Home · Articles · News · News Stories · IT MAY NOT BE SEXY,
May 8th, 2002 | News Stories
 

IT MAY NOT BE SEXY,

But our voter's guide has all the flesh you need for the May 21 election.

     
Tags:

IMAGE: basil childers (candidates) and tim macpherson/getty images/stone (Mr. Speedo)

federal races
statewide races
state legislature
local ballot measures
statewide ballot measures
local government
metro
judges

(back to top)

PORTLAND CITY COUNCIL (#3)

DAN SALTZMAN

Fun FaCt: Saltzman recently bought Sheryl Crow's C'mon, C'mon, which he says "sucks."

The candidates vying for in this race could be subjects in a psychological textbook on personalities. Incumbent Dan Saltzman, an engineer and a linear thinker, forms sentences as if he were building brick walls. Green Party stalwart Peter Alexander, a nonprofit executive, makes broad, sweeping statements in an inspirational populist rhetoric. And then there's Sharon Nasset, a bubbly real-estate agent whose distinctly nonlinear thinking makes her come off as just a bit wacky.

We like Nassett and share many of Alexander's ideals, but we're sticking with the guy who's got the job.

Endorsing Saltzman four years ago, we ticked off the criticisms he'd faced as a county commissioner: He's too narrowly focused and too cozy with downtown developers, and he has "the charisma of oatmeal."

Over the past four years, we've learned that, like certain hot breakfast cereals, Saltzman's reliability is both comforting and sustaining. To be sure, his engineer's obsession with efficiency can backfire, as when he touched off a near-rebellion by proposing that the city's neighborhood coalitions bid for the services they provide. But that same mindset can also lead to refreshing independence, as last March, when he essentially called for an outside agency to take over investigations of police misconduct.

Saltzman may not be flashy nor exhibit the kind of leadership we'd expect from, say, a mayor (he's the only commissioner not angling for that job), but he has emerged as an important voice for common sense on the council who consistently puts policy before politics.

(back to top)

MULTNOMAH COUNTY CHAIR
Nonpartisan

DIANE LINN

Fun FaCt: Linn's worst high-school subject was Phys Ed ("I was kind of a klutz").

It's the government nobody knows about. And yet, in many ways, Multnomah County is more firmly woven into the fabric of urban life than any other public body, responsible for libraries, jails, public health, mental health, the elderly, the disabled, and the bridges over the Willamette River.

Overseeing this 4,946-employee organization with an annual budget of $1.174 billion is the county chair. In the 11 months since Diane Linn ascended to the helm, she has presided over wrenching budget cuts and inherited a mental-health system on the verge of a plunge into the abyss.

Overall, we think Linn has risen to the challenge. The budget cuts, while painful, have been conducted fairly and with a minimum of fuss. Unlike her predecessor, Bev Stein, Linn faced up to the crisis in mental health and took courageous steps to improve it--including the removal of the politically popular Lolenzo Poe from his satrapy at the Department of Community and Family Services. Linn has not always been the most decisive leader, but she has generally chosen the sensible course in the end, and the interminable game of musical chairs in the mental-health system appears to be entering its final chapter. We are happy to endorse her.

Of her two opponents, Jada Mae Langloss is the more attractive choice. Although poor health prevented Langloss from coming to the interview, we respect her record as a salty and vocal advocate for the homeless who stirs up more trouble from her wheelchair than most citizens manage in a lifetime. The other candidate, electrician John Kelley, is a likable fellow who appears to have little idea why he is running. He walked in with a blank notepad; he walked out with a blank notepad. He made about the same impression on us.

(back to top)

MULTNOMAH COUNTY SHERIFF

BERNIE GIUSTO

Fun FaCt: Giusto's latest CD collar was Frank Sinatra's Greatest Hits.

Last December, while seeking the support of the corrections officers' union, would-be sheriff Bernie Giusto told his potential future employees that he would place their jobs and families above the public interest (see "Gunning for the Union Vote," WW, Jan. 23, 2002). That pandering got Giusto the endorsement of the Multnomah County Corrections Officers Association, but nearly cost him ours.

Longtime corrections workers who are supporting him assure us the comments were just a poor choice of words. But the union backing and a big fundraising advantage prompted two legitimate contenders, retired Undersheriff Mel Hedgpeth and state Sen. John Minnis, a Portland police officer, to drop out of the race, leaving Giusto with only token challengers.

