No on 42: Where a measure comes from matters

By Patty Wentz of Portland, Oregon. Patty is the spokesperson for Our Oregon, a progressive coalition working to communicate and advance an agenda of economic and tax fairness.

A few weeks ago, the Oregonian endorsed Measure 42, brushing aside concerns about its sponsor by calling him "controversial."

With all due respect, our state's paper of record calling Bill Sizemore "controversial," is akin to White House spokesman Tony Snow calling Congressman Mark Foley's actions with underage pages "naughty emails." Stem cell research is controversial. Bill Sizemore is a criminal.

Don't take my word for it. Ask the Oregon Court of Appeals. Earlier this month the court issued a judgment stating that Sizemore's Oregon Taxpayers United engaged in a "calculated course of criminal conduct," "money laundering," and "cynical, criminal manipulations of the democratic process."

That's not controversial. That's illegal.

I appreciate T.A.'s position that one can vote for Measure 42 and against Sizemore but really you can't. To steal a line from a friend of mine, you can tell a lot about a measure by who its friends are.

And getting to the heart of the issue with Measure 42, like all Sizemore measures, it doesn't deliver. Measure 42 does not solve the real problem with insurance rates.

One lesson we know at Our Oregon from our fight with the payday loan industry is that real reform must be comprehensive and thorough or the powerful industries will use back doors, loopholes and whatever means necessary to protect their profits. Credit scoring is just one tactic used by insurance companies to squeeze additional profit from those least able to afford it. Measure 42 would not stop the next scheme for arbitrarily raising rates. The root of the problem is the industry’s ability to set rates and raise premiums without any real protection against price gouging. Real insurance reform must guarantee stable, fair and affordable prices for everyone. Measure 42 fails on that account.

Also, this so-called reform effort qualified for the ballot by breaking state election laws and is under ongoing investigation by the State Elections Division for violating the voter-passed ban on payment per signature.

We can expect more of the same in 2008. Bill Sizemore is already on the street with 2008 ballot measures. Reedsport police have already been called in to deal with Sizemore signature gatherers after they trashed a hotel room last month and refused to leave at check out time.

Clearly, we are entering another tumultuous signature gathering season.

This year, Bill Sizemore has one deep-pocketed sponsor, Loren Parks. But if he is successful in making over his image to voters, he may well end up with more supporters in order to revive his organization.

In the Court of Appeals ruling already quoted here the panel of judges made a third pointed comment:

"The citizens who ratified the initiative in 1902 certainly never intended that it would confer a license for fraud and a shelter for 'money laundering.' The citizens of Oregon did not intend to trade governmental corruption for private corruption by individuals and interest groups."

The decisions we make now will surely affect the fights we could be forced to have in 2008. Look at the measures Sizemore has proposed for 2008: a rollback to the minimum wage, another massive public service funding cut and attacks on workers and public employees. Supporting corrupt organizations is as wrong as blindly backing corrupt politicians We need real reform from real reformers. Measure 42 is simply another fraud from a fraudulent organization.

  • Jessica (unverified)

    " can tell a lot about a measure by who its friends are."

    Tell that to the poor people who won't be able to get car insurance. I guess you're right, people with bad credit scores really don't deserve to drive anyway.

  • Righty (unverified)

    I disagree with the line of logic that...

    "because this bill isn't perfect I am not going to vote for it"

    M42 actually address two concerns both liberals and conservatives have. The first has already been discussed at length - auto insurance is required to drive in Oregon and those who get hurt the most by the credit rating/insurance premium link are those who can least afford it. The second issue is the discomfort we Oregonians have over companies sweeping the billions of bits of data about us, it is a privacy issue. Technology has been great for the most part, but there should be limits on the type of personal information gathered about us and what that information is used for.

  • blizzak (unverified)

    First off, I agree with the majority of the posters on this site that Bill Sizemore is not good for Oregon.

    I feel like I'm beating a dead horse, but... Bill Sizemore has not been convicted of a crime in relation to his initiative activities. He was sued in civil court and what a judge says in dicta about criminal activities is very different from proving something beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury.

    If Bill Sizemore is so bad, why do people need to twist the truth to make the case against him? And T.A., why don't you respond to my question? If you write something, you should respond to serious questions about the facts of what you wrote.

  • Travis Diskin (unverified)

    " can tell a lot about a measure by who its friends are."

    A very telling comment, Patty, and one that smacks of hypocracy.

