Mannix's Ballot Measures: At What Cost?

There's a good editorial in the Daily Astorian detailing the consequences of Kevin Mannix's ballot measures:

If an even-numbered year is approaching and Kevin Mannix is short on money, there must be a ballot measure coming. Sure enough, Mannix is promoting a knock-off of his successful Measure 11. His new initiative would mandate prison time for burglars, car thieves, identity thieves and low-level drug dealers.

Measure 11, enacted in 1994, caused Oregon to double its prison space over 12 years. The operational budget that goes into running those new prisons has caused corrections to become a ever larger share of state spending.

During the period that Measure 11 kicked in, public schools across Oregon cut programs and the number of teachers, counselors and librarians. Arts curriculum and school bands bit the dust in many districts. Even athletics programs were curtailed. Oregon also disinvested in higher education during that same decade.

You see, prison, not quality education became Oregonians' only birthright.

Read the rest. While Kevin Mannix makes himself look "tough on crime" Oregon's schools suffer.


  • Eric J. (unverified)

    Just remember that anything that has Mannix's name on it gets an automatic "NO" vote. Even better, don't even sign those petitions on this issue to begin with.

    Don't sign anything and vote "NO" on everything.

  • Bill Sizemore (unverified)

    Nothing illustrates how out of touch the left is than your predictable response to anti-crime measures. Never mind the fact that funding for public education is without dispute at an all-time high, how could anyone even place a price tag on the number of lives that have been saved because murderers have been kept behind bars, rather than released early to murder again; or how many rapes and assaults have been prevented because Mannix's measures have kept the bad guys in jail?

    I envy Kevin that legacy.

    Even if some school programs had suffered cuts due to increased spending on public safety, which is easily refuted on solid grounds, most parents would rather see their child miss band than be raped or assaulted.

    If you lefties were honest, you would talk about the effect PERS excesses have on school budgets, which is clear and demonstrable, before you advocated for more of your failed soft on crime policies "to save money for schools". You ignore PERS excesses, because in your world nothing is too good for government employees.

    And to Eric J, if you think Mannix's property crimes measure will fail because it has his name on it, please print out this exchange and let's review it after the election next Fall. This one is headed for a solid win and is in fact probably unbeatable.

  • Eric J. (unverified)

    I vote no on everything that has yours, Mannix's, and all others of your ilks name on it because you have gradually gutted Oregon's constitution to the point that it is just a glorified paragraph of the ORS that does nothing more than trump administrative rule and the rules of common sense. I applaud you and Kevin for your near-sighted selfishness.

  • (Show?)

    No matter what the issue, it is bad public policy to make decisions without weighing the costs and benefits. Where these ballot initiatives fail (as good policy) is in the simplistic language and eliding of consequences, to attract votes. It is a fundamentally dishonest process.

  • Finngall (unverified)

    You wanna get tough on crime? Fine. But if Mannix wants me to sign a get-tough-on-crime petition, he's going to have to include two provisions:

    1) If passage of the measure would require the building of new prisons, then the measure must include a means for funding the construction and operation of those prisons.

    2) If the measure passes, then any required new prisons must be built in the cities or counties with the greatest percentage of support for the measure. No appeals, no excuses, no NIMBY, no whining.

    While 2) is slightly less serious than 1), I expect either one would be way too sensible for Mannix to consider.

  • LiberalIncarnate (unverified)


    I also vote NO on ever measure that has either your name or Mannix's name attached to it without a second thought. Both of you are rich slobs that make money off of bringing up ballot measures and then having out-of-state donors fund your cutting edge life style.

    I wonder if this new bill would put embezzlers like you in prison, Billy?

    The fact is wacko libertarians like you believe that government should only be used for defense and law enforcement... nothing else. This is counter not only to common logic but also to nearly every other political ideology. There has NEVER been one successful libertarian government in the entire history of the world. You and your scum have attempted to create just such a "kingom of libertarians" in Iraq and now that country suffers massive power outages and a cholera out break due to poor water supplies. Even Saddam had better smarts about economics than you do!

  • (Show?)

    I'll strongly echo Finngall's two requirements. The equation involves much more than just getting "tough on crime" and funding schools. Mannix, Sizemore et al are deliberately trying to break the system by both fighting tooth and nail to reduce taxes while simultaneously foisting new costs upon the system.

    It's not enough to label Mannix, Sizemore et al as mere hypocrits. The reality is that they are very deliberately fighting against our very form of government and won't be happy until they, or more accurately... their financial backer(s), can recreate the fiefdoms of old Europe where they and only they weild real power and titular "leaders" reign at their pleasure.

  • (Show?)

    huh-huh, he said "titular."

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)

    Yeah, I'm pretty sure that the "fiefdoms of old Europe" were originally created by serfs through the initiative and referendum process.

