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Eugene Weekly : 10.19.06

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Election Endorsements

Ballots go in the mail this week for candidates, local measures and statewide measures. Deadline for turning in ballots is 8 pm Tuesday, Nov. 7. Below is our selection of endorsements. Some candidates in nonpartisan races won more than 50 percent of the votes in the May primary and will appear on the ballot as uncontested.

 

CANDIDATE RACES

Governor of Oregon. Ted Kulongoski (D)

TED KULONGOSKI

If you truly care about public education and the environment in and beyond the state of Oregon, you should be ringing doorbells and making phone calls for the re-election of Gov. Ted Kulongoski. This is a tight race. Kulongoski sometimes disappointed us in his first term, but give him the improved economy (which he has helped to create) and a Democratic Legislature, and we are convinced that he will fight to finish his political career by truly improving the lives of Oregonians. That means more money for education. That means better health care. That means continued work to stem the warming of the globe and the destruction of our natural environment. None of this will happen with the budget efficiencies and reduced taxes for the rich which Ron Saxton is proposing. Saxton has said he will reverse some of Kulongoski's environmental initiatives, and his education proposals can't be funded with the tax cuts he is endorsing. This is a stark difference. If you have some extra time and money, give both plus your vote to Ted Kulongoski.

U.S. House District 4. Peter DeFazio (D)

Peter DeFazio continues to serve his district well as a populist voice challenging corporate interests. It's been frustrating for him to be in the minority, but with Democrats gaining momentum to seize the House in January, he will have the seniority and clout to make real changes. DeFazio's opponent, Republican Jim Feldkamp, is back again and might gain a few points over his last showing, but he really offers very little for even die-hard conservatives to rally around.

Oregon Supreme Court. Position 6. Jack Roberts

This is a tough decision, batted around at length in the EW editorial office. Virginia Linder sits on the Oregon Court of Appeals, appointed after a successful career in the Oregon Attorney General's office representing the state. Three other justices on the present seven-member Oregon Supreme Court came up through the AG ranks. If Linder wins, she will join Martha Walters as the second woman of the seven. Some, but not all, of Linder's opinions have been surprisingly conservative. Roberts has not practiced law since 1989, but he has been grappling with public issues as Lane County commissioner, Oregon Commissioner of Labor and currently as director of the Lane Metro Partnership. He is often, but not always, more conservative than we prefer. However, Roberts is a problem solver in the public realm, best demonstrated by his lead in negotiating a settlement in the Lane Transit District dispute and his assistance in resolving the recent police auditor issue. The Oregon Supreme Court needs the diversity Roberts will bring to it.

Lane County Circuit Court. Position 14. Alan Leiman.

ALAN LEIMAN

It seems likely that both these strong candidates eventually will serve on the Lane County Circuit Court, but this time we favor Alan Leiman over Debra Vogt. His broad experience as a present municipal court judge, former city prosecutor, private trial lawyer and public defender has prepared him well for this position. Vogt has spent her entire legal career in Lane County Circuit Court courtrooms, representing the state. She's a hard worker, and this court needs more women judges, but we agree with the Lane County Bar poll that gives the nod at this time to a smart and able outsider.

Oregon Senate. District 4. Floyd Prozanski (D)

FLOYD PROZANSKI

Prozanski's record of service and environmental votes far overshadows that of Republican Bill Eddie, a relative political unknown.

Oregon Senate. District 6. Bill Morrisette (D)

Morrisette has a strong record of service, experience and a good voting record that should win him easy re-election. We note, however, that his voting record on the environment and corporate tax loopholes needs improvement.

Oregon Senate. District 7. Vicki Walker (D)

VICKI WALKER

The race between Walker and Torrey is hot, drawing big bucks and heated debate. Torrey has tried to portray himself as a kid-kissing non-partisan. Don't believe him. His record as mayor showed him more interested in kissing up to corporations than kids and more divisive than any mayor before or since. Walker has shown far more of an independent streak, taking on the old-boys network of Goldschmidt Democrats and corporations to fight for consumers and the vulnerable.

House District 8. Paul Holvey (D)

Paul Holvey was appointed to fill a vacancy in District 8 when Floyd Prozanski was named to the Senate. Holvey won a full term in 2004 and has proven to be a hardworking, knowledgeable lawmaker for southwest Eugene, Veneta and other rural communities. On the Republican side is newcomer Andrew Hill, an LCC student with no previous experience in politics.