To be fair, Giusto clearly has some brains and leadership skills. The former state police spokesman was hired as Gresham's police chief in 1996. Since then, he's been a popular and activist chief in the eastern 'burb. He oversees a $217 million budget and 111 sworn officers.

Giusto will need all his skills at the county, where retiring Sheriff Dan Noelle is leaving him crowded jails and a divided group of employees.

The two candidates still in the race are former Sheriff's Lt. Kirby Brouillard and current Lt. Vera Pool. Brouillard is an ethical, affable guy but lacks the credentials necessary to lead the Sheriff's Office. Pool was unqualified for the job eight years ago when she ran against Noelle and has only raised more doubts about her competence since then.

(back to top)

Local Ballot Initiatives.) Schiele knows little about the agency she wants to lead and offers voters little aside from a protest vote and a pretty face.

(back to top)

METRO COUNCIL DISTRICT 1
Fairview, Gresham, Troutdale, Wood Village

ROD PARK

Fun FaCt: Park has a weakness for salted sunflower seeds.

Rod Park likes to portray himself as the Metro Council's only farmer--and, technically he's right. His family runs a 40-acre nursery in Gresham, growing high-end landscaping stock.

But it's hard to imagine dirt underneath the fingernails of this 47-year-old OSU grad. He comes off more like a youngish business executive with a taste for nice suits and fast cars (he drives a '99 Corvette). That's not a bad thing. Playing the role of David Bragdon's right-hand man, he provides a level of political sophistication the council needs.

Park's sole opponent is Craig Flynn, a property manager whose agenda is frighteningly clear. "I'm a member of a group called ORTEM, which is Metro spelled backwards," he says. Flynn's group derides Metro's pro-density policies as fueling traffic congestion, and its light-rail focus as too expensive.

After the endorsement interview, Flynn called to inform us that Park had a conflict of interest: By supporting higher density, the Metro councilor has pushed his land value up. Extending this logic would require all Metro candidates to be renters. Get a grip, Craig.

(back to top)

METRO COUNCIL DISTRICT 2
Clackamas County

BRIAN NEWMAN

Fun FaCt: Newman's golden retriever is named Truman.

Councilors at Metro often complain about their perpetually shaky funding stream and attacks from anti-government zealots. But a lesser-known problem is out there: The council is losing its personality. Over the past two years Metro has lost warm and humorous Ed Washington, as well as Jon Kvistad, a flamboyant political strategist who reveled in his role as the agency's Darth Vader. They were replaced with the perfectly nice Rex Burkholder and Carl Hosticka, who are both duller than a quorum call on C-SPAN.

So it's with some reservation that we suggest adding Brian Newman to the roster of Metro's bland, wonkish progressives. If Newman has another flaw, it's that he's told too many people what they want to hear. He's got the backing of environmental groups, but developers say he's privately assured them he's really on their side. Still, he shows complete mastery of the issues, and his talents as a planning consultant can only help the Metro Council. And this 31-year-old city councilor from Milwaukie can't be any less effective than the incumbent.

For the past four years Councilor Bill Atherton, representing a region that extends from Lake Oswego east into rural Clackamas County, has been an exercise in irrelevance. He is obsessed with the notion of "carrying capacity"--a concept that, as best as we can make out, has to do with population growth and quality of life. Newman's other opponent, Ray Phelps, a garbage lobbyist, is a former Metro financial manager. Phelps certainly has relevant experience, but his know-it-all attitude makes us doubtful that he'd find any more support on the council than Atherton has.

(back to top)

METRO COUNCIL DISTRICT 4
Beaverton, Hillsboro, Forest Grove

BRIAN ROBERTS

Fun FaCt: Roberts' car radio is tuned to KISN-FM.

Metro has long struggled to shed its image as being run by a bunch of intransigent liberals more concerned with utopian ideals than economic and physical realities. That image is personified in Metro Councilor Susan McLain--which is why we are supporting her opponent, Brian Roberts.

McLain has a superior grasp of the issues facing the regional government. But Metro watchers say the part-time teacher too often lectures, rather than listens and explains. The longest-serving councilor at Metro (she's been in the seat since 1991), she is so wrapped up in the agency that she lacks any capacity whatsoever to look at it objectively. Two years ago, when Metro Auditor Alexis Dow looked at the agency's spending of a $135 million open-spaces bond measure, McLain suggested Dow should never have undertaken the audit, as it could--and did--reflect negatively on the agency (see "Off Limits," WW, Aug. 16, 2000). Her antagonistic relationship with local officials in her district stems from the same single-minded zeal.

