"Saxton’s school switch turns heads, Address change raises fairness, access questions," by Jennifer Anderson,
The Portland Tribune online, September 26, 2006
Ron Saxton, Republican candidate for governor, moved his family across town to help his son gain entry into Lincoln High School in 1996.
Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ron Saxton used the address of his Southeast Portland home to run for his seat on the Portland school board 10 years ago while at the same time using a downtown residential address to enroll his son at Lincoln High School in Southwest Portland.
Saxton and his wife, Lynne, wanted to enroll their son at Lincoln’s competitive International Baccalaureate program — the only one in Portland at the time — for the 1996-97 school year. But when they tried to transfer their son, Andy, into the program, he was turned away because Lincoln was overcrowded.
In response, the family decided to move from its Mount Tabor home to an apartment on the South Park Blocks for a year to establish residency there, so Andy could enroll at Lincoln as a neighborhood student.
It was perfectly legal as long as it was their primary residence for a year, according to the school district’s policy.
The family moved back to its Mount Tabor home at the end of Andy’s freshman year, in the summer of 1997 — shortly after Saxton was first elected to the school board by the district where the family’s permanent home is located.
Andy continued attending Lincoln by commuting across town in following years. He graduated in 2000 with an IB diploma, went to college and works as an engineer.
Now, as the Republican nominee for Oregon governor, Saxton has said public-school students should be allowed to attend any school, regardless of where they live, whether it’s across town or in another district.
“Erase the boundaries,” he told the Portland Tribune last month. “Just break down the wall.”
RAD: The problem with the "erase the boundaries" idea is that in most Oregon communities there is only one high school - so there is no choice, except home schooling or the expensive option of private education. Most Oregon families don't have the time to home school with two parents working or if one is a single parent with kids. And most Oregonians don't have the financial resources to send their kids to a private school if such exists. As a candidate for governor, Mr. Saxton needs to explain how, if elected, will he make it possible for all Oregon kids to get the quality of education his son got at Lincoln at the same time he's pledged to not raise taxes.
By moving his family so that his son could attend a certain school 10 years ago, Saxton essentially has become a poster child for his own platform. While nearly everyone has a story of a family they know that tried to work the system to get into a certain school, the issue is especially critical at Lincoln, which is constantly overcrowded.
But even former Lincoln Principal Peter Hamilton was surprised to hear this week about the Saxtons’ move.
“While technically speaking, that may comply with district policy, it certainly raises questions about appropriate use of the transfer process and residency,” said Hamilton, who became principal in 2000, after Saxton’s son graduated.
“It’s a legal loophole … it wasn’t meant for people to rent an apartment and establish residency, knowing they have a home across town to move back to,” he said.
Others said they resent the fact that someone stressing equity in education had used the system to his advantage. The issue is particularly heated today, in the midst of concerns about the gap between rich schools and poor schools, and the search for balance between school choice and neighborhood schools.
“It’s another sad display of the fact that people with resources can use the system to their advantage and privilege their children in a way that average folks can’t,” said Russ Dondero, a political science professor of 31 years at Pacific University and currently an adjunct professor at Portland State University, who said he has not decided whom to support for governor.
“Most parents want the best for their kids,” he said. “But they can’t afford the best. So they have to do the best with what their options are.”
RAD: Right now I'm planning on casting a very reluctant vote "with fear and loathing" for Ted Kulongoski since Ben Westlund quit the governor's race. The chances of me voting for Mr. Saxton are zero to none. But I might change my mind to cast a protest vote for Joe Keating or a write-in vote for Ben Westlund - just to be contrary. Ted's going to win going away anyway.
Saxton said he sought advice
When asked on two separate occasions to comment on the specifics of his situation, Saxton deferred to his wife, Lynne, and his campaign manager, Felix Schein.
Lynne Saxton explained that moving out of their 3,000-square-foot home into a cramped two-bedroom apartment in 1996 was a sacrifice they made because they believe all students should have access to the education they want, regardless of where they live.
She said they were open and transparent about living there. Ron, a business and energy attorney at a high-powered law firm, and Lynne, then working as a marketing director, held dinner parties at the apartment and furnished it with garage-sale furniture, she said. They let a family friend, a graduate student at the time, live in their Mount Tabor home rent-free in exchange for house-sitting services.
Said Schein: “They’re well-aware for the potential for this to look fishy and curious, but Ron went to great lengths to make sure this was aboveboard. His livelihood depends on him doing things according to the law. Not doing that would’ve put a rapidly expanding business in great jeopardy.”
It raises the question: Can a person have two legal addresses of residency at the same time, one for the purpose of school enrollment and one for candidacy?
As long as the address used for enrollment is the student’s primary residence, it was a perfectly legal move to rent the apartment and live there for a year, according to the school district.
