Three. Hundred. And. Fifty. Thousand. Dollars. By most reasonable standards, not a sum you casually shell out for no return.

But over the winter, Portland business bigwigs stuck crowbars into their wallets and pried out nearly $350,000 in a bid to kill the city government's new public campaign-financing law.

The result of that upscale alliance (Qwest, PGE, the Oregon Restaurant Association, über-developer Homer Williams, et al.): nothing.

The group's signature-gathering effort to repeal a new campaign system designed to oust big-money donors fell short last week.

So with local business often pointing out where government could have better spent its money, we humbly suggest the following alternatives the next time business wants to torch its bankroll like kindling at a pig roast.

A lovely vintage Portland home...near the aerial tram! Listed at $340,000, this 1,920-square-foot domicile on Southwest Water Avenue will enjoy a worm's-eye view of the $55 million (and counting!) tram under construction between Oregon Health & Science University and the South Waterfront development. Score!

A fleet of about 65 Segway Human Transporters. Developer Williams (who, just incidentally, is building much of South Waterfront thanks to a big boost from the city) is known for cruising downtown on this futuristic mini mobility device. Top-of-the-line models retail for just $5,500 apiece; no reason Homer's buddies can't all join in.

Smith & Wesson handguns...for NBA player! Trail Blazer Sebastian Telfair could give pro-hoops colleagues tips on how not to transport their $695 M&P 40 Polymer pistols.

Portland LumberJax tickets...for more than 7,000 friends. Why waste cash on an old-fashioned campaign when you could treat a significant hunk of the Portland electorate to a raucous night of indoor lacrosse? The best tickets are just $50!

A "private dance" at the Acropolis Steakhouse...or 17,500 private dances! Close friends tell us that a dancer at Southeast McLoughlin Boulevard's finest multistage strip club gets $20 for a session in the back room. Not including gratuity, people.

And, of course, for the same price as their failed ballot campaign, the public-finance foes could theoretically qualify 70 (that's right—seventy!) candidates for tax-funded City Council campaigns. That's assuming they could find 1,000 solid, non-duplicated citizens to sign $5 checks for each one.