He's Back: Reinhard Returns to the O

Jesse Cornett

As some Blue Oregon readers know, I lobbied for higher education during each of the last two legislative sessions in Salem (and have since left my position). I was excited this morning to wake up and read former Oregonian columnist and now contract lobbyist David Reinhard opine about his education becoming a lobbyist.

I liked working with Reinhard during the last session -- the firm he works for (Public Affairs Counsel owned by the infamous Mark Nelson) represents a higher education client. Reinhard was quiet. When he spoke it was thoughtful. When he said he'd do something, it could be checked off the list. It's steep learning curve to go into lobbying and he was a natural, despite his well known political leanings that are quite the opposite of the majority party in Salem.

Now he's back in the pages of the Oregonian and it wasn't until I read his column this morning that remembered that it was *that* David Reinhard. I knew who he was but I let the past be the past even as I saw his firm lobby against a tax package at least one of his clients so badly needed.

The way the article is drafted, the Oregonian should check in with their counsel about whether it needs to consider the piece a campaign contribution to State Representative Mike Schaufler. Schaufler still proudly touts that he was the only Democrat to vote against the tax measure. Every other Democrat the the legislature and several Republicans, who had ample time to consider the issue, came to a different conclusion. I don't think he should be celebrated for his decision, though he stands proudly behind it.

The latter portion of the article is propaganda at best. Instead of writing a reflective piece on his last year, Reinhard regurgitated the talking points from the campaign. Instead of talking about true challenges, he defends the $10 corporate minimum and is fighting against a tax increase for only those who make $250,000 per year.

Oh, by the way, the argument that yes means no is a dead horse being beaten. The legislature passed a law, right? Which means it's now the status quo. If you want to overturn a law you should have to vote yes. Anything else is confusing but I bet their polls show the more they continue to confuse voters with that nonsense, the more likely they'll prevail.

If you haven' yet been to the Defend Oregon website to find out how to make sure the truth is spread so we can protect schools and critical services, I hope you will do so now.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Two additional thoughts:

    David: I'm sorry to hear about your mother. We get tied up in politics a lot and on a human level, I know that's never easy.

    Many of you know that I considered running against Schaufler. I'm not running and that's not what this article is about and let's consider avoiding going their in comments.

  • (Show?)

    As always, a thoughtful piece, Jesse. One part I disagree with is this:

    legislature passed a law, right? Which means it's now the status quo. If you want to overturn a law you should have to vote yes.

    A referendum does not overturn a law.

    The Oregon Constitution grants any citizen the right to initiate a process to approve or reject any legislative Act, in whole or in part, before that Act takes effect (i.e., before it becomes law). This is one of the reasons why the emergency clause is often used for controversial measures. If an Act takes effect immediately, it becomes law, and is therefore not subject to a referendum.

    "Yes, this Act should become law." "No, this Act should not become law."

    That's how it has been done in Oregon for more than a century. There is nothing confusing about it. The desire to change it probably had less to do with public confusion than with the poll-tested perception that voters are more likely to vote "no" than "yes" on any ballot question that they do not fully understand.

    That said, I suspect that the attempt to change "yes " to "no" was a pointless exercise. It is highly unlikely that more than a handful of people who intend to vote in January will not know whether they support or oppose the tax increases by the time the election rolls around.

  • (Show?)

    Here's the actual text from the Oregon Constitution that deals with the referendum:

    (3)(a) The people reserve to themselves the referendum power, which is to approve or reject at an election any Act, or part thereof, of the Legislative Assembly that does not become effective earlier than 90 days after the end of the session at which the Act is passed. (b) A referendum on an Act or part thereof may be ordered by a petition signed by a number of qualified voters equal to four percent of the total number of votes cast for all candidates for Governor at the election at which a Governor was elected for a term of four years next preceding the filing of the petition. A referendum petition shall be filed not more than 90 days after the end of the session at which the Act is passed. (c) A referendum on an Act may be ordered by the Legislative Assembly by law. Notwithstanding section 15b, Article V of this Constitution, bills ordering a referendum and bills on which a referendum is ordered are not subject to veto by the Governor.

