The backers of a ballot initiative to wrest control of Portland's water and sewer bureaus from City Hall have read Mayor Charlie Hales' condemnation of them—and they're furious.
In a wide-ranging interview with WW this week, Hales defended his choices from his first year in office, including his decision in June to yell at business executives who were plotting the ballot initiative.
"These clowns decided to carry out an act of political terrorism," Hales told WW. "That's what I called it in that meeting, and that's what it is."
Kent Craford, co-petitioner on the Portland Public Water District ballot initiative, called a press conference this morning to strike back.
"Charlie Hales considers ratepayers clowns," Craford says. "We consider them customers. We found it incredibly insulting to families that are struggling to pay their water bills. He should apologize to Portland ratepayers."
Craford and reservoir activist Floy Jones announced the campaign has collected 15,000 signatures—half of the 30,000 needed to make the May ballot.
The water district campaign is backed by large ratepaying businesses, including Siltronic and Portland Bottling, along with neighborhood activists who want the city to fight federal requirements to cover open-air reservoirs.
"We are now totally confident that this will be on the May ballot," Craford says. "So Charlie Hales better get used to the idea that we're going to be on the ballot in May….This isn't Charlie Hales' kingdom. Ratepayers aren't his subjects."
In his Monday interview with WW, Hales had strong words for the initiative backers—he offered more than six minutes of comments, attacking the business alliance with renewed fervor.
The mayor accused signature gatherers of twisting facts, and warned the water district would tie the city in "lots of litigation, for longer than I'll probably be in office."
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