The Funding Behind the Measure 49 Campaigns

The Oregonian today examines the contributions behind the campaigns for and against Measure 49. The article notes a major fundraising gap between the two sides:

As of Friday, Yes on 49 reported contributions of $2.7 million and had spent almost $1.5 million. Oregonians in Action, which sponsored Measure 37 in 2004 and is trying to protect it from the revisions contained in Measure 49, reported 2007 contributions of about $340,000 and had spent close to $133,000.

The article details some of the major contributors to the Yes on 49 Campaign, such as Willamette Valley winemaker Eric Lemelson and The Nature Conservancy:

Lemelson's and The Nature Conservancy's contributions have attracted the most scrutiny.

Lemelson, 47, is the son of a prolific inventor with a family and personal fortune to spend and makes no apologies about putting it to use in Oregon's land-use fights. He arrived in Oregon in 1979, attended Reed College and Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College and stayed to become a successful producer of the state's signature pinot noir wine.

He said Measure 37 development claims border his Carlton-area vineyards, threatening his ability to farm, to expand his operations and his access to groundwater. More importantly, he said, it threatens Oregon's future.

"I think the impacts of Measure 37, if it's not amended, will be disastrous, long-term, for Oregon," Lemelson said. "Filling up the Willamette Valley with subdivisions all over the place, even over 15 or 20 years, I think, is nuts. I don't know how else to put it."

The Nature Conservancy's donations are especially significant:

Though Lemelson has contributed to campaigns in the past -- he spent $500,000 in an attempt to defeat Measure 37, in 2004 -- The Nature Conservancy is on new ground. The group usually spends private money acquiring development rights, buying property to preserve as wildlife habitat and funding restoration projects.

But the group says development allowed under Measure 37 "goes against the culture and values of Oregonians," state director Russell Hoeflich said.

"We truly feel we're at a crossroads in Oregon," he said. "Can we protect our land and water resources that represent our future? The integrity of the state is really at stake."

Read the rest. From winemakers to conservationists, Measure 49 is attracting support from a diverse group of Oregonians. So, who is funding the opposition?

Seneca Jones Timber of Eugene, headed by CEO Aaron Jones, has contributed $50,000 to Oregonians in Action, the Tigard property rights group that championed Measure 37 and opposes Measure 49. Swanson Group, which operates a string of mills in Oregon, and A-dec Inc., a dental equipment manufacturing company in Newberg, have contributed $50,000 each. RSG Forest Products, with mills in Oregon and headquarters in Kalama, Wash., has contributed $25,000.

Discuss.

Comments

  • Scott Jorgensen (unverified)
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    I love it when trust fund babies spend their parents' money telling me that since they've gotten theirs, that my property rights don't matter.

    It's also quite funny that in the 30-plus years since Oregon's land use laws were passed, approximately ZERO of the other 49 states have passed anything similar. Shouldn't that tell you something?

  • Holly Martins (unverified)
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    “It's also quite funny that in the 30-plus years since Oregon's land use laws were passed, approximately ZERO of the other 49 states have passed anything similar. Shouldn't that tell you something?”

    Yes – it tells me that Oregonians have been concerned about the common good and avoiding the kind of soul-deadening, unsustainable, urban sprawl so adored by people like you who see no other value rather than your own selfish economic gain. You’re not the only one living in this state.

    It’s called enlightenment, pal.

  • Scott Jorgensen (unverified)
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    Enlightenment is then the process of putting all land ownership in the hands of the government? Anyone who doesn't want all the land to belong to the government and the wealthy elite is them labeled as selfish? Is me wanting to buy an affordable house for my family selfish? Really? I thought you so-called progressives tried to portray yourselves as champions of the poor. Why is it, then, that the policies you champion have the opposite effect?

  • (Show?)

    Lemelson profits from Oregon's land use laws. He benefits from the state restricting the property rights of his neighbors, and if M37 is allowed to stand, he will no longer have this luxury.

