Monday, October 6, 2008
Please make sure you are registered -- verify! See prior post for information on how to verify your registration. And please make sure to vote the WHOLE ballot -- do NOT, repeat, do NOT, just vote a race or two at the top and stop.
In fact, why not start at the bottom, where your vote is FAR more powerful than in the marquee races at the top, and then work up? Your votes on every line WILL determine Salem's future, but nowhere more so than in the local issues and candidates.
Basically, there are so few YES votes that we can list them up front before going through everything:
YES: 24-247 (Cherriots)
YES: Measure 56 (no "double majority" rule in May & November elections)
YES: Measure 57 (the alternative property crimes initiative)
Vote NO on everything else with a clear conscience.
Here's the details:
YES for 24-247 (Cherriots). This is the probably the single most important YES vote on your ballot this time, in terms of destructive potential if it fails. Salem's bus service is starved already and, predictably, criticized for it. If this small operating bond ($49/yr per $100,000 of property value) fails, then, not only will we kiss Saturday service goodbye but we'll make Oregon's capital city a prison for the elderly and handicapped, who will no longer be able to get around on CherryLift service either. This is a matter of life and death: people who are isolated are at much greater risk for depression and the ensuing health problems.
NO on 24-248 ("Keep Salem Moving in Cars"). This is one where you can let your tightwad come through and feel fine. This is a bond measure that presumes that we can keep on widening, paving, and adding lanes ad infinitum, with no thought for the day of reckoning that is actually upon us. Worse, the campaign has been deceptive enough to fool many -- Salem Monthly editorializes in favor of it by emphasizing that "no new bridges will be made with the passing of this measure." True -- but that just proves that they also missed the "strategic right of way acquisitions" larded in with this turkey.
The worst part of this measure is that it continues and even makes the rampage of the sprawl monster worse because it shifts even more of the costs for road upkeep off of drivers and onto all property owners. This is environmentally destructive and economically suicidal, because it means that, as we keep expanding our road network with property tax funds, the costs of maintenance will climb just as high. Before long, we'll be told that we have to send even more of our property tax money to the road gang.
The first rule of holes is "Stop digging." Salem and Marion County have gotten us into a deep hole by funding more sprawl than drivers pay for, and so they want to keep reaching into the pockets of the residents rather than figuring out how to put the burden on the drivers. It's time to stop. Until these bonds keep failing, there will be no fix at the legislature, and the city will continue to sprawl and then turn around and cry poor. This $100 million bond should simply fail, so that the local transportation folks redirect the millions now being spent on planning for a third bridge into local repair priorities.
24-249: No recommendation for S-K School bond. There's just not a good enough rationale for supporting this bond, given what we can see around the corner into the future. S-K schools are the epitome of suburban sprawl schools, totally dependent on building patterns and bus systems that presume an endless supply of cheap energy is ours for the asking. Sorry, wrong answer. The most important thing our schools could be doing right now is helping kids become aware of the dire situation we'll be leaving for them to manage and giving them some of the skills that will be so essential to them, starting with learning to respond creatively to natural limits rather than with more of the same.
Classes overcrowded? Have we gone to double-shifts and year-round schooling, with options for kids to take classes in the community and online? The worst thing we can do for kids is create a bubble called "school" where they are insulated from the new realities that we must all deal with: peak oil and the urgent need to radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This bond does nothing for these imperatives, and so does not really deserve to pass.
Measure 56: End the "Double Majority" rule for May & November elections. YES indeed!
Regardless of your position on any particular measure, the rule ought to be the ancient rule of democracy: Majority rules. But now, with the insidious "double majority" requirement, even victorious property tax votes lose because a non-voter is counted as a no-voter. This is absurd -- obviously the more correct and reasonable assumption is that non-voters would have voted along the same lines as those who bothered to vote. After all, it's essentially like a super opinion poll drawn from people in the same jurisdiction. Counting non-voters as no voters (which is what the double majority rule does) gives unearned and undeserved power to the apathetic, the uninvolved and the uninformed.
While many property tax measures merit defeat, they should be defeated on those merits, not on the basis of a bizarre rule that gives nonvoters more power than voters.
Measure 57: The slightly less destructive alternative to Measure 61: Here's a measure that ought to be an easy no vote. Except that it's on the ballot so that, if both it and Measure 61 pass, this one should have more votes and will control (rather than the insane and MORE destructive Measure 61). There doesn't seem to be a way around it: you gotta hold your nose and vote Yes on 57, no matter how tempting it is to vote No on both. If people concerned for the well-being of places like Salem simply vote no on both, then Measure 61 is likely to pass with the more votes than 57, which will be a disaster.
Measures 58-65: NO to all.
There is very little that could be more harmful than letting a crooked ignoramus run your state, but that's pretty much what Bill Sizemore is attempting with his handful of pet measures, some of which are simply personal whims of his own. Convicted of racketeering yet somehow able to keep pumping money from Loren Parks into the Oregon initiative system like it was his own personal slot machine, Sizemore offers a panoply of really reprehensible, damaging measures. If any of these pass, Salem will suffer greatly.