But Saxton’s run for school board raises a more complex issue: the definition of residency.
According to the school district’s policy, board candidates must “be a registered voter and resident of the respective zone to which they seek nomination or appointment.”
According to Vicki Irvin, director of the Multnomah County Elections Office at the time, the office matches the candidates’ voter registration address with the one on their form to see if it matches. If it matches, and the address is within the geographic zone for which the person is running, no further checks are done.
Saxton signed his name on his candidacy form in December 1996 for the March 1997 election, using his Southeast Portland address. He had not switched it when he temporarily moved.
Citizens don’t necessarily have to change their voter registration address when they move as long as they intend to return, which allows people in the military, away on business or splitting time between homes a chance to register for the place they consider their residence, Irvin said.
“Registration must be at your residence, but your residence is a matter of your intent,” said Irvin, who served as elections director from 1984 to 2002.
As to Saxton’s situation, she said, “What we look at is if it’s legal. If it doesn’t present a problem, we have no reason not to put him on the ballot. Whether people think it’s right is a whole other question and doesn’t enter into the question of whether we should put him on the ballot.”
RAD: Again the distinction between was it 'legal' and was it 'right' is an important one. As Slick Willie said - "it all depends on what "is" is. Fortunately the voters this time will get a chance to decide not whether it was legal, but was he right in gaming the system. That's what elections are for. Another question for candidate Saxton is how does one assess his role as a member and then chair of the Portland Public Schools. Did he do a good job? Since Portland schools are in crisis and have been for a decade or longer - it's a fair question. Again, the voters of Oregon get to decide - this time with all the information in front of them!
Saxton ran unopposed in the election from Zone 6, outer Southeast Portland. He was elected in March 1997, became board chairman in 1998 and served in that post for two years.
Dondero, the political science professor, said Saxton went to great lengths as a parent to fulfill his responsibilities. “But as a candidate running from your home address while you’re living at another address, to me, frankly, is hypocritical,” he said.
No one at the secretary of state’s office could confirm that the issue was reviewed at the time. But Schein said Saxton not only cleared it legally, he went to the editorial boards at the major newspapers at the time, and “asked them to examine the situation and determine if there was a problem, and there wasn’t. They never ran a story, and it never warranted one.”
“The fact that he’s from a background of privilege, he’s able to do that,” said González, who recently founded a group called Portland Schools Alliance, which aims to boost parental involvement in schools.
By coincidence, González’s daughter graduated from Lincoln around the same time as Andy Saxton. She successfully transferred to Lincoln from the Jefferson High School area and commuted to the school every day by taking the city bus or getting dropped off.
The computerized process gives students at schools that don’t meet federal standards priority in the process.
Ron Herndon, director of the Albina Head Start program and a longtime activist for equality in education, dealt with Saxton on school-related issues and also thinks his step was not appropriate as a school leader. “Is that what you call a carpetbagger?” he quipped. “An educational carpetbagger?”
It happened in 1998, when Saxton was chairman of the school board. The board had recommended opening a second IB program, on the east side of town.
Bruce Plato, who was principal of Southeast Portland’s Cleveland High School at the time, wanted his school to be the site. So he visited IB programs in other districts and rallied the Cleveland staff and community, winning the school board’s approval.
Lynne Saxton said she wrote a $50,000 seed grant to start the IB program at Cleveland, and is proud to claim that as one of her achievements in education today.
Activists express dismay
Most of the people who were contacted by the Portland Tribune this week were surprised to hear about what the Saxtons did. More than a dozen teachers, administrators and parents who were part of the Lincoln community or district leadership were unaware of the circumstances. A handful had known about the Saxtons’ apartment.
Even though Saxton says he wasn’t hiding anything, he’s apparently never raised the issue during a school board meeting, stump speech or other public venue. He also failed to mention the family’s move during an Aug. 17 interview with the Tribune about education issues.
“There was never enough room,” said Leslie Butterfield, the IB administrator for the past seven years. The IB student must meet a certain number of community service and extracurricular hours, do a college-level research project and pass exams in six subjects.
As the Southwest Portland neighborhoods became more dense and more families moved in to send their kids to Lincoln, overcrowding was getting to be a serious issue, insiders say. The school brought in portable classrooms and instituted a lottery system; students who met all of the academic requirements still were turned away.
“Nobody blinked an eye when that happened,” said Marianne Fitzgerald, co-chairwoman of the Local School Advisory Committee at Lincoln in the 1990s. “This is just a nonissue.”
Lew Frederick, a candidate for Multnomah County commissioner and former public information officer for the school district from 1993 to 2005, said he constantly ran into cases of people trying to work around or bend the district’s rules over the years, including several public officials.