    Specifically: The $80K income test has rendered many 20-80 acre lots in Yamhill county almost worthless. Very few crops yield that kind of income. Grapes is one.

    So Lemelson buys up neighboring land, and when the grape crop value qualifies that land for a home, he puts a mobile home on it to establish the homestead. Then he sells it to some California yuppie looking for their country villa.

    An easy sale/leasback for the 90% of the parcel that has the grape, and Lemelson gets the best of both worlds: he gets his capital back at a nice tidy profit, and he has a favorable long term lease for his grape-lands.

    Very, very nice scam. Homer Williams will no doubt start it up now that the Pearl and SoWhat are falling apart.

    He's just profiting from artificial restrictions on his neighbor's property rights, and he is wrapping himself in the cloth of environmentalism. And you folk are buying it

  • Tom Keffer (unverified)
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    "It's also quite funny that in the 30-plus years since Oregon's land use laws were passed, approximately ZERO of the other 49 states have passed anything similar. Shouldn't that tell you something?"

    Just to clarify: many states, such as Washington, Florida, New Jersey, Minnesota, etc., have adopted strong land use laws since Oregon, not to mention Hawaii and Vermont, whose laws predate Oregon's.

  • (Show?)

    Oh please, Rob, Scott. Who do you think you're fooling? We're not FOX news morons in these parts; we smell complete made up B.S. just about immediately.

    Those 20-80 acre lots are "worthless" except that you can grow grapes on them? Most Italian wineries average around 6 acres, and they do just fine. So what's to keep the current owners of the land from growing grapes themselves? Or, if they're suitcase types, becoming suitcase farmers by leasing the land to farmers who are in the business?

    Oh, and Measure 37 never protected those "rights" anyway. It only protected the "rights" of people who have held on to the land for 30+ years - largely out of state timber interests, who for years have paid pennies on the dollar in terms of property taxes, are now applying to bring massive Californication to Oregon. Washington County alone has enough Measure 37 claims to build five additional Beavertons.

    That wasn't what people who were fooled into voting for Measure 37 thought they were voting for. And all lies from you parasites won't change that.

  • Michael Dougal (unverified)
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    "Is me wanting to buy an affordable house for my family selfish? Really? I thought you so-called progressives tried to portray yourselves as champions of the poor. Why is it, then, that the policies you champion have the opposite effect?"

    No, wanting affordable housing is not selfish, which is why you can deduct the interest payments on your mortgage from your federal taxes. If you are an average homeowner paying off your mortgage, the federal government is giving you more money to pay for your house than it will ever give to the poor for rent subsidies.

    What is selfish is building a sub-development where there is little groundwater and wells are already drying up. Developers that build sub-developments where farmers are already struggling to find adequate water resources are selfish. Developers which build sub-developments, knowing that people already living there will run out of groundwater and the nearby city will have to pay to pipe water out to the middle of nowhere, are selfish. The entire United States has an affordable housing crisis, which has very little to do with Oregon's excellent land-use planning laws.

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)
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    "Enlightenment is then the process of putting all land ownership in the hands of the government?"

    Spare us the strawman arguments, and engage in rational debate please, S. J.

    Land conservation is the legal recognition that buying property does not allow one to secede from the state and set up a private fiefdom. We in Oregon have long fought to defend that principle; M37 is just the latest skirmish in a long campaign.

  • (Show?)

    I am a strong supporter of affordable housing. I believe Metro must expand the UGB in order to try to offset rapidly increasing housing prices that are pricing the middle and lower middle classes out of Portland.

    I'm also crazy enough to believe that we need to attract more businesses which provide good working class jobs to to Portland, even if these businesses might be a bit less "green" than we want. We need to celebrate entrepeneurship, capitalism, and job creation. I think Vancouver is completely outmaneuvering us, and we're quietly relying on them to do so. I've emailed both Randy Leonard and Sam Adams on this issue. Chris Smith should be ready for the question at a candidate's forum.

    All that being said, I am also a strong supporter of Measure 49.

    I don't see any reason why the two positions are inconsistent. I can continue to pressure Metro without wanting unrestricted development statewide.

