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Sunday, May 6, 2007

More charter porn

The two camps in the pending vote to change the City of Portland charter sent us some more glossy brochures this weekend. They're a slight improvement in quality from the original mailings -- which were laughably misleading -- but this is still the dopiest election I can remember around here.

The first to arrive was the latest from the "yes" camp on Measure 26-91 -- Mayor Tom Potter presiding. This showed up Friday, addressed only to the Mrs., who's a registered Democrat. Note the reasons given for changing the form of government:

Don't you love it? This time they're at least hinting at the issues -- that's an improvement. The last mailer we got from this crew made it sound as though 26-91 was about buying a new computer system.

The prominent talk about the OHSU Health Club aerial tram [rim shot] is interesting. The polls must be showing what a heavy negative opinion the average Portlander has of the Floating Twinkies -- so bad that they're at the top of the list of justifications for ripping the very system of government out by the roots.

Nice try, Mayor. You too, ex-Mayor Vera Katz, another supporter of this change. But come on. The reasons we got the tram have nothing to do with the form of government. We got the tram because (a) Neil Goldschmidt and Homer Williams sweet-talked, cajoled, and bullied Vera into it, even though everyone, including she, knew the budget they were presenting was a blatant fake; and (b) Potter, when he took office and had the clear opportunity to kill the project, didn't have the guts or the smarts to do it.

I hate the tram, but I know why we got it. Playing on people's disappointment over it to get this completely unrelated charter change passed shows just how weak the arguments for this ballot measure are. We don't need a "strong mayor" form of government as much as we need a wise and courageous mayor.

Not that the other side's winning any prizes for persuasiveness. Today the mailman brought a new nugget of Wiener-ism from the gang that wants a no vote on the form of government proposal -- the Stennies and the public employees' unions. This brochure was addressed to both voters in the household, and it was styled as "2007 Voters Guide -- Portland Charter Edition." Once again, the Portland waterfront dominates the illustrations, although this time, they've deleted the picture of George Bush for all the progressives to hate on.

This "guide" urges two no votes and one yes vote:

To their credit, this group has finally gotten around to addressing the issues, although obviously not in an unbiased way. Like the pro-change camp, however, the opponents also seek to prey on resentment of the current state of urban renewal in our fair city:

Remember, this is coming from an anti-change campaign spearheaded by Commissioners Sten and Leonard, who, despite their occasional acts of feigned rebellion, are the fat cat developers' best friends when the chips are down. The two of them are controlled by the municipal workers' unions as well, which makes the "special interests" accusation rather humorous.

In any event, on the prospect of instituting a regularly scheduled charter review (measure 26-89), the "accountability" group says it has no recommendation. Given the junk campaign that this round of charter proposals has produced, I'd say Portland would best be served by not repeating this exercise again any time soon. If you need to see a reason to vote no on 26-89, just open your mailbox.

Comments (21)

The anti side at least says "special interests such as" and says who they're talking about (whatever one thinks about business influence on any particular party currently).

The pro side (which was first to use the term "special interests" in this campaign) never manages to say WHO they're referring to when they use the term. Just mysterious "special interests".

I suppose it's part and parcel of trying to convince people that they are just a few humble "citizens" out to "reform City Hall".

Bush is probably behind the whole thing.

You're missing the real point when it comes to fiscally responsible government... Something we don't see very often.
As long as government has your money to spend they will spend it on whatever advances their political interests, not the public interest. The great liberal economist Jim Glassman put it this way "The only way to get the money out of politics is to get the money out of government". There is no other way.

Weird Science – It is your own creation. Who would Gary and Wyatt go to to fix their perfect [fill in the blank].

Can PDC assert anything in the statutes to thwart the incorporators/guarantors from accessing their risk exposure? (It is a question I often ask regarding the local government participation in PERS.) I can't find an entry at filinginoregon.com for PDC as a distinct entity. But I can find this:

69 Or App 117, State ex rel Public Employees' Retirement Board v. City of Portland (1983)

If PDC is your "alter ego" does refusal to comply with an information request sound more like the onset of Alzheimers or a broken record "I Don't Recall?"

Measure 26-92 cannot possibly be sold as an effort to improve oversight or to give authority that does not now already exist. It can only give the illusion that the preexisting authority has limits as described in the new provision. I get dizzy trying to unwind the statements from folks that follow the "Universal Law of Deception."

I voted NO on regular charter review. The fact is this "commission" could end up being on-going and put things on virtually every ballot. If that commission has an agenda, Katie bar the door.

One of the biggest shams in this is the insulting notion the PDC must remain "independent". Despite the nasty taste of the commisshes running the PDC funny money the idea that the current PDC's "independence" is an advantage is far worse.
"Independent"? Is that what a public agency is when it's run by political and well connected appointees? Sure if you call sheltered from accountability "independent".
The PDC, having outgrown even it's own pompousitity of their appointed commission of important people, is a lesson in the worst set up 100s of millions can create.

