Spring bloom, the role of endorsement nepotism lies unexamined.

Who will take the intitiative and put these vital contests on the front burner where they belong?

I leave the question open, as open as the opportunity to bring real change to the Oregon legislature, but the door is closing fast.

Time is short, and the time is yours.

VOD, part 2 (Interviews and Endorsements)

Portland, Oregon-- In this series of posts, I will review several of the special interest and PAC interview and endorsement encounters and processes that have taken place in order to provide voters with a better understanding of what they mean in this vitally important race for Senate District 23.

First up, the Oregon Nurses Association, which is recorded in its entirety in this string of emails:

-------------- Original message --------------
From: "Amy Ferguson"

January 28, 2008
Sean Cruz
PO Box 30093
Portland, OR 97230

Dear Sean:

Monday, February 11, 2008, the Oregon Nurse Political Action Committee (ON-PAC) will be holding endorsement interviews for the 2008 elections. Interviews will be twenty minutes long and start at 4:40 p.m.

These interviews will be held at the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) building located at 18765 SW Boones Ferry Road, Tualatin, OR 97062 in the 3rd Floor ONA Conference Center. If you have difficulty finding or entering the building, contact Amy Ferguson at 503-701-7132.

Representatives of Oregon Nurses Association will be meeting at 4:30 p.m. for a pre-interview briefing.

These times are not based on confirmations from candidates and are subject to change. We will work with the utmost flexibility to accommodate the schedules of the invited interviewees. The tentative agenda is as follows:

4:30 - 4:40 p.m. ONA pre-interview briefing
4:40 - 5:00 p.m. Jefferson Smith (D) HD 47, Outer East Portland
5:00 - 5:20 p.m. Ed Glad (R) HD 24, Yamhill County
5:20 – 5:40 p.m. Sean Cruz (D) SD 23, SE Portland
5:40 – 6:00 p.m. Rep. Jackie Dingfelder (D) SD 23, SE Portland

Candidates have been asked to bring 12 copies of their completed questionnaires to the interview to be reviewed by the interviewers.

Please feel free to call Martin Taylor (503) 804-7395 if you have any logistical questions or by e-mail at:


Chris O’Neill, RN
ON-PAC President

Please confirm attendance with Martin Taylor 503-804-7395.

Thank you,
Amy Ferguson
Government Relations Program Assistant
Oregon Nurses Association
18765 SW Boones Ferry Road, Suite 200
Tualatin, OR 97062
503-293-0011 ext. 306800-634-3552 (OR only)503-293-0013 (fax)
Register Now for ONA’s 2008 Convention, “New Directions: Nursing’s Future in Oregon.” April 9 – 11, 2008 at The Riverhouse Hotel and Convention Center in Bend

From: []
Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 5:53 PM
To: Amy Ferguson
Subject: Re: Monday, February 11 Candidate Interviews


I will be working in the Capitol in February in my capacity as Senator Avel Gordly's Chief of Staff.

I can't predict what time I'll be able to get away from work, and it's about an hour's drive. How flexible are you for interviewing sitting legislators during session?


-------------- Original message --------------
From: "Amy Ferguson"

Message sent on behalf of Martin Taylor:

Sean, both you and Rep. Dingfelder have expressed a similar caution about your ability to predict your schedules that day.

Our group is meeting from 4:30 – 6:00 for candidate interviews and from 6:00 – 8:00 for ON-PAC business.

Please try to make the interview time of 5:20 – 5:40 pm.

If you need to be late contact us (503-701-7132) so we know you are running late and we will find a way adjust our schedule.

It takes 35-45 minutes to go from the front door of the capitol building to the ONA elevator depending on traffic and your driving style (assuming you know where you are going so you may need to plan a few more minutes of “where the heck is this time”).

Rep. Dingfelder is a sitting legislator and we presented her the same response we just presented you. I hope I answered to your question.

We will not be contributing money to any candidates… sitting legislators or others… until after the Supplemental Session and after the March Filing Deadline.


From: []
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 11:08 AM
To: Amy Ferguson
Cc: Martin Taylor
Subject: Re: FW: Monday, February 11 Candidate Interviews


Thanks for your reply. Senator Gordly serves on JWM, which is scheduled 3:30 to 5:30 Mon-Thurs.

