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Saturday, May 01, 2004
Why I've been vaguely absent

The truth is, the most avid readers of this blog have been my opponents. That's fine. Perhaps they'll learn something about democracy and serving the people, rather than serving themselves by so doing.

But ...

We've got a whole slate of fun things coming up, chock full of electoral goodies and surprises, and we wouldn't want to spoil the fun by tipping them off.

I mean, it would be like telling the kids what's in the presents under the tree right before Christmas. Wouldn't you rather see their little faces light up as we unwrap our packages of goodies?

Sure you would.

So, I've been VERY VERY busy, and the Mystery Rangers have been out in force, taking care of business.

I wish there was time for more, but you know what? I have a special treat for you today! Look at the links over on the right side of this page (not the FAR right, of course, just the Right), and you'll see that I've put up the OLD DPLC and DPO webpages from the Year 2000! The DPO Page was from the last Christmas of the old Millennium and has a lovely Christmas carol, so if you click on it, be sure to turn your sound down, or mute if you don't want to hear the music!

And now, I must be off on Official Mystery Ranger business.

By the way ... if you want to contribute to the campaign, state law says I have to know what your name is, what your profession is, who employs you, and where you live. Make your checks out to "Mystery Rangers for Hart Williams" -- our official PAC -- and get ready for the real fun to start.

Mystery Rangers for Hart Williams
660 West 24th Place
Eugene, OR 97405

Thanks!

Ballots are in the mail and we're in the home stretch.

But I have a feeling that it will be the other two who will be yelling "May Day! May Day!" before the dust all settles.

Lgbo olgb glob blog
Monday, April 26, 2004
Crazy Daze

Crazy day. I woke up at 10 am (late night) and it took until 2 pm just to answer email, put out fires, and deal with urgent matters.

Lawnsigns part three will arrive presently, but first I'd like ONE decent meal today, and to have a moment to relax. Between information gathering, passing along stuff and getting information from my secret weapon, it's been one of those Looney Tunes days where your legs go bippity-bippity so fast that they're just a blur, but you don't seem to move.

More later.

Sunday, April 25, 2004
Lawn Signs (part the Second)

[TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES: Friday afternoon and most of Saturday I was ill -- enough so that writing was pretty much out of the question. Again, no blog. My apologies. Herein, we move on to part 2.]


My telephone rang in late February. It was an old friend -- a woman who, unbeknownst to me, was already probably working for Paul Holvey's campaign, although she would not formally file papers as his campaign treasurer and a campaign director until March 16, a few weeks later. (And she would NEVER actually tell me that she was working for Holvey. Hasn't to this very day.)

As the current parliamentarian of the Democratic Party of Lane County, I presumed that her phone call carried an informal weight. And her husband was a friend of mine: They had come to barbeques on our deck. We gave them our spare water heater when theirs died. Drove over the hill with two gallons of gas for their tank when they ran out and were stranded. THAT kind of friend. So I listened as my friend made a request.

"Hart," she said, "I can't get ahold of the Chair of your House District." This was true -- the HD8 Chair was very sick with flu for an extended period and was incommunicado. "Since you're Vice Chair, I wanted you to know that Mitzi Colbath has her lawn signs up in violation of Eugene campaign laws."

"Really?" I asked.

"Yes," she said. "Eugene city code says no more than 60 days prior to an election. You might want to call them. We don't need a scandal." (You also have to take them down 5 days AFTER an election, about which, more, later).

Innocent and wide-eyed, I took her at her word, and assured her that I'd make an informal inquiry.

"Oh," she added. "They haven't filed their papers with the Secretary of State for their PAC. She's only filed her county papers." As the former DPLC Treasurer

At this time, I didn't know much about either candidate in this election; Holvey had been appointed, but we had not attended the Nominating Convention -- mostly because it was held during the worst ice storm in Eugene in twenty years. The Secretary of State, Bill Bradbury, had assured the DPLC Chair, Pat Riggs-Henson, that the Convention could be delayed, but she had bull-headedly pushed ahead, even though she KNEW the ice storm was headed for Eugene, and could hit at anytime DURING the Nominating Convention.

Why this occurred would ultimately have a lot to do with why I entered the race, but at that point, I knew virtually nothing about Holvey, and even less about Colbath.

The Treasurer hung up.

The following day, I left a message at the Colbath number, and after a short game of phone tag, I spoke to Mitzi's husband Charles. He was incredibly defensive, told me that the problem has "been taken care of," and that there was a loophole in the law that allowed the signs to be up.

As HD8 Vice Chair, I asked what it was -- figuring that other candidates in Eugene might want to know what the "loophole" was.

He gave me an impassioned statement about how there were Howard Dean signs, and anti-war lawn signs, implying that because these were in violation, they had a perfect right to put up their lawn signs. "It's OK," he said. "We've checked it with the City Attorney."

Fine, I said. WHAT is the loophole?

It's in the city code, he said.

Great, I said. I'm not a lawyer. WHAT is the loophole?

