Enemies of the People

July 11, 2009

These are the current members of the Portland City Council:

  • Sam Adams, Mayor
  • Nick Fish, Commissioner of Public Works
  • Amanda Fritz, Commissioner of Public Utilities
  • Randy Leonard, Commissioner of Public Safety
  • Dan Saltzman, Commissioner of Public Affairs
  • LaVonne Griffin-Valade, Auditor of the City of Portland

This is their crime:

They have voted – unanimously – to rename 39th Ave in honor of César Chávez, the labor activist.

Now, it’s not that I have anything against the man; by all accounts he’s been very important to the history of our country. I’m just vigorously opposed to renaming 39th Ave. I believe in systems that work, and I believe that streets that are numbered numerically as you progress west or east of the Willamette River represent a good system. The members of the Portland City Council, regardless of any other qualities, have shown absolute disregard for that system. That, in my book, is unforgivable. There are plenty of new, important streets in the Metro area that could be named after him – renaming 39th is asinine!

So it is now my personal mission to ensure that none of these people – people who have demonstrated a blatant disregard for the citizens of the city and the systems that help make our city livable – are ever re-elected. I don’t care if they’re angles, saints, or can cure leprosy with the wave of a hand; they have unanimously chosen to ignore the greater common good. They must not be allowed near these positions again!

Stay tuned for more on this issue, folks. There will be elections sooner or later, and you’ll hear me out there!

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Measure 56

November 9, 2008

One result of our recent election is the passage of Oregon Measure 56, which repealed the double-majority law.

As it stood before this last election, any tax increase on the ballot (except for those in general elections in even-numbered years) required a majority of registered voters to participate and a majority of those voters to vote “yes” for it to pass. (An exception was made for general elections, probably because they usually generated enough voter turnout already.)

The upside to this was that an activist minority couldn’t sneak a tax increase through in a less-well-publicized election; a majority of voters had to take an interest one way or another for a tax increase to make it. Of course, this also meant that tax increases sometimes failed if enough attention wasn’t called to a cause. (Some people seemed to think this was a Bad Thing.)

I’m hugely disappointed that Measure 56 passed. I felt that it offered the voters important protections against a tyranny of the minority, and that it worked as it was intended to work. I can only hope that someone will see the light on this issue and realize that the voters made a mistake here.

Side note: I also think that the wording of the measure was designed to confuse. By saying, “Amends Constitution: Provides that May and November property tax elections are decided by majority of voters voting”, and not mentioning the existing system until page 2 or 3, the ballot measure title is deliberately obfuscating the current system, implying that a majority of votes didn’t already make the decisions (which they did.) I’m convinced that this wording was a contributing factor to the success of the ballot.