May 25th, 2010 5:33 pm | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics, Legislature

Phil Knight Gives $50K To Change Oregon's Legislative Redistricting Process

Ballot Dropoff Map

Legislative districts get redrawn every decade, based on federal census results.

Under Oregon's current process, the Legislature reapportions districts unless lawmakers can't agree upon new district boundaries by July 1 of the year following the census (i.e. July 1, 2011), or if there are legal challenges or a gubernatorial veto. In those cases, the Secretary of State steps in to draw the new boundaries. (For a more detailed explanation of this arcane process, see Article IV, Section 6 of the Oregon Constitution.)

Critics of the status quo say whether it's lawmakers or the Secretary of State drawing the lines, partisan considerations too easily influence the process. So activist Ross Day's Balanced and Fair Representation Committee is gathering signatures for a November ballot measure that would amend the Constitution to put redistricting in the hands of a panel of retired judges.

Day faces a steep hurdle—he must gather 110,358 valid signatures. And he had only turned in less than one-quarter that number (24,000) through April. But he picked up some big checks this week. He got $50,000 from Nike founder Phil Knight plus another $5,000 each from ESCO, a Portland steel company; and from General Distributors of Oregon City. That brings the total Day has raised to $242,000.
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