    Gather 'round all and read the follwing list of contributors to one political committee:

    Associated Oregon Industries $25,000.00 Association of Oregon Loggers $10,000.00 AFSCME 75 $40,000.00 Oregon Local Grocery Committee $50,000.00 OSEA Seed Fund $5,000.00 SEIU Local 503 $45,000.00 Oregon Forest Industries Council $25,000.00 Oregon Restaurant Association $25,000.00 Oregon Restaurant Association PAC $25,000.00
    Associated Builders & Contractors $2,000.00 Association of General Contractors $15,000.00 Oregon Association of Realtors $25,000.00 Oregonians for Food and Shelter $10,000.00

    Talk about an unholy alliance! Service employee unions and their corporate taskmasters in bed together in opposition of what? Campaign finance reform. Specifically measures 46 & 47.

    What did they do with all this cash? Sponsor a letter from a concerned librarian to households across the state. They can't even make an argument in their own name. Shameful.

    So, I would be more careful in using "guilt by association" as an argument especially when the roosters are so close to the roost and knowing who cuts your checks.

  • (Show?)

    blizzak, what's to answer? you say i'm twisting the truth, which means your mind is made up. Bill is a liar, a cheat, a criminal, a thug, a demagogue ... his record speaks for itself. the only reason i have to talk about him at this point is that M42 is good law -- if it fails, i hope someone in the Legislature takes up the cause so it can be supported by the morally pure (just slight sarcasm, Patty, no disrespect intended because i have none for you and i understand why you oppose 42) -- but beyond that, he's pondscum.

  • Garrett (unverified)

    Sizemore is scum. Unfortunately I totally disagree with not supporting 42 because Sizemore is rotten filth. I know who thought it up and I know who is funding it. I also know who is funding the case against it. I just can't for the life of me find something wrong with this initiative. I think its good. Just because it came from a Fascist jerk like Sizemore doesn't mean it isn't something good to vote for.

  • (Show?)

    So, let me get this staight. We should ignore good policy because Bill Sizemore is behind it? I dislike the guy as much as the next and am suspicious of whatever he does -- and always will be.

    But this argument (other than vote against anything Sizemore is involved in) sounds like to me that we shouldn't, say, give schools more funding because what we really need to do is reform Oregon's tax system to create more stable revenues. Sometimes you can't change an entire system, but it helps to tweak it.

    What if Bill Sizemore had proposed comprehensive insurance reform? (Not that he would, but just a hypothetical.)

    The question I asked when I decided to support this measure was: Is it good policy? It is, regardless of its source.

  • Becky (unverified)

    It seems people are missing Patty's point (by the way Patty, good one). The point is a win on anything right now is only going to prop up Bill Sizemore and make him a more formiddable opponent in the future, and a quick glance at his forthcoming measures will tell you those are not going to fights you'll want to have. I would add that even though he is hiding behind Russ Walker, Sizemore also is responsible for Measure 41 (tax cut) and I think Measure 40 (districting of Supreme Court judges) - so wins on those measures will also help build his credibility with potential contributors. If he is allowed to walk away from the scandal and if he can get measures placed on the ballot and passed, it will not matter to the guys with the checkbooks whether he is damaged goods or not. They'll give him the money to keep the free-market limited-government ball rolling. This measure is not just about insurance. It IS about Bill Sizemore and his political future. Patty is trying to help you see the connection, not jerk your knee and vote no just because he put it on the ballot. That would be stupid, as we all know well.

  • (Show?)

    What is this? I agree to just agree to disagree, and drop writing about this measure, and BlueOregon can't seem to get enough of it.

    OK. One last time through this. Then no more. Got it?

    Wendy Wentz: Credit scoring is just one tactic used by insurance companies to squeeze additional profit from those least able to afford it. Measure 42 would not stop the next scheme for arbitrarily raising rates.

    If the insurance industry is such legalized theft, Ms. Wentz, why don't you go into the field yourself? Surely you should be able to mortgage your house to get a hundred thousand, and undercut your competitors by offering policies to high risk drivers at just slightly less than highway robbery. You'd make those drivers happy, and make a bundle to boot! (Because, of course, there aren't really any auto accident claims that need to be paid.)

    What? You don't want to do that? Suddenly now with your own money on the line, those rates don't seem to be quite as bad as you thought they were? All it takes is one derelict who never pays his bills to lose you money? How surprising.

    Now don't get me wrong - many insurance companies are little more than slime. But the slime is not in how they set their rates; every company has a right to price their product for as high as the market will bear (just as we have the right to shop around for the lowest price). No, the place where insurance companies are awful is in claims - when you do have an accident. Many will do nearly anything to find a way to pretend they're not responsible for paying out on a policy you bought.

    I'm against this measure, not because I hate Sizemore (which I do), but because it's another Sizemore-type measure. It presumes that you can make something cheaper (insurance, government services) just by voting for it. That's not how the free market works.

