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Sources Say: Fritz thinks voters should 'own' city elections once again

City Commissioner Amanda Fritz has written off $123,418 in personal loans to her re-election committee and closed it, meaning she is not trying to repay herself anymore.

The amount is far less than the $336,000 in personal loans still owed to Eileen Brady from her unsuccessful 2012 campaign for Portland mayor. Brady has not yet closed her committee, however, even though she is not actively raising money.

Fritz spent more than $375,000 of her own money in her successful 2012 re-election campaign against former state Rep. Mary Nolan. Fritz always has limited her campaign contributions, however, which reduced her ability to raise money during and after last year’s primary and general election campaigns.

When she was sworn in for a second term in January, Fritz promised to make reviving Portland’s former public campaign financing system a top priority. She is the only nonincumbent elected to the council with public funds.

Measures cause debate before they’re even reality

Two proposed ballot measures are giving political insiders something to talk about, even though they have yet to qualify.

This week the debate is whether voters will consider the Citizen’s Utility Board a substitute for an independently elected water and sewer board.

Although the idea of asking CUB to review the water and sewer bureaus arose before the initiative petition drive started, the political implications of having another layer of review in place before it reaches the ballot are obvious — why support a controversial new board if a well-established one already is in place?

And then there’s the question of whether headquarters hotel opponents can refer Multnomah County’s financing plan to the ballot. The question is before the court because county elections officials said no for technical reasons. If the county officials are right, the opponents can still file an initiative petition to try to block the plan. That requires a lot more signatures to be collected, however.

Senator on cusp of history, even if NYT doesn’t think so

Just when another U.S. senator for Oregon is poised to lead the Senate Finance Committee, The New York Times says it’s no biggie.

Senior Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden is in line to lead the committee next year following the departure of its chairman, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana. The last time an Oregonian chaired the committee was in the 1980s, when it was headed by U.S. Sen. Bob Packwood, who oversaw the historic last reform of the U.S. tax code.

But in a Dec. 30 article, Times reporter Carl Hulse says the traditional power of the committee has been greatly undermined by congressional gridlock and infighting.

“As control of the Senate — and of the committee leadership — has shifted between parties, the power of the chairman has diminished. Senate Republicans have put a six-year limit on how long a member can serve as chairman of a single committee,” Hulse wrote.

Of course, Wyden, a Democrat, will only become chairman if his party retains control of the U.S. Senate — something Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley is likely to remind us of during next year’s elections.