We also have concerns about her opponent. Roberts, an architect, is clearly representing Washington County builders and at the moment largely parrots Portland-area developers' agenda against streamside protection plans and a tight urban growth boundary.

But Roberts has the brains to grow into the job; we have hopes that, unlike McLain, he will add a new, and overdue, level of complexity to council dialogue.

(back to top)

(back to top)

COURT OF APPEALS JUDGE (#1)

DAVID SCHUMAN

Fun Fact: This nitpicker has a fondness for bluegrass, particularly Flatt and Scruggs.

Even for a lawyer, David Hunnicutt has a lot of enemies. But not all of his critics oppose his bid for a seat on the state Court of Appeals. Some think that as a judge, the crew-cut conservative would be less dangerous to the state of Oregon than he is now.

Who is this fearsome individual? Hunnicutt is the brains behind Oregonians In Action, the conservative property-rights group that sponsored Measure 7--a voter-approved law that, if it survives Supreme Court scrutiny, would make it harder for government officials to enforce land-use restrictions.

Some critics say his political background disqualifies Hunnicutt from being a judge. We're not so sure. Plenty of politician-lawyers have thrived on the bench. Hunnicutt is smart enough, but his background as a lawyer in general practice with his dad and his political work for OIA haven't prepared him for this job. Even though he's appeared before the appellate bench, it's been work narrowly focused on property-rights and initiative law.

An appellate-court judge is basically a scholar. The judge's job is to interpret whether existing laws were correctly applied in lower-court rulings.

David Schuman is particularly well-suited for that task.

Gov. John Kitzhaber appointed Schuman to the appellate bench last year to fill the vacancy left by Paul DeMuniz. With nine years as a professor and associate dean of the University of Oregon Law School and four as a lawyer for the state, Schuman is well-versed in the issues he deals with on the appeals court. His previous career, as an English professor, may have offered him even better training in finding the meaning of written words. Finally, he's able to crank out opinions quickly, a characteristic we wish would rub off on his colleagues.

We would be remiss in omitting mention of a goof that almost hurt Schuman's election bid: his failure to turn in his Voters' Pamphlet statement and photo on time. In persuading Secretary of State Bill Bradbury to make an exception to the rule, Schuman blamed the mistake on bad information from one of Bradbury's employees. To have a judge argue that ignorance of the law is an excuse is a bit hard to take, but it doesn't negate all his other, positive attributes.

(back to top)

CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE (#1)

KATHERINE TENNYSON

Fun Fact: Tennyson has a weakness for Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk.

Making judicial endorsements is like making a date after reading the personal ads. There's enough info to spark an interest, but you always wonder what's not revealed. Ethics guidelines keep most candidates from talking about their views on any matter that might come before them in court--which leaves little else but the weather and the Red Sox pitching staff as fair game.

Instead, résumés and reputations must serve as voters' main guides.

In this regard, the contest to succeed retiring Judge James Ellis is a tough call.

Al Bannon is a 57-year-old lawyer who specializes in mediation and civil work representing plaintiffs. The Oregon Supreme Court named him to the disciplinary board that handles ethics claims against lawyers, and the Oregon State Bar appointed him to the Professional Liability Fund, which oversees claims of legal malpractice. Given such connections and his background in complex litigation, it's no surprise he was the candidate most favored by other lawyers in the bar's preference poll.

Ultimately, though, what's counts most when choosing a judge is work ethic, intellect and temperament. In that regard, Bannon loses out, seeming more interested in telling old war stories than explaining the intellectual framework he'd rely on if elected. We also question his integrity, based on a December 2001 charge of hit and run in which witnesses persuasively contradicted Bannon's tale of innocence (see Rogue of the Week, WW, May 1, 2002).

Katherine Tennyson, by contrast, comes off as a precise, thoughtful, motivated stickler for correctness. Her background in family law would be an asset on the bench, she has a clearly articulated view of what a judge should be, and numerous lawyers say she has what it takes to make that vision a reality.

(back to top)

CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE (#5)

CHRIS MARSHALL

Fun Fact: Marshall's car radio is most often tuned to KUPL.

In the three-way race to succeed retiring judge Steven Gallagher, the candidate who seems on paper to be the best qualified is Lewis Lawrence, a lawyer who's held a variety of pro-tem positions serving as a fill-in judge. He has a wealth of experience in the criminal area, having presided over the drug and drunk-driving courts, among others. But even people who like him as a lawyer don't like the idea of him as a full-time judge, saying he has a fickle and temperamental streak unbefitting the rule of law. As one lawyer told us, Lawrence "has a tendency to overlook what the law mandates, in favor of what he thinks is 'right.'"