There is no way to predict what time the hearing will actually end until it does. We have been alerted to be prepared to meet into the evenings. I will not be leaving the Capitol before our work is done for the day.

In five years of legislative service, that has never happened. The public business comes first.

This is the only interview for legislative races that I am aware of that takes place during the legislative session. My availability during the session is completely subject to Senator Gordly's schedule. My priority during the session is the session itself, not campaigning.

I hope the ONA's flexibility takes these circumstances into account. Since my intention is to serve on the Senate Health and Human Services Committee upon Senator Gordly's retirement, and access to quality health care is the core of my legislative agenda, I hope we can resolve the scheduling conflict so I can meet with your organization.


From: "Martin Taylor"
CC: "Chris O'Neill"
Subject: RE: FW: Monday, February 11 Candidate Interviews
Date: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 12:19:00 PM

I will forward your reply to our PAC chair.

From: "Martin Taylor"
To: , "Amy Ferguson"
CC: "Chris O'Neill"
Subject: RE: FW: Monday, February 11 Candidate Interviews
Date: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 3:08:17 PM

-We are canceling the candidate interviews for SD 23 on Feb. 11’th.

So Sean, you don’t need to worry about coming late or not at all… we will not be interviewing either yourself or Rep. Dingfelder that night. Martin


I never heard from them again.

Apparently, the Oregon Nurses Association decided that they didn’t need to invest the twenty minutes in determining their endorsement for Senate District 23 after all.

I learned yesterday that they had endorsed my opponent, and I did not learn this from them.

How this “process” is a benefit to the constituents of Senate District 23 or to the state of Oregon is a mystery to me.

Things are not always what they appear to be.

--Sean Cruz

Voter-Owned Elections and Candidate-Suppression Endorsements

Portland, Oregon--In a previous post, I stated that the early endorsements of Portland City and County leaders, many months before the deadline for filing for office, were responsible for discouraging community members from stepping up as candidates.

Proving my point exactly, reported in today’s Portland Tribune, the following:

Council’s kingmaker gets his due

”Jefferson Smith, the first-time candidate who apparently will win District 47 of the Oregon House of Representatives, already is learning how to get along with other officeholders.

”Last week Smith appeared before the City Council to support funding for a new elementary school in the David Douglas district. Before he could speak, Commissioner Randy Leonard pointed out that no other candidates had filed in the race, meaning that Smith is a shoo-in.

I want to take credit for that, because I endorsed you early on,” Leonard said, modestly.

”Although Smith could have pointed out his years of political organizing, activism and networking, he instead replied, “I agree.” (The Tribune)

Here’s the link:

So much for democracy and inclusion, and that commitment to diversity that one often hears from City Hall and the County Commission.

One side of the mouth bespeaks grass roots, the other bald cronyism.

Voters actually have a choice in the Senate District 23 primary, no thanks to the City and County Commissioners.

They have one-candidate races in other nations too, but we don’t call that democracy.

VOD, part 1 (Portland-style)

Portland, Oregon--

Now that the deadline for candidate filings has passed, voters have the opportunity to size up the field and see what their options are, both in specific races and in terms of how the larger pictures shape up, policy-wise.

Most legislative primary races are uncontested.

“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. “ ("Won't Get Fooled Again," the Who)

Yet the voters want change, fresh voices, new perspectives, access to power for real citizens, not just the same career politicians again and again.

The voters want legislators that reflect the changing demographics of our state, so that no citizen is left behind.

That may have to wait until the next go-round.

There is only one House and one Senate race in the May 20 election that would bring the legislature a step closer in reaching these strategic goals.

The marvelously-gifted Cyreena Boston will likely be successful in her bid to re-integrate the House. May other community members have the courage in the future to step up and serve beside her there.

That level of courage among Portland’s racial and ethnic minority communities is hard to find. Lots of talkers, few takers (of the opportunity).

My race in the Oregon Senate is far more difficult, and I am going to take some time to write about how this effort has unfolded, and the barriers to democracy and authentic citizen participation that I’ve encountered along the way.