You'll have to check with THEM about that, he said. It's in the last sentence.

I begged once more to know, in layman's terms, what he was talking about, but he again filibustered and the conversation ended without any resolution whatsoever. I also mentioned the PAC question, but he said this wasn't a problem.

It was a very unpleasant conversation. I was merely trying to avoid a scandal -- and wanted only to informally see if I could resolve the issue. Mr. Colbath seemed to feel that I was calling to hassle them on behalf of the DPLC or Holvey or both, and it would later turn out that he was entirely correct in his defensiveness -- although I didn't know it at the time.

The next day, I looked up the City Code, but there was no "last sentence" that made any sense vis a vis lawn signs, and I still did not know why a clearly worded law that was clearly intended to keep electoral clutter out of the eyes of Eugenians until 60 days before elections was NOT in effect. My reading of the City Code suggested that the Colbaths were sneering at the law.

Why, I wondered, did someone seek an office to MAKE laws, when they clearly showed contempt FOR laws?

What was worse, to my mind, was that Mitzi Colbath had written a self-congratulatory piece in the City Club of Eugene's (of which I've been a member) December 2001 Newsletter, as the *Chair* of the Eugene City Charter Review Committee. One would think that she, of all people, would show some decent respect for the Eugene City Code on elections, and understand the REASONS behind the ordinance!

Eugene City Council Reviews City Charter
By Mitzi Colbath, City Charter Review Committee

The charter review has been a challenging undertaking with an imposing schedule and an enterprising group of individuals charged with the laudable goal of reviewing and improving the Eugene City Charter. We have reviewed the areas within the stated charge from the Eugene City Council and have added the following areas that have developed as part of review process: 1. Role of the Mayor, 2.Campaign Finance, and 3. OrdinanceProceduresThe group made several recommendations, including changing to an in-house legal counsel and creating a city performance auditor position. City club members can reach Mitzi Colbath (mcolbath@juno.com), Chair of the committee, for more information. The Charter Review Committee wishes to thank the City Club for its contribution to this process.

[Note the "performance auditor" reference, about which more another time.]

No resolution to this. But now, every time I drove up 18th Street (which was quite a lot), I saw these "Count on Mitzi" signs, and frankly, they offended me. But there was nothing that I could do, and there the matter should have dropped.

I also noticed that the lawn signs were of a non-standard size, and of thinner material than most lawn signs are made of, and I wondered if they'd been manufactured in a union shop -- that Union "bug" is a big deal to Democrats, after all. They were already warping out of true, and many were sagging, not planted deeply in the soil of Eugene's front yards.

The following day, I called the Treasurer, and, having no idea that I was being used by the Holvey campaign as a catspaw to harass the Colbath campaign without Holvey's fingerprints on it, I told her that I couldn't get any satisfactory answer from the Colbaths.

She assured me that the City had many other complaints, and had told me in the first conversation that a Republican had gone so far as to have taken photos of the lawn signs and given them to the City Attorney.

This may or may not have been true, but, as with the "Ice Storm" convention, I did not realize that there was an ulterior motive at work, and pretty much dropped the matter.

The lawn signs stayed up. There was over 90 days to go until the election, and all I could do was look at the lawn signs -- which gave no indication as to WHAT office Mitzi was running for -- and shake my head. This was, if not a clear flouting of the law, certainly a rape of the spirit of the law. It was another "Me Generation" attempt to gain a perceived advantage where there was, in actuality, none that could be seen.

This offended the "Citizen" in me. I did a little research and found out that Mitzi Colbath had run against Nancy Nathanson for City Council a few years earlier, and that there had been an "announcement" lunch at the Elks Club in January where everyone had expected her to run for the City Council again, now that Nathanson was running for mayor.

The EUGENE WEEKLY had even run a short piece on it, and seemingly backed her for City Council. What was odd, though was an "Action Alert" piece on something called "EMERALDBUZZ" that read:

Take action TODAY (Jan. 21) or TOMORROW (Jan. 22) to encourage Mitzi Colbath to run for city council.

BACKGROUND:

The Eugene city council is becoming a mouthpiece for the Chamber of Commerce. To reclaim the council, we need to encourage progressive candidates to run for office. Mitzi Colbath is a strong progressive candidate for Ward 8. (The current councilor, Nancy Nathanson, is running for mayor). You don't have to live in Ward 8 to encourage her to run for city council.

Mitzi will announce this Friday the 23rd whether she intends to run for city council or a position in the state legislature currently held by a recently appointed union organizer. This legislative position is also being sought after by another Democrat. It would be a shame if she lost to one of these two candidates and we also ended
up with a conservative in Eugene's Ward 8. But that is a very real possibility if she runs for the legislative seat. We need Mitzi in city council!


FORWARD THE LETTER BELOW WITH YOUR NAME TO: colbathforelectedoffice at juno.com

Dear Ms. Colbath,

We need you on city council to keep the Chamber of Commerce from dominating city politics! You are well-known and supported in your neighborhood, your credentials are strong, your politics are progressive. You stand a good chance of winning this position.