Another candidate, Terry Hannon has served as pro-tem night court judge in east Multnomah County. This likable lawyer is somewhat of a loose cannon; he's twice been reprimanded for his behavior by the Oregon State Bar, and his campaign literature features not a single endorsement by a fellow lawyer. In a poll of the county's lawyers, he drew only 89 votes, compared to 536 for Lawrence and 701 for Marshall.

Bar polls often are a poor indicator of who'd make a good judge, but in this case the poll's dead on. Chris Marshall, a specialist in mediation and arbitration, brandishes intelligence, legal expertise, a good work ethic and a clear idea of what it means to be judge. What he lacks in experience is far outweighed by his temperament and abilities.

(back to top)

(back to top)

MEASURE 26-30

CITY CHARTER AMENDMENT

Restructures City Hall into a strong-mayor form of government,
expands council.

PERCEIVED PROBLEM: City Hall is inefficient and out of touch.

PROPOSED SOLUTION: Shake things up--by putting the mayor in charge.

HOW IT WOULD WORK: Measure 26-30, called the "Good Government Initiative," would make Portland more like cities such as Chicago and Denver in three ways. First, it would take council members out of the business of overseeing government agencies. Second, it would increase the number of commissioners from five to nine. (Seven would be elected from geographic districts; two would be elected citywide.) Finally, it would take the mayor off of the City Council and put her in charge of running the bureaucracy.

BOTTOM LINE: This measure is like trying to give your old dog some nasty-tasting medicine by wrapping it in a pork rind. Problem is, the medicine in this case is questionable, and the rind is rancid.

On the plus side, this measure would mean that elected city commissioners would no longer run agencies, helping eliminate what has become a fiefdom mentality in the city's bureaucracy. Second, it would increase the number of commissioners and allow most of them to run cheaper, more limited campaigns. This would probably bring some much-needed diversity to the council.

Here's the bad part: Although district elections would give neighborhoods a louder voice at City Hall--a big selling point of this measure--their representatives on the council would be nearly neutered. It's amazing (and frightening) how much power this measure gives one person. The mayor would have veto power over all council actions, subject to override by a two-thirds vote, with one exception. For some reason, the mayor would have an absolute veto over the city budget, meaning that the biggest decision at City Hall--how to spend money--would be given to a single individual.

The mayor would not vote in, nor even have to attend, City Council meetings. City commissioners, meanwhile, would have no oversight duties and would become more reliant on small constituencies. That's why business owners bankrolled the effort to get this on the ballot and neighborhood associations are lining up to support it.

When we noted that the proposed system is similar to what's used in places like Chicago, where corruption and divisiveness are business-as-usual in City Hall, the measure's chief backer, Robert Ball, told us instead to look at Denver as a model.

So we did.

Genny Weston has watchdogged City Hall there for 30 years on behalf of the League of Women Voters. She says the current system works fine--unless, as has happened two or three times, the mayor is a stinker. At that point, she says, "The council can't do much of anything."

You need only to think back to the end of Mayor Frank Ivancie's term, when he was pandering to a small cadre of downtown business interests, to realize that a strong mayor isn't necessarily a good thing. Or look at Bud Clark's first few years. The citizen mayor, with no prior governmental experience, eventually got the hang of managing bureaus, but for the first few years he relied heavily on veteran members of the council, most notably Earl Blumenauer, to run the city. Clark is a lead opponent of this measure.

If you want a nearer example of what this government might look like, take a gander at Metro. The tri-county regional government adopted a similar system in 1992, with seven councilors and an elected executive officer. Mike Burton, a former state legislator, thought the system made sense when he was elected executive officer in 1994. "It took me about six months in office to where I said, 'Wait a minute--this government is way too small for that.'" Two years ago, the agency scrapped the experiment and is now moving back to a system that returns power to the Metro council.

Despite our opposition to this measure, we're glad Ball has pushed this issue to the point where it must now be addressed. We are intrigued by district representation and like the idea of a centralized, more efficient bureaucracy. But those might best be achieved through a council-manager form of government, as now used in 63 percent of U.S. cities, or some less radical changes to the current system. Whatever changes are proposed, they need to be debated long and hard before they're rushed to the ballot like this measure.

