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Oregon Death with Dignity funds similar initiative in Washington


Opponents of a Washington right-to-die initiative are crying foul. They say an Oregon-based front group is funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign and not disclosing all the names of its individual donors.

So far, Oregon Death with Dignity has contributed $300,000 to the Yes on I-1000 campaign. This is the initiative that would adopt an Oregon-style assisted suicide law in Washington.

Oregon Death with Dignity got a majority of its money from its parent organization – the Death with Dignity National Center. And that’s where the trail runs cold.

Under Washington State Law, donors to the National Center do not have to be disclosed.

Chris Carlson is with the No on I-1000 campaign.

Chris Carlson: “Dr. Jack Kevorkian recently released from prison -- Dr. Death as he’s known in the state of Michigan -- could very well be contributing to the proponents cause in the State of Washington and we would have no way of knowing that.”

The Death with Dignity National Center says Kevorkian is not a donor. And it says it’s in compliance with all Washington public disclosure laws.[1]

Possible recount for Measure 53


Measure 53 appears to be headed for a recount.

The measure, which appeared on Oregon's May 20 primary election ballot, would clarify state law restricting government's ability to seize and keep property from a crime scene.

With almost 1 million votes counted as of Wednesday, May 28, Measure 53 had 480,465 "yes" votes and 479,173 "no" votes.

An automatic recount kicks in if the difference between the two sides is within one-fifth of 1 percent. For Measure 53, that means about 1,920 votes, Don Hamilton, spokesman for the secretary of state's office said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the difference between the two sides had dwindled to 1,292 votes.

There are still some ballots yet to be processed -- these include ballots dropped off in the wrong county or ballots with questionable signatures. But Hamilton said any changes in the Measure 53 tally would probably be "very, very minor."

The final verdict on the recount won't be known until June 19, when the results are certified.[2]

Sizemore responds to comtempt ruling


May 27, 2008, Multnomah County Circuit Judge Janice Wilson ruled Bill Sizemore in contempt of court for violating the 2002 injunction forbidding him from transferring money out of his political organizations to fund new initiative campaigns.

But the ruling hasn't seemed to have much affect on Sizemore.

"I am going to have five measures on the ballot this November, and I will have measures on the ballot in 2010," Sizemore said. "They can sue me to kingdom come."

Richard Schwarz, executive director of The American Federation of Teachers-Oregon says, "Sizemore continues to duck and weave. He thinks he is immune from any application of law. He's functioning as the sovereign state of Bill Sizemore."

Union lawyer Gene Mechanic -- who now practices in Florida but still bears one of the great names in bar history -- argues the racketeering case was designed to highlight problems with the initiative system, not keelhaul the man.

Sizemore, however, is taking the courtroom battle a lot more personally: "They've spent two million of their members' money suing Bill Sizemore. They have demonized me and assassinated my character for years."

A veteran of the initiative process, Sizemore adds, "I've learned how to use the initiative process to put public policy in front of the voters. The other side -- the Democrats in the Legislature, the public employees and the Secretary of State's office -- has made the tactical decision that they'd rather shut the process down than fight the measures I put on the ballot."

Sizemore has already paid $133,000 in attorney fees, however, the Court of Appeals ruled he is not personally liable for the $2.5 million judgment against his old organization, Oregon Taxpayers United.

Sizemore's fight for the initiative process seems far from over, despite the legal hassles, but that fight seems to be getting more and more exhausting.

"I have made a living doing what I enjoy doing in politics," Sizemore said. "But I haven't found anyone yet who would accept my pay for my life."[3]

Sizemore in legal trouble over initiatives


A judge has found Oregon political activist Bill Sizemore in contempt of court for violating an injunction against moving money around to fund initiative campaigns.

Multnomah County Judge Janice Wilson rejected claims by Sizemore that he didn't understand the injunction. She ruled he instead "chose to ignore" a court order by transferring assets to pay for ballot measure initiatives.

Sizemore called the Tuesday ruling "a legal stretch" and says it violates his constitutional right to raise money and put measures on the statewide ballot.

