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Monday, January 4, 2010

Dirty pool

The voter's pamphlet has arrived at our place for the upcoming Oregon tax increase election -- Ballot Measures 66 and 67. It's a pretty thick pamphlet for just two propositions, but even a quick perusal turned up some shenanigans. Check out the first argument "in opposition" to Measure 66:

The first argument "in opposition" to Measure 67, on page 75, is identical.

As you can see, these are really written by the folks who are in favor of, not opposed to, these measures. That's just wrong, and this sort of thing has been going on for a while. If the state can't stop people from abusing the voter's pamphlet with deliberately confusing material, then maybe we ought to dispense with the pamphlet and turn the whole debate over to the blogosphere.

Comments (38)

Not only is that the first argument in "opposition" for each measure, it's also the last. Strains credulity to believe that purely by coincidence, the order of the opposition arguments has one that is not really in opposition as the first and last argument in the section.

Can one file a lawsuit over this type of thing? Who am I kidding. There will be zero accountability.

This is an outrage. The entire referendum should be postponed on the basis of this alone.

Why waste a protest effort when the AG in the tank.

This is an issue that I am deeply conflicted over, as I feel that the taxes will hurt local businesses, and yet I have kids in school and I'm seeing budgets strained to the breaking point (and that's in David Douglas where they've managed their money well).

But shenanigans like this make me lean more toward the No side, just because I hate being manipulated.

Nothing but Salem pornography....92 pages of filth!!! What did it cost to print and distribute? And more, why a special election in January for only 2 bogus measures? And what's the cost of the special election?

Mad as hell....don't wanna take it anymore, but what can we do about it?

The appalling silliness in this leaderless state is unacceptable....what a sorry mess.


Call David Douglas up and ask for the all funds budget, they probably wont want to give it to you but insist. Then divide that number by how many kids are in that school to get the per kid money that is spent. Next multiply that number by the number of kids in a classroom.

When you are done, ask yourself where all the money is going because it sure isn't going to the teacher and teaching your kids.

Next, find out how many non-teacher positions are being paid in the school and you'll get the answer as to where the money is going. Don't let them pull the building maintenance with you either, they've already admitted that hasn't been being done.

The Voter Pamphlet is garbage. There is no adult supervision of the content. The cited example, fraudulent as it is, is no better or worse than the rest of the "arguments" for and against.

What ever the numbers are, the David Douglas district will shine brightly by spending much less on administration and more on education as to what the Portland School district spends.

My kids have 18 months left before they will have graduated from the PPS. It was pure luck not design that their education turned out as well as it did.

The organization that filed those misleading arguments calls itself "Our Oregon".

The voter pamphlet arguments were filed by Our Oregon's Director Kevin Looper, but the plan was probably hatched by the their Communications Director, Scott Moore.

The reason I suggest this is that it looks like it was pulled off by someone with inside knowledge of how to take advantage of the system. Scott Moore got his job with Our Oregon after serving for as "Chief of Communications" for Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury.

That job would be a great opportunity to grasp exactly how the Sec. of State's policy for interpreting ORS 251.260 for error checking the pro/con arguments works (apparently they interpret it to only allow them to ask whether a mistake was made - but not to recategorize "intentional mistakes").

That job would also be a great way to nail down the logistics for filing your arguments so that they would end up as the first and last for each measure (how long do you need to queue up in order to be first, and where do you need to stand to be last without missing the filing deadline).

Some of you also might remember Scott Moore from his days.......

wait for it.....

....writing for the Portland Mercury on campaign integrity issues. He wrote numerous pieces about alleged violations of signature gathering laws.



Since then, it seems all the complaints that came out of Moore's investigative article have been dismissed. Of course, this occurred AFTER Moore had successfully parlayed his story about them into a full time gig with the Sec. of State.

See related BO adulation:


What did it cost to print and distribute? And more, why a special election in January for only 2 bogus measures? And what's the cost of the special election?

Because the "no" side petitioned for there to be an election. You can ask them how much it costs.

If we could just eliminate the "initiative" process once and for all, the legislature would be forced to do it's job and we wouldn't be saddled with one unconstitutional or unworkable initiative after another. Mob rule blows...

These two aren't citizen initiatives. The legislature passed the two bills; the people just demanded that they get to vote on them.