In the meantime, we have faith in the current system, in which the City Council brings five minds to the table, each with different strengths, and forces them to solve problems collaboratively.

(back to top)

MEASURE 26-32

MULTNOMAH COUNTY LIBRARY LEVY

Sets five-year levy to operate library and restore hours of service.

PERCEIVED PROBLEM: A levy approved by voters in 1997 will expire after this year, cutting the Multnomah County Library's budget in half.

PROPOSED SOLUTION: Renew the levy and add some cash to restore more than $2 million in cuts made by county commissioners.

HOW IT WOULD WORK: Measure 26-32 would approve a countywide levy that would charge the average household $96 a year. The previous five-year levy, approved by voters in 1997, has not expired; this measure would go into effect this summer to make up the $1.2 million that county commissioners slashed from the library budget, causing the library to cut Monday hours at the Central Library downtown and four other branches.

BOTTOM LINE: We love the library. From our perch across from the Central Library, we can see the frustration of patrons who show up to locked doors on Mondays. We share their pain. But we also think this measure is too much right now.

In 1997, during a historic economic boom, the library faced a $2.7 million shortfall--and library director Ginnie Cooper floated a levy that not only covered the cuts but raised another $17 million to operate new and renovated facilities funded by a hefty library bond issue approved by voters the year before.

Today, in the middle of a recession, Cooper is singing the same tune.

Librarians all over the country look at Portland and sigh in envy. The Rose City's system is a national model for other cities. This, of course, is why we love the library. But with Portland's unemployment rate at a national high and local governments grappling to fix potholes and care for the mentally ill, we can't support the library's request to demand an even bigger slice of the county property-tax pie. (The new levy represents a 25-percent increase for the average taxpayer.)

We are particularly troubled by the lack of evidence that the library has tightened its belt the way other local government services have. Earlier this year, The Oregonian reported that a project manager was fired for trying to curb cost overruns in the Hillsdale branch renovation. We are alarmed that, according to the librarians union, the library payroll has expanded by dozens more employees than envisioned in the 1997 levy, most of whom are administrators or "outreach" workers--not librarians. We're bugged that little things aren't being done. A 1994 county audit recommended posting a directory at the Central Library rather than spending $110,000 a year on the foyer's information desk. Eight years later, there's still no directory, and there is a second person wearing an "Ask Me" button at the base of the stairs, just in case someone missed the information desk.

Instead of coming to this county's voters brandishing a pollster-crafted slogan ("Well loved. Well used. Well worth it."), we'd like Cooper to come back in November with a levy no greater than the one before, along with some specific cost-cutting measures, rather than new money, to restore Monday hours.

That's a measure we'd gladly endorse.

(back to top)

MEASURE 26-11

METRO CHARTER AMENDMENT

Bans Metro from requiring density increases, requires Metro
to prepare and distribute a report before any density increase.

MEASURE 26-29

METRO CHARTER AMENDMENT

Same as above, but limited to changes in single-family neighborhoods.

PERCEIVED PROBLEM: Strangers, many of whom cannot pronounce the name of our state, are moving into our neighborhoods, chewing up once-vacant lots, living in apartments, condos and townhouses and clogging the streets with their cars. Metro is to blame because it encourages compact and dense urban development.

PROPOSED SOLUTION: Halt this obsession with density!

HOW IT WOULD WORK: Measure 26-11 would ban Metro from passing ordinances that force cities to increase density. It would also require the tri-county government to send out reports alerting citizens to the impacts of any density increase proposed by local governments. Measure 26-29 would do far less--it would prevent Metro from increasing density only in single-family neighborhoods and require it to notify people only when changes to the urban growth boundary will affect their property.

BOTTOM LINE: If you're a bit confused at this point, stick with us, because this is actually pretty important stuff. Measure 26-11 is the handiwork of Oregonians In Action, a property-rights advocacy group that has long been uncomfortable with Oregon's historic land-use laws. Larry George, the measure's main proponent, claims it would force Metro to drop its unrealistic plans for density, free local governments from the regional yoke and result in the expansion of the urban growth boundary surrounding Portland.

But if this measure truly increases local control, why does every local government, which would in theory have more power, oppose it? Because it would deny the metropolitan area the ability to coordinate planning, which has been the hallmark of this region's livability. Yes, Metro can be too rigid and unrealistic in deciding when and where to expand the UGB. But we've listened to the candidates for Metro president, and they all got the message.

