May 12th, 2010 | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall

Mayor Sam Adams' $75,000 Tweet

CASH Oregon tweet

A single tweet to Mayor Sam Adams could cost Portlanders $75,000, if City Council approves the mayor's proposed budget.

CASH Oregon, a worthy nonprofit group that helps low-income Portlanders fill out their income tax returns, this year never submitted a formal request for special-appropriation funding to the city. But unlike the Oregon Symphony, which did ask the mayor for $200,000 to go to Carnegie Hall next year, CASH Oregon got $75,000 in Adams' proposed budget. The symphony got bubkes.

How?

Mark Fulop, a consultant who has worked for CASH Oregon, sent the above tweet last week to Adams reminding him about CASH Oregon. As of May 6, when Fulop sent the message, CASH Oregon was nowhere to be found in any of the hundreds of pages of public documents tracing the mayor's budget process.

But three days after the tweet, a special appropriation for $75,000 appeared for CASH Oregon in Adams' proposed 2010-11 budget. Fulop says he doesn't know anything about the process or how that happened. Bruce Murray of CASH Oregon was similarly perplexed.

CASH Oregon did get $75,000 from the mayor last year. It's also gotten money from City Council for several years before that, too. City commissioners have all supported the CASH Oregon appropriation in the past. But this year is a little different; City Council needs to cut more than $5 million from its general fund discretionary budget, the Police Bureau budget is facing significant cuts and other bureaus, like Parks & Recreation, are trimming programs.

Adams said this morning the tweet was preceded by a call — but not a formal application it seems.

A spokesman for the mayor offers an explanation that manages to be weirder than the actual chain of events. "When it was noted that CASH Oregon was not yet a part of the proposed budget-in-development, it was considered, supported, and added," Roy Kaufmann writes in an email. "One need only look at the Twitter activism around the Mounted Patrol Unit to see that electronic activism, a completely legitimate and convenient way to communicate with elected office, is anything but a silver bullet."

 
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