Portland Ballot Endorsements
Continuing my set of recommendations with background, after doing the Oregon races I'm continuing with the Portland, Metro, and Multinomah County races.
I'm not listing the uncontested races, because why bother?
Endorsement: JoAnn Hardesty
Reason: Portland has a serious problem with its police department. Rogue cops are roughing up protestors and intimidating people of color, but allow out-of-town white terrorists to set up shop downtown and bring violence to our city, without arrest of prosecution (see story in link). Our police chief is the primary enabler of this (in retrospect, her name, "Outlaw", should have been a tipoff).
Yet neither the Mayor or the standing city council members will stand up to the PPD and demand an investigation and purge of lawbreaking police officers, let alone replace our renegade police chief.
Hardesty is the only candidate for any city office who has made getting the police under control and fulfilling their mission to support the community. While Smith has excellent credentials, she is very pro-PPD and has no plans for reform. We need someone on the Council for whom the PPD is their primary issue. Vote for Hardesty.
Update: Smith just decided to revive the failed plan to house the homeless in Wapato Jail. This plan is now impossible (due to sale of the property) as well as a really bad idea, but apparently she plans to waste city council time with it anyway.
Soil and Water Conservation, District 1
Endorsement: Gabrielle Rossi (write-in)
This position was going without any candidates, but Rossi, of the Rossi Urban Farm, has decided to run. Can you think of a better candidate than someone with a 5-acre community farm in the county? I can't.
Multnomah County Auditor
Endorsement: Jennifer McGuirk
This is a weak endorsement, since both candidates are hardworking, dedicated accountants who plan to aggressively pursue fraud and waste in the county. Frankly, whichever one of them gets elected, I'll be happy with. McGuirk is a senior auditor for the county with an excellent record who is challenging her boss's spotty record to run. Learn is a former investigative reporter and CPA with a dedication to finding the truth.
Given how equally qualified they are, I'll endorse the woman in the race, particularly since the press tends to endorse men over women.
* https://www.wweek.com/news/2018/10/17/wws-november-2018-endorsements-for-portland-city-hall-multnomah-county-and-metro/ * https://www.portlandmercury.com/feature/2018/10/25/23935691/a-mercury-voter-guide-for-the-november-2018-election#5
Judge of the Circuit Court, Position 30
Endorsement: Benjamin Souede
This is a rare contested judicial seat. The challenger, Callahan, seems to be mainly running as a protest against the system of judicial appointments. That might carry him, except that Souede is one of the best respected judges on the Oregon bench, with 79% of the state bar supporting him.
City Measure 26-200
This is a general initiative to increase transparency and impose spending limits on local campaigns. Currently, the state of Oregon is among the least transparent in the country for campaign donations. This measure really needs to go in at the state level, but a local measure is a good start.
Portland Measure 26-201
In terms of intent, this is probably the best bill we've seen in years, with a focus on increasing home energy efficiency, particularly for the city's poorer residents. Those residents are often caught in the trap of not being able to afford better insulation and appliances because their power bills are so high.
However, it does so with a gross receipts tax on very large retailers (pretty much Comcast, Wells Fargo, Walmart, and Kroger). I've discussed the problems with gross receipts taxes before, chief among which is that the tax would be passed down to consumers ... hitting low-income Portlanders the hardest.
Add that to the fact that the spending guidelines for the money have a lot of weasel words ("should", "directly or indirectly", etc.) and it's a no for me.
Metro Measure 26-199
Endorsement: No (reluctantly)
There is no question that the Metro area needs more below-market-rate housing; this area is becoming completely unaffordable to anyone making lest than $50K.
Affordable housing bonds strike a devil's bargain of making housing more affordable for some people by making housing less affordable for everyone else. Over the past few years, Portland has raised property taxes multiple times. For salaried folks like me, the extra cost is annoying but not harmful. But for many of my neighbors, retirees on fixed incomes, that extra tax burden means that they have to do without -- and that some of them will end up in search of affordable housing themselves.
Two years ago, Portland passed a $250m affordable housing bond, of which it has spent almost nothing, waiting for Measure 102. Let's spend that money first and see how far it goes. Further, the real answer to affordable housing is to make it cheaper, faster, and easier for builders to create market-rate high density housing, especially apartments. In San Francisco, we've seen what happens with the combination of restrictive housing development combined with a small amount of subsidized housing: only the very rich and the very poor can afford to live there.
My final thought on this is: Oregon is in a big financial hole. Eventually we will need to dig ourselves out, and this will almost certainly mean more taxes. We need to leave our citizens a financial reserve so that we can draw on that to get out of debt.
However, almost nobody agrees with my assessment, so here's some links: