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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.

Oregon House Passes SB 154 to Criminalize the Initiative Process

The Oregon House of Representatives on June 28 by a vote of 35-23 (all 23 "no" votes were Republicans) adopted SB 154, the bill to criminalize the initiative process in Oregon.

The facts about this bill were presented in the email, below, to all House members.

On the floor today, proponents brandished an "opinion" issued by Legislative Counsel immediately before the floor session.  The proponents did not read from the "opinion" and instead merely offered a vague summary of it.  The "opinion" was not made available to us until 7 hours after the vote.

We will ask Governor Kitzhaber to veto this dangerous bill.  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.

Governor Kitzhaber: Veto the Pro-Nepotism Bill

WHAT OREGON GOVERNMENT NEEDS IS MORE NEPOTISM!

by Dan Meek

That is the message of HB 2079A, which has already passed the House and the Senate on April 15. Governor Kitzhaber has 5 days to sign or veto it.

UPDATE:  Governor Kitzhaber has signed this bill, thus allowing public officials to decide to hire their own aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, half brothers, half sisters, stepchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, mother-in-law, and father-in-law, without even disclosing the relationship.

My testimony against the bill as it appeared in the House is attached.  It has only gotten worse since then.

Under ORS 244.177, a public official is currently not allowed to appoint, employ, or promote a "relative" in a paid position with a "public body that the public official servers or over which the public official exercises jurisdiction or control," unless the public official does not participate in the decision to appoint, employ, or promote his or her "relative."

Oregon's nepotism restrictions currently apply to these "relatives" of a public official, under ORS 244.175(4):

(4)    “Relative” means the spouse of the public official, any children of the public official or of the public official’s spouse, and brothers, sisters, half brothers, half sisters, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, stepparents, stepchildren or parents of the public official or of the public official’s spouse.

HB 2079A substantially changes the definition of "relative" applicable to the nepotism restrictions. It eliminates from that definition the public official's half brothers, half sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, stepchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, mother-in-law, and father-in-law, replacing the current definition with this:

"Relative" means:

(a)    The spouse, parent, stepparent, child, sibling, stepsibling, son-in-law or daughter-in law of the public official or candidate;

                         (b)   The parent, stepparent, child, sibling, stepsibling, son-in-law or daughter-in law of the spouse of the public official or candidate;

Some dictionaries define "sibling" as including only "a person's brother or sister," not a half brother or half sister. See Collins English Dictionary (HarperCollins 2003). The new definition covers "stepsiblings," but half-siblings and stepsiblings are not the same.

I see no reason to remove half brothers, half sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, stepchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, mothers-in-law, and fathers-in-law from the nepotism restrictions.

Governor Kitzhaber:  Please veto this bill.

Vote NO on Fluoride in Portland

The Oregon Progressive Party urges a "NO" vote on putting fluoride in the Portland water supply (Measure 26-151) on the May 20113 ballot.

Read about it at Clean Water Portland

Michael Munk on Nike Tax Giveaway

It is the genius of the 1%, who used to be called the “ruling class,” that its control of our politicians even when exercised brutally in the light of day can appear to Oregonians as just part of the natural order of things. Democrat Ginny Burdick of Portland and Republican Bruce Hanna quickly joined hands with the state’s major media http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2012/12/oregon_should_give_nike_the_as.html#incart_river to celebrate it with knee-jerk enthusiasm and demand that it be immediately translated into law.

Oregon Politicians on Their Knees to Nike

David Delk brings us this cogent summary of the latest example of the difference between Democrats and Republicans. As Ralph Nader says, it is "the velocities with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock on their door."  The Oregon Center for Public Policy documented that the tax break Nike wants to be continued--on a guaranteed basis--reduces its Oregon state corporate income taxes by 95%.  Because the Oregon Constitution requires taxation to be uniform, this guaranteed tax break would have to apply to all corporations, at least to any corporation making a $150 million investment in Oregon property over the next 5 years.  Under the proposed bill, the contractually-guaranteed tax break would last from 5 to 40 years.

