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More Comments on Proposed "Portland Water District"

by Dan Meek
5/3/2014

This is also posted at http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/05/portland_public_water_district_8.html.

I just received a very misleading big postcard from the "yes" campaign on this measure. Nearly every statement in the postcard has already been refuted in my op-ed at http://tinyurl.com/meek-oped-water or is otherwise untrue or misleading.

The postcard shows a desert and says "Phoenix has lower water rates than Portland." First, a comparison of "water rates" alone leaves out the elements that comprise most of the "water" bills, which are charges for sewer and stormwater disposal. Second, there are many cities with lower water rates than Portland and many cities with higher water + disposal rates, including just on the west coast (for typical residential usage levels): Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, and Oakland. See Black & Veatch, 50 Largest Cities Water/Wastewater Rate Survey (2012/2013).

But if you want to look at just water rates, the same survey shows that Portland has lower commercial water rates than even Phoenix, whether the customer is using 100,000 gallons or 10 million gallons per month.

The postcard claims that Portland "water rates have risen 161% since 2000." There is no source cited for this, and I can locate nothing that supports it apart from a USA Today article in September 2012, which also states that water rates during that period have risen in San Francisco by 211% and San Diego by 141%. The article itself states: "Local water costs vary widely because of geography, climate, population, a water company's borrowing costs and other factors. That makes it virtually impossible to compare one city's water costs to another's."

Dan Meek Op-Ed on "Water District" Measure

Note: The voters of Portland rejected this measure overwhelmingly in the May 2014 primary election.

The "Water District" Measure is a Corporate Takeover
of Portland’s Water and Sewer Systems

Note: This op-ed appeared in the Portland Tribune on May 1, 2014. What follows is slightly annotated version.

For 27 years, I have helped create new publicly-controlled utilities in Oregon, including the Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative, now the largest electric cooperative in Oregon (annual revenue $48 million).

Measure 26-156 is not a typical "public district" creation measure.  Instead, it grafts onto the existing City of Portland water and sewer systems a 7-person Board of directors that can set rates, borrow money to be repaid by Portland taxpayers, sell property, and decide how to use the existing $19 billion of assets in those systems and who pays the $682 million of annual costs.

The new 7-person Board would be elected half the time in low-turnout odd-year elections, as each term would be 3 years.  There would be no limits on campaign spending by any persons or entities.  I would expect the big corporate water/sewer users to get together in private, select their candidates, and overwhelm the voters with political ads.  After all, they have provided over 99% of the funds for this campaign, including the paid signature gathering.  See http://tinyurl.com/waterdistbackers and http://tinyurl.com/wdbackers2.

Siltronic Corp. is both by far the largest user of Portland water and the largest contributor to the campaign (30% of the total).

The resulting corporate-dominated Board would likely:

    (1)    gut expenditures necessary for environmental protection, and

    (2)    increase rates for residential customers in order to decrease rates for the largest customers.

IRS Targeted Progressive Groups More Than Tea Party Groups

ThinkProgress reports from a series of IRS documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act:

The 22 “Be On the Look Out” keywords lists, distributed to [IRS] staff reviewing [nonprofit status] applications between August 12, 2010 and April 19, 2013, included more explicit references to progressive groups, ACORN successors, and medical marijuana organizations than to Tea Party entities.

progressive groups targeted

Princeton Study finds U.S. is Oligarchy

Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy

BBC
April 17, 2014

The US is dominated by a rich and powerful elite.

So concludes a recent study by Princeton University Prof Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Prof Benjamin I Page.

This is not news, you say.

Perhaps, but the two professors have conducted exhaustive research to try to present data-driven support for this conclusion. Here's how they explain it:

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.

In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power.

Dr. Don Show Features "No" on Portland "Water District" Measure

Conversations with Dr. Don will air, starting on Tuesday, April 22, a 1-hour show with Dan Meek. The first half is about the Portland "Water District" measure on the May 20 ballot and includes these slides [or this PDF version of the slides].

Portland Area Broadcast Schedule

Portland, OR metropolitan area: Tuesday  11pm  Channel 11

Washington County, OR area (Channel 21):

Friday  8pm
Saturday  1am     Saturday  9am
Sunday  3pm
Monday  6am       Monday  1pm

It is also at https://www.youtube.com/user/friendlydon1.

OPP Urges NO on the Corporate Takeover of Portland’s Water and Sewer System

NOTE: Thanks to the determined opposition of the Oregon Progressive Party, this measure was defeated on May 20, 2014, by a vote of 71-29%.

This is the Voters' Pamphlet statement of the Oregon Progressive Party on Portland Measure 26-256.

Oregon Progressive Party Opposes Fast Track for TPP

The Oregon Progressive Party's monthly membership meeting approved this statement of opposition to fast tracking of the the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, because it sets "binding policy on Congress and state legislatures relating to patents and copyright, food safety, government procurement, financial regulation, immigration, healthcare, energy, the environment, labor rights and more."

Canada Shows the Way for Healthcare

by Ralph Nader

21 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare

Dear America:

Costly complexity is baked into Obamacare. No health insurance system is without problems but Canadian style single-payer full Medicare for all is simple, affordable, comprehensive and universal.

In the early 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson enrolled 20 million elderly Americans into Medicare in six months. There were no websites. They did it with index cards!

Below please find 21 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare.

Repeal Obamacare and replace it with the much more efficient single-payer, everybody in, nobody out, free choice of doctor and hospital.

Love, Canada

Oregon Progressive Party Opposes U.S Military Strike on Syria

Our Oregon Representatives in Congress need to hear from us about Syria.  The Oregon Progressive Party offers this statement against the use of U.S. military force in Syria.

Please contact your representatives in Congress with your views; feel free to send them this statement.  Their contact information is at the bottom of this message.

Please support peaceful diplomatic solutions
and VOTE NO on any authorizations for U.S. military strikes on Syria.

History clearly guides us us to the course of action the United States must take in Syria. Only peaceful diplomacy will rid Syria, and the greater Middle East, of weapons of mass destruction in all its forms.

The use of U.S. military force is no solution for assisting the Syrian people to free themselves from tyranny and begin to build democracy. We are told military strikes will be extremely limited and involve no long term commitments or U.S. ground troops, but "limited wars" often escalate, since the U.S. can never "cut and run."

Governor Kitzhaber: Please Veto SB 154, Criminalizes the Initiative Process

We ask Governor Kitzhaber to veto SB 154, the bill to criminalize the initiative process in Oregon.

SB 154 transforms any violation--however minor--of any election law or rule by an initiative, referendum, or recall campaign that pays circulators into the felony of false swearing under ORS 260.715(1) with penalties per violation of $125,000 and/or 5 years in prison.

Be sure to read the full story here.

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