The ballots for the May 20 special election arrived in the mailbox today. For those of you unfamiliar with political life here in Oregon, all of our voting is done by mail. Even the dead people and people who moved out of state do all their Oregon voting by mail.
Once the ballot arrives, it's time to pull out the always-amusing Voter's Pamphlet, the official booklet that explains what it is we're deciding, and allows various factions to sound off. I turned right away to the arguments for and against Ballot Measure 26-48, which would impose a 1.25 percent Multnomah County income tax on top of the 9 percent income tax we already pay to the state. (And let us not forget those of us who get nicked for another 0.6 percent or so for Tri-Met.) There are tons of arguments in favor of the measure, from the usual suspects, and only one argument against.
The argument against is a classic rant, worthy of a blogger, by a guy named Jim Karlock of something called Save Portland. Although I'm going to hold my nose and vote for the tax increase, I agree with most of what old Jim has to say. He is definitely "allergic to Katz." Here are some of the highlights:
How much property tax do you pay? Some $400,000 Pearl District condos pay less than $500 a year!
Did you know that most of the Pearl district, the Brewery Blocks and the Waterfront district get favored property tax rates? County wide, $27 million tax money will be lost to breaks for development this year.
Urban Renewal Districts, including most of Downtown Portland, diverted $53.5 million away from city and county services last year.
Before they raise taxes on all of us, let them recover this $80 million (total of above) annual tax give away!
No Matter What They Call It, It’s Just Plain Waste
Portland’s Water Bureau fiasco: “ ...city’s losses, estimated to total from $20 million to $30 million.” (Oregonian, 01/03/03)
They wasted $6-24 million redoing PGE Park for minor league baseball.
There is massive waste throughout government bureaus-they don’t need a tax increase, they need to get rid of waste.
Their Grand Plans...Your Money
“The city plans to issue more than $30 million in bonds in early 2003 for PDC projects in the River District.” (Portland Tribune, 11/8/2002)
Portland is planning to spend up to $288 million in public subsidies to redo the North Macadam district.
They already spent $135-150 million to redo the Pearl District.
Even after the PGE Park fiasco, they are trying to find $275 million for a new stadium
They promised $40 million for Clackamas light Rail.
Portland officials are spending your utility rate money and tax dollars to redo the city while your courts, jails, schools, police and fire protection suffer.
Tell Your Portland Officials to Run the City, Not Overhaul it
NO NEW TAXES...send a clear message:
• Quit giving tax breaks for development
• Recover the existing tax breaks.
• Forget the pet projects.
• Cut the waste, cut the pork.
Fully fund our schools, jails, courts, police and fire department with savings, not new taxes.
Go, Jim! Go, Jim!
The best passage in all the pamphlet, though, is the comic grammatical faux pas near the very top of the official explanation of the measure, released by the county commissioners themselves:
State funding for schools in Multnomah County have been severely cut.
Yes, it have!
What better testimony could there be about the need for better education in this area than the fact that even the county commissioners can't put a decent sentence together?
More on my election picks shortly. Meanwhile, the Save Portland website gives us this flyer to chew on. If you wonder why people would vote no on the tax increase, check it out:
Miles run year to date: 82
At this date last year: 122
Total run in 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269