Two teachers unions won a $3.5 million judgment against Sizemore in 2002 after a jury convicted his organizations of fraud and forgery. The injunction said Sizemore had to pay off the judgment before he spent money on new initiatives.[4]

Second initiative to repeal Family Fairness Act now faces legal troubles


The American Civil Liberties Union and Basic Rights Oregon have appealed the certified ballot title for IP 146 - an initiative petition to repeal the Oregon Family Fairness Act, which provides a panoply of rights and responsibilities to committed same-sex couples - to the Oregon Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court appeal could delay the signature-gathering efforts for IP 146 by at least several weeks if not longer, according to the State Elections Division office. As with all initiative petition appeals to the state Supreme Court, there is no strict timeline for a decision being delivered on IP 146.

The IP 146 appeal, filed just before the May 21 deadline, comes on the heels of two current outstanding state Supreme Court appeals regarding separately filed initiative petitions - IP 144, which seeks also to repeal the Oregon Family Fairness Act but shows signs of legal flaws, and IP 145, which seeks to repeal the Oregon Equality Act, an anti-discrimination law providing sexual orientation and gender identity protections. All three initiative petitions are sponsored by a coterie of Republican legislators with ties to longtime equality ally Marylin Shannon; Shannon herself is a co-sponsor of IP 146.

The state Supreme Court has yet to hand down an opinion and final judgment on the IP 144 and IP 145 appeals, and it is unclear when that may happen. This leaves Concerned Oregonians, the officially sanctioned political action committee organizing volunteers and raising funds in support of the initiative petitions, an increasingly small window of time in which to circulate the petitions. Regardless of when the Supreme Court hands down a decision on the three petition appeals, the organization has only until July 3, 2008 to produce 82,769 valid signatures for each initiative petition.

In spite of their efforts to put the petitions before the public being stalled, Concerned Oregonians has been working diligently behind the scenes to shore up resources and support for their initiatives, and recently scored endorsements for their efforts from the Oregon Catholic Conference - the cooperative entity encompassing both the Catholic Archdiocese of Portland and Diocese of Baker in eastern Oregon with a total of almost half a million member parishioners - and the Catholic fraternal organization, Knights of Columbus, which has pledged to assist in signature-gathering efforts, if and when the petitions are approved for circulation.

As of May 23, 40 days remain until the July 3rd signature submission deadline.[5]

Open primary initiative likely to appear on ballot


On May 23, backer’s of Oregon’s initiative to establish a “top-two” system submitted 92,000 signatures. They need 82,579. The signatures will now be checked, and if the initiative needs additional signatures, the group has until July 3 to obtain more. Hence, it is extremely likely that the initiative will be on the November 2008 Oregon ballot.

Like similar initiatives in California and Washington in 2004, the Oregon initiative provides that all candidates would appear on the primary ballot, and all voters would get identical primary ballots. Then, only the two vote-getters with the most votes could be on the November ballot. The initiative does not apply to president.[6]

Catholic Conference to support repeal of Family Fairness Act

5/21/2008: The Oregon Catholic Conference, the cooperative entity encompassing both the Catholic Archdiocese of Portland and Diocese of Baker in eastern Oregon with a total Catholic population just shy of half a million members, will soon announce their decision to heartily endorse IP’s 144, 145 and 146, the initiative petitions being pursued by Concerned Oregonians, a conservative political action committee headed by David Crowe.

“The Oregon Catholic Conference has not specifically met on this yet, but it appears that they will be in support of these initiative petitions” to repeal the Oregon Family Fairness Act and Oregon Equality Act said Bud Bunce, communications director for the Archdiocese of Portland. “From the Archdiocese’ perspective, we have some problems with these laws.” Bunce added that, while the initiatives were currently held up in appeals to the Oregon state Supreme Court, Archbishop John G. Vlazny would release his statement in support of the initiatives once approved and ready for circulation, though it is unclear when and in what format – through an open letter to diocese parishes or an editorial in the church newspaper, the Catholic Sentinel – that may be.

The Conference will be aided in signature-gathering efforts by the Catholic fraternity called Knights of Columbus. Ed Betts, secretary of the Oregon state Knights of Columbus, confirmed the Knights’ involvement: “We’ll be trying to get the signatures done, we’re trying to help with that,” Betts said in a phone interview this afternoon. “We just had our convention this weekend, and it was talked about at the convention.”

