During the past several weeks, The Oregonian has twice criticized the idea of publicly financed election campaigns for Portland, including offering the view that there is "no urgency and no emergency" ("Thanks for that pat on the head," May 20), that this issue is "relatively petty" ("Diplomatic dispatches," May 22) or a "frill" (May 20).
Perhaps the editorial board has not noticed the ever-increasing cost of campaigns for Portland mayor and City Council. Perhaps it has not noticed that the funding is coming from a concentrated set of donors. Or that small donors represent only a minor fraction of total dollars contributed.
They're absolutely right. They finish up:
We're waiting for the Big O to get on board.
[T]his is an importand and timely step to preserve and enhance an open and diverse political process here in Portland.
UPDATE: And while we're waiting, Willamette Week offers this quick rundown of how public campaign financing has played out so far in other areas of the country. Bottom line: Electable candidates without ready supplies of cash get a decent chance; the system isn't flooded with "novelty candidates," despite nay-sayers' warnings; and oversight and auditing mechanisms (like Portland has) catch the people who try to game the system.