I noticed this - anybody with a brain would - and just thought it was funny.

Although it was no more over-the-top than the continual weird candidates who use their space to talk about an agenda unrelated to public office, coy statements like these (and the accompanying checks) should be returned to the sender with the observation that they must be submitted to the appropriate category to be included.

Maybe they just couldn't make themselves refuse a couple of $500 payments.

This is why I prefer the League of Women Voters' paper.

Mob rule blows...

Aren't you referring to the same "mob" than elected these jackasses in the legislature?

Will giving the voters less authority really make them more responsible voters?

Wouldn't removing a check on legislative power encourage less accountability?

Our legislature picked this special election date so it could play "chicken" with the voters.

These measures are retroactive to 2009, so if they were on the May primary ballot the results would have come in too late to collect the 2009 tax increases (since most everyone files and pays on or before Apr. 15th) without a huge mess on their hands.

And there will probably be a mess even if it passes now as some businesses do not have funds set aside for a retroactive tax hike - (expect struggling businesses to go under if this passes).

The legislators should have pro-actively put it up for a vote in Sept or Nov of 2009, but they didn't want to take the chance that it would fail and require them to scale back spending sooner. Setting the date for January allows them to keep spending for another 3-5 months as if these taxes will really be collected. It also allows them to escalate the threat of "dire cuts" because they will have already spent disproportionately for 7 months based on anticipated new tax revenues.

The legislature should have permitted itself to write the ballot titles in a ransom note font.

You've been listening to the initiative hating public emoployee left too long.

The Legislature itself has been far more destructive to Oregon than the initiative system.

Without the initiative system the Legislature would have done even more damage.

The Legislature, two sesssions ago, diverted $250 milion from the lottery to Milwaukie Light rail.
A voter initiative would have justifiably killed that boondoggle.
But despite the propoganda from the public empoloyee union opponents of the initiative system, it's too hard to get measures on the ballot.

I'm not sure I understand Jack's complaint. The ballot argument reproduced above doesn't explicitly call for a Yes or No vote -- that would, admittedly, be abusive. This one simply lays out factually what a Yes vote means and what a No vote means. I don't see how that could be considered abusive, unless you first make a subjective value judgment about the group that sponsored it. And I likewise don't see how the state could decide such matters without making subjective value judgments. Granted the system is imperfect, and it behooves voters to read any paid argument skeptically. But would policing content questions, as Jack seems to suggest, really be an improvement?

This one simply lays out factually what a Yes vote means and what a No vote means.

Yeah, right. And I'm the tooth fairy.

And they just happened to be both the first and last person that submitted an argument in opposition of both measures.

i know what i am voting for and sorry i will not be tricked into voting for something they later will claim and say i didnt know what i was voting for.i read the voters pamphlet and understand fully what i am voting for.i am not stupid.

Jack, do you really, truly think the state should be in a position to say, regarding the above example, "We're sorry, but we don't think your case against this measure is forcefully worded enough to be included in the opposing arguments section"? Is that what you're proposing?

Again, I don't think I'd object if the state were empowered to reject an argument "in opposition" that explicitly and unambiguously urges a Yes vote. But anything further than that would be just too much of a gray area and would give state officials latitude for far greater mischief than the extremely mild (and, I insist, not really factually dishonest) subterfuge Our Oregon is engaging in here. I think most reasonable, intelligent people would regard this particular example as being well within the bounds of normal political rough-and-tumble. And yes, I would feel the same way about a similar tactic by the other side (there's probably one in that book somewhere).

At the top of the column it says "Argument in Opposition." Every person or entity posting anything under that heading should have to include an unambiguous statement that he, she or it is opposed to the measure in question. If they won't do that, they shouldn't be allowed to post. It's really not that complicated.

Same thing on the "Arguments in Favor."

Getting rid of the Voter's Pamphlet entirely is another possibility. Given the garbage that it's become, and given that anybody who can afford to post there probably can post their thoughts on the internet, that might not be a bad idea.

(there's probably one in that book somewhere)

If you find some similar abuse on the other side, let us know.

So, part of the required boilerplate for each argument would be a statement along the lines of "Such-and-such-entity urges a Yes vote on Measure 66." That sounds like a reasonable suggestion, though there may be some unintended consequences. I wouldn't mind if the legislature at least considered it.