    Note that the same provisions that grants any citizen the power to refer a legislative Act, also grant the legislature the power to refer a legislative Act. When taken in the context of the constitutional text, can anyone seriously make the case that a citizen-led referendum should be treated any differently than a referendum that is referred directly by the legislature? Both deal squarely with the question: "Do you support or oppose this legislative act"?

    At some point, gaming the system to increase one's chances at obtaining a desired outcome (even a very important one) should take a back seat to preserving the integrity of the process.

  • LT (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Sal, I recall many people worrying how to vote on Measure 30---until Russ Walker et al were so obnoxious that it became "if you want to defeat Russ Walker" rather than simple yes or no.

    Many groups and indivduals have done a great public service in saying, "If you want to uphold the legislatively passed taxes, vote yes. If you want to throw out the taxes vote no." sort of thing.

    What I believe every tax opponent should be forced to do is say where the money would come from to fill the hole created if the taxes are overturned.

    THESE ARE BAD TAXES! does not answer the question.

    Throwing out ideas (lower ending fund balances, for instance) which aren't going to happen unless there are at least 31 votes in the House and 16 votes in the Senate, even if all those opposing the taxes shout the ideas from rooftops, won't balance the budget. We should debate the alternatives during the ballot measure campaign, not just have legislators say things like "we'll see what the choices are when the time comes".

  • (Show?)

    LT - You won't get an argument from me about any of that. All I object to is the idea that "yes means no" makes these referenda less confusing to voters, given our history and the way our constitution is written.

    If Republicans had tried to pull similar shenanigans, many Democrats would have been incensed. And that's the bigger point I am getting at: These political orthodoxies tend to be less concerned about process than they are with achieving a desired outcome.

    In an important sense, the hypocrisy that this invites (It's good if my team does it, bad when the other side does it, and it's all good so long as we win this singular policy debate) is playing a significant role in the increasing polarization that we are experiencing as a country.

    If the two sides can't even agree on a common set of rules that each will hold its own players to equally, how can they be expected to work collaboratively?

  • matthew vantress (unverified)
    (Show?)

    ill tell you where lt the money could come from pers and the millions of dollars the state annually wastes on consultants that never save them any money.the greedy selfish liberals in this state dont need any more money.how about all the obnoxious liberals lt who never want to listen anybody but their greedy selfish public employee union buddies?

  • rw (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Hi Matty! I'm a greedy selfish libberul. If feels great!

  • LT (unverified)
    (Show?)

    RW, have you noticed that when a comment just attacks "liburals" that generally means they don't have anything intelligent to say?

    I have never been a strong supporter of consultants--hiring a consultant does not guarantee quality.

    I am not a union member and have been known to tangle with union activists in the past.

    On the other hand, I had a very intelligent conversation with a Republican member of a Ways and Means subcommittee in June, about the fact that intelligent budget discussions involve details---and that maybe people who talk generalities don't like talking details, or that it is too much thought and hard work to discuss details.

  • Jim Craven (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Thanks Sal, for your thoughtful explanation of the Constitution. Jesse, you should know better! These measures are NOT in effect until the voters -- placing themselves in Legislators' shoes -- take a mulligan on the two measures. Since they are not in effect, there is nothing to "overturn." The tax increases are NOT the "status quo." As Sal points out, voters on January 26 will take the same vote that lawmakers took, as if they had actually referred the measures to the people. Vote YES for higher taxes; vote NO if you disagree. Nothing could be simpler.

  • LT (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Because I like this columnist's attitude http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2009/10/the_tax_measures_high_time

    I am voting yes.

  • (Show?)

    As Sal points out, voters on January 26 will take the same vote that lawmakers took, as if they had actually referred the measures to the people. Vote YES for higher taxes; vote NO if you disagree. Nothing could be simpler.

    It's actually not simple. In fact, a lot of people (I suspect most) find it counterintuitive. To reject what the anti-tax people are trying to do, one must vote "yes". That's confusing.

    And in fact it's set up so that those that don't really understand will just vote "no" by default, which is usually how this stuff rolls.

    It's not simple by any means.

  • Geoffrey Ludt (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Oregonian readership down greater then 12% while WSJ readership is up ... interesting. I wonder which provides more relevant, reliable, complete, timely, understandable, verifiable, and accessible information?