In Part I (Portland-Style), I want to offer a different perspective on Portland’s Voter Owned Elections (VOE) in a larger sense of access to democracy, and the contrast between the City Council’s commitment to democracy in city races and the overt cronyism that has appeared in the race for Senate District 23.

When Senator Gordly announced her intention to retire last summer, her Senate seat became open in the election cycle, and any citizen could step into the ring and compete.

In the last election cycle, there were five candidates for retiring Representative Steve March’s seat, and I had assumed that there would be several competitors for Senator Gordly’s position. I looked forward to the opportunity to discuss competing views and perspectives.

This is perhaps the most important contested seat in the Senate in this election cycle, as with Senator Gordly’s retirement the legislature loses its most unique voice, its most independent spirit, its most tireless champion for the underserved in every respect. Seniors and people living with disabilities, people living with mental illness, and racial and ethnic minorities would be first to feel the pain, the least likely to gain another champion.

The Senate also stands to lose ground as a mirror of its Oregon citizenry.

As Oregon experiences the pressures of its growing diversity, the Senate stands on the brink of moving in the opposite direction.

I waited for some months after Senator Gordly’s announcement, to see if any regular citizens would step up and enter the race. I focused instead on doing my job as Senator Gordly’s Chief of Staff. In any case, I had decided, out of respect for Senator Gordly, that I would not be the first to file for her seat.

I had no idea that the City Council had already made their commitments in the race.

State Representative Jackie Dingfelder began her campaign to replace Senator Gordly in late summer of 2007, opening with the endorsements of four Portland City Council members in her pocket.

While these endorsements were not a discouragement to me, as residents of East Portland rarely see them out here anyway, I felt that they would dampen the enthusiasm of other potential candidates and act as a deterrent to real citizen access to this process.

Endorsements like these also deter contributions and other support for grass-roots campaigns.

These City Council endorsements were announced some seven months before the deadline for candidate filings arrived, which brings us to the point of Voter Owned Elections, currently a death-rattle away from an ugly demise.

The race for Senate District 23 is, to the best of my knowledge, the only race that has drawn the Council members early interest.

There was no discussion, no opportunity to debate, no nothing prior to the endorsements, not even a competing candidate, just POW! Massive full-scale endorsements, many months prior to the filing deadline.

So much for democracy and inclusion, and that commitment to diversity that one often hears from City Hall and the County Commission.

One side of the mouth bespeaks grass roots, the other bald cronyism.

Later, in early fall, when the Carpenters Union and the American Federation of Teachers invited me in for candidate interviews even though I wasn’t in the race yet, I asked them why they were conducting these interviews so far in advance of the filing deadline. There is only one candidate in the race, I noted.

Neither group had an answer to the question.

How can you decide on a candidate now, when you don’t know who will be in the race?

Shrugs in response. The point, obviously, is that they don’t need to know who else might be in the race.

How does this process, and these early endorsements, benefit the constituents of Senate District 23?

I mulled this question over as the months passed by, but can think of no way in which this is a benefit to the senate district, to the community or to the state.

The special interest groups embody self-interest. No surprise there. It’s not about you, it’s about them, pure and simple. It says so right on the door.

Voter Owned Elections, however, speaks of a level of commitment to keep the doors to elected office open wide enough for more citizens to enter.

The people of the City of Portland are spending a lot of money on encouraging regular citizens to step up, a ton of enabling money flowing out of the Council.

But all of that VOE money pouring into local races swamps the limited funds available to citizen candidates in other races. Never level in the first place, the spillover into other races tilts the playing field further, inhibiting new voices.

The Council members early endorsements hinder fund raising for grass roots candidates and then the spending begins, and the grass roots campaigns cannot compete with the avalanche of media that the VOE money buys. You are screwed both ways.

The Council is a major factor promoting diversity and broadening citizen civic participation in Portland, but the old boy/girl factor is hard to beat, and the essential clubbiness of insiders a reminder that once a candidate crosses to the other side, they are different from you and me.

Now the field is closed. We have what we have. The early endorsements did their work, the candidates are few.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Coming soon:

Part 2: The inside story on special-interest group interviews and endorsements, and what this means for voters in Senate District 23 and beyond.

Part 3: Race and culture in Portland politics

Part 4. The impact of presidential campaigns on local democracy