Democracy Night 2006

October 31st, 2006  |  Published in etc  |  1 Comment

Al & I filled in our ballots last night:

Not much to say about the actual candidates, except that it was fun to look at the picture of the Constitution Party candidate and say “You’re kinda dirty … aren’t you? A gun-toting, home-schooling, war-hating dirty girl” until Al grabbed the voter’s pamphlet from me and made us get down to business.

On the measures:

Measures 46 & 47: We remain confused and unhappy with the campaign finance reform measures because the traditional trick of just looking at the endorsements in the voter’s guide to see how people you trust have come down on an issue doesn’t work in this case: Sometimes the “people you trust” on a social issue — the people who can explain what some unintended side effects might be — are people you can’t trust on another issue because that particular issue is less about a narrow silo of “values” you trust them to look out for and more about their ability to keep the status quo, regardless of how harmful that is. For instance, the unions and pro-choice groups opposed both these measures … but so did Oregon Right to Life. Does that mean opposition is a no-brainer because even people who normally disagree happen to agree? Or is support desirable because this is a case of large aggregates of political power detecting a threat to the way they do business and wield influence? My sense is that it’s a bit more of the latter, but it bothers me that my gut and the ACLU disagree.

Measure 43: This was a no-brainer for us. Parental notification laws are born of, or at least get support from, an understandable impulse (one I’ll preemptively suggest isn’t necessarily about “ownership”), but they aren’t the right answer, and they depend on parental fear as their electoral energy source. The provisions for stripping doctors of their licenses if a notification isn’t received is the mud icing on a shit cake. So, “no” to parental notification.

Measure 40: Read like an attempt to stack the judiciary with politically beholden judges. Some of the “pro” statements were appalling in their completely unmasked “Don’t let those Portland lib’rals force you to put up with homo marriage!” culture war messages. You don’t pick judges to represent the god-fearing interests of smalltown America. You pick them to uphold the constitution. That’s the criteria they should run on, that’s the criteria that should see them keep or lose office. Not whether some dude in John Day feels like his “voice is being heard.” Yes … if the good people of all our state’s many John Days could tip things in their favor under the current system, I’d live with that.

Measure 45: We voted against term limits. Most of what I’ve read and heard on the issue suggests that term-limited legislatures are a playground for lobbyists. The power of incumbency scares me a lot less than the power of a lobbyist to greet a newbie legislator and lead him around by the nose until he’s replaced by another newb.

Measure 39: “BM 39 makes changes to Oregon statutes by limiting the authority of the government to condemn residences, businesses establishments, and farms or forest operations if the government intends to subsequently transfer an interest in the property to another private property.” Clearly inspired by concerns over Kelo v. City of New London. From the Wikipedia summary:

The court found that if an economic project creates new jobs, increases tax and other city revenues, and revitalizes a depressed (even if not blighted) urban area, it qualifies as a public use. The court also found that government delegation of eminent domain power to a private entity was also constitutional as long as the private entity served as the legally authorized agent of the government.

Some things about this measure are rocky, because they seem to go beyond a simple “You can’t condemn a property then just hand it over to some developer selling you visions of Pearl District v 2.0” and move into making it prohibitively difficult for any condemnation to take place. While I’m viscerally opposed to eminent domain in many cases, I’m happy to accept that sometimes it’s a legitimate tool.

In this case, though? I don’t even like the Pearl District, so if it’s harder to make more of it, then so be it. We voted for, making it harder to empower developers with governmental prerogatives.

And so went Democracy Night on our couch. Occasionally furrowed brows, near borg-like levels of agreement on most points, and a brief whimsical interlude as I considered saving up enough money to run a brutally negative campaign for “soil and water conservation commissioner,” which always seems to run just a single candidate.


  1. pk says:

    October 31st, 2006 at 7:37 pm (#)

    “Soil and Water Commissioner Jacobs harvests unborn-baby livers to feed his coon dogs! Do those sound like ‘Oregon values’ to you?”

    “I’m Michael Hall, and I approved this message!”

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