Friday, May 21, 2004

Op-Ed on Portland Reform
Following up on Ned's blog from yesterday, the Portland Tribune has printed an op-ed here that I co-authored about the money spewing into their mayor's race and what options citizens have for reigning it in. Here's a sampling:

Imagine for a moment that the Portland Trail Blazers chose referees the same way we choose legislators. Rather than having refs hired by the league, each team would simply offer competing salaries to prospective referees, and the team that spent the most would pick most of the refs. The officials might earnestly claim that their judgment was not influenced by which team chose them, but well-financed teams like the Dallas Mavericks would still have the ability to choose referees whose style was to their liking. No fan would believe for a minute that those officials were impartial enforcers of the rules.

Yet in elections, arguably more important contests than professional basketball, we let big money rule. According to city Auditor Gary Blackmer, the candidate who has spent the most money has won 97 out of the last 108 Portland elections. That gives the biggest donors pretty good odds of having the officials of their choosing, even if every call doesn’t go their way.

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