This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 6, 2005 5:58 AM. The previous post in this blog was Put "clean money" up for a popular vote. The next post in this blog is Wanted: Dummies. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2005

17,794 signatures

I love the education I'm getting from blogging. Yesterday I strongly suggested here that the City of Portland put up for an immediate vote the so-called "clean money" proposal to have local political campaigns paid for by taxpayers. That got me to thinking, What would it take for a petition drive to force such a referendum?

Which in turn got me into the City Charter, Section 2.04.090(E) of which reads as follows:

E. A referendum petition shall:

1. Be filed with the Auditor for signature verification no later than 30 days after passage of the ordinance sought to be referred, however, it must be submitted to the Auditor at least four months before an election date in order to be placed on the ballot for that election. The four months submission requirement may be waived if the Auditor can complete the signature verification process and meet the counties elections filing deadlines, and the provisions of Section 2.04.130 B. are satisfied.

2. Be signed by a number of legal voters equal to or greater than 6 percent of the number of electors registered in the city on the date of the primary municipal election immediately preceding the date the prospective petition is filed, except that a petition signed by 2,000 registered voters shall be sufficient to call a referendum upon any franchise ordinance.
So we need to know "the number of electors registered in the city on the date of the primary municipal election immediately preceding the date the prospective petition." Let's assume the date of the petition were May 15, 2005. The primary election immediately preceding that date would be, what? May 18, 2004, I presume?

According to the city elections bureau, there were 296,565 registered voters in Portland on that date. Six percent of that is 17,794.

Could opponents of "clean money" get enough signatures to satisfy this requirement? I would think so. As best I can tell, however, the next primary would be May 16, 2006, which might allow one round of "clean money" to be inflicted on the voters, even against their will.

I have no doubt that if asked, the voters will reject the proposed system, on numerous grounds. As they say in chess, Check.

Comments (20)

Does "primary" mean "preliminary" or "first among equals?" In other words, is the primary election the preliminary one in May or the Big One in November? With a big summer voting drive, it could make the difference in the number of electors and the resulting calculation. Your point is well taken, though.

I think November was the "general" election, and May was the "primary."

Collecting signatures is very hard work. The SoS routinely invents new burdens to the process under the rationale that they are protecting the process.

Recognizing this, I think that any attempt to enact this without a public vote should result in serious consequences for the commissioners who support it.

How about the commissioners who vote for Clean Money pledge that if the citizens of Portland have to go through the work to refer it to the ballot (and it loses) that they'll resign?

If they are going to try to push a controversial experiment through, as if it already meets with public approval, they ought to be held accountable if it turns out that they never had the public approval they imagine.

And don't forget that you'll have to submit your referendum signatures to the Office of the City Auditor for verification.

The same people that cooked up the Clean Money Scheme will get to comb through your petitions looking in search of deficiencies.

Each Councilor who approves of it should answer Phil Stanford's question: Name one recent vote that was unduly influenced by a campaign donor (and be prepared to name names).

If they can't do that, then I see no need for it.

If doesn't go through, Erik the Red will just find some other project to spend the money on....spend, spend, spend.

More taxes? Are you kidding? --- unbelievable! If I were in your area I'd vote against this. Although your intentions are good the end result is bad. When someone runs for an elected position the funds they have usually reflect the support of others that are willing to back them. The more people (voters) want a person the more money they will have. It's not a perfect system but it is very reasonable and there are already plenty of champain finance laws.

What you want to promote is the possibility of someone unknown, that has little or no backing, that might not even have a plan - have the same chance to get elected as someone that does have the backing of voters. And for that you want to raise taxes? Get a brain!

Yeah, the next one will be the property across Broadway from the Coliseum. Zillions to pretty that one up. Maybe we could convince him that funding jail beds is "urban renweal."

I like the person who admits to not living in our area telling us to "get a brain" and complaining about the taxes.

And I don't mean Lars.

panchopdx suggests the SOS plucks new restrictions on signature gathering out of the air. If only it were that easy! Or else why did the unions spend thousands of dollars suing Oregon Taxpayers United for damages resulting from OTU's agents forging signatures on petitions?

Well done on gathering this information. I like being offered a solution instead of just the griping. I liked your dig about Erik's penchant for finding areas for "re-development." Why in this day and age when property values are high do we still need to entice people to redevelop and pay them. The area noted in yesterday's oregonian that Eric wants to re-develop is already being developed. my concern is that this is just another way to grease some contractor's and developer's pockets. ack, i'm starting to sound like jack.
where do i sign?

Kai, the remedy, the proper remedy, for Bill's conduct, would have been disallowance of submission of measures on the ballot not the voluntary cost for OEA to speak and applied in a private right of action against Bill.

Are you threatening Jack? Should Jack be able to engage in wishful thinking on his personal blog? Or can someone out there, whomever, start tallying up their costs to rebut Jack's speech? Should Randy start logging his time for posting on Jack's blog and attribute that to a cost for his reelection campaign PAC?

The OEA was the attacker of free speech. Who will be the silencer tomorrow, is Jack the silencer? Gosh, I'm confused, I don't know whether to support particular interests or free speech. I have already made my choice.

If Bill's conduct was a crime, though only resulting in a civil penalty, couldn't Governor Ted commute his sentence as a miscarriage of justice and an unwarranted threat upon the free exchange of ideas, or must Bill be sitting in jail as a precondition for commuting his sentence? To whom then would the OEA seek to attack if Governor Ted freed us all from the legacy of the shackles of the OEA attack on Bill? Would the OEA demand that Governor Ted pay them the full amount of the award as a precondition to him exercising his authority to commute a sentence?

