More on Initiatives

There is one more article and one more editorial in the Oregonian today about initiatives. The article outlines where all of those who submitted early are currently standing. From the editorial:

By a crushing 3-to-1 margin in 2002, Oregonians banned the practice of paying initiative-petition circulators by the signature.

Voters were clearly alarmed by the cases of forgery and trickery they were hearing about. Wisely, they sought to cleanse the signature-gathering process from the corrupting influence of financial incentive.

Alas, four years later, it appears we still have some work to do. Complaints of fraud and violation of that 2002 measure are flying in Portland as petitioners scramble to collect more than 75,000 signatures by the July 7 deadline for getting on November's ballot.

The editorial goes on to re-propose at least one partial solution. Read the whole thing and then come back here and discuss.

  • Becky (unverified)

    As I read the article and editorial, particularly in light of the SOS's rejection of Our Oregon's complaint about the TABOR ("Rainy Day Fund") initiative's claims, I'd say there is bias against the initiative process on the part of elections officials in Oregon (they know this is true) and they demonstrate it where they are able, but their hands are tied by the law where it really matters. Elections officials are free to throw out an inordinate and unjustifiable number of signatures (a 63% validity rate stinks to high heaven, IMHO), thereby disenfranchising those who signed the petitions, but when it comes to the use of the police powers to enforce election law and keep the system clean, their hands are tied - for instance, they can't sanction chief petitioners for "overstating" the effects of their measure, and they can't pursue petitioners for circumventing the law.

    The situation provides fodder to both sides in the initiative debate and prevents us from having a system that is fair and honorable. I guess it's just politics as usual.

    Ben Westlund's initiative reform package should address funding and power for enforcement, and at the same time allow for some realistic options for chief petitioners to respond to the over-enthusiastic throwing out of signatures.

    I know, I know - elections workers and their friends everywhere will jump all over me about how honest they are, that the petitioners are cheating, blah, blah, blah. And initiative backers will tell me they're running honest campaigns and following the law, and I'm a traitor, blah, blah, blah. Call me crazy, call me a cynic, I don't care. I'm not buying any of it. I want a clean process, and excuses and explanations won't get us there.

  • (Show?)

    You should see all the "initiative reform" items Sizemore has coming up for 2008. Besides overturning paying by signature, there are also ones that would keep any procedural challenges from happening after a measure passes and one that would allow a statement that the item could only be overturned by the courts if it was in violation of the U.S. Constitution. And that's just the start.

    You can see what Sizemore and Mabon are up to by visiting this site, making sure "2008" is selected, and hitting "summary results."

    I know the 2006 election isn't over yet, but we have to be thinking to 2008 as well. Some of these measures are there specifically to turn out the right-wing base to vote-- and therefore win the President's race amongst others. The ones targeting homosexuals and abortions should have no trouble getting their signature in the church, just like M36.

  • LT (unverified)

    Today in the mail, an envelope from US Term Limits arrived. No one in the household ever supported that group, which makes me wonder if it was a general mailing. If so, perhaps they have more money than actual support from people?

    The letter addressed to "Dear Oregon Voter" is signed by Paul Jacob said those who sign and return the petitions "can help put two questions before Oregon voters that will return power to the people".
    HUH??? What about people who are tired of government by initiativemeisters? Paul Jacob's return address on the letter is in Glenview, IL. The Business Reply Mail return envelope is for Taxpayer Assoc. of Oregon with a PO box in Tigard.

    The letter also says " We do not have Big Money lobbyists, special interests, or media on our side." HUH? How did they pay for the mailing?

    Did they consider that there might people who voted for term limits, thought the experiment a miserable failure, and now have the attitude "fool me once, shame on you--fool me twice, shame on me"? Was the legislature really a better institution after term limits than before, or did that measure remove really competent people (along with some who weren't) and the ones who replaced them were not as effective?

    There are 2 petitions: US Term Limits, and TABOR. According to the letter, "Our friends at Taxpayer Association of Oregon are sponsoring a constitutional spending limit to prevent politicians from spending every dime...." The measure summary says "any increase in total spending...shall be no greater than the percentage increase in state population, if any, plus inflation, if any". But then it defines exemptions to "total spending" to include "4) money to fund tax and other refunds". So the state could be crumbling, the federal investigation of the State Hospital could result in a mandate to spend a certain amount to fix mental health in this state, but this limit could say tax refunds like the kicker have to be paid anyway?? What kind of a "limit" is that?

    The petitions say "a full and correct copy of this measure was available for review..." except I didn't see that in the envelope. I saw the ballot title and summary on the back. I saw no such full copy. Term limits has a listed website, TABOR doesn't.

    Seems to me that this screams desperation. If they were really getting the public support they obviously expected, why would they send out blind letters like this?

  • Becky (unverified)

    LT - you can and should file an elections violation complaint if they didn't enclose a copy of the measure.

    The Term Limits and TABOR campaigns received identical sums of money from the same two groups, both founded and operated by highly corrupt individuals.

    <h2>I would not be surprised to learn that someone local or some small group of local individuals laundered the necessary $200,000 through these two groups back east to send back to Oregon activists specifically to undercut the attempts by the unions to pursue their own corporate accountability act. See this previous Blue Oregon post for more information on that.</h2>
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