    The progressive-hypocrisy on this subject is breathtaking.

    The initiative and referendum process was started by real progressives more than a century ago (in Oregon) to empower voters. Conservative opponents argued that the unwashed masses did not have the education and experience necessary to vote on important public policy issues.

    Fastforward one hundred years and it's today's "progressives" recycling those conservative arguments.

    What is happened in the meantime?

    A progressive cynic might wonder if the 19th Century conservatives were right all along. Although s/he might be hardpressed to explain why voters today are less equipped today than the voters of a century ago (the ones that ushered in so many progressive reforms through the initiative process). This must be especially troubling since public education was in the hands of progressives for a greater part of that century.

    What really happened was a cold political calculation took place. Progressives implemented as much of their policy as they could through the I&R process while they took over the other branches of government. Now it is less usefull to them because they can implement policy so much easier these days (as long as they can survive those pesky elections).

    The truth is that giving voters power now threatens their hegemony.

  • (Show?)


    The Oregonian had an interesting article about Measure 11 and Mannix’s newest endeavor several months ago. You should read the article in its entirety, but here are some key points:

    Incarceration does prevent crime, but only to a point. There comes a time when you reach a point of diminishing returns:

    After reviewing numerous studies of the link between incarceration and crime rates, the Vera Institute of Justice in New York said in a recent report: "Analysts are nearly unanimous in their conclusion that continued growth in incarceration will prevent considerably fewer, if any, crimes -- and at substantially greater cost to taxpayers."

    There is evidence to suggest that Oregon is reaching this point. As one researcher notes in the article: "If you are putting away drug offenders or burglars, it's almost certainly a waste of taxpayer money. If they're armed robbers, maybe it does make sense."

    At this point, we’re spending even more money and preventing even less crime. Meanwhile there are other ways to reduce crime that are just as effective. New York, for example, has cut both its violent crime rate and incarceration rate since 1995. Washington has concluded that expanding certain crime prevention programs will be more effective than increasing incarceration and 2.6 billion dollars less expensive over the next 20 years.

    The point is that Oregonians do not have to choose between band class and violent crime. There are other methods that could be used to reduce violent crime more effectively and less expensively than building more prisons. The problem is that Mannix is more interested in laying out a simplistic ballot measure that gives him a good name than making good policy.

    Unless we increase taxes (and somehow I doubt you would support that), the money for the latest measure is going to have to come from other state programs. Whether or not school budgets are actually cut, money that is being used to build new prisons could have been used towards furthering the education of Oregon’s children. Yes, net funding for education has increased over the past 15 years. However, Oregon’s rank amongst other states for funding per student dropped 15 spots from 1991 to 2003 and it will continue to drop if Mannix’s new measure is passed.

    Everyone wants to fight crime. The point is that there are more responsible and effective ways to do it than Mannix’s measure.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)


    I agree with some of what you said. Certainly the initiative process was a progressive reform. It's an important safety device in case government becomes too unresponsive.

    But I think you overlooked one big thing that has changed in the last 100 years: the role of money in elections. To a large extent, an initiative battle comes down to a fundraising battle.

    Support is manufactured through clever advertising. Madison Avenue tactics are used to make people want something they never wanted before -- and to be afraid of something they weren't afraid of. It's cynical and dishonest.

    I wonder how well Mannix's new measure would do if there were no ads for or against it? Do Oregonians really feel that property crime has gotten out of control? If so, why hasn't anyone else filed a petition? Have a lot of citizens contacted their state reps and senators about the issue only to be ignored?

    In short, is this a real problem or "strategic" issue? I for one am sick of professional petitioners playing political strategy games instead of tackling the real problems and opportunities we face.

  • E4 (unverified)

    I always thought that conservatives opposed unfunded mandates. This measure is an unfunded mandate which will be destructive to Oregon's economy and judicial discretion. Mannix's anti-Oregon measure mandates that more people be sent to prison, it mandates that people spend more time in prison, it's mandates cause costs to increase exponentially, and nowhere in the measure is there a plan to fund the inevitable cost explosion from this poorly designed policy.

    Along with being fiscally irresponsible, this policy is destructive to judicial discretion. We appoint and elect judges with the belief they are the most legally qualified to determine matters of law, including sentencing prisoners. Such sloganzied politics as this measure, and the many others from the Mannix-Seizmore machine, steal the gavel from our legal scholars and place the law in the dirty hands of special interest groups run by Mannix, Seizmore and their devious compatriots.

    As Oregonians, we're called to duty to protect our state, economy and judicial system from such irresponsible measures. Be sure not to sign any of these petitions, and if they make it to the ballot; fight like hell to see them defeated.

  • (Show?)