I understand that you are also considering running for District 8 seat in the state legislature. I'm concerned that you will be campaigning against two Democrats: Paul Holvey--a union organizer recently appointed to this position--and Mike Bonner, a state employee. It would be a great loss to the people of Eugene if you weren't elected to this position and we also ended up with a conservative in Eugene's Ward 8. But that is a very real possibility if you run against for the legislative seat.

As you make your decision in running for office, please know that I'm encouraging you to run for city council!

Sincerely,

Well, as we all know, she decided to run for HD8, instead.

From The EUGENE WEEKLY:

FRIDAY, JANUARY 23
Sunrise 7:39 am; Sunset 5:11 pm
Av High 47; Av Low 33

Marlene "Mitzi" Colbath political announcement lunch, noon, Elks Club, 2470 W. 11th Ave. $8.50 optional lunch. http://www.colbath.info/

I don't know how many people ponied up the $8.50 for Lunch with Mitzi, but she DID file with the Secretary of State's office:

Oregon Secretary of State, Elections Division
Political Committees
Committee Name Filed
COLBATH FOR ELECTED OFFICE (MARLENE) 02/09/2004

[Which is actually well *BEFORE* my "friend" called me with the lawnsign and PAC complaint. Extract whatever meaning you can from THAT piece of data.]

[Note: it is interesting that, in Mitzi's C&E's, it is recorded that she paid for two polls in May and July of 2003, and paid for her lawn signs on January 19th, four days before announcing for the HD8 seat! The "generic" lawn signs would seem to go quite well with her ambivalence regarding WHICH office to run for!]

And, it was dutifully reported on KLCC's "Northwest Passage":

Northwest Passage
Jan 23, 2004 at 4:00 pm to 4:30 pm

Host: Tripp Sommer

Second Newscast:
1. Adrienne Wilson reports on the swearing in of Paul Holvey as the Representative for House District 8.

2. Mitzi Colbath announced her candidacy for House District 8.

Which is where we first see these two, locked in mortal combat, as the Cambric Dog and the Calico Cat ....

Mike Bonner, a friend of mine, withdrew from the race, despite my urging that he stay in, and, later, when I met Holvey, he began by insulting the group I was with after beginning with his standard "I don't know what I'm doing" speech. But that's another story.

The "Count on Mitzi" lawn signs were up, and up -- for a time -- they stayed.

It was only later, after I learned of the ugly machinations that had produced Holvey, and the ugly campaign tactics that Mitzi was engaged in, I decided to file for the seat myself.

But this is about lawn signs, and we'll stick with that.

Once I was a candidate, and had a legitimate complaint about the lawn signs, I called around until I finally got a Bureaucrat who was actually in charge, and was told what the loophole was.

Turns out that there was "an election" in Clackamas County on March 10th and that this was the "loophole" cited. The City Attorney had accepted this (though I doubt any judge would have) and the Colbaths, I was assured, had to take down all their signs on the 15th, and could put them back up again on the 19th, which was 60 days prior to the May primary election, but the 15th was five days AFTER the Clackamas election.

We drove around on the 11th to see if the signs were down, and most were. There were signs still up on Donald Avenue, but I have no idea as to whether the City ever cited the Colbaths. I doubt that they did.

The Moral of this Story? I guess it's that no one has any real interest in enforcing election laws, in actual practice. Do whatever you want. All the complaints the City Recorder received (and I was assured that they were legion) came to naught, except for the somewhat ridiculous outcome that the Colbaths had to take down their signs, wait five days and then put them back up. Hoist by their own petard, one might say.

When I spoke to Ms. Colbath I was assured in explicit terms that she broke no laws, had never and would never break any laws, etc. etc. I take her at her word, but I have to wonder: Does "not breaking any laws" mean that you skirted by on technicalities while perverting the intent of the law? Or does it mean that you respected the law itself? I am unconvinced that her loophole would have held water in court, just as I am convinced that the City Attorney was all to happy to find an excuse to avoid any extra work due to the complaints about the lawn signs.

You be the judge, since no actual judge will ever review any of this.

And use your vote to cast your verdict.

But what was this insanity all about? The House District 8 seat in the legislature?

Yes, Virginia. Sadly, yes. But the lawn sign madness was just beginning: Holvey had some little problems of his own.

Holvey's handout -- clearly designed as a quiet slam on Colbath's short tenure as a registered Democrat, which was why she was ineligible to run for the appointment at the January 5 Nominating Convention -- calls him "A Real Democrat!" which is, I hope, not an ugly slur on all Democrats: Because his actions and the actions of his agents are not anything for Democrats to be proud of.

But this is about lawn signs, and we'll stick with that.

The Holvey panel card states, as well, "We need to stop exporting jobs and importing poverty." This seems an innocuous (and ghost-written) standard campaign blurb.

That was before I learned where Holvey's lawn signs come from.

And Scheherezade perceived the coming of dawn and fell silent.

Next: Lawn Signs (part the Third)

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