The individual PDC commissioners are nice people who are far more interested in staying nice than providing anything resembling oversight. PDC management, while stuck in perpetual arrogance mode, are so full of themselves and the power to spend 100s of millions wihout any responsibility for any of it that they feel emboldened to routinely deceive the public while seemingly enjoying it.

You want to change something?, rock a boat?, disrupt the disgusting system that doles out millions to unworthy and undeserving projects and "partners"? and
give the Oregonian editorial page the slap in the face it deserves?

Turn the PDC over to Potter and company.
It's far prefferable to have them playing monkey business than the current stuffed shirt snakes at the PDC.

It is certainly true that PDC has given a new definition of "accountability", it is "sheltered" as Howard states. Will it be any different if the PDC's "accountability" is handed over to the City Council (which in actuality is the "godfather" to the PDC)? The City Council also has to change.

At least they're elected

Those of us who have been around awhile need only two words to clinch the argument against a "strong mayor." Frank Ivancie.

Yah, maybe if we were voting for or against a "strong mayor" form of government---but we are not!

The proposed charter change is a "mayor/council" form of government. There are at least two very important powers that distinguish this form of government from the "strong mayor" form. Under the proposed form the mayor would NOT have veto power over council legislation and would NOT have the power to appoint bureau directors without approval council.

Please take the time to read the Charter Review Commission's Report at http://www.reformcityhall.com/cmsFiles/CharterReviewCommissionFinalReport.pdf to learn the facts about this recommendation.

Oh, by the way--Frank Ivancie opposes the change.

Yah, maybe if we were voting for or against a "strong mayor" form of government---but we are not!

Yeah, we're voting on Curiously-Strong Mayor, wherein the Mayor is both the strong executive and one-fifth of the legislative branch (think of the President casting 20 of the Senate's 100 votes all by himself).

And if the CAO is running amok but has the mayor's support, the Council can't get rid of him.

And the Council is meant to be able to hold "hearings" to keep the Mayor accountable, yet the Mayor would be part of that very Council.

And the Mayor gets to sell surplus property on his own once it's so declared as surplus.

And the Mayor gets a pot of money outside of Council oversight for the "promotion of industry".

Oh, by the way--Frank Ivancie opposes the change.

That's irrelevant. The point of raising that particular spectre is this: Think of the one mayor for whom you had the most disdain and whose policies you most abhorred. Now think of that mayor with the powers of this proposal.

The proposed charter change is a "mayor/council" form of government.

Oh, one other thing, Karin: This is deceptive.

Saying "[this] is a mayor/council form of government" says nothing about whether or not this is strong mayor, because the "mayor/council" form comes in two types: storng mayor and weak mayor. If you compare the two types of the mayor/council form, this proposal far more closely matches strong mayor.

Those of us who have actually read, for example, what the National League of Cities says about forms of government and types of mayor know this.

Granted, I'm sure you and the rest of Team Potter are counting on most people just taking your word for it, like everything else during this campaign.

I've read the report. And by all means people should do so. But it's not the end of the story. And just saying "read the report" isn't a response to the many and varied very specific problems with what the report proposed.

It's a dodge.

More importantly, if you read the report, you'll notice it's impossible to recognize what's been changed in the Charter language.

So read the redline version (pdf) so you can see just what the "cut and paste" method (among other things) does to establish a Curiously-Strong Mayor.

Voters can't even read the red-line version on 26-90, the Civil Service changes. Despite a strike-through/underline version being requested in a public hearing by Commissioner Adams, all that's available is a pdf with all the new language underlined, all the current chapter deleted. Voters have to work really hard if they want to find out what is actually being changed, since even the underline/strikethrough version isn't in the Voters' Pamphlet.

Another reason to vote No on 26-89, if this is the model process for Charter changes we would see again and again in the future.

It should take someone skilled in WordPerfect about 10 minutes to produce a redlined comparison of the two texts.

The proposed charter change is a "mayor/council" form of government.

(I think my original reply to this got caught in a spam filter because it had two URLs in it.)

The above is, quite simply, deceptive.

"Mayor-council" is a form of government, with "weak mayor" and "strong mayor" subtypes of that form.

SO while it's technically true that the proposal is "mayor-council", the reality is that when you look at forms of city government, the subtype of "mayor-council" which the Team Potter proposal most resembles is (wait for it)... strong mayor.

Anyone who has read the National League of Cities material on form of government knows this (also click the "weak or strong powers" link under "Mayor-Council" on that page.)

But, as with most of what Team Potter has to say in this campaign, they're counting on most people not having read such material, and instead simply trusting whatever comes out of Team Potter's collective mouth.

And, also like most of what Team Potter says, the above is just another example of how they're either trying to dupe you, or they simply don't know what they're talking about.

Bush is probably behind the whole thing.

Nah, he's too busy causing those tornadoes in Kansas.

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