  • Concerned (unverified)
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    What concerns me is the atrocious, sloppy reporting masquerading as journalism in this article.

    First, the intro sentence: "Those who passionately disagree whether Measure 49 would steal property rights from Oregonians..." Objective? Give e a break, that's OIA framing. Why not, "Those who passionately disagree about whether voters intended gravel pits and billboards under Measure 37.."

    What disgraceful, yellow journalism!

    As for sloppy...In one section of the article, Mortenson identifies Aaron Jones as CEO of Seneca Jones Lumber and later states, "the company has not filed a Measure 37 claim and doesn't intend to.." Which completely ignores the fact that Jones himself has filed a claim and proudly stated so in a full page ad recently. (see, for example, http://oia.org/JonesLetter.pdf )

    Gosh, Mr. Mortenson, how sloppy and lazy can you get? This little fact is out there for the world to see. Don't you think it might be worth pointing out instead of misleading your readers and giving them the impression that Seneca has only altruistic motives at heart?

    And what's with the numbers? I went to the Secretary of State's web site this morning and OIA's PAC shows contributions of over $1 million dollars, not the $340,000 Mortenson reported. The Yes on 49 figures are accurate.

    Eric Mortenson should be covering something he can get right...he's clearly in over his head!

  • (Show?)

    One of the little-discussed effects of Measure 37 is to give renewed potency to the economic racism of bygone years. As Sean Cruz explains in his post referenced below, in order to be a M 37 claimant, you have to have had the ability to acquire land before land use laws were enacted. For the most part, that means you have to have acquired the land prior to 1973 in order to benefit. Those who had an advantage then, get that advantage amplified under M 37. Those who had a disadvantage then are shut out again. Sean gives more details. Check it out: http://blogoliticalsean.blogspot.com/2007/10/measure-37-and-case-for-affirmative.html

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    There isn't a strong correlation between land availability and housing prices:

    The study found that:

        * it is the size, type and quality of homes built that has the greatest influence on local house prices;
        * house prices are heavily influenced by the quality of the environment: new homes which improve an area create value, but homes which damage an attractive location can bring down prices [7];
        * if local house prices fall following development this may reflect damage to local amenity and a decline in the quality of the neighbourhood, rather than a response to a greater supply of new homes;
        * even with much higher building rates, the impact on house prices would be very small, delayed and hard to detect. Any reduction in price resulting from increasing housing supply would be swamped by other factors;
        * house prices are controlled not by land supply but primarily by ability to pay;
        * rising house prices reflect, notably, an era of rising incomes, greater wealth available to many buyers as deposits, and mortgage lenders offering much higher loans than was considered prudent only a few years ago;
        * affordability as measured by the ratio of house prices to incomes has worsened. However, the proportion of income which first time buyers spend on mortgage repayments remains less than it was for most of the 1980s. Serious affordability problems are concentrated among those with lower incomes and little wealth.
    

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Paul G:

    I'm also crazy enough to believe that we need to attract more businesses which provide good working class jobs to to Portland, even if these businesses might be a bit less "green" than we want. We need to celebrate entrepeneurship, capitalism

    Bob T:

    Too many people on the New Urbanist side forget about this. David Bragdon is one of the few who's said that a good job is a part if quality of life. The latter is more than just scenery.

    Paul G:

    We need to celebrate entrepeneurship, capitalism

    Bob T:

    No, we just need to do it, like Michael Moore and Oprah do, and even Ralph Nader. They're doing very well.

    Bob Tiernan

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    As for Eric Mortenson, he is an incredibly poor journalist. I posted about Eric Mortenson last night. Besides the points that you make, is it really true that "Lemelson's and The Nature Conservancy's contributions have attracted the most scrutiny"?

  • goHOMEcalifornians (unverified)
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    I wish the grapes would catch some disease and wither up and die and Intel would relocate to China. That would do a lot to disperse these Californians who have come up here and ruined our beautiful state!

  • (Show?)

