the . . .


Voting Suggestions and Election Commentary
for the November 4th, 2003 special election

Multnomah County Ballot Measures

Measure 26-51: Forms Multnomah County People's Utility District
Measure 26-52: Authorizes Multnomah County People's Utility District To Impose Special Levy

My votes: leaning towards Yes

These two measures go hand in hand, and thus I will discuss them together. Let's look first at two of the advantages (to us, citizens and taxpayers) of having a People's Utility District (PUD).

(1) We'll have control.
Right now, a lot of folks believe that Enron has been dissolved. Not true. Enron has filed for bankruptcy, but it's still around --- and it still owns PGE. Do you trust them to do the right thing? I don't. They could, as part of coping with bankruptcy, sell PGE's assets to corporations based outside of Oregon. Good-bye local control.

(2) After a transition period, we should have lower rates.
If we compare PUDs across Oregon with PGE, we see that the majority of them charge less for electricity than PGE. Here's a graph of PGE vs. 29 publicly-owned utilities (admittedly from a pro-PUD organization, but all of the research I have done so far seems to corroborate what this graph is saying).

Now, what are some of the objections to 26-51 and 26-52?

(3) The passage of these measures will raise your property tax by 3%.
This is simply false. Measure 26-51 will not raise taxes a cent. Measure 26-52 will cause a property tax levy --- of $0.003 per $1000 (of assessed property value). In other words, this claim of 3% is 10,000 times too large, and makes the PGE supporters look like dangerous liars. (And what is this 3% claim doing in the measure's description in the Voter's Pamphlet?)

Now, in fairness, I must point out that the property tax levy of Measure 26-52 will not be the last cost to us. Nothing on the ballot this November 4th addresses the issues of where the money is going to come from to acquire PGE; Measure 26-51 merely gives us a way (the PUD) to do it against PGE's wishes. This acquisition money could come from a lot of places, but my best guess is that it'll probably be raised by selling bonds. And since the PUD will have access to large pieces of PGE's revenue stream, I am guessing that these bonds will indeed sell.

(4) The city has its own proposal in the works to buy PGE, and we should let them try that first.
This is a valid objection. Since in the city's proposal, they are not trying to use eminent domain (unlike the PUD), PGE may be more inclined to be cooperative, and may even be willing to sell the city its generating facilities. I need to think about this one more.

(5) The Oregonian opposes the formation of the PUD.
This, in my opinion, is not a good argument. Before the May 2003 election, I wrote down a few of my thoughts about the Oregonian's political editorials and stances. In brief, I no longer trust their judgement on political matters.

Directors of the PUD Board

If Measure 26-51 passes, thus creating the PUD, the board that will control it will have five seats, which will need to be filled. Each one will be a director at large, so everybody votes for all five seats. Where to start?

Well, I know right off the bat that I shall vote for Fillard Rhyne and Xander Patterson, because I know them personally and I trust their judgement in these matters.

I also know that I won't be voting for Tom Markgraf: even though he's running for the board, he opposes the PUD. (Plus, his statement in the Voter's Pamphlet uses the word "loose" when it should say "lose," and while I cannot say I base my political decisions on this kind of detail, I really hate it when people make errors like this and I relish the chance to tell the world.)

For the others, I need to do more research.

Suggestions for changes/additions to this Webpage are welcome and may be sent to me from here. Flames will be dumped to /dev/null/ summarily.

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(Last updated 10/25/02003)