The Oregonian front page story on Tuesday was about the special session of the Oregon legislature called by the governor for passage of special protection of Nike from changes in the certain aspects of the Oregontax code for the next five years.  Local activist Michael Munk dubbed it the Nike Corporate Welfare Law (read his blog statement here).  The Oregonian article noted that there were critics of the move but only quoted the Oregon Center of Public Policy in a single paragraph.  So much for fair and balanced reporting. 

Oregon Center for Public Policy later issued their own response in an email titled:  A Highly Dubious Assumption in the Governors Proposed Nike Deal.  It is available on line here.   Nike appears to be afraid that because the Oregon legislature might rework some tax policy, their special tax adjustment worked out with the Oregon legislature a decade or so ago in which only the in-state sales would be used as the basis for calculating the income tax owed to the state of Oregon might be changed. They say they want "certainty."  Previously, the rate was based on value of company property in Oregon, total number of employees and total company sales around the world.  With the passage of the Single-Sales Factor, Nike and other companies doing most of their business out-of-state (Intel, Precision Castparts, Boeing, Columbia Sportwear, for instance) received a very, very, very big tax break and we were left with decreasing tax revenues to pay for teachers, senior services, parks and other state services.  Nike is part of that chorus of business that likes to remind us of the importance of having a educated population that they can hire even as they do their best to lower the taxes they pay.

And note that we don't know how much taxes Nike paid before receiving the generous tax break or how much they pay now.  All such information is private and not to be disclosed of us or legislators.

The draft legislation to be considered is available here

Please contact your state Representative and Senator and demand that they vote no on this.  And further, that they change the law to require disclosure of corporate tax reports. Find your representative and senator here.

Our Candidates Did Well in the 2012 General Election

The Oregon Progressive Party's candidates performed well in the 2012 general election.

Minor parties in Oregon are required to run at least one statewide candidate earning 1% or more of the vote. We ran 3 statewide candidates, and all of them exceeded 1%.

Our candidates for U.S. Representative did even better, earning from 3.1% to 4.2%. We cross-nominated the Democrat, Peter DeFazio, in the 4th Congressional District, and he won with 59% of the vote.

Our Candidate   Office Vote
Rocky Anderson
Robert Wolfe
Cameron Whitten
Chris Henry
Steven Reynolds
Woody Broadnax
Peter DeFazio
  President
Secretary of State, Oregon
State Treasurer, Oregon
Attorney General, Oregon
U.S. Representative, 1st Dist
U.S. Representative, 3rd Dist
U.S. Representative, 4th Dist
0.2%
1.3%
2.4%
1.7%
4.5%
3.7%
59.1%

Also, the candidates we endorsed in non-partisan races did well.  Brad Avakian won the statewide Labor Commissioner race.  Amanda Fritz won re-election to the Portland City Council.

Willamette Week Article on Our Candidate, Robert Wolfe

Big Bad Wolfe: An activist launches a campaign to oust Secretary of State Kate Brown

Willamette Week    October 31, 2012
by Nigel Jaquis

A light drizzle fell on Bob Wolfe as he stood outside a citadel of the Portland establishment like the lupine nemesis in the story of the Three Little Pigs.

Wolfe was rattling the doors of the Portland City Club’s luncheon debate Oct. 26 at the Governor Hotel between Secretary of State Kate Brown and her Republican challenger, Dr. Knute Buehler. Wolfe is also on the ballot as the Progressive Party’s candidate. But no matter how loud he knocked, the City Club would not let him in.

City Club officials denied Wolfe access because (as they said in an Oct. 17 email to him) he isn’t a “viable candidate.”

Wolfe won’t win, but his only goal is defeating Brown, whom he accuses of suppressing Oregon voters by routinely invalidating tens of thousands of petition signatures.

