Ballot measure picks

quick picks:

YES on 65

NO on 64
NO on 63
NO on 62
NO on 61

??? on 60
NO on 59
NO on 58

YES on 57
YES on 56
YES on 55
YES on 54

As you may know, I’ve devoted a lot of attention to the history of ballot measures in Oregon. In this election cycle, ballot measures aren’t getting nearly the attention of the presidential and senate races; but there are some very important measures before us, from an excellent opportunity to reshape the way we handle elections in a more inclusive way (Measure 65) to dangerous-but-popular measures that must be stopped if we hope to build a better Oregon (like Measure 61).

Many of you ask for my thoughts on these, so I thought I’d put together my positions for all to see, and open it up for discussion. I should disclose, I’ve taken a paid gig in favor of Measure 65, but only because I truly think it’s one of the greatest opportunities for positive change in this election cycle. For that reason, and also because Measure 57 only makes sense in the context of Measure 61, I’ve listed the measures in reverse order.

Please feel free to copy this and send it to your friends and family. Modify, of course, as you see fit. I sure did — this draws heavily on the positions advanced by Defend Oregon and Onward Oregon. For a general overview, be sure to check the Wikipedia article on the current election.

So, on to the measures:

YES on Measure 65

The current system in Oregon excludes one in four registered voters from participating in any partisan primary election. Only voters who have registered with a major party (Democratic or Republican) may participate in partisan elections. Everyone else is excluded from voting in important races like those for state and national legislators; statewide offices like Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and Treasurer; and some local positions.

In practice, independent and minor party voters almost never have an influence on who serves in the legislature. Same for Democrats in eastern Oregon, where Republicans win consistently, and for Republicans in urban centers. These are all voices we need at the table to move our state forward.

Measure 65 would change the primary system, and give all those people a role equal to other voters. All voters would choose from a list of all candidates in the primary election; the top two finishers would advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation. Each voter would get to choose the best candidate regardless of party.

In addition, voters would be provided more factual information on the ballot: any party could endorse any candidate. If a candidate chooses to accept the nominations, he or she might have several party endorsements (e.g., Democratic and Pacific Green, or Republican and Libertarian) listed on the ballot. So minor parties, which have been relegated to running “spoiler” candidates in the past, would have a much more meaningful role; smaller parties could negotiate with major party candidates to earn their endorsement.

More info:

NO on Measure 64

Prevents public employees from using voluntary payroll deductions to donate to non-profits, charities, unions, and organizations of their choice. Reduces public employees’ opportunities for free speech. This is a dangerous measure could lead to a loss of funding for Oregon charities and unions. It’s a matter of principle (free speech), and will also have enormous negative effects in practice.

NO on Measure 63

Allows property owners to construct certain structures, costing less than $35,000, without a permit. Could allow unsafe construction projects; for example, poor electrical wiring could cause problems that extend beyond a single home and endanger firemen. The measure would also result in a loss of tax revenue to cities and counties that are already experiencing large deficits.

NO on Measure 62

Allocates 15% of lottery proceeds to a public safety fund for crime prevention, investigation, prosecution; takes the funds from education and economic development. Measure 62 takes over $100 million from our education and economic development projects and limits the state’s flexibility to use lottery funds as needed. It defines “public safety” irresponsibly, leaving out major elements like 911 dispatch and prisons. Public safety is a critical concern, but this is the wrong way to fund it.

NO on Measure 61

Proposed by Kevin Mannix, Measure 61 imposes mandatory minimum sentences (like Measure 11 from 1994) for non-violent property crimes, drug-related offenses, and identity theft. It fails to include drug or alcohol treatment programs to prevent repeat offenses, and it prevents our judges from exercising discretion and judgment based on the specifics of a case. Most significantly, it would cost Oregon up to $274 million per year once fully implemented, plus an estimated $1.1 to1.3 billion to build new prisons. Mannix has proposed no funding plan, so this measure would drastically cut funding for education and other public services.

UNDECIDED on Measure 60

Mandates that teacher pay raises depend exclusively on undefined “classroom performance” as opposed to “seniority.” This is a very short and simple ballot measure; please read the measure text and think this one over carefully. The “opposition” arguments I’ve seen are full of claims that seem highly dubious. However, people I trust have explained to me that existing Oregon laws mean that an expensive statewide system would need to be implemented; so it’s not as simple or benign as it appears. Plus, in my experience there’s always room for a bit of skepticism where chief petitioner Bill Sizemore is concerned.

Changing to a “yes” vote here, following a discussion with Amy Ruiz (who’s part of the editorial board for the Mercury — see all their endorsements). This is an important first step; it doesn’t guarantee good results, but rather creates a framework for evaluating teachers. Evaluation is important; there are lots of ways to do it wrong, but we shouldn’t be afraid to do it, and do it right. There will be more reform required, but it’s about time we started the process. If we’re not equipped to evaluate teacher performance, it’s high time we remedied that — and considering that school funding is over half the state budget, and the schools serve nearly all Oregonians, this is a pretty big ticket item.

