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How good a lawyer is Lewis & Clark law professor Jack Bogdanski?

Everyone who follows local government knows he is the blogger Bojack who rants against everything Portland. But now he has put his legal reputation on the line by personally challenging the constitutionality in Oregon Tax Court of the new city arts tax.

In his March 7 filing, Bogdanski argues that the $35 per person assessment violates the Oregon Constitution’s prohibition against a head tax or a poll tax.

A Multnomah County circuit judge rejected that argument, however, when economist Eric Fruits challenged the title of the ballot measure that created the tax last year. Apparently, Bogdanski thinks he’s smarter than the judge.

But the City Council may have given Bogdanski an excuse if he loses. The council agreed to revise the tax to only apply it to Portlanders who make more than $1,000 a year, effectively supporting the argument that it is an income tax, not a head or poll tax that applies to everyone.

The vote came approximately three weeks after Bogdanski filed his challenge.

In the meantime, Bogdanski recently announced that he is taking a year off from blogging to write a tax law book.

Someone opened the campaign funding faucet

Contributions are beginning to pour into the campaigns for the measures on the May 21 special election ballot.

The increased giving is shuffling the ranking of the campaign committees receiving the most money. Ironically, two committees without opposition have, so far, raised more money than two committees fighting each other.

The leading fundraiser is the Committee for Safe and Successful Children, which supports the measure to extend Portland’s Children’s Levy. It already has raised nearly $190,000 in cash and in-kind contributions this year to pass Measure 26-150.

In second place is Restore Our Natural Lands, which supports the levy to maintain Metro’s parks and open spaces. It has raised more than $73,000 to pass Measure 26-152.

Battling it out for third and fourth places are the two campaigns fighting over Measure 26-151. Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland has raised nearly $63,000 in support of fluoridation. Clean Water Portland has raised almost $53,000 to defeat the measure.

Council spending essentially unguided

The City Council already is in court defending itself against charges of spending water and sewer rate funds on non-mission-critical projects. Now City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade says the council has not actually defined the city’s core services anywhere.

According to an audit released Tuesday, they are not defined in the city charter. And those definitions that exist in council-approved documents like the Portland Plan are too broad to be meaningful. The issue is especially important because the council needs to close a $25 million general fund gap in next year’s budget.

“The city mission and goals in the budget are so broad as to cover all livability issues, and they provide little help in setting spending priorities among competing goals and with limited resources,” according to the audit.

The audit can be found at

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