He barreled into the secretary of state’s race late, on Aug. 28, after Brown’s office said a measure to legalize marijuana, for which he was chief petitioner, didn’t qualify for the November ballot. He now wants to draw votes away from Brown using the potency of Oregon’s marijuana legalization supporters.

In the May primary, Wolfe helped raise $200,000 in national marijuana money for now-Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (who’s married to WW publisher Richard Meeker). He spent another $50,000 on radio ads bashing her opponent, Dwight Holton, who as U.S. attorney for Oregon targeted medical marijuana clinics.

“We killed Holton’s candidacy,” Wolfe says. “Now we’re hoping to motivate people to vote no on Kate Brown.”    Read more ...

Robert Wolfe's Voters Pamphlet Statement


Secretary of State

Robert Wolfe

Progressive


Occupation: Selling Oregon wines worldwide (25 years)

Occupational Background: Journalist, with investigative reporting awards

Educational Background: College

Prior Governmental Experience: None (enough)

RECLAIM THE INITIATIVE PROCESS

Kate Brown’s policies stop normal citizens from using Oregon’s initiative process. Her arbitrary and hyper-technical requirements discard over 40% of all voter signatures, so only big corporations and unions can afford to use the system.

2000-02 saw 13 progressive measures on the Oregon ballot, including guaranteed school funding, single-payer health care, and the nation’s highest minimum wage.

2008-10, with Kate Brown’s bad rules, saw only ONE progressive measure on the Oregon ballot (medical marijuana dispensaries).

GET BIG MONEY OUT OF OREGON POLITICS

In 2006, Oregon voters enacted Measure 47 the nation’s strictest limits on campaign contributions, while requiring political ads to disclose their funding sources and amounts.

Kate Brown refuses to enforce Measure 47, so campaign spending on Oregon races has continued to skyrocket from $4 million in 1996 to $57 million in 2010 (not including Congress). Individual Legislative candidates spend up to $1 million and more. Oregon politicians spend more on legislative races, per capita, than in any state except New Jersey. (Oregonian (4/6/2010))

Kate Brown “has been silent on campaign finance reform and otherwise largely invisible,” says Willamette Week (5/25/2012). In 2008 she smashed the record for Secretary of State campaign spending ($1.2 million), taking contributions as high as $135,000 from a single union and over $116,000 from lawyers and lobbyists.

STOP GOVERNMENT INCOMPETENCE

As “Auditor in Chief,” Kate Brown’s accountants “audited” the Oregon Department of Revenue 3 times in the past 2 years but failed to detect huge fraudulent tax refunds, including a $2.1 million refund in 2012 to a woman who had never reported significant income. TurboTax discovered this fraud that Kate Brown missed. What else is out there?

SAVE THE STATE FORESTS FROM CLEAR-CUTTING

Kate Brown approved a 65% increase in clear-cutting in Oregon’s largest state forest (Elliott).

(This information furnished by Robert Wolfe.)

Jefferson v. Romney

OPP Candidate Bob Wolfe Calls Out Kate Brown on Phony Campaign Spending Limit

OPP candidate for Secretary of State, Bob Wolfe, issued this press release on September 19. It was quoted by the Oregonian at Oregon Secretary of State candidates trade tough words over campaign spending limits.

Kate Brown today announced that her campaign for Secretary of State will limit its spending on the general election to $1 million. "This is a cynical political trick and does not reflect any concern for the huge influence of big money in Oregon elections," said Bob Wolfe, the candidate for Secretary of State of the Oregon Progressive Party.

“Brown has already spent millions promoting her name to Oregon voters, and her pledge won’t restrain limitless spending by public employee unions, her biggest supporters,” Wolfe said. Her pledge does not stop unions or corporations or other entities from making unlimited "independent expenditures" that would not be counted toward the $1 million limit.

In fact, Kate Brown refuses to enforce Oregon Measure 47, adopted by voters in 2006, as a solution to independent expenditures. That requires that every ad funded by independent expenditures prominently disclose the names, business interests, and amounts donated to the independent expenditure campaign by the top 5 donors to the campaign. This would let voters know where the money is coming from, which Kate Brown apparently does not want.

