At election time, the Rogue Desk goes on high alert for politicians and the decisions they make.
Already, heading into the May 18 primary, WW has reported on Rex Burkholder overstating his résumé in the Voters' Pamphlet and Will Rasmussen, running in the Democratic primary for House District 37, fudging the date when he moved to the district. Both have apologized.
Now come two new puzzlingly Roguish acts by candidates who should know better.
The first is by Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, who rode in the St. Johns parade last weekend in a convertible with a Confederate-flag plate (as first noted on Jack Bog's Blog) on the front.
We know that Fish, a Harvard-educated scion of one of the country's oldest political families, strives to burnish his man-of-the-people bona fides. (And the tennis ball testicles adorning the rear end of his parade ride did that.) But Fish is also a former civil-rights lawyer who should know better. And he does.
"I just showed up and got in the car without looking at it," says Fish. "The first I knew of the plate was when I saw a photo online. It goes without saying that I don't support what the Confederate flag represents, now or then. Lesson learned."
Interim Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton, making his first run, is a greener candidate than Fish, who is running for the fourth time. But Staton is a career law enforcement officer steeped in the command-and-control ethos of police work. So after WW reported online April 30 that Staton's campaign volunteers violated a city ordinance by planting campaign signs in public rights-of-way, we expected the county's top lawman would order the signs removed.
But a cursory inspection 10 days later turned up plenty of roguish Staton signs planted along Southeast McLoughlin Boulevard, where they should not be.
Staton's campaign manager, Carol Wessinger, says campaign workers did remove some signs. "They shouldn't have been put in incorrect places," Wessinger says. "We try to be really careful."
Before we give Fish and Staton, both of whom WW endorsed, a break, we'd point both politicians to the cautionary tale of former West Linn Mayor Patti Galle. There is no clearer local example of how seemingly small misjudgments can balloon into career-ending disasters.
After Attorney General John Kroger investigated allegations that Galle lied in the 2008 Voters' Pamphlet about her educational credentials, Galle resigned from office.
On Tuesday, Galle pleaded guilty in Multnomah County Court to an election law violation. She will receive three years' probation, do 120 hours of community service and pay a $5,000 fine.