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My endorsements in the 2012 election: national, Oregon, Multnomah, Portland.

3 November 2012

First off, this is way late. A lot of Oregonians have already voted due to our wonderful vote-by-mail system. I’ll do it sooner next time.

For anybody not familiar, I’m a cranky left-leaning Cascadia supporter. If I had to festoon myself with labels I’d call myself a Democratic Libertarian Eco-Socialist. I’d quickly make an emphatic clarification that “democratic” is small-D (as in “democratic socialist,” not “Democratic party”) and “libertarian” is small-L (as in “the state can quit telling people who to marry and can quit killing people, k thx bai” libertarianism, not American capitalist style “oops everyone has horrible tumors because we didn’t fetter the uranium miners with government regulations” Libertarianism).

I have some pretty strong beliefs, I think we have a long way to go as a society and as a species before we can call it even close to good, and I don’t vote a straight bleeding-heart ticket; the best way I can think to give an example is that I’m a responsible firearms owner, and while I’m for common-sense gun control, I’m opposed to things like revealing the names and addresses of CCW holders, etc.

I suppose that leads me to my next point.  I’m a passionate civil liberties advocate.  This colors every one of my positions to some extent: ending Prohibition; enacting comprehensive and tough citizen oversight of law enforcement from the local to the federal level; getting government the hell out of marriage; enacting sweeping patent and copyright law reform for a vibrant idea economy without corporations telling us what we can and can’t say because they “own” ideas; and so forth.

Here are my endorsements in national, Oregon, Multnomah County and Portland races. As a rule, I never cast a vote in uncontested races, so I will not endorse anyone in those races. If nobody will contest the seat, it’s not worth my energy to fill in the little oval on the ballot and thus indicate my approval. We can do better as a society.

* * *

Jill Stein / Cheri Honkala (Pacific Green Party)

I’ll keep this note short. If I can manage it I’ll produce an essay about my presidential choice before the rest of the states without vote-by-mail go to the polls. I had the pleasure of voting for Jill Stein for governor when I lived in Massachusetts; I was pleased with her then and I remain so today. Further, I cannot put my vote in the Obama / Biden hat and grant any tiny measure of approval to how the incumbent regime has conducted itself after the 2008 election.

* * *

Earl Blumenauer (Democrat)

It’s Blumenauer. If you don’t know what that means, his record mostly speaks for itself, though some of my social justice and fair labor / anti-sweatshop (maquiladora) friends have a couple bones to pick with him.

* * *

Knute Buehler (Republican, Independent)

This was the last position I marked on my ballot. I’ll say straight away that if you can’t stand to vote Republican and don’t want to vote for Kate Brown, Seth Woolley (Pacific Green) was my very, very close second choice here. I did extensive reading on this race and everything I read tells me Knute Buehler is that rarest of breeds: a thoughtful, moderate Republican. I believe he’s in the race for all the right reasons. This was also something of a nod to encourage the continued existence of moderate Republicans – something Oregon needs to keep our government healthy, and believe me, I know why; I lived in Massachusetts, and the product of near unilateral Democratic control of state government is massive waste, fraud and corruption. It’s true of ANY one-party bloc. Knute Buehler also has a record of fighting for campaign finance reform.

Seth Woolley is clearly intelligent, very articulate, and has an endless number of good points to post online (and he’s unsurprisingly better on natural resources issues than Brown or Buehler). I had to balance my desire for the Pacific Green party to get enough votes to continue to maintain ballot access versus my belief that Woolley is not truly ready to be first in line to the governorship in the event of disaster. I think that, this being Oregon, the Greens will get their percentage easily, and that people who just can’t vote for Buehler have a good candidate in Woolley.

Unfortunately, my takeaway from all my reading is that Kate Brown is a machine Democrat and there’s plenty of evidence she’s not good at her job. She’s bungled special-case elections, she’s failed to doggedly enforce campaign finance reforms, and I don’t believe she (or the Democratic Party) are at all interested in opening up ballot access for minor parties or changing the way we do runoff elections in this state. She declined to investigate Charlie Hales’ tax-dodging. I come away quite unimpressed with her record, and if you believe Woolley’s well-articulated points, she’s barely better on natural resources and forests issues than Buehler, so there’s very little positive here.

Let’s be clear. Based on current polling, it’s likely that Brown will still win; if she gets a damn good run for her money, maybe it’ll shake her up. If Buehler were to win, we could do a lot worse. Vote Buehler.

* * *

Ted Wheeler (Democrat, Working Families)

There is no other viable candidate here. Sorry, Cameron Whitten. But since there’s no other viable candidate, I can say to Cameron Whitten: dude, my greatest hope for you is you stop running for office for a little while after this, go explore and travel and volunteer and take in a lot of experiences all around Oregon and the wider world. Come back a little older, a little wiser, temper the fire a little bit so you’re more skilled at keeping yourself in check, and then for the love of science get back to Oregon and give the Pacific Green Party a much-needed shot in the arm.