I’m still not fully decided on this one; watch for a future blog post. I’m leaning toward “Yes.”

NO on Measure 59

Creates an unlimited deduction for federal income taxes on individual taxpayers’ Oregon income-tax returns and reduces revenue available for state expenditures by $2.4 billion. The reduction will affect funding of education, health care, and public safety. Richest 1% of Oregonians will save $15,000 while 75% of Oregonians will save less than $1.

NO on Measure 58: Imposes an arbitrary limit on bilingual programs in public schools so that students must enter mainstream classes, regardless of progress, after only two years of English learning classes. Measure 58 is a one-size-fits-all mandate that undermines local school control and will cost over $200 million to implement.

YES on Measure 57

This measure is an alternative to Measure 61, referred to the ballot by the Oregon legislature. It shares some of Measure 61’s problems, but vote “yes” anyway.

Like 61, Measure 57 creates longer sentences for certain property crimes and drug-related offenses. But it doesn’t rely as heavily on mandatory minimum sentences, which undermine judges’ ability to do what’s best in a given situation. Unlike Measure 61, Measure 57 includes mandatory drug treatment program for certain offenders.

If both 57 and 61 receive a majority of “yes” votes, only the one receiving more votes will become law. Polling indicates Measure 61 is certain to pass. Even if you think Measure 57 is bad policy, hold your nose and vote for it — Measure 61 is much, much worse.

Special thanks to my friend Jen Yocom for helping me get my thinking straight on this one.

YES on Measure 56

Allows May and November bond measures to be determined by the majority of voters who vote. Under the “double majority” rule established by Measure 47 in 1996, more than half of registered voters must vote, in order for local funding measures to pass. Measure 56 restores the ability of local communities to determine their funding priorities. This is one of the most important opportunities on the ballot, to undo a bit of the damage wrought by the over-the-top anti-tax movement of the 1990s. There are times when local communities need to raise money, and the double-majority rule is overly burdensome.

YES on Measure 55

Allows legislators to complete their terms in the districts in which they were elected. When districts are redrawn every ten years, this will prevent legislators from being reassigned to new districts that did not elect them. Seems like a good housekeeping measure, and in line with the views that lead me to support Measure 65.

YES on Measure 54

Makes 18-year-olds eligible to vote in school board elections, consistent with state and federal elections. Repeals six-month residency requirement, twenty-one minimum age, and English literacy tests to remove outdated and unenforceable language from the Oregon Constitution.

Other guides and endorsements:

Please pass this message along to friends and families — feel free to modify as you see fit!

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10 Responses to “Ballot measure picks”

  1. Odd that you just posted this- we made our decisions today too.

    Here’s our picks:

    m54: yes (duh)
    m55: yes (duh)
    m56: no
    m57: yes
    m58: no
    m59: no
    m60: yes
    m61: no
    m62: no
    m63: no
    m64: yes
    m65: no

    Probably 60% in agreement. I disagree with you fundamentally on the school issues because I don’t feel school performance supports more funding, but that’s okay- that’s what democracy is all about!

  2. I’d like to make a few points against measure 65:
    First, this measure basically moves the “spoilers” from the General Election to the Primary Election. If you have a politically diverse region, then minor party candidates who could not win in the Primary would draw voters away from a more popular candidate, thus denying either candidate a spot in the General Election. With this scenario, you could end up with two candidates from the same party in an area where that party is actually a minority.
    Second, to guarantee that the above situation does not happen, I could see prospective candidates being cajoled by private interests out of running in the Primary Election, thus removing the choice from voters entirely.
    Third, in some areas, it is probable that the two candidates sent on to the General Election will be from the same party anyway. That means that anyone not of that party would either have to vote for a candidate they don’t want (the lesser of two evils) or not vote at all. In those areas, even more voters would be disenfranchised during the General Election than they currently are during the Primary.
    Finally, there is also the assumption that a majority of voters who vote for third party candidates in the General Election would otherwise vote for the non-winning candidate if they did not have their preferred choice. This is only an assumption and can never be truly tested. I would argue that many of those voters would not vote at all (or write in a name) instead of voting for one of the offered candidates.

  3. Tedder, that’s cool — I’ll respond to your picks on your blog! A couple of them surprised me, I’m interested to hear your reasoning.

    Justin, welcome! Thanks for the comments. I think they’re a little misguided, so let me take them one by one:

    (1) No, Measure 65 effectively eliminates the “spoiler” concept — one of the major reasons I support it.