Bunce, the Portland Archdiocese communications director, said that although Archbishop Vlazny is expected to encourage parishes and parishioners to support the initiatives, individual churches and pastors can decide not to participate. Father Michael Everden, associate pastor at St. Philip Neri in Southeast Portland – a church with active ministries and outreach to sexual minorities – might be among those choosing not to promote the initiatives. “This puts me between a rock and a hard place,” he said by phone to Just Out, regarding the Catholic Conference's support of the initiatives. “I think the anti-discrimination thing… we shouldn’t be discriminating toward anyone, period. I think that is pretty clear. I hope gays can find a home here and feel comfortable and pray with the community. We try to be as inclusive as possible.”

Concerned Oregonians, meanwhile, continues to struggle in finding its financial footing. After raising a few thousand dollars from individual and small church donations, the organization has begun to pay off back debt and is currently almost $5,000 in the red. In an email plea to supporters today, David Crowe wrote "Of the 1000 contributors we needed by this time, only a few more than a 100 on our email list of 8000 have responded... if we are to win, it will not be without cost!"[7]

Zoo funding measure will appear on November ballot


Metro-area voters will be asked to approve a $125 million bond measure to help fund the Oregon Zoo at the November general election.

The elected Metro Council voted to place the measure on the ballot on May 8, 2008. Metro is the regional government charged with managing growth in most of the tri-county area. It is also in charge of the zoo.

If approved by the voters, the measure would improve the zoo’s aging infrastructure, along with the dilapidated veterinary hospital and quarantine facility. It would also improve conditions for elephants, polar bears, chimpanzees, hippos and penguins.[8]

Historical District Initiative falls short on signatures


Six months after launching efforts to create a historic district, proponents have gathered less than a third of the needed signatures for Thursday's deadline for filing general election petitions for the November election.

Our Heritage PAC, sponsor of the drive, is holding a series of meetings to decide how to proceed, and plans to announce its decision today.

The group needs 16,632 signatures to put the measure on the ballot and has collected 5,772 unconfirmed signatures.

Tam Moore, co-chairman of the political action committee, said the group may continue the campaign and shoot for the May 2010 primary, or just throw in the towel.

He said with more time and more volunteers, the group could have reached their goal.

Lynn Newbry, campaign spokesman, said the signatures are not coming up short due to lack of support.

"We're not finding any reluctance to sign the petitions," he said.

"We've not been able to get to the people."

Stephanie Butler, education and programs director for the Southern Oregon Historical Society, said supporters want to extend the time period for gathering signatures to the end of September, by which time they would try to get 20,000. She said if the initiative passes in the May 2010 election, the museums and societies would see funds in November 2010.

Moore said the historic district initiative must be in a primary or a general election, hence the long wait.

The ballot measure would have asked voters to pay 7 cents for every $1,000 in assessed valuation annually to support the financially strapped historical societies in Jackson County.

That would add $11.69 annually for a house with an assessed value of $167,000. Assessed values in Jackson County have been about half the market value in recent years.

The Rogue Valley Heritage District would be governed by a five-person board of directors that would support the 15 local and regional museums and history-related research libraries.

Public funds for the history-related activities were cut from the budget in 2007.

All of Jackson County except the city of Shady Cove is included in the proposed district. Shady Cove's City Council in February declined to approve the petition.[9]

Proponents Will Not Pursue Casino Measure


Citing timing and events beyond their control, two Lake Oswego businessmen say they will not pursue signature gathering to place a Wood Village casino proposal before voters in the November election.

Investment adviser Bruce Studer and lawyer Matt Rossman announced Friday, May 2, that they will not take the next step – gathering more than 100,000 signatures to put a ballot measure before state voters – in their plan to establish an entertainment-gambling complex at the former Multnomah Kennel Club site next to Wood Village Town Center.

A ballot measure would let Oregon voters decide if the promoters – and their thus-far unnamed financial backers – could develop the state’s only privately owned casino facility. Native American tribes run commercial casinos at locations scattered through the state.

In a statement, Studer and Rossman said controversy surrounding two tribes’ efforts to establish new casinos in Oregon and Washington made the timing of the ballot measure less desirable.