  • blizzak (unverified)

    t.a. -- you said that Bill Sizemore was a convicted criminal. Has he been convicted of a crime in a court of law? If not, your post twisted the truth. Just answer the question and I'll leave you alone.

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    I support free market economics - not because I love capitalism, which I don't - because for now free markets seem to be the best alternative available. However, the auto insurance market is not a free market. You do not have a choice whether or not to buy insurance. The state uses its police power to force every driver to have insurance. If you don't, you are subject to suspension of your license and, if you continue to drive, you are subject to a jail term. That is no free market economics.

    The insurance companies take advantage of the state's insurance mandate by charging poor people unfairly. I have not seen any actuarial data (and I do not believe such data exists) to support the proposition that people with past credit problems and poor people are a higher insurance risk. If they are, then I agree they should pay a rate based upon their claims experience, etc. In the absence of claims experience data, insurance premiums based on credit scores are just another way of extracting money from those who can't fight back.

  • Mike Austin (unverified)

    The perfect is the enemy of the good.

  • Righty (unverified)


    You and a fwe others really give Sizemore more power than he really has. I think, for the most part, Oregonians who vote read the ballot measure and get a general idea of the pros and cons.

    Last time Sizemore put seven measures up before the voters and only one of them became law. Why? Because people thought the cons outweighed the pros. I would like to see more ballot measures, not less.

  • (Show?)

    It certainly is a free market, BlueNote. If you can't afford to pay for the insurance, the gas, and the car, you have another fine option - walk.

    Or bike. Or carpool - helping to pay for the gas. Or take public transit.

    Driving is not a Constitutional right - no matter how much spoiled brat Americans think it is. In fact, if the climatologists Al Gore is backing are anywhere close to right, our driving habit is likely to cause us to flood Florida, and turn most of the middle of this country into a desert in the next 50 years.

  • Patty (unverified)

    Becky, thanks for clarifying my point. It's exactly the issue that if Sizemore is successful on this measure he will come back with other measures that will hurt us all - no matter what our credit rating - in the long run. It is a complete and utter falsehood and very naive to believe that in Oregon you vote only on a measure. It's also a mandate for the organization. Sizemore and Trickey gain power by circulating and passing measures. So a vote on 42 IS a vote for Sizemore. There are no two ways about it.

    Righty, I agree that the voters rejected Bill Sizemore's measures in 2000, but brother at what cost? Millions and millions of dollars spent against him and the loss of the ability to move pro-active measures because so much work went into fighting against him. We'll be seeing more of that in the future if he comes back.

  • James Madison (unverified)

    Driving is not a Constitutional right

    Steven, many things that are not explicitly guaranteed in the Constitution are rights that we enjoy and value. I could think of a few off the top of my head, like reproductive rights, the right to privacy, etc.

    Many of us think that if we own a car, and if our tax dollars go towards maintaining those roads, there's a case to be made for driving on them, regardless of how (... how do you say...) groovy... it would be to take hippie transportation.

    Saying that a person has to have a credit-reporting firm co-opt the price of enjoying the fruits of their tax dollars is bizarre, to say the least.

  • Right Wing Nut Job (unverified)

    I have NEVER agreed with Patty Wentz. I think she is as bad for the initiative process as Sizemore.

    But Patty is absolutely right. Absolutely positively without question right. if you want to see more Sizemore measures, then vote Yes on Measure 42.

    As a proponent of the initiative process myself, Sizemore is bad for the initiative process, and makes the rest of us (on both the left and the right) look bad, and he makes our job that much harder.

    Patty does the same, only what she does is borderline legal, Sizemore's actions are flat out criminal. I can fight with Patty and her thugs on the street, no problem, but everytime Sizemore commits fraud, it makes my efforts with the initiative 10 times harder.

    Don't fool yourself, if this measure passes, then expect to see much more of Billy.

  • artsasinic (unverified)

    Gee, if you believe the line that the insurance companies have spent millions to advertise, namely that if this passes, the costs will shift to "good credit" people, then they will get their money anyway. Soo...what's the real truth? That maybe this is just a good profit center surcharge against the people least likely to have the resources with which to object?

  • (Show?)

    Driving isn't a right, but owning insurance is a mandatory accessory for expressing the privilege of driving. And this doesn't only affect driving insurance, but also business insurance IIRC.

    I also greatly respect Patty's work (how come no one has given her the ups for "winning" Initiative Hot Seat at Candidates Gone Wild?), but she and I are poles apart on this one. Well, not quite I guess. I understand what she's saying, and Sizemore is a scourge, but it's not enough to say if the bill passes Sizemore will keep going...because if the bill loses, Sizemore will STILL keep going. The impetus or discouragement to Sizemore on the basis of this single measure approaches nil, in my opinion. He's simply too profligate.

