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Portland, C'est Moi

1:10 PM, Aug 9, 2013 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
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Portland city commissioner (as city councilmen are known in the Oregon city) Steve Novick may have been elected only last year, but he’s wasted no time in using his public office to indulge his personal crotchets. Drawing on his extensive experience running a business–which is to say, absolutely none–Novick, a lifelong government employee and political activist, has used his city blog to demand that the Oregonian newspaper reverse a recent corporate decision and restore seven-day home delivery. On the same blog, he’s declared a “war on chairs,” and announced a city “Stand Up for Wellness Day.” And now, Commissioner Novick has taken aim at DirecTV.


It seems that last year, when Commissioner Novick signed up for DirecTV, his subscription included a free year of the “NFL Sunday Ticket" package. He was also unwittingly enrolled in automatic renewal. The only problem is, Novick didn’t want to renew NFL Sunday Ticket. That’s an annoyance to be sure--one that anyone who has dealt with cable companies or, admittedly, magazines, has probably been confronted with. But rather than simply call DirecTV and cancel the package, Commissioner Novick is instead using the power of his office to lead a charge against the satellite provider.

Last week, Novick's office issued a press release warning against what he called the “DIRECTV Scam.” In the release, he said, “I pay my DIRECTV bill automatically and don’t always look at my bill, but I happened to look at it this month. To my surprise, there was a charge of $37.49 for an ‘NFL Sunday Ticket’ package that I did not ask for and did not want. On the side of the bill, there is a statement that ‘If you wish to cancel to avoid payment, you must do so before the season starts'. . . apparently they gave me this package for free when I signed up last year – I didn’t even know about it.”

But simply using his publicly funded megaphone to excoriate DirecTV wasn’t enough for Commissioner Novick. He’s now asked Oregon’s attorney general to investigate “whether DIRECTV’s practice violates any rules.” Remarkably, that office has agreed to look into Novick’s frivolous complaint.

All of which is to say, Commissioner Novick has a rather expansive and self-indulgent view of his role as a public official–one that should alarm any Portlander who believes that governmental power should be limited. Indeed, Novick’s philosophy of government is best summed up in a quote he included in his press release-cum-screed against DirecTV: “There oughtta [sic] be a law against this kind of thing.”

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