The Warm Springs tribe wants to develop a casino at Cascade Locks, and the Cowlitz tribe hopes to establish a gaming center on land near Interstate 5 in La Center, Wash. The projects have met with opposition on legal, ethical and environmental grounds.

The promoters’ statement did not indicate whether they would pursue another ballot measure in 2010, the next statewide election cycle.[10]

Oregon Crimefighting Act Withdrawn


Conservative ballot-measure supremo Kevin Mannix just told WWire he and his cohorts are dropping a proposed ballot initiative to kill the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program.

“That petition’s going to stop this week,” Mannix says. There was not enough time or money to gather the 82,769 valid signatures needed, he says.

“That’s the best news I’ve had all day,” says Paul Stanford, head of The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation, a Portland-based national chain of medical marijuana clinics.

Mannix says the decision to drop the petition drive had nothing to do with lack of public support, but rather lack of resources. But Stanford says he believes Mannix ran into trouble because the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, approved by voters in 1998, is still supported by a clear majority.

Stanford says it’s good news for medical-marijuana advocates that the petition has been dropped.

“We don’t have to waste our resources encouraging people not to sign that petition,” Stanford says. “We don’t have to mount a campaign against them in the fall. It just saves us a lot of time and effort.”

The so-called Oregon Crimefighting Act would have done three things:

•Given repeat “major felony” sex offenders a minimum 25-year sentence.

•Made third-strike DUII convictions a felony.

•Replaced medical marijuana with prescription THC pills.

Stanford has called the initiative a cynical effort to tear down medical marijuana by tagging it onto slam-drunk issues like opposing drunk drivers and sex predators. He says many marijuana patients oppose the change because THC pills are too expensive and not as effective.

Mannix told WWire that the ballot initiative, which he drafted, had financial support from the Florida-based nonprofit Save Our Society From Drugs. He says backers may return with another effort to gut medical marijuana in the 2010 election.[11]

Meanwhile, supporters of an effort to legalize marijuana marched through downtown Portland on Saturday.

Organizers say they are launching a new initiative called the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, which would allow adults to buy cannabis in stores if they showed picture identification.

Initiative supporters say marijuana purchases, like cigarettes and alcohol, could be taxed and the money could go into a general fund to pay for schools, health care and other state-funded services.[12]

Domestic Partnership and Anti-Discrimination Initiatives Falling Behind


LAST WEEK, Concerned Oregonians' David Crowe sent out another email missive about his group's struggle to put two anti-gay initiatives on November's ballot. One—Initiative Petition 145—would repeal the state's anti-discrimination law, and the other, Initiative Petition 144 or 146, would reverse the state's domestic partnership law.

But Concerned Oregonians' effort, in partnership with former State Senator Marylin Shannon and her "Let Oregon Vote" group, seems headed for at least partial failure—something Crowe acknowledged in his update, before begging his supporters to pray.

"The likelihood is that we will have just enough time to get enough signatures for 145 on the ballot, but not 146," Crowe told his supporters via email on April 27. He also explained that the multiple legal steps petitioners have to pass through to even gain approval to collect signatures about an issue have delayed the initiatives. Both petitions—and a third earlier one about nonexistent "civil unions," which Crowe acknowledges is "legally flawed" but is still winding through the process—are caught up in ballot title approval and appeals.

Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have played a part in the delay: Both groups filed comments on the proposed initiatives. BRO and the ACLU have challenged two of the prospective petitions to the Oregon Supreme Court.

"Our concern is that voters understand what's at stake and that we have ballot titles that accurately reflect the reality of the measure," says BRO's Karynn Fish.

As a side effect, the challenge could tie up the two possible initiatives for weeks—and Crowe and his allies can't collect a single signature in the meantime.

"There is a not a timeline," says Scott Moore, spokesperson for the Oregon Secretary of State, which oversees the initiative process. "It's the Supreme Court. They run on their own timeline."