    Rob,

    What evidence do you have that Lemelson has done any of the things you claim?

    Are you aware that Yamhill County vineyard land (i.e. raw land, sans vines) sells currently for $15,000/acre or more? That doesn't sound worthless to me - it sounds like some of the most valuable farmland in the state.

    By the way, landowners affected by the $80,000 income restriction will be able to build under Measure 49. I happen to be one of them.

  • jim karlock (unverified)
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    Peter Bra There isn't a strong correlation between land availability and housing prices: JK: Give us a break. No one repealed the law of supply and demand. You guys have stopped the supply (with restrictions) as demand continues.

    Do you really think that ONE MILLION an acre vs $15,000 an acre will not affect house prices? (ONE MILLION an acre is $125,000 just for a typical city lot.) A brand new house, in low regulatin areas like Houston, costs just a few thousand more than the raw land in this area.

    ewoc: Are you aware that Yamhill County vineyard land (i.e. raw land, sans vines) sells currently for $15,000/acre or more? JK: Now lets build affordable homes on that cheap land instead of on ONE MILLION an acre land inside the UGB.

    Also Every home built in wine country is one less skinny house, row house, tiny lot or crappy condo in our Portland neighborhoods

    Thanks JK

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    And Rob, last I checked, the $80K farm gross income test (about $16K net) only applies to high-value farmland (about 25% of Oregon's farmland). That's generally not wine country soils, that are not good for traditional farming, but are great for wine.

  • John (unverified)
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    Besides being unenlightened, Scott's also lying. But we already knew that he loves to bait him some progressives over here.

    Twelve other states have growth management acts similar to Oregon, including such hotbeds of progressive politics as Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Arizona, New Mexico, Iowa...

    ZERO of the other 49 states have passed anything similar to Measure 37's attack on zoning -- notably Washington, which soundly crushed I933 after our NW neighbors saw the true colors of M37.

    The Oregonian's Dave Hogan is usually not sloppy with SOS numbers. I'm surprised but won't hold my breath for a correction.

  • wildANDcrazy1 (unverified)
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    "Now lets build affordable homes on that cheap land instead of on ONE MILLION an acre land inside the UGB."

    JK, but the 1000 enviroNAZIs from California don't want you to encroach on their vineyards! You're forgetting density is good and more pollution, crime, people and congestion is the plan for the future of L.A. (I meant Portland).

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)
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    Wrong John.

    Arizona passed Prop 207 in 2006 (by a landslide).

    It provides Arizonans with the same protections against regulatory takings as M37.

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    Wrong PanchoPdx.

    Proposition 207 is not retroactive, as Measure 37 is, but only impacts future regulations.

  • (Show?)

    And if you'd like to see an example of what a mess zero land planning, zoning, etc. can make, just look at the Houston metro area. It's the largest metro area in the country without land planning and zoning.

    Mess doesn't even begin to scribe it!

  • Debbie (unverified)
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    Hey Portland! Incase you didn't already know....the rest of us call you ..."Little Los Angeles"... Oregon's land use doesn't work and Portland is a prime example.

    Although when you consider that several of the top land use people in LCDC came from LA it's easy to see why things are this way.

    Pack in the rats and they'll begin to eat each other...bon appitite!

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    Wow, it's great how "little Los Angeles" is nothing like the actual Los Angeles! After all, "little Los Angeles" is consistently rated one of the most livable cities in the world...

  • (Show?)

    Dear Rob Kremer,

    Again I implore you to reveal what you know about Eric Lemelson that the rest of us are not privy to. Has he sold or leased vineyard land to Californians looking to build McMansions, or were you just describing your own fantasy of what you might like to do to profit from land speculation if you could "live the dream," as the real estate agents call it?

    After all, libertarianism is about freedom, and as Rumsfeld so aptly put it, freedom is messy. Ask any Iraqi and they will tell you what that really means!

    all the best,

    ewoc

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)
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    Bray,

    The point was that the very same protections in M37 (regulatory takings) were adopted in Arizona's Prop 207 - by an overwhelming majority. They adopted the same standard for measuring lost property value due to regulatory taking that Oregon adopted in M37 (and which M49 would gut).