    To Steven: I don't necessarily believe 42 makes insurance "cheaper," per se. What it does is make it FAIRER, and more appropriate. Until FICO scores are deemed mostly accurate in the aggregate, until insurance companies use actual FICO scores and not a varied set of modified versions, and until a link between FICO and claim probability is publicly and academically made, there's no justification for using private credit information in a non-credit situation.

  • John-Mark Gilhousen (unverified)

    Where a measure comes from matters. duh.

    Isn't it equally obvious that what it does matters even more?

    Of course, I'd prefer comprehensive insurance reform. But that's not what is on the ballot. I have to decide what is on the ballot, and in this case, I'm voting to apply the only remedy I have available to stop great harm being done to those least able to afford it.

    And obviously I want campaigns to comply with Oregon election law, but punishing low income Oregonians for the alleged crimes of some campaign organizers is unfair, and, well, illogical.

    Sure, I'd like to give Bill Sizemore a defeat. But not at the expense of Oregon's citizens, and especially those who are the most vulnerable.

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)

    Steven Maurer seems to be making an elitist ass of himself. Is he is seriously making the argument that since private automobiles are wreaking ecologic havoc, the right thing to do is just to squeeze the lower classes out of the ability to operate them via inequitably higher insurance rates? Jerk!

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    In my dream world the initiative process would not exist and all legislators would act responsibly and logically. People like Bill Sizemore would be selling furniture [no down payment for 3 years!]or tires or used cars. Gay marriage would be legal. People could use whatever substances they want, so long as they don't steal their neighbor's TV or identity to buy them. Health care would be universal and paid for by a federal payroll tax deduction. Cash money would disappear in favor of mandatory point-of-sale electronic transfers, so that everybody, including criminals and assorted low life scumbags, would pay their share of taxes and health care premiums. Nobody would be hungry. I would be retired with my beautiful wife of 32 years and living on Maui.

    But reality bites.

    This initiative is a small step towards financial equity for everyone. I am rich. I don't need this. But my moral values [damn you Jesuits] demand that I support those that are being screwed by the insurance companies.

    Sorry for posting twice on same topic, I think that is bad karma, but I could not resist.

  • Sally (unverified)

    I've managed to live most of my adult life without owing a car, but it's almost a full-time job. If driving isn't a constitutional right, neither is taking transit or bicycling, and in many or most parts of the country that is just not a viable option if it is one at all. Speaking of full-time jobs, I hope Mr. Maurer is willing to foot his share of support payments for the people who can't get to work without the cars he abandons for them.

    This is America. Driving is not a right; outside of Manhattan it is virtually a requirement.

    That said, I find that using credit scores in part to assess insurance rates boils down to a valid actuarial assessment.

  • (Show?)

    I agree with Torrid...if you think Sizemore will go away just because this measure failed, your fooling yourself.

    I voted for Measure 42 (never voted for a Sizemore measure before in my life and this is the only one).

  • Becky (unverified)

    Righty, the only Sizemore measure that passed out of the 7 was the one that DIDN'T have Sizemore's name attached to it - the one he handed over to Oregonians in Action because it was deemed too important to take any chances on. If it hadn't been for the racketeering trial that came shortly thereafter, he could have worked that success into more support for himself the next year. He was already working on his pitch and people were buying it.

    Torrid, Loren Parks - like Robert Randall - won't live forever. Sizemore is running out of Sugar Daddies. It's going to take a few notches in his belt before he can convince the usual suspects to donate to him directly as they did in the past.

    But on further reflection I do think you are right that no matter what happens he'll just keep coming back, even if his name never appears on a ballot measure again. The reason is that the circulating laws have gotten so tough in Oregon that nobody else wants to bring their teams in here anymore. They're leaving the field wide-open for people like Sizemore and Trickey - the perfect duo to fill a specific business niche. So Sizemore will continue to write ballot measures and pass them off to front groups and he'll make his living by gathering the signatures - same as he's done for many years now.

  • (Show?)

    Sorry, this is a dumb argument. Not to invoke Godwin's law, but Hitler was a major backer of national highways, so does that make the American interstate highway system evil and Ike a supporter of fascists for pushing the interstate highway bill back in the day?

    Does supporting highways embolden German fascists?

    Why admittedly a little over-the-top rhetorically, it is however basically analogous to the "argument" presented in the guest column, i.e. good law is bad because a jack-off got it on the ballot, hence 'voting for it will only embolden ballot-measure terrorists'... is what we have to hang our hat on?

    Sorry, the argument in the column is beyond stupid.