Coupled with Crowe's past admission that their group is extremely low on funds ($6,276.33 in the hole, as of this writing), the initiative delays spell trouble for the effort to overturn Oregon's new laws. Even if the Supreme Court okays the petitions in the next few weeks, the anti-gay activists would have just two months to collect 82,769 valid signatures—or 34,590 more than they failed to collect before, with one month less to do it.[13]

See also: Oregon Ballot Measure 144 (2008) and Oregon Ballot Measure 145 (2008)

Independent Voters' Deadline Passes for Primary Election

5/1/2008: April 29 marked the official deadline for independent voters to change their registration status in order to participate in the May 20 party primary elections. Meanwhile, the Oregon Open Primary Campaign ( announced that it has collected more than 60,000 signatures and is more than half-way to its goal of placing its initiative on the November 2008 ballot.

The deadline is a "vivid reminder of why this change is so important," said Phil Keisling, former Oregon Secretary of State and chief petitioner for the initiative. "We are well on our way to giving Oregon citizens a historic chance to change their election system, to stop paying for closed, party-member-only primaries for key offices, so that every voter can vote for the best candidate, at every election, regardless of party registration or lack thereof."

Both the Democratic and Republican parties have enacted rules that prohibit registered independents and unaffiliated voters from voting in their closed, party-member-only primary elections. Under Oregon law, the deadline for changing one's non-affiliated registration status to participate in a party primary was 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 29.

The initiative requires 82,579 valid signatures in order to be certified for the November ballot. Supporters of Oregon Open Primary aim to submit more than 120,000 total signatures by the July 3 deadline.[14]

See also: Oregon Ballot Measure 109 (2008)

Zoo May Ask Voters for $117 Million


Oregon Zoo director Tony Vecchio, and so Metro, the regional planning agency that owns the zoo, is likely to ask voters to approve a $117 million bond measure on the November ballot. The money would give major animals more room and more interesting space, including adding five acres, watering holes, stands of bamboo and better indoor treatment facilities for the zoo's signature Asian elephants.

The money also would update the zoo's 45-year-old veterinary hospital, part of which was deemed substandard by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Projects would be completed in stages through 2016, with major work done to the polar bear and primate habitats and systemwide improvements to the zoo's water and energy utilities.

Vecchio on Tuesday briefed the Metro Council, which will vote next week whether to place the bond measure on the November ballot. Councilors indicated support for the proposal.

Metro officials acknowledge that asking voters to approve a multi-million-dollar bond measure in an uncertain economy may be problematic. However, they said the tax cost -- spread among Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington county residents who live within Metro's service boundaries -- would be about 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The owner of property valued at $200,000 for tax purposes would see a tax bill increase of $20 annually.

Voters have supported the zoo with levies and bond measures multiple times in past decades, most recently in 1996 when they approved a $28.8 million bond to build the Great Northwest exhibit.[15]

Bradwood LNG Supporters Challenge Wording of Referendum


Emil Nyberg, Don Atwood and Pete Hackett have filed a challenge, through Attorney Charles Hinkle, to the wording of a recent referendum that asks the voters of Clatsop County if pipelines should be allowed with a conditional use permit in open space, parks and recreational lands. A separate petition was filed last week that challenges the referendum itself, saying that land-use decisions should be handled by LUBA and not by referendum. Because of the time lines involved, the petition submitted on April 28, 2008, needed to be filed before the Clatsop County Circuit Court ruled on the first and may be a moot point depending on the outcome.

The referendum came about when the County Commission approved an amendment to the Land and Water Development Use Ordinance to allow pipelines as a conditional use in open space, park and recreation (OPR) zones. The change was needed so Bradwood Landing could run a natural gas pipeline through a small piece of land just North of Westport.

Caption, Question And Summary Challenged

On April 11th, Chief Petitioners Don West, Mark Auerbach and Debbie Twombly submitted a referendum petition to District Attorney Josh Marquis. The full title and ballot wording was then prepared by Marquis and filed on April 17th. The caption of the referendum read “Approves Decision By Clatsop County Commission Allowing Pipelines On Protected Lands.” This is followed by the question, “Should voters support decision by County Commission allowing pipelines on parks, open space and recreational lands with conditional use permits.”

The documents filed today by Nyberg, Atwood and Hackett first address the caption. They contend that the County Commission shouldn’t be mentioned in the caption because the voters need to decide the subject itself and not “the voters attitude toward the legislative body that enacted the law.” Another issue they have is the word “protected”, which they claim is “unfair” because it is a “not-so-subtle endorsement of a no vote on the measure.” Lastly they claim that the caption does not mention the fact that pipelines would be permitted as a conditional use only. They also suggested what the caption should be changed to:

“Conditionally allows pipelines in open space, park and recreational zone.”