I still think, Jack, that you protest too much. It's worth noting that Our Oregon (and other supporters of these measures) did not seek this "special" election and its attendant waste of time and money. Rather, it was foisted upon us by wealthy, mostly out-of-state interests (Loren Parks et al.) and ideologues of the far right who will not have to live with the consequences either way, and who have, for at least the past decade, been making Oregon their personal political laboratory. Of course, it's partly Oregonians' fault for taking direct democracy to such an absurd length and for not demanding more fundamental change to a tax system that favors the affluent to a greater degree than any other state save Washington (this will still be true if M66 and 67 pass). I think under the circumstances, true grassroots entities such as Our Oregon, which are trying to bring just a tiny bit more balance to this ridiculously unbalanced system, deserve to be cut a little slack.

"You can abuse the system all you want, as long as you're on the blue side." How very Oregonian.

MarciaFS, in regards to your "ideologues of the far right......making Oregon their personal political laboratory"-how absurd. I think you would have to agree that for most of the past three decades most political laboratory work has been controlled and administered by democrats in major party offices and the legislature. I think you know the truth, but you're spinning. Good try. Fellow demo.

true grassroots entities such as Our Oregon

Keep digging that hole, Marcia. Our Oregon is a union front, isn't it? Where does it get its money? Oh, that's right -- it won't say.

I guess I see Jack's complaint but when I reread the posted argument, my eye stops on the initial bolded line and the disclaimer that appears in each and every one of these statements:

This space purchased for $500 in accordance with ORS 251.255

...nor does the state warrant the accuracy or truth of any statement made in the argument.

Absent a "(listed sponsor name) urges a YES/NO vote on Measure __" rule -- which sounds like a decent idea -- these guys don't seem to have abused anything but Jack's patience.

No, it's worse than that. People read an argument that's clearly slanted toward the "yes" side, and then they look up and see that it means "opposition." So they vote "no" when they really mean "yes," and vice versa. That's deliberately misleading.

Oooh, that's interesting, I had not considered that possibility.

If, in fact, people BUY the facetious argument though, and vote accordingly, doesn't that provide the punishment for the crime? I mean, we're presuming that Our Oregon wants yes votes based on our interpretation of their statement. If their trick is too clever by half and they wind up getting hoisted on their own petard, isn't that enough of a check on these sorts of false arguments?

(I wonder if there's any way to know if many people actually (a) buy the faux arguments and (b) cast their vote based solely on them.)

The Secretary of State should allow the Chief Petitioners for an initiative or referendum to put the first and last arguments in the voters pamphlet for the side they are advocating (a "yes" vote on an initiative, a "no" vote on a referendum). The SOS should then choose two opponents to the initiative or referendum and allow them to submit the first and last arguments for the other side. That way we could stop this nonsense, without violating free speech rights.

Alternative, the SOS could allow the Chief Petitioners (and designated opponents for the opposite side) to choose the order in which the statements would be printed. No more "first come, first served" line gerrymandering.

But the best thing to do is simply eliminate both the voters pamphlet arguments and the ballot titles, and go back to the way Oregonians voted in past decades - a voters pamphlet that contains the text of the measure and a ballot with a "yes" and a "no" box.

If people don't take the time to read the measure, that's too bad for all of us, but we should demand more out of ourselves than allowing voters to make their choice by relying on the dumbed down spin from proponents and opponents, coupled with a Cliffs Notes ballot title prepared by the spin doctors in the legislature or the attorney general.

Boy, Oregonians sure are spoiled. People elsewhere would kill for a voter's pamphlet.

I surely disagree with this argument as well:

"But the best thing to do is simply eliminate both the voters pamphlet arguments and the ballot titles, and go back to the way Oregonians voted in past decades - a voters pamphlet that contains the text of the measure and a ballot with a "yes" and a "no" box."

The text of most meaningful legislation is a dense mass of changes to existing statutory language, which is impenetrable to anyone but the drafters and those who are promoting the changes. Throwing that in the laps of voters is simply asking for "No" votes on everything that can't be boiled down to a two or three-word slogan (esp. loaded ones like "God hates queers." "Taxes bad.")