  • Kevin (unverified)

    Garret already stated my own views on this much better than I probably would have. Ditto!

    Beyond that I think Torrid Joe's point that Sizemore is going to do whatever he's going to do regardless of how we vote on this measure is spot on the money.

    Even a broken clock is correct twice per day. To reject those two times simply because the clock is broken is to reject objective reality. Rejecting 42 because of Sizemore doesn't strike me as any more rational.

  • notchomsky (unverified)

    Torridjoe said: "...until a link between FICO and claim probability is publicly and academically made, there's no justification for using private credit information in a non-credit situation."

    This is an important point, and rarely made.

    In fact, there's no justification for the existence of corporate tyranny over any of our insurance matters. Only a publically owned insurance mechanism can require fairness and provide proper oversight. It would also be a lot cheaper.

  • (Show?)

    I can't fathom this post and many of the responses.

    Just because insurance is required by the state does not mean that the insurance market does not display sufficiently low barriers to entry and high levels of choice that we have price competition.

    Just because a law (or lack of a law) may impact one segment of the population more than another does not prima facie make it bad public policy. That is the most common argument I've seen here--that it is unfair to use credit scores because it impacts lower income citizens more than upper income citizens.

    But what is it about using credit scores that is fundamentally unfair, in such a way that we want to use the initiative process to interfere with the insurance market?

    And I just can't make sense of this: The root of the problem is the industry’s ability to set rates and raise premiums without any real protection against price gouging. Real insurance reform must guarantee stable, fair and affordable prices for everyone.

    This is appealing rhetoric, butcan someone explain to me what specifically is being suggested here? Governmentally established caps on auto insurance rates? Governmentally provided auto insurance?

    Honestly, I don't have any particular animus against insurance companies. I don't like it that my insurance jumped significantly when my 16 year old son began driving, but I know enough about actuarial statistics to know why it happened. And when he turned 17, after six months of a clean record, I was pleased to see my rates drop by a third.

    When I've had a claim, they've been settled rapidly and equitably.

    I regularly investigate different rates at Geico, Progressive, State Farm, Allstate, MetLife, etc. I don't feel especially gouged.

    And I'm really conflicted on this measure. Good people here are making impassioned arguments about why I should vote yes, but I don't feel like I know enough about insurance rates or the insurance industry to cast an informed vote.

  • Harry (unverified)
    <h2>"Only a publically (sic) owned insurance mechanism can require fairness and provide proper oversight. It would also be a lot cheaper."</h2>

    Amen to that!! And that philosophy holds for most entities. If "fairness and proper oversight" are what you want, then you better have it be publicly owned.

    I have found that to be true since I lived in Eastern Europe in the late '60s and '70s. Well, I think it is now called the FORMER Eastern Europe, since after the fall of Communism, they gave up their collective dreams of public ownership of all things that are good, and integrated into the rest of Western Europe. So now, I guess we just call it Europe.

    But I digress... those Communists should have stuck to their guns (and tanks, and walls) for another couple more decades, and we would all be enjoying "publicly owned mechanisms" right here in the USSA (Union of Socialist States of America).

  • engineer (unverified)

    Is it "fair" that young drivers have to pay more than older drivers? Is it "fair" that those that live in urban areas have to pay more than those in rural areas? Is it "fair" that a high school graduate should have to pay more than a college graduate? Etc, etc, etc, why stop with just credit scores? I dont get it, why is it inherently wrong to base rates partly on credit scores? How is that any different than any other measure of likelihood of filing a claim? Please spare me stories of how your credit or your aunt Martha's sucks and you're a great driver, there are always exceptions.

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)

    OK, engineer, you don't get it. What's your point? How dare we try to regulate business practices?

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)

    Let me see, in order to get Bill Sizemore, you'll shoot me in the head. Makes perfectly good sense to me, I bleed, Billy writes more stupid initiatives despite your aim, and you've succeeded in? Feeling good?

  • Zak J. (unverified)

    This is a tough one. Bill Sizemore vs. Big Insurance Companies is like Godzilla vs. Mothra: whoever loses, we're better off, right?

    But I'm reading my voter guide right now and ALL of the "Arguments in Favor" of Measure 42 are written by Sizemore or by Loren Parks. I just can't get around my suspicion on that alone.

    Now, those in opposition include, yes, insurance companies but also Associated Oregon Loggers (AOL) and the ,a href="">Oregon Metals Industry Council, real groups with real concerns about their bottom lines. And the arguments put forward by some of the insurance reps make sense to me: high risk behavior in one area is a good predictor of high risk behavior in another area, and thus it becomes a legitimate predictor of risk...and premiums.