Also addressed is the Question on the referendum. They contend that the question doesn’t comply with ORS statutes because it doesn’t plainly phrase the chief purpose of the measure. The purpose they claim is to decide on an amendment to Clatsop County’s Land Water Development and Use Ordinance (LWDUO) and not a decision by a legislative body. They also challenge the word order of “parks, open space and recreational”, which is different than what appears in the county LWDUO. Their suggestion of what it should be changed to:

“Should county ordinance be amended to allow cable, water, sewer, other pipelines in open space, park and recreation zone?”

Ballot Summary Also Contested

In the referendum prepared by Marquis, the summary states:

Clatsop County zoning law previously prohibited pipelines, sewer lines, and cables in areas zoned as open space, parks and recreational lands. The County Commission recently amended that land use ordinance to allow pipelines, such as one proposed for a Liquid Natural Gas line. This vote would affect sections 5 and 6 of Clatsop County Land and Water Development Use Ordinance 08-5.

A “Yes” vote would support the decision by the majority of the County Commission to allow pipelines in areas including open spaces, parks and recreational lands with a conditional use permit.

A “No” vote would overturn the vote of the majority of the County Commission and prohibit the sitting of pipelines in open spaces, parks, and certain other protected areas.

Nyberg, Atwood and Hackett state that the first sentence is inaccurate because some pipelines are already allowed in OPR zones. According to them, golf courses, farm use and recreational vehicle parks are allowed in OPR Zones and pipelines (water and sewer lines) are obviously allowed in OPR zones already. They also contest the second sentence which mentions Liquid Natural Gas pipelines. They point out that natural gas will be running through proposed pipelines, but not in liquid form.

Here is the summary that they suggest:

Clatsop County zoning law previously allowed cable, water, sewer and other pipelines in areas zoned as open space, parks, and recreational lands only if the pipelines were customarily connected to a permitted use of such lands. The County Commission recently amended that law to allow cable, water, gas, sewer and other pipelines as a conditional use in those areas whether or not they are customarily connected to a permitted use. This measure asks voters whether they approve that recent amendment, which was set out in sections 5 and 6 of Clatsop County Land and Water Development Use Ordinance 08-5.

A “Yes” vote would allow cable, water, gas, sewer and other pipelines in areas zoned for open spaces, parks and recreational uses, only is a conditional use is required.

A “No” vote would allow construction of cable, water, gas, sewer and other pipelines in open spaces, parks, and recreational lands when customarily connected to other permitted uses.

According to the documents filed, District Attorney Josh Marquis is required to appear and defend the ballot title within 30 days.[16]

County Extension Service in danger of shutting down


The Extension Service in Douglas County, Oregon might fade away July 1, its cash reserves depleted since Douglas County ended its general funding in June 2007 because of the uncertainty of a timber safety net extension. The Oregon State University Extension Service holds together 4-H, Master Food Preservers, Master Gardeners, and educational programs in forestry and agriculture in Douglas County.

The voters of Douglas County, however, can choose to keep the Extension Service by voting for Measure 10-86 on the May 20 ballot for the primary election.

The Extension Service is composed of over 700 volunteers. Just as many seem to make up the Douglas County Friends of Extension, strong supporters of Measure 10-86, which would form a permanent taxing district for a maximum rate of 6.5 cents per $1,000 of a property’s value assessed to fund the Extension Service. If the assessed market value of a home is $100,000, its tax for the Extension Service would come to $6.50 per year.

"As difficult as it might be to fathom, 4-H could participate in its last Douglas County Fair this summer if the measure doesn’t pass," said Dan Brumfield, director of the Friends of Extension.

To be viable in 2009, Brumfield said the Extension Service needs about $357,000. Because of the loss of county funding, which amounted to about $153,000 from the general fund, and “in-kind” services such as utilities, maintenance, janitorial services and the Church Annex building the Extension Service occupies next to the Douglas County Courthouse in Roseburg, the taxing district would likely collect the full 6.5 cents for only the first year. After that, it would likely collect in the range of 5 to 5.5 cents the following years, but the maximum rate would remain in place in case of any difficulties with funding in the future.