    There is no dispute of that.

    The difference between Arizona and Oregon is that Arizona apparently did not have Oregon's long history of stealing property through regulatory takings.

    Just because they didn't need to make their measure retroactive to undo thousands of past wrongs (like Oregon), doesn't mean that they didn't recognize the value of protecting their property rights.

    Maybe they saw where states like Oregon have gone and realized it was time to draw a line in the sand.

    If Oregonians had been given the opportunity to pass M37 in alongside SB 100, there is no doubt that they would have.

    M49 supporters seem to believe that if the government holds onto stolen property for long enough that it is unfair to release it to the rightful owners.

    What? You say you had investment-backed expectations?

    Welcome to the club.

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: Debbie | Oct 1, 2007 4:38:42 PM Hey Portland! Incase you didn't already know....the rest of us call you ..."Little Los Angeles"... Oregon's land use doesn't work and Portland is a prime example.

    Wow was that a stupid "argument". What next, the neener neener gambit?

    Lame attempts at scare-pejoratives aside, your "argument" is comical eating itself. You see, Los Angeles had no plan use or zoning laws and is a blighted sprawl covering the largest footprint of any city in the United States and is precisely the opposite of what Portland is. In Portland you can be in the middle of Pioneer square, and within 12 miles in any direction you can find untouched forrest land or prime farmland. Try that trick anywhere in the United States with a city of the population Portland has.

    The reason you don't have the mega-sprawl turning hundreds of square miles into paved strip malls and fugly tract houses which will drive down your houses value (look up the default rate and over supply on homes in Sacramento CA for example).

    You want Los Angeles here? Then gut land-use planning and zoning.

    Your entire unhinged rant is so bassakwards as to be laughable.

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: PanchoPdx | Oct 1, 2007 9:54:41 PM The difference between Arizona and Oregon is that Arizona apparently did not have Oregon's long history of stealing property through regulatory takings

    ROFLMAO

    Name who's land has been "stolen" because of land-use zoning. You anti-49/pro-37 wingnuts can't help but lie can you?

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Lestatdelc:

    Name who's land has been "stolen" because of land-use zoning. You anti-49/pro-37 wingnuts can't help but lie can you?

    Bob T:

    Don't you think it has been crappy and dishonest of government to get the same results it wants (as in an example of preventing a landowner from developing a nice pasture people like to see when they drive by) w/o actually taking the land? That's like letting you keep a TV but preventing you from watching it, saying that since you still own it there's no violation of rights.

    Fortunately the USSC stopped government from doing that sort of thing, partially.

    Bob Tiernan

  • Gus Forbes (unverified)
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    Time to pay attention to the other NO-49 funders like Adec Inc and owners'the Austins long-term support of far right causes. Jeld-Wen of K-falls will show up in the reports soon as well. You see the same companies over and over sponsoring/fighting initiatives to the detriment of all Oregonians.

    If you purchase goods or services, know who you're spending it with.

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    Mt Hood Meadows also gives money to Oregonians In Action.

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)
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    If you purchase goods or services, know who you're spending it with.

    Good point. That's why I stopped buying Oregon wines six months ago. I'd rather buy French wines.

    If I'm going to buy products from neo-commies, I'd just as soon they weren't my neighbors.

  • (Show?)

    Thanks Pancho!

    That means more for us.

    You either must have an awful lot of money (good French wines, esp. from Burgundy, are much more expensive than Oregon Pinots) or you are rotting out your insides drinking tannic, nasty wines from other areas of France where wines are very inexpensive. Either way, you are either considerably poorer or will need medical attention soon.

    Perhaps you haven't noticed that the French just elected a right-wing leader who wants to improve relations with the US. If he is a "commie," you are to the right of John Birch himself!

  • (Show?)

    Thanks Pancho!

    That means more for us.