House District ll. Phil Barnhart (D)

One of the Legislature's strongest advocates for education, Phil Barnhart is a big "yes" for this district combining central Lane and Linn counties. His background as a psychologist, educator, lawyer, and lawmaker serves him — and us — well in the Legislature. His tireless efforts to recruit, retain and encourage other Democrats to change the majority in the Oregon House also serve us all well. It will be great to have Barnhart in a leadership position if the D's take over this time.

House District 12. Terry Beyer (D)

Terry Beyer doesn't face a very strong challenge from Republican Bill Lioio in this Springfield district. Beyer has a good voting record on labor and education issues but could stand for a lot of improvement when it comes to the environment and corporate tax breaks. She voted for continuing a wacky tax credit for polluters, for example.

House District 13. Nancy Nathanson (D)

We didn't support Nancy Nathanson in her bid to replace Jim Torrey as mayor of Eugene, but she gets our nod here as the obvious choice to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Bob Ackerman in the north Eugene district. Nathanson gets an easy ride here with no contest in the primary and only a political novice, Republican Monica Johnson, to challenge her in November. Nathanson is a Democrat, despite the anti-environmental stands that helped derail her mayoral ambitions. She's OK on social issues. Let's hope she's taking notes on Kitty Piercy's popular Sustainable Business Initiative and "greens up" in the Legislature.

House District 14. Chris Edwards (D)

This race isn't as much about parties as it is about honesty. Incumbent Debi Farr talks about supporting schools and children — priorities that most voters share — but last session she opposed or delayed bills for stable school funding and health care reform. She also supported $600 million in tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations, money that could have rescued our severely underfunded public schools and health care system. Challenger Chris Edwards is a moderate who wants to trim government waste and protect small businesses while giving our public schools the funding they need.

 

 

STATE BALLOT MEASURES

Measure 39. Private Property Condemnation. No

This measure would prohibit using government condemnation power for private developments. We could envision where such condemnation would be bad — seizing small business and homeowner property to line a fat-cat developer's pockets. But what if that fat-cat is a speculator slumming his property with boarded-up crime magnets or trying to squeeze the last dime from taxpayers? We'd want it condemned. Measure 39 also includes a nasty stealth provision that could cost taxpayers up to $30 million a year in added costs for condemnation of property for parks, roads and other public projects.

Measure 40. Elect Judges By District. No

This measure should be defeated simply because Oregon judges should be elected on their merits regardless of where they happen to live. Already a problem in this lightly populated state, regional politics should not be boosted. That's what special interests want, an opportunity to more closely control top levels of Oregon courts through district elections. Seems to us that election of judges already is a blunt tool. Makes no sense to make it blunter.

Measure 41. Income Tax Exemptions. No

This complicated measure would decrease state income taxes for the wealthy by allowing taxpayers to use the more generous federal personal tax exemptions instead of a state tax credit. It would also take a huge bite out of funding for schools and other state services. The wealthy can afford to pay taxes. The state's kids, already jammed into overcrowded classrooms, can't afford Measure 41.

Measure 42. Insurance and Credit Scores. Yes

Poor people shouldn't have to pay more for health insurance and other coverage. This pro-consumer measure would ban the use of too-often inaccurate credit scores to set insurance rates. Oregon already has such a ban for existing policies; this would extend the ban to new policies. California has such a measure already and hasn't seen higher insurance rates. Poor people have enough trouble affording insurance as it is.

Measure 43. Parental Notification. No

This measure would require doctors to notify parents at least 48 hours before a young woman age 15 to 17 (an "unemancipated minor") can receive an abortion. The measure makes no sense for a number of reasons. No exceptions are made for teens who are victims of rape or incest or who are living in abusive situations, no provisions are made for even notifying the teen that the notice would be given and no provision is made for the teen to get a lawyer or even be informed of her legal rights. Even some anti-abortion groups are opposing this measure because there are no provisions for counseling.

Measure 44. Prescription Drugs. Yes

Sen. Bill Morrisette is chief co-sponsor of this common-sense bill, which would allow uninsured Oregonians to take advantage of major discounts on bulk-purchased prescription drugs.