  • Zak J. (unverified)

    Oops. Let me try that link again:

    Oregon Metals Industry Council

  • engineer (unverified)

    Ed, my point is that any statistical criterion which determines the probabiliy of an insured filing a claim is bound to be "unfair" to someone, that's simply the nature of insurance.

  • Alec (unverified)

    I was a fencesitter on Measure 42 until this morning. Not more than a half-hour ago, KEX radio invited pro/con spokespersons to make their appeals. And frankly, what I heard on the pro side made more sense. Now, I'm still a fencesitter but leaning toward the pro side ... and won't make my final decision until my ballot is mailed.

    First, let me say that for 8 years I was an insurance company claims analyst. And, I knew many underwriters - the people who come up with statistics upon which premiums and risk management estimates are determined. I learned one important lesson in those 8 years. As the old saying goes, there are statistics - and then there are damn lies (grin). Given a fact upon which to base a logical premise, almost anything can be proven (I use the term loosely) either true or false.

    Example. If you interview Heroin addicts in prison, I think you'll find that many of them once ate Hershey Chocolate bars. Therefore, it could be statistically proven that Hershey bars might be a "gateway drug" to Heroin. Of course, that's an extreme reach in logic (grin) ... but underwriters make such reaches every day and get paid handsomely for their dubious efforts.

    So ... is a person's credit worthiness indicative of their safety behind the wheel? Perhaps. But, like the Hershey Bar example, there are so many other variables at play that such an assumption could be flat-out "hoo-hah."

    For example, it's likely that a person with excellent credit can afford an excellent automobile ... whereas a person with horrible credit can only afford a horrible automobile. The solution?

    When I was stationed on Guam in the Navy, Guam DMV laws required that vehicles be given a safety inspection every time registration was renewed. Lights, horns, brakes, mufflers, suspension, etc., etc., were all scrutinized. And there, horrible automobiles simply didn't make it onto their streets.

    In any case, if you're wondering what made me lean toward the PRO side, it was a comment made by the NO person. In essence, he said that credit scores are only checked when a person signs up for insurance ... that if a person signs up with good credit that later turns bad, insurance companies will never find out. That may or may not be true. But, if what he said IS true, consider this.

    People with good credit sometimes get bad credit. But LIKEWISE, people with bad credit sometimes mend their ways and establish excellent credit ... unaware that their insurance company is still socking-it-to-em in the premium department as if they were still a credit risk.

    Sorry, but I just can't see credit worthiness as a measure of someone's safety behind the wheel. Rather, I'd like to see a measure on the ballot mandating bi-yearly vehicle safety inspections ... guaranteeing that our streets and highways will be free of dangerous clunkers.

  • Alec (unverified)

    Just a P.S. to my last post. I think everyone here realizes that Bill Sizemore is a cretinous political buffoon. But, when it comes time for me to cast my vote on any measure, I will base my decision upon whether I think the measure is best for me and for Oregonians in general ... even if the measure was sponsored by the Devil himself (grin).

  • MCT (unverified)

    I really don't get this thinking... since the author is convinced the passage of 42 would not stop the insurance industry from coming up with other nefarious schemes to bleed captive consumers, we should just leave things as they are: on the backs of already over-burdened working poor, or anyone who's been laid off long enough to get a bit behind on bills, or the many unfortunates who've had the double whammy of medical emergencies and the ensuing financially devastating debt? Have I got it right?

    I'd agree that the insurance industry needs to be better regulated. But first you'd have to better regulate campaign financing and the lobby industry, which of course is a non-starter in legislative circles.

    Voting yes on 42 is a damn good start, though.

  • Elon (unverified)

    It does matter where things come from. For example, in the 1990s when the international community called for a boycott of Nike products, I stopped buying things with a swoosh on them. It was not because I was overcome with a sense of fashion, it was because I disagreed with the maker of the product.

    When the world community had enough of dolphins being killed in Tuna nets, I stopped buying tuna from Bumble Bee. Bumble bee changed its practice because the stock fell! The sale of tuna actually didn't diminish during the boycott. Instead the investors were offended by the practice. Perhaps they saw too much risk. In any event the product was not the issue, the practice is the issue.

    Where things come from matters. The initiative system is no different. The reality is that one's support of a measure gives tacit support to its sponsors, and its investors. The issues are not divisible.

  • Larry (unverified)

    I'd like to add a couple comments here:

    1) As correctly stated by several posters, passing 42 WILL NOT make one damn difference in the number of measures Sizemore attempts in the future. It is absolutely naive to believe it will.

