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December 27th, 2006 Alice Joy | Rogue of the Week
 

Rogue of the Year: Emilie Boyles

Runners Up: Bernie Giusto, Leslie Roberts.

     
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Our Rogue of the Year competition had some serious contenders in 2006.

There was Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto, a perennial favorite for his annual hopscotch among various mismanagement controversies. And this year featured Multnomah County judicial candidate Leslie Roberts, who sneak-attacked her would-be opponent right off the ballot so Roberts could run unopposed (with only a write-in challenger).

But beating out those two worthies is Emilie Boyles, who scores extra points for leaving a long-lasting legacy sure to be cited by critics of public campaign finance for years to come.

Boyles is the former Portland City Council candidate whose bizarre slide into punchline world makes her the emblem for all that can go wrong with campaign-finance systems supported by taxpayers.

Boyles gained notoriety in the May primary when she spent half the $145,000 she received in public money on such items as Internet marketing help from her 16-year-old daughter—to the tune of $15,000.

Not only did Boyles go on a spending spree like she was in charge of the aerial tram project, but it turns out that many of her voter signatures to qualify for the public money had been falsified.

Boyles now works in the town of Glendive, Mont., pop. 4,700, as an $8-an-hour news announcer. Additionally, she has recently touted on her website (emilieboyles.com) the upcoming publication of her new book, Pendulum Swing.

For those schadenfreudians who have taken joy in her decline to rural life and a minimal paycheck, you may want to hope her book makes some money if you ever wish to see your tax dollars again. Her debt to the city still stands at $96,000-plus.

Boyles says many of her heroes at one time were considered rogues, and that "later their actions were understood as vital movements to create change."

Boyles' entire response.

Web only: © 2006 All Rights Reserved. This statement may only be published in its entirety as a response.

I am flattered that the Willamette Week would choose me as this year's Rogue of the Year.

The unintentional fallout of the work of the press in Portland has been to bring the causes of disability rights, anti-poverty, affordable green energy and integration of communities of faith equal to that of humanist organizations to a heightened sense of awareness well beyond the local level.

For the Good of Portland has morphed into For the Good of America and, if anything, the experience has dramatized the great and growing divide in this country between the haves and the have-nots and the inability for the have-nots to have equal access in a real sense to participation in the final decision making part of the democratic process. We invite the public to read about our issues in the For the Good of America Blog by clicking the link from the menu bar of our website.

Once upon a time many of my heroes, which can also be viewed from my website [emilieboyles.com], were considered rogues...and later their actions were understood as vital movements to create change.

I give thanks to the Oregon media for the widespread press, worth more than any advertising budget, that has made it possible for like-minded advocates across the country to communicate and set a course for change. A year and a half ago it was my intention to run for office to change Portland. I may have lost the election, but I gained a better position to affect America and for that I am grateful for the experience. I'd like to give some special thanks and recognition to bloggers Anna Griffin, who started us down this path, Jack Bogdansky whose humorous photos have amused us for months (I'd love to have a set autographed by you, Jack!) as well as Christopher Frankonis for their continued and renewed efforts to keep us in the public eye.

As for what I am doing now, I am doing exactly what I was doing before I ran for office: Living in poverty and organizing people in poverty by participating in a church, directing and writing for a bell choir and working with other arts organizations, organizing civil rights activities (see the front page of the website), providing free consultation to both communities of faith and secular nonprofits in marketing techniques and grant writing, and, as we enter into yet another legislative and congressional session, providing support to intentionally unincorporated advocacy groups. As far as my future plans, they are yet undecided...who knows, I may choose to return to Portland and again run for Portland City Commission Seat 2. No decision has yet been made.

Thank you again for the honor, and the help.

For the Good of America,
Emilie Boyles

 
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