Even if you agree with its aims, Measure 26-11 is unlikely to have its intended effect. According to land-use experts, most local governments would pursue growth and density even if Metro were removed from the equation. In other words, aside from creating more regulatory hoops for developers to jump through, the measure's effect would be largely symbolic.

The measure also could backfire on the anti-density movement. State law says Metro can expand the growth boundary surrounding Portland only if the newly annexed land is used efficiently. If Metro is not allowed to require density, then it cannot guarantee that newly added land will be used efficiently. The potential result? More density, not less.

Regardless of which scenario plays out, one thing is clear: The measure would clog the pipes of government and force taxpayers to foot the bill for years of litigation while gumming up Portland's ability to plan.

Measure 26-29, meanwhile, is Metro's effort to derail Measure 26-11. Measure 26-29 largely takes what Metro already does and puts it in the agency's charter--the equivalent of its constitution. Why do that? To give voters something to vote for. If both measures pass, the one that gets the most votes would rule. It, too, would be subject to legal challenge.

Both measures are more about secret agendas than public policy, and both deserve to be defeated.

(back to top)

(back to top)

MEASURE 11

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

Authorizes less expensive general-obligation bond financing for OHSU medical research and other capital costs.

PERCEIVED PROBLEM: Oregon Health and Science University needs cash if it wants to be a world-class biomedical research center.

PERCEIVED SOLUTION: Money--lots of it.

HOW IT WOULD WORK: OHSU would float state-backed bonds.

BOTTOM LINE: At first glance, this looks like a no-brainer. Last year, the Oregon Legislature authorized OHSU to float up to $200 million in bonds to beef up its medical research. The question facing voters is: What kind of bonds?

General-obligation bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the state of Oregon. Because they're about as safe as Fort Knox, they pay investors a low rate of return--which means they cost Oregon less.

Revenue bonds, by contrast, are backed by a specific source of revenue--in this case, the 1998 settlement under which Big Tobacco agreed to pay Oregon about $100 million a year. Because there's a slight risk the revenue will fizzle out (if, for example, every smoker keels over tomorrow), revenue bonds pay a better rate of return--which means they cost more.

In other words, Oregon could save about $35 million by issuing general-obligation bonds, as opposed to revenue bonds--but due to a quirk in the law, this requires a constitutional amendment.

We would be happy to endorse the measure but for one small detail: In 1994, OHSU asked voters' permission to become a "public corporation." Its argument was simple: Cast us loose from the burdensome restrictions we suffer as an arm of the state government, and we will be able to compete in the marketplace. Released from pesky public-employee unions and arcane government bureaucracy, OHSU would flourish as a state-of-the-art research center and reduce its dependence on state cash.

Well, OHSU got its wish. Voters bestowed their blessing, unleashing a mean-and-lean OHSU onto the level playing field, and now--lo and behold--guess who's limping back home for another handout?

Unfortunately, it's too late to argue the merits of this multimillion-dollar giveaway. It's simply a question of whether $35 million is used to erect more monuments to the Medical-Industrial Complex on Pill Hill or line the pockets of bondholders on Wall Street. Grudgingly, we choose the buildings.

(back to top)

MEASURE 13

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

Establishes a rainy-day fund for schools out of lottery
revenues set aside for capital projects and scholarships.

PERCEIVED PROBLEM: The K-12 budget will get slashed if this measure doesn't pass.

PROPOSED SOLUTION: Convert a $278 million pool of lottery funds set aside for capital projects and scholarships into a rainy-day fund. (Note: It is currently raining.)

HOW IT WOULD WORK: The fund now contributes interest only to schools. This measure would allow the state to tap the fund's principal when the economy sours.

BOTTOM LINE: In Portland, where the district has lopped $36 million off next year's budget, officials face having to cut another $22 million if this measure doesn't pass.

Make no mistake, this measure is merely a short-term Band-Aid that will do nothing to fix Oregon's perennial K-12 funding problems. Critics--who include teachers and school-employee unions--say that tapping this money now is like giving one last drink to an alcoholic before forcing him to address his problem. They trust that the governor and the Legislature can find other ways of raising the same money. Their stand is gutsy because school employees will lose jobs if their alternatives fail.

We do not share their optimism. Governor Beltbuckle and the state's elected representatives have failed to find an education-funding solution during times of great prosperity; why should they succeed now? And there is a real downside to failure. That risk is too great.

Sure, if the economy stays in the tank, this issue will be before us again in two years, but we'd prefer to take our chances with the next governor.

(back to top)

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 
 
 

 

comments powered by Disqus
 

Web Design for magazines