Larry Andrew, who has written opinion letters to The News-Review asking voters to quash the Extension Service levy, said he’s not against 4-H or other services, but he believes voters would set a shaky precedent if they pass a taxing district for Master Gardeners, Food Preservers and 4-H. He said taxing districts for other county services, such as the Sheriff’s Office, mental health services, mass transit and libraries, will be imperative if a timber safety net extension isn’t passed.

“Each of these is eligible for a special-tax levy,” Andrew said. “And they just add up,” making it “much more difficult to control costs.”

Andrew, a former city manager of Canyonville from 1996 to 2000, also worries about tax compression.

Due to Measure 50, which was approved by Oregon voters in 1997, local government cannot tax an assessed property more than $10 per $1,000 of real market value. If the assessed tax rises above that rate, the tax is compressed to a rate below the cap. The lost revenue is then divided among the proper taxing districts. The more taxing districts that are assessed to a property and the higher the rate, the more likely the property tax will reach the maximum allowed under the law.[17]

Skatepark to be approved by voters


Residents in Lowell, Oregon will decide May 20 if a proposed skateboarding park will be built on public land here.

The planned 8,000-square-foot skatepark was approved by the Lowell Planning Commission and City Council last year, but opponent Rudy Rennert gathered enough signatures to refer the matter to city voters.

Rennert and other opponents of a skate bowl at Lowell’s Paul Fisher Park say both the city and the city park are too small to dedicate that much public open space and resources to an activity enjoyed by only a small percentage of residents.

Another opponent, City Council President Ken Larsen, said a skatepark would attract “outside elements” to a city park featuring playground equipment for young children. He said other city’s skateparks have been “trashed” by some users, and that graffiti and other problems would pose maintenance problems for Lowell.

Campaign signs both for and against the measure have sprouted on front laws around the city of about 950 residents, and their messages illustrate the somewhat confusing nature of the question before voters. Rennert crafted his petition in such a way that skatepark supporters must vote “no” in order for the project to go forward: “Should the City of Lowell be prohibited from using public resources to plan, site, build or maintain any skatepark?”

Those who favor a skatepark are trying to address that negative construction in their campaign against the ballot measure, said Kern Hern, who led both the Lowell Skatepark Committee and a political action committee formed to tout the merits of the skate bowl.

“Our signs say, ‘Support Our Kids With a Skatepark — Vote No on 20-135,” he said.

Signs placed by skatepark opponents, who have not registered with the state as a PAC or reported individual expenditures as required by law, say simply, “Support Our Community — Vote Yes on 20-135.”

“I don’t know what voting against a skatepark has to do with supporting your community,” Hern said. He said about a dozen volunteers with the Lowell Skate Park PAC plan a door-to-door campaign and a couple of citywide mailings telling voters that the skate bowl will be fenced; will feature a video surveillance camera and a sound buffer; will be financed with grants and donations; and will be maintained by volunteers.

He said a 2006 survey of city residents showed a majority favoring a skatepark.

City Administrator Chuck Spies said the skatepark is expected to cost $320,000, including fencing, a sound-proofing berm and a security camera, with community volunteers to provide maintenance. The city submitted applications to the state, to the Ford Family Foundation, and to the Tony Hawk Foundation seeking funding for the project, subject to approval by Lowell voters in the May election.[18]

Clatsop County Referendum taken to court


The battle between supporters and opponents of the Bradwood Landing liquefied natural gas project in Oregon has moved into court.

Project developer NorthernStar Natural Gas Inc. filed a motion in Clatsop County Circuit Court Tuesday for a preliminary injunction that would stop Interim Clatsop County Clerk Fred Neal from processing the ballot referendum proposed by project opponents last week.

The plaintiffs in the case are Astoria residents Emil Nyberg, Don Atwood and Bradwood Landing community liaison Pete Hackett, who are represented by two attorneys from the Portland law firm Stoel Rives.

On Friday, three LNG opponent groups submitted a petition for a ballot referendum that would allow voters to weigh in on the Clatsop County Commission's recent decision to allow natural gas pipelines as a conditional use on land zoned for open space, parks and recreation (OPR).