    Part of the problem with the "tough on crime" measures is they emphasis punishment with no rehablitation. Due to budget cuts (caused by the down turn in the economy and need to build more prisons), most all program to rehabilitate people coming out of jail have been cut.

    Therefore, we are creating a revolving door. The problem is we are choosing vengence in policy rather then at least hoping that people get out and better themselves. Yes, people who commit a crime should do time, but once they have we should try to help keep them out of prisons.

    I've always said it would be better to have someone who has been in trouble reform themselves and working (thus paying taxes and their own way in life) rather then go in and out of prison/jail and cost the tax payers money.

    Mannix doesn't see it that way.

  • (Show?)

    "What really happened was a cold political calculation took place. Progressives implemented as much of their policy as they could through the I&R process while they took over the other branches of government."


  • LT (unverified)

    The best recent measure may have been the adult adoptee measure. Those women had a specific problem (in some states there is not only a lot of proof required but also an appearance in probate court, from what I have heard). The women behind it got it on the ballot, got it passed, went on with their lives. They didn't come back the next election and the one after that with further measures.

    I believe those women are what Wm. S. U'ren had in mind, not the people who raise money to pay signature gatherers. This is not a left/right issue, but a money issue. As I recall, it was a corporation or other private concern wanting Oregon to do something which led to the court decision saying people could be paid to gather signatures. Since then, there have been people who seemed to see ballot measures as an industry and way of life, and others who thought the whole thing annoying. Among the latter were those who wished those folks would go out in the real world and get real jobs like the rest of us, and in 2000 there were people whose default position was to vote no unless they had a reason to vote yes. Regardless of what some experts think, no one in this state is required to even read the ballot title if they think it is a waste of time. They can vote no on everything, or everything with certain people's name listed as a petitioner, or everything except that one measure their friend is supporting. All the ideological labels in the world won't change that reality.

  • Sharon (unverified)

    Stephanie said "No matter what the issue, it is bad public policy to make decisions without weighing the costs and benefits"

    Really? Does that wisdom apply only to initiatives?

    How about the coslty and endless meddling with our public schools with polciies such as CIMCAM? How about years of trial and failure without any "weighing" at all. Worse yet how about fabricating benefits to peprpetuate bad policy?

    Oh never mind about those things. Let's get back to trashing initiatives.

  • Eric J. (unverified)

    We are not trashing the initiative process, Sharon. We are trashing those specific short-sighted people who have abused the process to gut the Oregon Constitution with short-sighted items. Measure 11 has hancuffed many judges into sentencing nighmares because they can't use common sense in thier assesment of a case. Mannix's new idea with make a judge's use of common sense obsolete and degrade our criminal justice system into a lineup of kangaroo courts and star chambers.

    I don't belive Oregonians want that.

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    I was on a Portland City Club research committee about 13 or 14 years ago and we reviewed an almost identical proposal to apply "Measure 11" style penalties to repeat offenders on property crimes. Our report - which must be available somewhere - was that this is a terrible idea. I don't recall the specific reasoning of the final report, but the reasons to oppose this included (a) too expensive, (b) too many juveniles would get tangled into the mandatory miniumum sentences, since they do a substantial percentage of property crimes, and (c) most low level property crime involves people with drug problems, and money is better directed toward treatment than locking up addicts and tweakers at taxpayer expense.

    Nobody likes having their car stolen or their apartment burglarized, but this approach is the wrong one.

  • Sharon (unverified)

    You people are simply too stupid to comprehend success.

    M11 has been a huge success and saved the State countless victims and millions.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)

    Blue Note:

    I think the City Club report you refer to is this one: State of Oregon Ballot Measure 61: Mandatory Sentences for Property Crimes, 10/9/1998 Campbell, Michael, Chair Vol. 80, No. 19 26 pages.

    It's too old to be available online, but you can pick up a copy at City Club for a nominal fee. It might be interesting reading. And I wonder why voters rejected it last time.

  • M.W. (unverified)

    Liberalincarnate writes: "The fact is wacko libertarians like you believe that government should only be used for defense and law enforcement... " The fact is that Sizemore is not now and never has been a libertarian. I also know a number of Libertarians who are and have been opposed to measure 11.


  • BlueNote (unverified)

    Thanks Bert.

  • ct (unverified)

    To suggest that Measure 11 has been a huge success is to say that our judges were a bunch of bumbling idiots incapable of doing their jobs. I can't believe that to be the case. Measure 11 is a blanket rule that puts people in jail for long periods of time without any concern for circumstance. Crime is NOT black and white. For example, the 18 year old boy who is still doing time for sleeping with his 16 (almost 17) year old girlfriend. They were just more than a year apart in age but the judge had to put him in jail because her parents didn't like the kid. Thanks Measure 11.

    This measure makes things even worse. Its difficult to fathom the sheer idiocy that thinks these measures up!

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