You don't give voters enough credit to read and understand measures for themselves, or to talk with each other to understand the import of the measure they are voting on. We should collectively (left, right, R, D, conservative, liberal whatever) expect more from ourselves than simply saying things are "too complicated" and thus relying on the slogans found in the voters pamphlet statement or the half-truths in the ballot titles, especially the ones written by the legislature. If that means more time is spent in our high schools on how to read laws and what it means to be a voter, than great. But the voters pamphlet is actually a disservice to voters - it doesn't educate, it obfuscates. And the same type of slogans you fear (I'd add in "devastating cuts" "it's for the children" "help our seniors" "giant corporations and the wealthy") are in every damn voters pamphlet statement. Whether its three words or 300, spin is spin, and that's all the voters pamphlet statement amounts to - and taxpayers pay for it.

Full disclosure, I am a proponent for the Measures.

I admit some ambivalence to cross-posting arguments, partly, I suppose, because of bias, but also in part due to an explanation I received form SOS folk during a prior election cycle.

When a cross-posted argument appeared in the chunk of arguments I agreed with, I was as annoyed as many of you all are. I got on the horn with the SOS, and a staffer politely explained that when filing an argument, it's both the responsibility and choice of the writers to select "For" or "Against". Every bit as much as it's their choice what to write, it's their decision where to put it, and they've paid $500 to do so.

Essentially, it's a strategy that, over the years, both "sides" have employed.

Should there be restrictions? An argument could be made for that if one envisions a greater and greater percentage of arguments being cross posted. But then, what happens when a highly satiric argument is submitted? Should not the writer then be allowed the choice where to post since it's likely that w/ her/his piece, the placement IS essentially part of the piece.

So, while annoying, it something that CAN be done; it is something that's done by both sides, and thru the course of election cycles we'll all apparently take turns being irritated.

I'd also add that many of us that go thru this cycle of irritation go thru it not because we are evaluating the package of arguments to determine our vote, but because we are thinking strategically. We already know how we're voting.

We're not really wondering if this is "fair" or "proper;" we are wondering how this affects Jane and Joe voter.

...and if you're at that point in your political passion, it doesn't take alot to make you really pissy.*

'not throwing stones here... I've been there!

CCK -- actually, having been a writer in one form or another for a long time, I'm acutely aware of and have studied closely how to communicate information honestly, without spin, in a way that people will read and understand. And statutory language -- or worse yet, changes to existing statutes proposed as an initiative -- is about the worst possible way to communicate information to voters. Many measures would have to be accompanied by a complete set of the Oregon Revised Statutes to give readers a fair shot at determining the what they mean, sometimes along with some court opinions.

Of course the voters' pamphlet is full of spin arguments - but note, they DO follow the complete text of the measures (See pages 9-12 and 47-50), and they are clearly labelled as arguments for/against. Moreover, the fees for those argument statements help pay the freight to put the entire pamphlet, with the complete text, in voters' hands.

But your argument that the voters' pamphlet doesn't educate is simply not true -- anyone who wants to read the text of the measures can do so in the voters' pamphlet, and the whole point of education is to give kids the ability to sift through and weigh "spin" -- the proponents/opponents best attempts at persuasion. I guarantee you that far more people are reading and considering the arguments than have even tried to read the text of the measures, even though they have to flip past that text to get to the arguments.

And therein lies the problem - far more people are reading the arguments rather than the text of the measures - why would we want to encourage that? The arguments rarely promote a true understanding of the measure. I completely disagree that the whole point of education is to give kids the ability to sift through and weigh spin - the point of education should be to get voters (kids or otherwise) to understand the result of a yes or no vote on the measure. The arguments simply don't do that, and are a poor substitute for a read of the measure itself, and if need be (which will be likely for most voters), resort to some publication or discussion group from someone the voter trusts. But that's not what you get with the Voters Pamphlet. It is devoid of honest discussion or analysis of the measure, and is instead filled with mindless drivel from both sides.

And why would should taxpayers support it? I realize that there is a $500 fee to help defray the costs, but the fees do not completely cover the publication costs. It seems to me that if taxpayers are going to pay for something to be sent to voters, it ought to have some meaning and serve to educate. The arguments in the voters pamphlet do not serve that purpose.

"People elsewhere would kill for a voter's pamphlet"

What, their out of toilet paper?

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