When dead opossums start showing up on door steps I guess then we will know that someone cannot achieve their goals through the normal lawful channels. The OEA attack is more harmful and worrisome even than dead opossums, in my opinion. It is a structural breakdown in democracy rather than an offering of creative public service by a few blowhards from our team of badged protectors.

I read the editorial too, and am in complete agreement with it. Clean Money sounds good in theory, but at a time when our basic programs are being cut- absolutely not!

What about just setting a legal cap on ALL campaign donations- like $25 or so?

What about just setting a legal cap on ALL campaign donations- like $25 or so?

That approach has tended to be unconstitutional.

That was a little terse. In general, and to oversimplify, in such cases the courts tend to view money as equalling speech (and, I would assume, association). So a simple cap on contributions is pretty much a non-starter.

I've done local initiative petitioning several times in Yamhill County. Here are some observations:

Your code says:
1. Petition must "Be filed with the Auditor for signature verification no later than 30 days after passage of the ordinance sought to be referred,..."

That means you have 30 days to get 17,000+ valid signatures. Add 4000 to make up for non-valid signatures, and you have to get 21,000+ signatures in 30 days. The population would have to be pretty hot to get that done. BUT... it can be done.

2. "[Petition] must be submitted to the Auditor at least four months before an election date in order to be placed on the ballot for that election"

There are four possible election dates (Mar., May, Sept, Nov) available for voting each year. Petition w/validated signatures would have to be certified around July to get on the November ballot.

3. FYI : May is the primary election; November is the general election. [Note to Jud: hope you were joking about preliminary/primary, etc. - otherwise I fear for your sanity]

4. Signatures for local measure normally (i.e. in the rest of Oregon) are validated by the county clerk's office. The Auditor simply receives the petition, which must have at least the 17,000+ signatures to begin with. You can continue to collect signatures as the original ones are being collected. The Clerk's office will tell you how many bad signatures you are getting.

5. You can get all the info you need from your county clerk's office, elections division. They are usually very helpful.

6. You have to practically memorize the city code on elections, because normally city code supersedes state election law. Sometimes city codes are less onerous than the state law, since neither the SoS nor the state legislature care for citizen initiatives. If you don't believe me, ask Lloyd Marbet or Don McIntire.

Good luck. It is hard work, but very rewarding to learn that your fellow citizens are way more intelligent and honest and full of good will than most elected people think they are.

Sorry for the long post.

Jack, Bix, et al.... Y'all coming down for the testimony today at City Hall on the measure formerly known as "Clean Money"?

The point, Ron, is that the SOS doesn't/didn't bother rejecting petitions. They don't have the funding to fight the lawsuits.

A lot of government works this way. The government has the responsibility, but it relies on private individuals who have an interest to defend to bring the actions and spend the money.

Jack's not at risk so long as he doesn't violate RICO. Is he engaged in an enterprise with other entities conspiring to make money using fraudulent or criminal means? (I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the Internet.)

Since Sizemore was not convicted of anything (there were no criminal charges brought against him or Oregon Taxpayers United or Oregon Taxpayers United Education Foundation by the State), there is no sentence for the governor to commute. There is a civil judgment against Oregon Taxpayers United, and at least one injunction forbidding certain conduct. You are clearly talking out of your hat, without having read the pleadings or testimony in the case.

RICO laws are all about criminal laws my dear. The private plaintiff charges the conduct violates criminal laws. The funny thing is that certain professions (Reeves as to accountants) or sort of exempted because they are, well, part of a profession. Same exclusion sees applicable to lawyers too.

The SoS had a technical opportunity against me for my failure to report that I had not spent more than 50 bucks on a campaign. They refused to take the bait. I was pissed as all get out when a recent campaign coughed up a $2,500 fine for their reporting mess-up rather than go fight the idiots at the SoS's office.

Sorry, but I cannot plead ignorance to the laws on campaign finance, nor free speech for that matter. My target is the relationship between membership in the bar, or at least the opportunity to take the damn bar exam, and free speech in the context of representation of an association in court, an associational right recognized by the First Amendment.

The Oregon State Bar will not, and cannot, argue that I do not have the same skill and judgment of anyone else who has attended law school and passed the bar exam. Just why you would presume to know more than them is beyond me. I do know of an objective measure to solve such a challenge, as to legal knowledge, provided that such is made available to me.

But then again, I am none to pleased with the level of professionalism one is then expected to display, to the detriment of cantor and honesty, particularly against the professional association to which lawyers are associated.

Cool your jets Kai. Don't play lawyer, just offer reasoning and be happy. The title of lawyer is often used as tool to end debate and forgo offering reasoning. You are trying to use it in reverse.

There are two public processes that could be used to get "voter owned elections" to the voters. Best option is to do both simultaneously -- and is most efficient and economical.
1) File a Charter Amendment Initiative that states that any plan to use City of Portland public money from any source for political campaign expenses, must be referred to Portland voters for approval, and that any existing ordinance that did not have such voter approval, is immediately repealed. (The initiative should be timed for the May 2006 ballot, which is when the Blackmer-Sten ordinance kicks in; also, May 06 is the first time there will be a regular city election. Approx. 27,000 signatures would need to be gathered by Jan. 06 to qualify this initiative for the May ballot);
2)As soon as the Council adopts the Sten - Blackmer ordinance, file a Referendum rescinding the ordinance and mandating that it needs to be referred to voters or it won't be valid. (That petition campaign requires many fewer signatures than the Initiative process--about 17,000-- but it allows only 30 days to gather the signatures.
The double-barreled approach would be the most appropriate in the present case, and for the first month, signatures could be gathered for both the initiative and referendum simultaneously, thus saving workers' time and effort.
Most important: be sure a qualified attorney writes the ballot titles so they aren't ambiguous or too-easily challenged and hung up in the local court system.

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