Measure 45. Term Limits. No

This radical measure brought to Oregon by nutty, out-of-state, anti-government million- and billionaires would throw out more than half of the sitting state legislators in the next couple of years and all of them in four years. The measure was funded to hamstring elected government so the corporations and developers will have free reign. How about term limits for Don McIntire, Bill Sizemore and all the other corporate tools and lobbyists?

Measure 46. Campaign Contribution Limits. Yes

This constitutional amendment overrules the 1997 Oregon Supreme Court decision that said the Constitution does not allow any limits on political contributions in any race for state or public office. This ruling has meant that Oregon is only one of five states nationwide that have no campaign contribution limits. This measure deserves support even if you have questions about its companion, Measure 47.

Measure 47. Campaign Finance Reform. Yes

This statute would enact comprehensive campaign finance reform for candidate elections and would include a ban on corporate contributions and limits on individual contributions up to $500 in statewide races and $100 in non-statewide races. Small donor committees combing donations from individuals of $50 or less per year should appease most skeptics, but unions and a handful of nonprofits are fighting this measure using a lot of misinformation, such as claiming out-of-state individuals can still donate as much as they want. Most of the provisions in this measure are court-tested and time-tested in other states. It's time for Oregon to pull the plug on unfair, undemocratic and generally outrageous corporate campaign spending in the state.

Measure 48. Spending Limit. No

This is the worst thing on the ballot. It would take a vicious 25 percent bite out of state funding for schools, health care and other essential services. A similar Colorado measure so strangled the state that it dropped to near last for education spending. That's just fine with the out-of-state oil billionaires bankrolling the measure who dream of an anarcho-fascist nation where there's no government except to protect their riches. Don't believe their rhetoric. The measure is not a rainy day fund, and the proponents' population funding formula is whacked.

 

 

LOCAL MEASURES

Measure 20-110. Eugene Parks Levy. Yes

This measure would acquire hundreds of acres of precious parkland and natural areas at risk of being lost to development or rising land prices. Developers oppose it because they'd rather bulldoze the land and cash in. We wish the measure had more money for threatened natural areas like the Amazon headwaters and less for Astroturf. But the vast majority of the money will go towards acquiring parkland the city desperately needs now and for our kids.

Measure 20-111. Eugene Library Levy. Yes

Eugene's public library is one of the best things this city has ever done. It's for kids, for education, for jobs, for knowledge, for livability and for enlightened democracy. This levy renewal costs about half as much because city councilors rightly demanded that a bigger chunk of this essential service be funded through existing taxes.

Measure 20-112. Springfield Jail/Police Levy. No

This $18 million, five-year property tax increase to fund operation of a 100-bed municipal jail for misdemeanors makes no sense. Springfield would be jailing people for possession of marijuana and other minor crimes while far more dangerous criminals are released due to overcrowding at the county jail. A safe and legal municipal jail will also likely cost a lot more than Springfield officials think. Prevention through drug, alcohol and mental health programs would be a lot cheaper, effective and more humane. The police component would be better funded by eliminating the huge subsidies and tax breaks given to Symantec, Royal Caribbean and other developers in the Gateway area. If they don't pay more taxes, why should you?

Measure 20-113. Springfield Fire Levy. Yes

This property tax levy would renew a 2002 levy to fund a fire crew at Centennial Blvd. and 28th Street. We support it as a life safety issue. But this should be the last levy. Springfield needs to move this core service into its general fund budget and not go begging to voters every few years. To do that it can cut the millions in tax breaks and subsidies it's handing out to developers.

Measure 20-114. County Public Safety Income Tax. No

This is the best tax measure we've seen out of the county so far. It includes a more progressive income tax and a greater share of funding for crime prevention. That said, we think the county can do better, especially with a new, more enlightened majority coming into office. Contrary to county propaganda, the crime rate is falling, and the short delay won't hurt. But the county does need some more taxes. A new, smaller measure should include efforts at scaling back the huge tax breaks for Hynix and other corporations; a much higher share of the money going to drug, alcohol and mental health treatment; and big businesses and the wealthy shouldering a much larger share of the taxpayer burden.