The school district relies on school staff to pass on potentially fraudulent cases, but when the tips come in, few are caught because the district simply doesn’t have the resources to knock on every door, officials say. Those who are caught are sent back to their neighborhood schools.
RAD: Again the issue to me is not the legalities, but the issue of fairness. All kids should have access to a quality education apart from their parent's income or social status. Equal should be equal depending on need and what's appropriate for a school aged student. A public education should not be bent to Orwellian logic of "all...are equal, but some...are more equal than others."
"Saxton’s school switch turns heads, Address change raises fairness, access questions," by Jennifer Anderson,
By Chuck Currie, Oregon Candidates For Governor Address Poverty (Sort Of), September 5, 2006
How would the candidates for Oregon governor address poverty if elected to a four-year term this November? Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon asked the candidates to “name three actions you would encourage state government to take to reduce poverty in Oregon” as part of EMO's Election Guide and incumbent Ted Kulongoski, Republican challenger Ron Saxton and Constitution Party nominee Mary Starrett offered up some answers.
Governor Kulongoski would use another term to:
“Offer first-rate educational and job-skills training so that all Oregonians can improve their lives; Lower the cost of health care to help reduce Oregonian’s medical bills; Preserve our minimum and prevailing wage laws so that people receive a fair wage for their labor”
Since no one that I’m aware of is advocating that we decrease Oregon’s minimum wage there isn’t a lot to be inspired by in the governor’s response. There is little evidence that the governor's policies during his first term in office have made a difference in poverty levels.
Saxton, however, was even less bold.
“Increase accessibility and school choice in public education; Reduce bureaucracy to better serve those in need; Make state social service agencies do a better job of providing services to low income citizens”
When the candidates were asked to name “three actions you would encourage the private sector take to reduce poverty in Oregon” there was a little more in Kulongoski’s statement to be hopeful about:
“Provide pre-school to every three and four year old in Oregon through an increase in the minimum tax paid by corporations; End the practice of charging outrageous interest rates on things like car titles and check cashing; Expand Oregon Harvest Week, a yearly event I created to raise awareness about hunger in Oregon through a coalition of public and private groups”
RAD: Yawn. How about turning Edgefield Manor back into a debtor's farm?
The Republican nominee suggested that Oregon….
“Allow the private sector to provide more services to our low income citizens in place of inefficient government programs; Encourage the private sector to be more involved in public education; Increase its partnerships with and support of non-profit organizations that serve the poor”
RAD: Another yawner. Isn't that what's been in vogue since 1980? Private philanthropy can't do the job. Even fellow Republican icon Abraham Lincoln understood that, Mr. Saxton.
Starrett, a former television host running as an anti-abortion candidate, offered up nothing more than anti-government rhetoric:
“By encouraging self-reliance we encourage people not tobe [sic] dependent on the state. That will reduce poverty by not promoting a welfare mentality."
RAD: Yes, sister Mary - self-reliance is the key. Tell that to a homeless child in a Washington County shelter age 12.
Nothing the candidates offered in these brief answers will do much to actually address poverty in Oregon (though most will agree Kulongoski’s pre-school plan is needed). As the Oregon Center for Public Policy noted this week, without real increases in income and health care, and an overhaul of economic policies in the state, poverty will remain persistent. In a new report they state:
“Since 1980, Oregon has seen rising inequality among the rich, as well as rising inequality between the rich and the rest of us,” said (Michael) Leachman.
“The ultra-rich top one-tenth of one percent of Oregonians have seen their income nearly quadruple since 1980, even after adjusting for inflation, while the rest of the top one percent have seen their incomes merely double.”
RAD: Don't you just love the Bush tax cuts and Oregon's kicker laws?
The report also found that the median Oregon household has lost $73 to inflation since 1980. The report shows that the jobs Oregon has produced since the end of the 1990s economic boom have been predominantly in low-wage industries. “Nearly two-thirds of the new jobs we’ve created pay less than $30,000 a year,” said Leachman.
Just 56.8 percent of Oregon workers had at least part of their health insurance paid by their employers in 2002-04, down from 63.7 percent in 1997-99. In 2005, 31 percent of private-sector employers in Oregon offered 401(k)-type retirement plans, while just 10 percent provided guaranteed pensions. Most Oregon employers do not offer retirement plans.
Poverty is, of course, a national problem and no Oregon governor can make a real dent in poverty levels without a change in federal policies. But an activist governor could make a difference. So far none of the candidates have offered any real cause for hope.
EMO, “an association of 16 Christian denominations including Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox bodies across Oregon,” addressed the same questions about poverty to legislative candidates. Candidates were also asked to address issues central to the environment. This was the first time that EMO’s election guide – which traditionally includes endorsements on ballot initiatives – asked candidates to offer their positions on issues.