    Here's a link to latest readership stats:

    http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1004030296

  • (Show?)

    And in fact it's set up so that those that don't really understand will just vote "no" by default, which is usually how this stuff rolls.

    Which seems totally fair to me, since the manner in which the opponents have opposed these measures so far is by Lying Very Loudly about the effects on both business and the public.

    If the legislators got a little cute here, it's only to the extent of confusing people who don't bother to read it, and even though it appears in neither the state nor the national constitutions, the concept of understanding the issue being voted upon was probably a given in the minds of both sets of founders.

  • (Show?)

    Oregonian readership down greater then 12% while WSJ readership is up ... interesting. I wonder which provides more relevant, reliable, complete, timely, understandable, verifiable, and accessible information?

    USA Today remains #1 in overall readership, easily. Yet I find it lacks depth, relevant and complete information, especially on complex issues of the day.

    Just because a newspaper has a higher circulation doesn't make it better.

  • Lord Beaverbrook (unverified)
    (Show?)

    the concept of understanding the issue being voted upon was probably a given in the minds of both sets of founders.

    It wasn't the premise of the founders of the Democratic or Republican parties, who picked animal avatars so that people that couldn't read could vote the party line.

    I know, they would have people read the text to them in groups, before voting, which means they actually understood what they were voting on more than most voters today. Maybe that's the nut of it. People knew what they didn't know back then, and trusted others rather than deciding they could probably figure it out themselves. Today we have gen X, conditioned that participation is all, regardless of results. No concept that "I voted" means nothing if it was uninformed or a surrogate for whichever talking head they watched last.

    The only evil of those Southern voter tests was that they were used to discriminate. Political parties only exist to allow people to vote coherently without thinking, in an age of universal suffrage.

  • Friends of the Aggadors (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Great point about details, LT.

    awww, rw, matty jus' need a friend. Send him an invitation! Birthday's in a week. Maybe a copy of Strunk and White? Goatees for Dummies? Probably already has an "asshole sign".

    Next time we get into one of those "Oregon should lead the nation in Mandarin" discussions, I think it should be mentioned that it would make former Californians more employable, back in California. Really. You move here because Cali sucks and then try to turn Oregon into California. You know, like you hate Mexicans doing in Cali? I need to leave it. Trying to reason with MSV is fighting an unarmed man. And MSV gives me a headache.

  • (Show?)

    Hey Sal, thanks for the thoughtful input. We're looking at the same information yet developing different conclusions. Sorry I haven't been able to hop back on and chime in again, there's that whole work thing that gets in the way.

    I'm not so sure why Craven is so surprised by my stance. Sir, you should know better. Don't get blinded because your clients are being disproportionally impacted compared to the recent past and still less so than the average Oregonian (in jest: bring it on, Craven!)

    So technically Sal, you are correct that it's not a law. Nevertheless, "technically" Division 1 college football doesn't constitute a farm team system for the NFL. Yeah, right.

    From the perspective of the state's budget for services, the status quo already includes the $733M tax increase. Agencies are working with the budgets that passed in the 2009 legislative session. Ask any school district if they've ALREADY CUT teachers & school days to deal with the theoretical loss of $733M; probably not.

    Therefore, what the Ross Day/Dick Armey/Teabagger crowd wants to do is to overturn the status quo budget passed by the legislature. According to Western intellectual and policy tradition (as evidenced by every branch of government as well as every business), those seeking to change the status quo have the burden of proof. It is the burden of those seeking to change the status quo to persuade people to affirm their analysis.

    In a court of law, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to get the jury to affirm their case (i.e. vote "yes) against the defense. In a legislature, the burden of proof is on the bill's sponsors/supporters to get people to push the green button or vote "aye" for their proposal to change the status quo. I could go on and on with several examples.

    Bottom line: Ross Day & the teabaggers want to change the status quo budget passed by the 2009 legislature. The burden of proof is on them to get voters to affirm (i.e. vote "yes") their case for overturning the legislature's budget package. In a logical world, that would mean voters would have to vote "yes".....signaling that they believe the referenda supporters have met their burden of proof to change the status quo.

    <hr/>

connect with blueoregon