Measure 20-115. Bethel School District. Yes

Schools are one of the most deserving uses of public tax dollars, but Bethel isn't getting enough. This measure would increase property taxes by $1 per $1,000 of assessed value for five years to help Bethel School District prevent classroom cuts, enhance math programs and upgrade computers and textbooks. Fifty-four percent of Bethel voters approved the levy in May, but the primary election results didn't stick because voter turnout was less than 50 percent. The general election in November has no such rule, so we expect Bethel voters to reaffirm their support for this much-needed school booster.

Measure 20-117. Springfield School District Bonds. Yes

This measure would lend Springfield School District almost $43 million in bonds to fix old building structures, upgrade classroom technology, increase handicapped access and replace the degrading Maple and Thurston Elementary Schools. And this measure, unlike those to fund LCC and Bethel schools, won't even increase property taxes. In keeping with our habit of supporting local schools, which we view as an investment in tomorrow's economy, we think this measure is a no-brainer.

Measure 20-119: East Lane Soil and Water Conservation District Tax Rate Limit. YES

This measure asks East Lane property owners for a nickel per $1,000 of property value to support and expand East Lane Soil and Water Conservation District, a local government service not affiliated with Lane County government. Rather than enforcing regulations, the district helps landowners voluntarily implement conservation and restoration projects while supporting the work of local watershed councils. The permanent tax base generated by the passage of this modest measure would stabilize the district's funding — which now is entirely dependent on state and federal grants — and confirm our common goal of protecting the soil and water resources we depend on.

Measure 20-120. LCC 5-Year Option Levy. Yes

This is such a pathetically wee levy we'd be Scrooges not to endorse it. While the Bethel schools levy (Measure 20-115) would raise property taxes by $1 per $1,000 of assessed value, the LCC levy would only fetch about $.06 per $1,000; Measure 5 prevents the college from asking for more. Yet even that pittance would raise almost $7 million over five years to help LCC stem budget shortfalls that have forced the college to lay off three dozen workers, cut staff hours and postpone special programs like Rites of Passage. Approving this levy is the least we can do to support LCC.

Measure 20-126: Emerald PUD Renewable Power Projects. Yes

Even with fewer than a quarter of EWEB's customers, EPUD — providing electricity to the rural "donut" around the Eugene-Springfield Metro Area — has become a creative provider of renewable energy resources. Although most of its juice comes from BPA's hydrodams, EPUD offers its customers the option to buy wind or geothermal energy. And its Short Mountain Methane Power Plant generates energy for 1,000 homes from decaying garbage. This measure would give the district some financial leverage to try out more innovative projects by authorizing EPUD to acquire up to 100 megawatts of power from renewable energy projects.    

 

 

 

CANDIDATE RACES

Governor of Oregon. Ted Kulongoski (D)

U.S. House District 4. Peter DeFazio (D)

Oregon Supreme Court. Position 6. Jack Roberts

Lane County Circuit Court. Position 14. Alan Leiman

Oregon Senate. District 4. Floyd Prozanski (D)

Oregon Senate. District 6. Bill Morrisette (D)

Oregon Senate. District 7. Vicki Walker (D)

House District 8. Paul Holvey (D)

House District ll. Phil Barnhart (D)

House District 12. Terry Beyer (D)

House District 13. Nancy Nathanson (D)

House District 14. Chris Edwards (D)

 

STATE BALLOT MEASURES

Measure 39. Private Property Condemnation. No

Measure 40. Elect Judges By District. No

Measure 41. Income Tax Exemptions. No

Measure 42. Insurance and Credit Scores. Yes

Measure 43. Parental Notification. No

Measure 44. Prescription Drugs. Yes

Measure 45. Term Limits. No

Measure 46. Campaign Contribution Limits. Yes

Measure 47. Campaign Finance Reform. Yes

Measure 48. Spending Limit. No

 

LOCAL MEASURES

Measure 20-110. Eugene Parks Levy. Yes

Measure 20-111. Eugene Library Levy. Yes

Measure 20-112. Springfield Jail/Police Levy. No

Measure 20-113. Springfield Fire Levy. Yes

Measure 20-114. County Public Safety Income Tax. No

Measure 20-115. Bethel School District. Yes

Measure 20-117. Springfield School District Bonds. Yes

Measure 20-119: East Lane Soil and Water Conservation District Tax Rate Limit. Yes

Measure 20-120. LCC 5-Year Option Levy. Yes

Measure 20-126: Emerald PUD Renewable Power Projects. Yes

 

 





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