Speaking of questionable valuations...

I see that Portland City Council hopeful Rene Gonzalez is being fined $77,000 by City Hall for not reporting as a campaign contribtion the fact that he's renting his downtown headquarters from real estate tycoon Jordan Schnitzer for only $250 a month. Under the city's taxpayer-financed campaign system, Gonzalez gets public money to buy his campaign ads, and so he's not allowed to take that big a gift from anybody.

The program's director, Susan Mottet, said Wednesday that the ordered penalty is meant to deter future violations.

"When you violate the prohibition on large contributions and accept a contribution of $33,000, that goes against the point of the program to ensure our democracy is strong and healthy and accountable to the people," Mottet said.

His defense is that $250 a month is all the space is worth. The office would otherwise be vacant because literally nobody wants to rent office space downtown these days. And besides, Gonzalez's deal with Schnitzer is that if anybody else wants to rent the space, Gonzalez has to vacate immediately. An understanding like that would certainly reduce the value of the lease to the tenant.

I'm disappointed in Gonzalez. Not because of the valuation, but because he's taking public money from the city for his campaign to begin with. That system, originally known as "voter-owned elections," is one of the worst ideas ever to be implemented at City Hall (and that's saying a lot). We don't have money for mental health treatment, we don't have money for cops, we don't have money to clean up filth and graffiti everywhere, but we have many millions for the local politicians' election campaigns. What nonsense.

And it hasn't produced a better City Council. It's produced a much worse one. Amanda Fritz, Choe Eudaly, Jo Ann Hardesty – we wouldn't have had to suffer through their tenures without "clean money." And it almost brought us even worse flakes, people like Emilie Boyles, Sarah Yada Yada Yadarrony, and many, many others.

So yes, shame on Gonzalez. But not because of the cheap rent.

He's appealing the fine. He'll get nowhere with the bureaucrats, I'm sure. I guess court will be the next stop. I wonder what his lawyers will charge.

Meanwhile, FidelityPDX has a fascinating take on the whole thing, here.

This is what happens in real estate all the time. Yet there was all sorts of moral panic about this, the “We got you now Rene Gonzalez!” moments. This is hardly an October Surprise, but instead a dirty trick used by the political class all the time leading up to an election. So anyways, to let their air out of the bubble a little bit, I thought I’d reference another City Commissioner and their dealings with real estate....

There’s also a public assumption worth addressing that Schnitzer would get quid pro quo favors out of subsidized rent. Yeah, sure, that’s possible. There’s like dozens upon dozens of overt acts of quid pro quo the media actively buries and the public doesn’t give a FLYING FUCK about - but, ok - is there a guarantee of favors? Nah, not even a small risk. Review Ted Wheeler’s relationships to his biggest supporters. Jordan Schnitzer and Ted Wheeler used to be friends, too. Same with Deborah Kafoury and Jordan Schnitzer. Then what happened? Our political class knows they’re not in debt to their donors.


  1. I wish a writer could collect, and report, on all of the background ingredients in the saga


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