"If Kate Brown were concerned about money in politics, she would be enforcing the contribution limits and other provisions of Measure 47 (2006) instead of attacking that measure in court," Wolfe said.

Kate Brown has already spent over $2.6 million since 2000 promoting her name to Oregon voters. Now she wants all other candidates to comply with her spending limit going forward. That is like cutting the rations for everyone after only you have eaten a series of huge meals.

Brown’s ‘limit’ of $1 million this year comes on top of the $1.2 million Kate Brown spent in 2008. “Kate Brown is a poster child for excessive spending and the current record-holder for campaign spending in Oregon for any State office except Governor,” says Wolfe.

Brown has also avoided all opportunities to reform campaign spending in Oregon. According to Willamette Week (April 25, 2012) , "Brown has been silent on campaign finance reform and otherwise largely invisible."

“She has neither pursued nor accomplished anything on campaign finance reform during her 20 years as a candidate and state office-holder. Now she is suddenly concerned about money in politics? The only reason appears to be that for the first time one of her opponents might outspend her,” said Wolfe.

OPP Nominates Candidates, Adopts Party Statement

The Oregon Progressive Party has nominated these 7 candidates for the November 2012 Election:

Rocky Anderson
Robert Wolfe
Cameron Whitten
Chris Henry
Steven Reynolds
Woody Broadnax
Peter DeFazio
  President of the United States
Secretary of State, Oregon
State Treasurer, Oregon
Attorney General, Oregon
U.S. House of Representatives, 1st District
U.S. House of Representatives, 3rd District
U.S. House of Representatives, 4th District

The Party has also adopted this Oregon Progressive Party Statement for the Oregon Voters's Pamphlet.  Here is the Statement of Robert Wolfe.

The Rocky Anderson ticket includes Luis Gonzalez for Vice-President of the United States.  Robert Wolfe, Cameron Whitten, and Chris Henry are exclusively the candidates of the Oregon Progressive Party.  Steven Reynolds has been cross-nominated by the Pacific Green Party and the Libertarian Party of Oregon.  Woody Broadnax has been cross-nominated by the Pacific Green Party.  Peter DeFazio has been cross-nominated by the Democratic Party and by the Working Families Party of Oregon.

Who Belongs in Jail?

ACLU Opposes DISCLOSE Act

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has for decades opposed limits on political campaign contributions and expenditures.  ACLU even filed an amicus brief on the side of the corporations in Citizens United, arguing that corporations have the rights of humans and the right to make unlimited expenditures in political campaigns.

If that was not bad enough, now ACLU opposes disclosure of the sources of those independent expenditures.  ACLU sent a letter to Congress on July 16, 2012, opposing the DISCLOSE Act.  The letter stated:

Although the ACLU supports measures to guarantee the independence of groups making independent expenditures, we are concerned that heavy-handed regulation will violate the anonymous speech rights of individuals and groups that associate with these independent expenditure groups, subjecting them to harassment and potentially discouraging valuable participation in the political process.

Who knew that the real problem is that those poor multi-billion dollar corporations could be subjected to harrassment, if they have to reveal that they are funding political campaigns.

ACLU not only urged Senators to oppose the DISCLOSE Act but urged them to allow the filibuster against it to succeed by voting "no" to cutting off debate ("cloture").

We urge you to oppose S. 3369, the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (“DISCLOSE”) Act, and to vote “no” on cloture if the bill is presented for consideration on Monday.    

Thus, argues ACLU, it is so important that political spending remain secret that a minority of the members of the Senate should thwart the will of the majority by using the anti-democratic tactic of filibuster--a filibuster for the sacred right of corporations to do unlimited, secret spending in political campaigns.

Thanks, ACLU, for again siding with the corporations and making clear your view that corporate rights are more important than democracy.

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