Now that its May, the nasty attack ads come out to play -- by people desperate to get conservative Salem City Council candidates elected in the May 19 primary (which usually results in an actual winner, if one candidate gets more than 50% of the vote).
Case in point: this mailer from the "Jobs PAC" that contains several false statements about Trevor Phillips, who is shown in black and white to, I guess, distinguish him from the colorful Brad Nanke.
Before I point out why this attack ad is so sleazy, let's do some digging into the Jobs PAC. Here's what ORESTAR, which is the State of Oregon campaign finance system, has on file.
So the Jobs PAC is run by the Public Affairs Counsel firm in Salem. Recent contributions to the Jobs PAC come from corporate groups such as the Oregon Manufacturers and Commerce ($13,000), Oregon Truck PAC ($3,000), and Oregon Concrete and Aggregate Producers Association ($2,000).
Of course, we don't know who hired the Public Affairs Counsel to use money from their Jobs PAC to send out the mailer attacking Trevor Phillips and supporting Brad Nanke. It's kind of hard to understand why a Salem City Council race would be of interest to the (apparently) statewide organizations in the paragraph above who have contributed big bucks to the Jobs PAC.
But that's how Oregon's screwed-up campaign finance system, or rather non-system, works. Often it is impossible to tell who is behind an attack ad like this one, because the money that pays for it flows in a secretive manner.
Now, let's turn to the substance in the attack ad.
(1) Homeless policy. I'll assume that Phillips opposed the proposed sit-lie ordinance that would have banned people from sitting or lying on sidewalks from 7 am to 9 pm. But so did a majority of the Salem City Council, which voted 5-4 to strip out the sit-lie part of the ordinance after hearing from 40 community members who opposed the ban. So this wasn't a wacko position for Phillips to take. His testimony reflected what the City Council position at the time turned out to be.
(2) Partisan'ness. Yes, Trevor Phillips, who is an emergency room doctor, is a progressive who supports liberal candidates. But Brad Nanke is equally partisan. It's total B.S. for the attack ad to claim that his 20 years of service on the City Council is "non-partisan." Every member of the City Council, and every candidate running for a seat on the Council, is nominally non-partisan, since there is no D or R after their name. But Nanke ran as a Republican in a 2018 Marion County Commissioner race that he lost.
A Statesman Journal story about Nanke's late 2019 decision not to run again for the City Council (he changed his mind just before the filing deadline this year) says:
Nanke is regarded as a more conservative voice on the council. His wife was one member of the conservative talk radio duo that hosted "The Gator & Denise Show," which used to broadcast locally on KYKN.
Thus Phillips is a liberal and Nanke is a conservative. Neither is a middle-of-the-road candidate, so this gives Ward 3 voters a clear choice that is muddled in the misleading attack ad.
(3) Costco. Indeed, I'll assume again that the ad is correct and Phillips opposed approving a controversial move of Costco from where it is now on Mission Street to a property that adjoins a residential neighborhood along Kuebler Avenue. So did a 5-3 majority of the City Council, with Nanke joining Mayor Bennett and Councilor Lewis in a minority vote. And let's remember that the Costco move was opposed by the South Gateway Neighborhood Association along with many individuals.
(4) Measure 101. This is a really perplexing part of the hit piece. Gosh, an emergency room doctor, Phillips, supported a health care referendum that was approved by about 60% of Oregon voters. Here's how an OPB story describes Measure 101.
Oregon voters overwhelmingly approved a package of health care taxes to ensure low-income Oregonians will keep their health coverage.
About 60 percent of voters cast their ballot in favor of Measure 101, according to unofficial results Tuesday night.
The referendum asked voters to approve up to $320 million in taxes on hospitals and certain health insurers to help pay for those on the Oregon Health Plan, the state’s version of Medicaid. If voters had rejected Measure 101, the decision would have overturned the health care taxes, leaving lawmakers scrambling to fill a budget hole to ensure hundreds of thousands of low-income Oregonians didn’t lose coverage.
Since I worked as a health planner and policy analyst in my pre-retirement years, I'm familiar with the basic concept of Measure 101. Medicaid is a good deal for Oregon because state dollars leverage a larger federal match. So hospitals and health insurers supported Measure 101 even though they would be taxed, because our health care system would end up getting back more than the $320 million in taxes.
Nanke opposed health care for low-income Oregonians. Phillips supported that health care. Again, this shows how Ward 3 residents have a clear choice in the May election.
They can either vote for Phillips, a liberal doctor, who favors compassionate homeless policies, not plunking a giant Costco next to a residential neighborhood, and providing low-income people health care, or they can vote for Nanke, a conservative who works with two home builders associations, who favors a law-and-order approach to dealing with the homeless, having Costco relocate to an area opposed by the local neighborhood association, and rejecting Medicaid money that helps people who can't afford health care.
My suggestion: Vote for Trevor Phillips.