RAD: At best the re-election of Ted Kulongoski will not worsen the situation. Such cannot be said about Saxton his primary opponent.
How can a USA team which has the top 3 ranked players in the world be down 10-6 in the Ryder Cup after 2 days of team match play? Well let's begin with the fact that the Euros are playing on their home turf, they are better in playing wet and they play team ball. The US players, like their countrymen, are rugged individualists who have great individual games but they don't mesh well. Team play is harder because the level of concentration is harder to maintain. Add to this Euro coach Ian Woosen's ability to set up the K-Course to favor his team and you get another Ryder Cup mismatch.
But on a deeper level - let's face it - aside from Tiger Woods the Euros have more top ranked players than the US team which is very young. World rankings favor the USA team with the top 3 players - Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson. But after that the US team falls off with David Toms at #14 in world rankings. In between Mickelson and Toms are all Euros or International players... Euros #8 Sergio Garcia, #10 Luke Donald, #11 Henrik Stenson and #12 David Howell.
If you think the USA will run the board tomorrow in the single matches, think again. RAD's fearless predictions: Euros 8, USA 4 (at the most). If Sergio could play this way on tour - he'd be up there with Tiger. But don't expect that to happen. He's a Euro head case in stroke play because he tenses up. In match play he relaxes and makes incredible shots. Keep in mind on tour, any PGA ranked golf in the top 100 can win - unless Tiger is in the field. But team play is different. Tom Lehman did everything he could to win but he forgot to steal that four leafed clover from Ian.
- Colin Montogermie (#16) vs. David Toms (#14) - the homer wins
- Sergio Garcia (#8) vs. Steward Cink (#23) - Sergio in a breeze
- Paul Casey (#27) vs. Jim Furyk (#3) - Score one for the USA
- Robert Karlsson (#44) vs. Tiger Woods (#1) - No contest, Tiger all the way
- Luke Donald (#11) vs. Chad Campbell (#20) - Another for the Euros
- Paul McGinley (#52) vs. J. J. Henry (#62) - Who knows?
- Darren Clarke (#21) vs. Zach Johnson (#40) - Too much emotion favor Clarke
- Henrik Stenson (#11) vs. Vaughn Taylor (#59) - No context, Euros win
- David Howell (#12) vs. Brett Wetterich (#65) - Not even close, Euros again
- Jose Maria Olazabeal (#18) vs. Phil Mickelson (#2) - Lefty folds again
- Lee Westwood (#47) vs. Chrs DiMarco (#15) - Chris in a close one
- Padraig Harrington (#17) vs. Scott Verplank (#34) - Can an Irishman lose? No.
Eight Hours later! Well, it's 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning, September 23. My wife left Portland's Union Station on the Amtrak's Cascade for Seattle at 6:15 p.m. and just arrived at Seattle's old King Street Station next to Safeco Field - not quite 5 hours late. Her train's engine, Amtrak's finest, stopped running south of Olympia. It took Amtrak 3 hours to get a backup engine. In between time, UP and BNSF freight trains headed north and south passing the stalled Amtrak Cascade. Nothing seems to have changed since the old days of the '50s when SP, UP, GN and NP lorded it over the rails of the Northwest - downgrading passenger service and privileging freight traffic.
This absurdity of what consumer talk show host Clark Howard would term "customer no service" seems like an appropriate metaphor for a nation which can't get anything done right. While the political culture of incompetence in Washington D.C. is pursuing the most egregious foreign policy disaster in our nation's and the modern world's history in Iraq and Afghanistan, the corporate culture of greed and incompetence from Enron to Amtrak is replicating in the nation's domestic economy. We use so-called smart technology to stop terrorists and managerial idiots to rule our economic life.
On the day when the American death count in the Iraq occupation reached the number of those killed on 9/11 - there must be a message here. Is this how the collapse of the Roman Empire began? Never again - next time we take the car! This is no way to run a railroad or a nation.
As a break from serious issues like politics or the theater of the absurd - where would you want to see a football game - Husky Stadium in Seattle or Autzen Stadium in Eugene? Forget about the quality of the teams or win/loss records. All one has to do is look at a picture - it says it all. The Huskies current era teams might lack the luster of past campaigns and the Ducks are clearly playing with their rabbits foot well planted in the refs pants pockets.
But come on college fans - there's no choice. It's like comparing beauty and the beast! To add WSU's or OSU's home fields would simply be silly - like comparing an A league stadium to Safeco. So, who cares about team records, stats or bowl games - it's all about the venue for a sunny Saturday afternoon in September. It's the choice between the real thing and a cracker box. After the rainy season begins - stay warm in front of your TV or radio.