    2) The biggest reason I have to vote for 42, is that I have not seen one statistic or statement that shows that drivers with bad credit have more accidents or are worse drivers. They only connection I've heard is that they submit more claims. Of course they do, because they have less resources to "take care of it themselves" as people often do when they don't want to get the insurance companies involved. So you're punishing those with the least resources by using a credit score to establish insurance rates. Show me a correlation between # of accicents and bad credit, and I would at least consider it valid.

    It seems to me that someone who would vote against a measure based solely on the author is just as closed-minded as those they accuse on the other side of the aisle.

  • Patty (unverified)

    Passing 42 WILL NOT make one damn difference in the number of measures Sizemore attempts in the future. It is absolutely naive to believe it will.

    I wasn't going to post on this again because Josh told me that there is a blogging convention that once Hitler has been invoked, comments have run their course, but I just have to remark on the above.

    Friend, I've been watching Bill Sizemore for (and this ages me) 10 years. I've investigated and written about him first as a student, then as a reporter and now as part of a watchdog group. I've talked to his friends and his enemies. I'm not an expert on much, but I am an expert on Sizemore. And I'm right about this. He is remaking his image and rebuilding his fund raising operation. Look at what's already happened - on this blog a few weeks ago a woman posted in favor of M42, not knowing who Sizemore is or what he has done, and frankly, not caring. Thom Hartmann has had him on the show several times. He is successfully remaking himself just on the perceived merits of measure. If it passes, that will increase.

    Is he going away if M42 fails? Of course not. No one is saying that. But its passage will give him a huge boost. He can expand his fundraising base beyond Loren Parks and send direct mail out to folks championing himself as the guy who took on the insurance industry and won.

  • Carol (unverified)

    I've already voted and I gave a resounded YES to Measure 42. I don't like Sizemore, but this is a GOOD initiative and it should pass. I'm sick to death of the poor being punished for their circumstances when so many factors are crafted to keep them desperate and on the edge of survival. I have a college degress and I am far from being on this edge today, but I've fallen on hard times in the past and I can tell you that people in dire circumstances don't care whose hand is reaching down to help them as long as it is offering some aid.

    Don't you think splitting hairs on who is sponsoring this and letting that make your decision on how to vote is just a glaring example of the liberal elite over-intellectualizing things... and doing so to the detriment of people who are hurting? Isn't this the very thing that the right wing wackjobs scream about and the thing that pulls many more moderate or undecided voters toward the Republicans? If this is a measure that will help many people who truly need help... and it IS... and we high-minded liberals don't want to support it because we might help one man who we happen to loathe... what does that really say about how genuine our own commitment to helping truly is?

    How do I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that this measure will actually help Oregonians? Using logic almost akin to those who will vote against this measure because it is supported by Sizemore, let me point out who is pouring hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars into the campaign to defeat this measure... the insurance companies. But do they even proudly give their money to defeat it? Hell NO... they make up fake names that make it sound as if this is a grassroots movement of little people and businesses all over the state who desperately want to protect their own self interests. I wonder if a single dime of money was actually contributed by individual citizens to defeat this measure. I think not since I have not heard a single plea to donate, or even to volunteer to help get out the vote to defeat the issue. Therefore, I can only conclude that this measure will indeed have extremely beneficial effects for Oregonians and will close down a very lucrative stream of excess profits to the insurance industry.

    Maybe...just MAYBE... with financial ruin looming large after very expensive losses in court, Bill Sizemore had his eyes opened to how truly ugly it is to be poor in America and he found religion on this particular issue. I personally think Measure 42 is a peach of an idea for the people of Oregon. And, if it looks like a peach, smells like a peach and tastes like a peach, maybe we should all take a big leap of faith here and cast our vote based on the assumption that it actually is a peach.

  • Karl Smiley (unverified)

    So We're supposed to let the insurance companies sock it to people who never got good credit because they hate debt and people who lost their good credit because of some health related or other financial disaster? Because not letting them do that might help Bill Seizmore's rep? And without even any proof offered that the insurance company claims are valid? That's like "cutting off your nose to spite your face". Sorry, if you're not happy with who sponsored this initiative, you should have sponsored it first.

  • Alec (unverified)


    Thank you for your brilliant post. When I made my own post a few inches up, I was fencesitting by leaning toward the PRO argument. But after reading your post, my PRO vote is assured.

    Incidentally, this issue hits close to home in a number of ways. Due to economic fallout from a prior divorce, my credit suffered substantially. And in June this year, I filed Chapter 13 Bankruptcy ... allowing me to repay my debts without fear of process servers knocking at my door. But the real issue is this. I have never had an accident on my driving record ever. And the last ticket I got was many years ago when I was young and stupid (I'm now 56). The only recent claim I've made was a towing claim - my oil pan was leaking badly.

