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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 26, 2007 2:18 PM. The previous post in this blog was Snake oil as a biofuel. The next post in this blog is Freedom of speech. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

A vote for charter change is a vote for Bush

We got a flyer in the mail today urging us to vote no on Measure 26-91, the proposal to amend the Portland city charter to change the form of government. (It also urged us to vote yes on 26-92, giving the City Council budget control over the Portland Development Commission.)

These things have gotten awfully familiar:

Why, that one's a dead ringer for the stuff that Commissioner Erik Sten was sending out in his re-election campaign last spring. Must be another Mark Wiener special -- he's the guy who tells the politicians of Portland what they need to do and say to ensure lifetime tenure in their jobs.

You gotta love this one. The box around "no" is green. Get it? "No" is green. Mmmmm... sustainable.

Anyway, when you open this one up, the Wiener touch becomes even more apparent. Get a load of this:

Classic Wiener! When the issue is the running of city government, create a diversion with something "progressive." It's clear, people -- this has nothing to do with managing city bureaus, putting cops on the street, or fixing potholes. If you hate Bush, you have to vote against the charter change, and that's that. Hey, who's still in on American Idol?

As nauseating as the experience of reading this flyer was, I was comforted by the fact that unlike the Sten mailings, which were paid for with "clean money" (furnished by taxpayers) under the city's new "voter-owed elections" campaign finance system, this one was paid for by private funds. But then I thought about it for a minute and realized that those private funds were probably mostly public employees' union dues. Which of course are ultimately paid by the taxpayers anyway. Pass the Tums.

Comments (16)

How many times do we have to vote a referendum down??? Does this remind anyone of a certain sales tax initiative that keeps coming up for a vote over and over and keeps going down in flames?

Honestly, there should be a quadruple indeminty clause so that we only have to vote something down four times in order to get our point across and never have the subject darken our door again.

Tracy's view is same for me. If it takes Sizemore to get the petition going, I'll sign. Jack, Big money, as bad as that is, isn't always from corporations.

Well, at least the flier is not full of twisted facts and misleading details like the Oregonian's snow-job (repeating nearly word for word Potter's Voter Pamphlet submissions). E.g., 26 people worked 14 months to come up with the reforms.

Actually people left the committee at various times, some members missed lots of meetings, and 20 were on hand at the end of the debate. Seven voted against it (how would those who left the group have voted?). Likely a 13-13 tie vote and no wasteful election.

Read the City Club's review for the facts and then Vote NO on 26-91.

What, no scandalous innuendo about the mayor? You're slipping.

Honestly, there should be a quadruple indeminty clause so that we only have to vote something down four times

We have never voted on this particular proposal. The other proposed form of government changes have all been different.

It still doesn't stand a chance of passing, but this one has decidedly not been voted on before.

Why a picture of Bush? Why not Clinton? Why not Saddam?

Guh, that Bush bit is profoundly annoying. While I agree with the more general premise of asking people to imagine their personal worst mayor with the powers of this proposal, last I checked the mayor of Portland can't wiretap all our phones or send us to die in a senseless war in Lake Oswego.

Then again, this is what happens when Major Tom is hell-bent on having a political campaign instead of a public debate.

What are you talking about? That trash in my mailbox is from your side.

Hi Jack,
I may be mistaken about the commission form of government being voted on over and over but my research turned up....

Portland adopted the commission form of government in 1913. Since 1913, Portland has voted on measures to change its city government seven times and retained the commission form each time.

1926 and 1927:
Portland voters rejected two measures to repeal the commission form. In 1926 and 1927, Portland voters approved simplification and retention of the commission form.

1933 and 1958 — Recommended City Manager: In 1933, City Club issued a report that recommended adoption of the council-city manager form of government.

A similar proposal went to the ballot as an initiative in 1958 with City Club’s support. Voters rejected the proposal by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent.

1966:
...a coalition of civic and political groups obtained the necessary signatures to put a measure substantially similar to the one proposed by City Club on the May 1966 ballot. The citizens of Portland rejected the measure by a margin of nearly two to one.

2002 — Measure 26-30 was placed on the May 21, 2002 ballot by citizen initiative and proposed changing Portland’s government from the commission form to the mayor-council form. Portland voters rejected Measure 26-30 by a wide margin.

So there's six of the seven times the commission form of government has come up to be voted on.
That more than qualifies for the quadruple indemnity clause...

Yes, but every time, what's been offered as a substitute has been different.

The votes have not been just about getting rid of the commission system. They have also been about what would replace it. The current proposal has never been offered to the voters, to my knowledge. The last time around, for example, the proposal had election of commissioners by district, among other things.

What are you talking about? That trash in my mailbox is from your side.

Yes, I understand that. I'm not an idiot.

The point was, while I wish they had chosen to avoid this sort of crud, rather than doing it this way just because "this is how it's done", it hardly surprises me, because this is what we were all saying was going to happen if Major Tom slipped a public debate by fast-tracking this into a political campaign instead.

Hi Jack, thanks for the explanation. That clears it up for me.

I guess the sales tax is the best candidate for quadruple indemnity after all!

this is what we were all saying was going to happen if Major Tom slipped a public debate by fast-tracking this into a
political campaign instead.

That's quite a stretch.

Well, at least the flier is not full of twisted facts and misleading details

Huh? Really? You mean liks:


  • Comparing the reform proposal to the Bush white house?
  • Claiming that everything good about Portland is due to the commission system?
  • Saying big money donations are bad (if from business) but disguising their own reliance on big money donations (from unions)

For a bunch of self described progressives interested in citizen control and accountability, this has been a very misleading political debate, on both sides.

this has been a very misleading political debate, on both sides

But that's exactly the point, it shouldn't have devolved into a political debate, it should have been an extended discussion on how to fix what's wrong with the way city government operates now. That would be useful, engaging both the community and the politicians and bureaucracy. This isn't useful at all, and whether the measures fail or not, we've learned nothing from this process.

this is what we were all saying was going to happen if Major Tom slipped a public debate by fast-tracking this into a
political campaign instead.

This was always going to be a political campaign, right? I mean, charter changes have to be approved by voters, right?


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