Middaugh campaign grasping at straws?

by Steve, May 8th, 2008

election08Maybe not, but the e-mail I got from his former boss today sure seems like it. With Middaugh’s opponent Nick Fish picking up all three big media endorsements (Oregonian, Willamette Week and Tribune) and trouncing Middaugh by 21 points in BlueOregon’s straw poll, the Middaugh campaign has called on his former boss, Commissioner Erik Sten, to send out an e-mail plea to his supporters to work their networks to drum up some votes.

Here’s the text of the e-mail:

Friends,

Ballots are out, and I need your help. While I left City Hall satisfied that my time was well spent, there is a lot left to do. I want you to know that I believe that Jim Middaugh is the best person to do it. Please vote for Jim.

This year’s election cycle has more drama than even a political junkie could ever expect. From the top of the ticket down to the state legislature the races are exciting and important. Turnout is going to be record high, and most people are not going to be able to keep track of all of these important races.

That’s why your help right now is crucial. Jim Middaugh is a new name. A quick recommendation from you to your friends, neighbors and colleagues will mean more than anything, and now is the time.

I hope you will join me in taking a few minutes, getting in touch with your friends and spreading the word about this terrific, grass roots candidate who is committed to all the things that make Portland great and the things we still lack like adequate housing and support for our schools.

Simply put, Jim Middaugh is the most prepared candidate I’ve ever seen for City Council, and in twenty years of activism I’ve seen and served with some great ones. He is running voter-owned, with no debts to anyone, but people like us who now have to help him get over the top.

Please use e-mail, phone or whatever way you like to get the word out. If you can, call the campaign and see what else you can do to help. The number is 503 231-2859. Email is jim@jimforportland.com.

Thanks for all you do.

Fondly,

Erik Sten

P.S. If you have some spare time please help with phoning, visibility or weekend canvassing.

Is it just me, or does this have an air of desperation to it?

More on the inevitable growth crowd

by Steve, May 8th, 2008

election08I’ve written some recently about gentrification and certain candidates’ fixation on the idea that 300,000 new residents will be shortly arriving in Portland. Sam Adams, Chris Smith and Jim Middaugh have all thrown this number around as the gospel truth, to the delight of big real estate developers who are looking forward to Sam Adams as mayor.

These guys aren’t all that thrilled with the prospect of Nick Fish and Amanda Fritz on the council, both of whom have questioned the wisdom of continuing city subsidies to a high-end condo market that’s starting to slump so badly they’ve stopped work on some and converted others to rentals.

Despite the casual way some candidates are tossing around the 300,000 figure, which represents a doubling of our current growth rate, Metro has put the figure at less than half that: 148,000. (The Portland Mercury points this out in its analysis of Chris Smith’s campaign literature.

This puts the damper on the mad dash to gentrify all of our close-in neighborhoods, but the mythology still lingers. Yesterday a new blogger on Metblogs wrote a defensive post titled Growth is here to stay, get over it.

The post makes some good points about Oregonians’ provincialism, but misses the greater point about the city government’s role in managing growth. Yes, some growth is inevitable. But that doesn’t mean we need to a) encourage it or b) bankrupt the city giving infrastructure subsidies to condo developers in the guise of preparing for it.

The fact is that we can accommodate the growth that is expected without building an east-side Pearl, and without building nine-story condo bunkers on Interstate Avenue. At some point the environmentalists who have been placated by real estate developers with buzzwords like “sustainable,” “green” and “smart growth” will realize that what we’ve done in the Pearl is none of the above.