    The idea of “could not win” is significantly changed under Measure 65. A minor party candidate could qualify for the general with only a few thousand votes; in heavily partisan districts, especially where several major party candidates are running, opportunities might arise where a minor party candidate could qualify for the general in a way that gives her a head-start at running a credible general election campaign. In this way, Measure 65 would open up genuine opportunities for minor parties to actually win partisan races — as opposed to being relegated to the spoiler role.

    Your scenario about a major party winning both spots in a district where it is in the minority is pretty hazy to me. But it sounds like a purely theoretical idea, premised on behavior by the candidates and their supporters that gives no regard to party unity. I have a really hard time imagining something like that happening. Do you have an example from one of the jurisdictions where similar systems have been in place?

    (2) Yes, candidates might be pressured not to run. Just like they are now. Having the ability to stand up to pressure, and chart your own course, I would consider a core leadership quality; any candidate who genuinely believes he/she is the best, should have some ability and desire to stand up to pressure to get there.

    (3) Yes, that’s a possibility. In fact, it’s pretty likely, in districts that currently only have one candidate anyway. (Or have a candidate with only token opponents with no chance of winning.) Instead of having to choose between voting for the one candidate on the ballot or not at all, a Democrat in eastern Oregon might have the opportunity to choose the Republican whose views most closely align with his own.

    (4) I don’t think there is any such assumption. But there’s a new opportunity opened up for minor parties by Measure 65. Minor parties would be able to negotiate with major party candidates for their endorsement. For instance, the Pacific Green Party might say, “I’ll endorse you, Ms. Democrat, if you publicly support XYZ environmental initiative, and introduce a bill to that effect in your first term.” The candidate would have a good incentive to take up those offers, because that party’s endorsement might sway a significant number of voters.

  4. There’s a broken link here, which you’ll want to fix if you can. Reads:
    More info:

    * Ballot Freedom Project web site in favor

    but the correct link is http://ballotfreedom.wordpress.com/ (not http://ballotfreedomproject.wordpress.com/ as the link now is.

  5. Mom, thanks for the correction, I’ll get that fixed right away! Tedder, that’s a cool chart. I should point out though, I’m waffling on M60 — think I’m changing to a “YES”. If I change it here can you change it on your chart?

  6. Pete- if you change it here, comment here or email me when you do and I’ll happily change it. And did I miss any news sources?

  7. thanks for the help understanding what is going on.

    Please invite Manix to pay for all the new prisons.

    yuck! mesure 61 tastes like war time profitering.

  8. Al Bradbury Says:

    Pete, thanks for sharing your picks and your thoughts.

    I strongly urge a No on Measure 60, which attempts to solve the wrong problem and will make matters worse by requiring “teaching to the test” and driving teachers out of challenging classrooms or out of the profession altogether.

    The notion of Measure 60 is apparently that ailing schools need some kind of motivator for teachers to teach well, a reward for success and a punishment for failure. This only makes sense if you assume the trouble right now is teachers don’t really want to teach well. That’s absurd. That’s never been the problem with any teacher I’ve encountered, even in the worst classes I’ve taken. When teachers aren’t having success teaching their students, those teachers probably need support, resources, training, mentorship, supplies, smaller classes… not more fear and retribution.

    You say good tools of evaluation are one part of improving a system, and of course this is quite right, and developing better tools of evaluation is one useful project. But the notion that testing alone can solve problems is not merely misguided but also dangerously destructive, and pervades the poorly-considered education reforms that have deepened school hardship all over the U.S. in recent years. It is this wrongheaded thinking that brought us the massive unfunded mandate of No Child Left Behind.

    The evidence is clear on what effect these policies actually have, and it is severe. When teachers are punished for their students’ doing poorly on tests, some good teachers will flee challenging classrooms for easy ones where the kids already have all the advantages to do well; some will abandon teaching altogether; and those who remain will, by necessity, adopt models of teaching that focus on drilling test success into their students rather than on achieving real learning. (Perhaps you are aware of those Pavlovian curricula of reading or arithmetic where teachers snap and pupils recite memorized phrases in unison?)

    When I was a kid, I learned best from problem-solving, not just memorization. It’s much harder to test that. As Cheney might note, you set about teaching to the tests you have, not the ones you might wish you had. And of course, we should craft better ways to evaluate learning more fully… but not with the illusion that testing in itself will provide a solution, nor a shortcut around the labor and resources required for good teaching.

    The truth is, effective teaching is not a mystery like teleportation or a cure for cancer — we as a society know pretty well how to do it, and it’s not a matter of simply telling teachers to try harder. You give teachers plenty of resources and support and training, you address students’ other needs at the same time, and you provide an environment that can make education possible, with adequate staffing and supplies and a work environment that promotes the teacher’s learning, as well as the student’s.

    I’d also like to call your (and readers’) attention to an eloquent, concise recent Mercury “Letter of the Week” on this topic… but, alas, my internet connection at home is spotty, and the Mercury site is tonight impossible for me to load, so I cannot find the link.

    Best,
    Al

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