By Peter Toll
Consider your national political party leader got elected and sustains his power through all-out lying, intimidating and being an ignorant bully. If you’re running for office as a loyal supporter of Donald Trump, why not follow his example? Hey, it’s a squalid but proven model.
That requires lying, cheating, making stuff up, attacking peoples’ basic sense of decency and blaming others for your own failings, all the while playing to a gullible electorate who thinks you’re draining the swamp, when in fact, you’re doing exactly the opposite.
Enter Tootie Smith. Yes, the same person who lost her election four years ago to a newcomer to county politics. She tried to get re-elected Clackamas County Commissioner in 2016, and this brand-new player, who had never been on an Oregon ballot, thumped her and sent her packing.
What has Tootie been doing since then? She spent more than $3,000 from her political action committee for personal use. That’s flat out illegal. Creating a slush fund to enhance your personal situation is bad enough, but she was already out of office when she did it!
Fully documented charges have been included in a complaint filed with the Secretary of State by a Happy Valley election integrity expert. The complaint factually accuses Tootie of breaking the law at least five times as she tried to remake herself into a motivational speaker.
That’s when she wasn’t cooking up the phony “Timber Unity” group staging clumsy log truck demonstrations in Salem. It’s difficult to determine which behavior was worse: abusing log truck drivers or condemning future generations to poverty by doubling or tripling the cost of climate change mitigation by preventing action today. Tootie’s stock in trade has always been based on misleading charges and emotions. It’s about her, not them.
Now she’s running against Jim Bernard, the County Chair. She wants his job and has launched a savage, lie-ridden mail and television campaign. If Bernard weren’t a public figure, he could haul her to court for all the slanderous and untrue allegations.
Here’s a typical example. In a recent mailer she charged that Bernard’s wife, Danielle Cowan, got her job as a department head with the county because Bernard pulled strings. Impossible, says Cowan, citing truthful facts: Cowan was hired in January, 2008, when Bernard was Mayor of Milwaukie. Pulling county strings as a mayor? No way. In fact, he didn’t get elected to the commission until November, fully 10 months after Tootie says he swung a job her way.
Tootie’s bald-faced lies don’t stop there. She accuses Bernard of making the county pay the bulk of his legal bills to defend himself in an action where no charges were levied. Totally false. In fact, Bernard paid the entire $25,000 legal fee with his own money. No fines, no charges, although he did receive a “letter of education” regarding paperwork requirements.
Curiously, a few years earlier, when Tootie and John Ludlow were doing their best to run the county into the ground, her personal bias put her in serious hot water. Tootie demanded an openly gay employee be fired because he was gay. He fought it and won a $43,775 settlement which county taxpayers paid. The county also paid her $5,000 legal bill: Total hit to taxpayers for her smear job: $48,775. (She conveniently forgets to mention this in her hit pieces.)
So let’s get this straight. Jim Bernard paid his own $25,000 legal bill, not the county. For Tootie, the county paid all of it for her, even the settlement award You’d never know those facts if you saw her campaign literature and horrible ads. They infer and imply—sound familiar?—that Bernard is the bad guy, and then back up the implications with lies. White is black, and black is white. Not this time, Tootie. This isn’t Trump Dreamland.
Bernard is used to the rough-and-tumble. He’s offended, of course, but his wife is outraged at this lying, ugly, personal attack. The charge that her husband helped her get a job (even before he was a commissioner) makes her wonder if that’s how Tootie got elected to the Legislature for two wholly undistinguished and meaningless terms. Her husband did it for her?
Tootie’s latest big fat lie uses a Bernard-Humberston mailer as a base, drawing a big red arrow to Bernard’s face and saying, “Guilty Convicted of Ethics Violations.” Just another big fat lie. He has never been convicted of anything. Her unabashed ugliness is unmatched in political campaigning, and that’s not a timid crowd.
Finally, let’s not forget all the taxpayer money Tootie and Ludlow squandered fighting Tri-Met’s incursion into Clackamas County via Milwaukie. By dragging their feet and using other dirty little tricks Tootie and Ludlow cost county taxpayers over $1 million in fees and fines. That’s out of your pocket.That’s real money. At the same time, their nasty style and embarrassing ineptitude made sure the county got few, if any Metro grants or funds in all four years they were in office.
Now, with Bernard at the helm, the county has gotten several million dollars from Metro and is putting it to good use helping homeless vets and creating low-cost housing for families who need help. Again, just the opposite of the Tootie-Ludlow self-serving, juggernaut to oblivion.
Remember Tootie’s role model? Donald Trump is the worst liar, the worst president, and the worst human being to sit in the White House for the past 100 years. We could elaborate factually on that, but everyone already knows that, just as they know deep down that Tootie Smith should never hold public office again and Jim Bernard should be encouraged and re-elected. Shame on Tootie Smith.