Neal approved the petition after receiving a legal opinion from the county's contract counsel John Junkin, who argued the decision to allow pipelines in OPR zones was legislative, and therefore is an appropriate subject for a ballot referendum.

If it had been a quasi-judicial decision, he noted, a referendum would not be allowed.

But the company argues that as a land-use decision, the change in county law may not be referred to voters and any challenge should be taken to the Land Use Board of Appeals.

To support its position, the company cites two court cases they say prove that land-use decisions are not subject to referendum. Supporters of the ballot referendum say they also have assurance from the Oregon Secretary of State's office that their proposal is legal.

The company is requesting that Neal be enjoined from processing the referendum for the ballot until the legal question is resolved. Neal said he will follow the county counsel's advice and proceed with processing the referendum until a judge tells him to stop.[19]

See also: Clatsop County LNG Referendum (2008)

Crime fighting initiative approved for November ballot


An initiative (Oregon Ballot Measure 40 (2008)) that would set three-year mandatory minimum prison sentences for first-time drug dealers, burglars and identity thieves has qualified for the November ballot.

Elections officials on Thursday said measure supporters collected 84,169 valid signatures, 1,400 more than needed.

It's the first initiative to qualify for the November ballot. Another dozen measures targeting taxes, unions, lawsuits and more could end up before voters in what is expected to be a busy election.

Sponsored by Republican Kevin Mannix, the anti-crime measure would increase Oregon's prison population by an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 inmates and cost $128 million to $200 million a year.

Oregon voters will have another, less expensive, crime-fighting choice on the November ballot: a measure backed by the Oregon Legislature (Oregon Ballot Measure 408 (2008)) that would send an estimated 1,600 burglars, car thieves and drug dealers to prison at a cost of about $50 million a year.

The legislative proposal, which targets repeat offenders, also includes $20 million a year for drug treatment and local jails.

The legislative proposal also includes a key clause: If voters approve both measures, only the one with more votes goes into effect.

Dueling ballot measures are unusual in Oregon, and it almost didn't happen. Mannix and legislators had tentatively agreed on a compromise proposal, but he later pulled out, saying he didn't like some of the provisions.[20]

See also


  1. "Oregon Money Flows Into WA Right-To-Die Initiative Campaign," OPB News, June 2, 2008
  2. "Close vote on Measure 53 is making recount likely," The Oregonian, May 29, 2008
  3. "The sovereign state of Bill Sizemore," The Oregonian, May 29, 2008
  4. "Judge finds Sizemore in contempt over Oregon initiatives," Associated Press, May 27, 2008
  5. "REPEAL WATCH: IP 146 also appealed to Oregon Supreme Court," Blog Out, May 23, 2008
  6. "Oregon “Top-Two” Initiative Backers Submit 92,000 Signatures," Ballot Access News, May 23 2008
  7. "BEHIND THE CURTAIN," Blog Out, May 20, 2008 (dead link)
  8. "Zoo measure on November ballot," The Portland Tribune, May 9, 2008
  9. "Historic district petition falls short," The Mail Tribune, May 7, 2008
  10. "Casino backers give up, for now," Outlook, May 5, 2008
  11. "Mannix drops initiative to repeal Oregon’ Medical Marijuana Act," NORML's Daily Stash, May 6, 2008
  12. "Legal marijuana supporters march in Portland," KATU News, May 3, 2008
  13. "God Loves Fags. Oregon's Anti-Gay Initiative Effort on Verge of Failure," The Portland Mercury, May 2, 2008
  14. "Independent Voters Now Officially Locked Out of May 20 Races; Open Primary Campaign Passes Half-way Mark," April 19, 2008
  15. "Cramped zoo seeks cash for critter space," The Oregonian, April 30, 2008
  16. "Bradwood LNG Supporters File Petition Against Referendum Ballot Title," April 28, 2008 (dead link)
  17. "Friends of Extension support taxing district," News Review, April 20, 2008
  18. "Planned “skatepark” in hands of voters," The Register-Guard, April 20, 2008
  19. "LNG firm to fight ballot petition," The Daily Astorian, April 16, 2008
  20. "Mannix's tough-on-crime measure will be on Oregon ballot," The Oregonian, April 11, 2008