    You either must have an awful lot of money (good French wines, esp. from Burgundy, are much more expensive than Oregon Pinots) or you are rotting out your insides drinking tannic, nasty wines from other areas of France where wines are very inexpensive. Either way, you are either considerably poorer or will need medical attention soon.

    Perhaps you haven't noticed that the French just elected a right-wing leader who wants to improve relations with the US. If he is a "commie," you are to the right of John Birch himself!

  • (Show?)

    "What? You say you had investment-backed expectations?"

    Aha, the crux. Since WHEN are investment "expectations" backed with anything but caveat emptor? I'd love it if the government would give me the money back in lost interest after it cut rates a half point.

  • John (unverified)
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    Pancho, Just a few months ago, you were boycotting French wines and French fries. The world must be a confusing place for you, eh? Try Bud lite.

    Prop 207 was sold as anti-eminent domain (Kelo case) to prevent government from condemning land in order to sell it to private developers. Yes, they slipped in future land-use laws. Very clever.

    It's not surprising that nowhere in the pro-207 arguments is there ANY mention of Measure 37, or how wonderful it is.

    What's with Eric Mortenson's selective amnesia??

    Today (10/6) he filed a story saying the largest donation to No on 49 was $150,000 from Newberg-based A-dec, after just filing a story on 10/2 reporting that Stimson Lumber gave $200,000.

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)
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    I never boycotted any French (wines, cheese or "fries") because I never bought into the neo-con "with us or against us" line. Regardless, it seemed silly to penalize French companies for foreign policy decisions made by their country's leaders.

    In the current case, the Oregon wine industry is largely culpable through donations and the lobbying that put M49 on the ballot.

    I'm conflicted because I grew up in Oregon wine country. Over the years, I've toured many local wineries and have bought cases of their products. But I just abhor the way the wineries are investing in a naked attempt to reduce their neighbors' land values.

    It may not be much in the scheme of things, but I'm not buying local wines anymore.

  • (Show?)

    Pancho,

    How, exactly is the wine industry trying to "reduce their neighbor's property values?"

    Land in wine country has appreciated in value rapidly in recent years, in part because it IS wine country and people want to live in wine country. Drive around Yamhill County and you will see how much the real estate industry has used the wine biz to promote real estate sales in their signs, promo materials, even in terms of the names they give their property developments. Read the Oregonian real estate classifieds and you will see exactly what I mean.

    As for the wine industry being responsible for Measure 49, apart from Lemelson's donations (which have been significant), ALL of the wine industry's donations are much less than ONE donation by A-DEC, or one smaller timber company's donations - read the C&E reports (which are public record and available to anyone) and you will see what I mean. Something like $25,000 in the aggregate. Timber donations have averaged about $100-150 K per company, with some considerably more. Who is trying to influence the outcome, please tell me?

    As for lobbying to change Measure 37, every group with any interest in land use was lobbying - the Home Builders, the real estate lobby, the timber industry, the Farm Bureau, etc etc. Also the wine industry. You, along with other M. 49 opponents, just seem to have a major bone to pick with the industry, for reasons that are difficult to fathom. Why not also target all the Farm Bureaus in the Willamette Valley, which are supporting M. 49 AND writing checks?

  • (Show?)

    One more note to Pancho,

    The great majority of Oregon wineries and vineyards (more than 90%) did NOT contribute to the Measure 49 campaign, not one dime. Again, look at the C&E reports, which are public record, if you care to be informed versus merely spouting off. If you had even a remote clue as to the number of wineries and vineyards and the small number of contributions from the industry you would know this. OIA has merely attempted to whip up class envy against the wine industry (the great majority of whom are not, in fact, wealthy) in their continuing efforts to confuse the electorate. Apparently they succeeded with you............

  • RepublicanHater (unverified)
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    Reading through these posts you can just see which ones are the greedbag republicans. The soullessness, the ignorance. The ferret-like focus on money above all else.

    <h2>Yes, I know name-calling is childish but really, how much more are we going to let them corrode our culture before we go Stalin on them?</h2>
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