    Where do I fit in the insurance company logic that dictates I should pay more for insurance than someone with good credit? Point is, I don't. Declaring bankruptcy did not put horns on my head, a spiked tail on my behind, nor a pitchfork in my hands. I'm just as responsible a driver now as I was before the bankruptcy.

  • (Show?)

    Larry writes: 2) The biggest reason I have to vote for 42, is that I have not seen one statistic or statement that shows that drivers with bad credit have more accidents or are worse drivers. They only connection I've heard is that they submit more claims.

    Larry, neither have I. I don't know either way. Basically, we're both uninformed about this.

    So why does this make you inclined to vote Yes?

  • Fred (unverified)

    Sad fact is a lot of irresponsible drivers don't bother buying insurance. Ever been hit by an uninsured motorist? It's a real thrill. Then watch your own insurance company try to duck on YOUR uninsured motorist coverage. Another thrill. Irresponsible poeple have bad credit ratings, too. Say no to Sizemore, say no to his measure, too,

  • Corey (unverified)

    2) The biggest reason I have to vote for 42, is that I have not seen one statistic or statement that shows that drivers with bad credit have more accidents or are worse drivers. They only connection I've heard is that they submit more claims. Of course they do If you are willing to cede that point this is a no brainer. Why should people less likely to file a claim subsidize those who are more likely to file the claim?

    The real question is whether or not that's true. I object to this being a ballot measure, this is something that should be handled legislatively with hearings on the matter to determine if there really is a correlation, not something that should be determined by voter opinions and who has the most persuasive advertising.

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)

    This was "handled legislatively" and the compromise struck was to forbid credit-scoring to set rates on existing policies only. The insurance lobby should rightly be by-passed by this initiative which extends fair rates to drivers shopping for a new policy. It is a proper use of the initiative process.

  • Alec (unverified)

    Fred wrote, "Irresponsible poeple have bad credit ratings, too."

    If it was easy to broadbrush all persons with bad credit ratings as irresponsible, it would be easy to agree with the insurance company position on this. Problem is, the broadbrush doesn't work.

    Of course some people with bad credit are irresponsible people, but not all. Some people, like me, had excellent credit ... right up to the time of my divorce. At the time I filed for divorce, I had $9K of debt and an annual salary of roughly $60K. My ex had about the same level of debt and an annual salary of roughly $18K. At the time of our first court hearing six months later, my salary was the same and my debt was down to $7K. But, my ex's salary was the same and her debt level rose to $28K. And this was when we lived in Washington State - a community property no-fault divorce state.

    Do the math to figure out what responsibilities I ended up shouldering.

    I filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy in June this year - and as a "wage-earner" bankruptcy, am paying off the debts I was saddled with. But I did not jump at bankruptcy. For over a year, I voluntarily went through a credit counseling program, making payments through them to do the right thing. So, why did I file? Because my ex got deeper into debt, filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and the creditors came looking for me.

    Now ... I suppose it was irresponsible of me to marry this woman 20 years ago. Odd, but at the time, I thought we were in love. And I suppose it was irresponsible of me to not be clairvoyant enough to know that she'd use the 6 month timeframe between filing and hearing to charge her cards up to the hilt ... in an effort to jumpstart her single lifestyle (on advice of friends who assured her I'd get stuck with two-thirds of the debt). But for the life of me, I don't honestly feel irresponsible. Used and abused, yes. Irresponsible, no.

    And my driving record is spotless. How can that be so if I'm such an irresponsible (and consistently insured) person?

  • nader (unverified)

    Oh come on Ms. Wentz, if Bill Sizemore (criminal jerk that he is) said free speech is a fundamental right that should be protected, would that make you support censorship? A law is what is does, not who wrote it. Sometimes if you're not sure about what effects a law will have, looking at the author/sponsor can help, but I think it is a bit narrow-minded to reject M42 merely because Sizemore is behind it. Don't give him that much power to control your vote.

    Now, if you truly believe that responsible people with sub-par credit should have to "subsidize" irresponsible people who happen to have good credit, than by all means vote no. I would disagree with you, but I would also respect your opinion.

    If on the other hand you recognize that one's insurance risk is absolutely not tied to how wealthy he/she is, then vote YES on M42 - Sizemore be damned.

  • Taxpayer (unverified)

    A few weeks ago John Kerry was bombarded for his statement implying that everyone in the military is uneducated. If we didn't fall for that one, why in the world would anyone fall for the insurance company's campaign against Measure 42?

    Do you really believe an individual's insurance premiums should be based on anything other than his or her driving record?

    It's another case of the 'haves' vs the 'have-nots'!

    <h2>VOTE YES ON MEASURE 42!</h2>
guest column

connect with blueoregon