Nonprofit must attend to its own health

Sources Say

More turbulence lies ahead for Portland's biggest mental-health agency, Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare. According to a couple of internal memos that little birds recently dropped on Sources Say's desk, the nonprofit agency - which plays a key role in helping prevent approximately 23,000 mentally ill clients from sliding into crisis - is itself in crisis.

'Cascadia is grappling with many critical issues which impact both our operational and financial health,' Chief Executive Officer Leslie Ford wrote to the agency's 1,400 employees on April 17, warning that staff cuts, benefits rollbacks, and cuts in service are all on the way.

In the last year, Cascadia also has struggled with a Medicaid audit that found the agency overcharged Uncle Sam $2.7 million; a dysfunctional billing system; and a union drive by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, sparked by high caseloads and sagging morale.

Cascadia also operates the Bridgeview Program in Old Town, a psychiatric residence that has drawn fire for its tolerance of drug and alcohol abuse.

Scheming at City Hall? Who would've thunk it?

City Hall is a good place to watch your back.

In a Willamette Week endorsement interview posted online, Jim Middaugh, candidate to succeed Erik Sten, revealed that city Commissioner Randy Leonard's top aide, Ty Kovatch, encouraged Middaugh in early January to run for Sam Adams' council seat, promising that he and Leonard would raise $75,000 for the race.

Why is that interesting? One month before that conversation, Amanda Fritz filed for that very seat, to no one's surprise. Though she and Leonard had clashed years ago, she has told people that she and Leonard had patched things up. She is supported by Leonard in the race.

Similarly, months ago Middaugh's opponent, Nick Fish, had been telling people that he and Adams had made peace since their bitter 2004 race.

Then, in January, Adams explored whether the council could push back the primary election for Sten's old seat - widely seen as an attempt to boost Middaugh's chances against Adams' former opponent.

Money candidates raise is chump change

Losing public campaign funds has not derailed Sho Dozono's campaign for mayor. According to the most recent campaign spending reports, Dozono has in fact raised more cash this year than Sam Adams - $151,311 for Dozono compared with $126,805 for Adams as of last Friday.

Adams still holds the overall lead in the fundraising race, since he collected around $54,000 in cash last year.

But don't be deceived: The numbers are misleading if not meaningless. Although both candidates have promised to cap their fundraising at $200,000 in the primary, seasoned political observers consider it inevitable that independent political campaigns will dump large sums of money in the race, separate from candidates' official campaigns and their pledge to cap contributions at $500.

Adams can count on a big influx of cash from national gay and lesbian political groups, and possibly from developers and tribes. Dozono, meanwhile, has plenty of local business interests who'd be happy to bust those $500 caps on his behalf.

It seems losing pays well after all

Failed candidate Phil Busse can take heart that his advice is worth almost as much as that from Liz Kaufman, one of the top campaign consultants in the state.

This at least is the purported underpinning of City Auditor Gary Blackmer's decision last week not to strip council candidate John Branam of his public financing.

Branam was scrutinized for agreeing to use his city-granted campaign funds to pay campaign manager Busse $25,000 for three months of work. Busse ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2004, garnering 7.4 percent of the vote.

Blackmer ruled that when divided by the length of the primary campaign, Busse's pay was a little under the 'fair market value' of Kaufman's fees, even though she's a highly sought-after veteran of statewide campaigns.

But there's a catch. Busse fell below Kaufman's rate because Branam has only paid him $20,000 so far. Branam almost violated the ruling by paying Busse an additional $1,000 before hearing from Blackmer, but the check was withdrawn and shredded before it could be cashed.

We're betting Busse will settle for the $20,000 and Blackmer's rather kind assessment of his value.

- Tribune staff

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