Measure 58: Maximum of two years instruction in languages other than English. Why two years? Why any fixed limit? What problem exactly is this measure intended to solve, other than Sizemore's perennial "I bleed the system by running initiatives so I have to keep coming up with new ones" problem. This could be titled the "push struggling students to drop out and marginal students to act out" initiative. Vote No on Measure 58. And volunteer at your local school if you are concerned with helping English-language learners succeed.
Measure 59: Make federal income taxes fully deductible on Oregon income tax returns. Aiiiy-yaiii-yaiii, this is the king snake in the grass. Even with the limited progressivity of the federal tax system, the benefits of this one are ALL titled towards the deepest pockets in the state, the people who pay serious coin to the feds at tax time. In other words, this demolishes the ability of the State of Oregon to budget or provide vital services because of decisions made in Washington DC about taxation. Brilliant. Sure, you and I will save a few bucks on our Oregon income tax --- which we'll have to match with many many more because our state budget crunch will make the 2003 round of cuts look like puppy love. This one is the "Bill Sizemore wants Oregon to be more like Mississippi" initiative. Vote NO on Measure 59 - we'll never be rich enough to afford this tax break.
Measure 60: Teacher pay set by "classroom performance." You know, if this is such a hot idea, how about we decide who gets to deduct their children on their taxes by parental performance?After all, parents have a lot more to do with student achievement than teachers ever will or possibly can have -- if Johnny's a thug and a vandal and Jane is cutting on herself and fooling around with dope and drinking, why should parents get a tax break for "raising" them? Fair's fair -- if we link teacher pay to the classroom performance of 180 of other peoples' kids, then we sure as hell ought to link the parents' ability to claim those kids as tax deductions to that same performance. This is another "Soundbite" initiative that is far more pernicious than it sounds at first bite. Vote No on Measure 60.
Measure 61: the Kevin Mannix "I thought I would be running for Congress with this tuff-on-crime while bankrupting the state" initiative. This is the hands-down winner for "don't bother me with facts, I just want to lash out" initiative. As Measure 11 costs continue to climb, turning judges into powerless traffic cops and making schools and public services compete for scraps at the general fund table, Mannix plans to extend the idea of inflexible, one-size-fits-all sentencing to property crimes, including for first-time offenders, the ones most likely to benefit from a diversion that keeps them from becoming part of the prison culture. Apparently Mannix is of a mind that the way to fight property crime is to send more small timers to graduate school for criminals, a/k/a "the big house." Talk about the flaming bag of dogpoop on the porch -- we will be very sorry indeed if we do anything other than send this back with a resounding NO. Vote No on Measure 61.
Measure 62: Mandatory 15% of lottery to police. Dumb. The one thing we really elect legislators for is to make choices about priorities and spending to match them. Enshrining arbitrary percentages of any revenue stream for anything is dumb. At the heart of all measures like this is a deeply undemocratic impulse, the urge to take away discretion from the Legislature, just like mandatory minimums take discretion away from judges. Vote No on Measure 62.
Measure 63: No building permits needed for improvements less than $35k. Ooooookay then, so much for the rhetorical fervor for "local control." This not only tosses local control out the window but basically will create ghettoes in Oregon, places where property owners need never bother with new-fangled fancy ideas like foundations or vapor barriers, because who's gonna stop them? What problem is this designed to solve? Oh, yeah, that one -- the "I get paid to rake cash off the initiative system" one. I hope the family of the first firefighter killed by a $34,000 "homeowner special" that collapses during a fire remembers who brought this little gem up. Vote NO on Measure 63, especially if you ever plan to buy or rent a place to live in Oregon in the future.
Measure 64: no payroll checkoffs for union political action funds. Again and again, all over America, clowns like Sizemore keep beating the drum against the "Big Bad Union Bosses" --- meanwhile, the declining strength of unions has had everything to do with what's wrong with America's economic system. Anyone who doesn't want their money going to a union fund already has a way to prevent it, so what problem is this about? Oh, yeah, that one again ... Vote NO on Measure 64.
Measure 65: "Top Two" primary ("Cajun Primary"). This absurd measure proposes to end Oregon's fairly-standard primary/general election system and replace it with one taken from --- wait for it --- Louisiana of all places, best known for almost making David Duke an elected official in high office. Basically, in a bizarre fixation on getting "independent voters" --- that is, the ones who have chosen NOT to affiliate with a party --- into the act of nominating the candidates who carry the party banner (I know, it makes no sense, but stay with me), Phil Kiesling has decided that what really needs to happen is to put the people with the LEAST political knowledge and interest in charge. That is, according to Kiesling, what Oregon needs is LESS passionate activism to influence public policy. Apparently, what we need is even MORE rule by last-minute swings by the apathetic and barely involved in response to the latest attack ads. The worst part of this is that Salem Monthly endorsed it, while saying that the real answer is to "get rid of the two-party system." Way to shoot yourself in the foot then, because if this thing passes, there will be no more minor parties in Oregon after a short while.
This measure is so wrong-headed that it's hard to know where to begin. Opposed by every single party in Oregon, right down the line: See saveoregonsdemocracy.org for more reasons. Vote NO on Measure 65.