* * *

Ellen Rosenblum (Democrat)

Again, no other truly viable candidate. I did read up on James Buchal and let me tell you, it was informative to this several-year Oregonian just how damn weird Oregon politics can be. Buchal is an interesting guy with quite the mix of populist and kinda-crazy right-wing views, but he’s not a good fit for the AG’s office.

* * *

Brad Avakian

This guy has done plenty of work on the workers’ side. That’s who I want running BOLI. He’s in.

* * *

Richard Baldwin

Aside from the WW endorsement plug, my digging revealed that Nena Cook is less experienced and that a lot of DAs and cops really like her. I’ll take my judges more contrarian, thank you very much.

* * *

James Egan

This was another interesting decision. Tim Volpert has actually won a case in front of the US Supreme Court. Sadly, that case was in favor of constitutionality of the Vernonia, OR school district’s policy of randomly drug testing student athletes; the SCOTUS ruled it was cool under the 4th Amendment and then promptly used the precedent to shove the wedge for random student drug testing in further in another case. Volpert continued by winning ANOTHER drug testing case, setting precedent that the Oregon state constitution allows it as well.

No thanks. Vote Egan. (Sadly he hasn’t run much of a campaign, or I’d have more positive things to say about him, but when I voted for him in the primary what I did read sounded like a lot of people respect him.)

* * *

None of the Above

After about 10 minutes of consideration between writing in Ficus – – and our current mayor Sam Adams, I wrote in Sam Adams in disgust. Other folks make a good case for writing in Eileen Brady (a major candidate who lost the primary) or somebody else. You’re on your own here; the two anointed candidates are both a disgrace and some polls reflect that this race has the highest number of Portlanders willing to write somebody in (low double digits) that anybody’s seen in a long time.

One thing to consider: Charlie Hales supports the Columbia River Crossing in its current boondoggle form more than Jefferson Smith does, and he wants to get something ramrodded through. The hell with that.

* * *

Amanda Fritz

This was another very tough decision. I backed Fritz’s opponent, Mary Nolan, in the primary and I’m quite glad I did so. Fritz needed to be given a run for her money and indeed she was. I hope it’s woken her up and will lead her to imitate a bit of Mary Nolan’s somewhat famed git-r-done behavior, where she does not fuck around and gets things DONE. We need that on City Council and we need it badly. I’m glad that Steve Novick will be in there but I wanted somebody to balance out his occasional wild-eyed dreaming (which we also need) with pragmatism. Hence my vote for Nolan in the primary.

I flip-flopped to Fritz mainly because she’s kept some heat on the Portland Police Bureau while at the same time exploring options to reduce the extremely inappropriate use of our police force as a default in dealing with the mentally ill. Cops are a very bad first-line treatment for crazy people; as we’ve seen in Portland, crazy people have a disturbing way of ending up dead when they attract the attention of the cops. Fritz isn’t just concerned with the PPB’s admitted problems in use of force, training, and community relations, though. She’s also interested in caring for our most vulnerable citizens who are most likely to be harmed by the police.

Nolan received the endorsement of the Portland Police Association, aka the cop union. While I am strongly in favor of collective bargaining, police unions make me deeply uneasy in their defense of rogue cops; the PPA is noooooo different. Vote Fritz.

* * *

Justin Bauer

Justin Bauer is quite arguably less qualified than the current incumbent Rick Till, who has a JD and experience in conservation law, plus long list of hands-on experience. But Bauer, a recent college grad, has an impressive array of experience for his age too. He’s an invasive species specialist and boasts plenty of hands-on experience of his own. He also shares a big-deal position with Rick Till, namely, doing whatever possible to keep Outdoor School funded. Since both of these candidates support this, it’s hard to go wrong. I like Bauer’s idea about urban and community gardens and farms being used to feed the hungry. I also really like his pluck and am voting for him because even if he loses, it’s my hope that my vote will be a small factor in keeping him in civil service in Oregon.

Here’s a great summary, BTW, between the two. Put their names in the drop-down boxes.

* * *

OREGON MEASURE 77 – “Catastrophic disaster” powers to governor

I’m a civil libertarian. There’s nothing to worry about here. Vote yes.

* * *

OREGON MEASURE 78 – Grammar/spelling fixes

Vote yes.

* * *

OREGON MEASURE 79 – Prohibit real estate transfer taxes

We don’t have any such taxes to repeal, and this one has grubby Mannix fingerprints all over it. It’s an eyeroller. Vote no.

* * *

OREGON MEASURE 80 – Legalize marijuana and hemp cultivation for personal use, establish board

This is not the greatest measure in the world, but I’d much rather get it in and then fix it than wait another few years for a realistic shot at ending one facet of Prohibition.  We can deal with the OLCC-like board of pot cronies this measure would install later.  Vote yes.

* * *

OREGON MEASURE 81 – Ban gillnet fishing

Measure backers have abandoned this. Measure 81 would put Oregon fishermen at a significant disadvantage to Washington fishermen while doing nothing to help the fish. Come back with a better measure. Vote no.

* * *

OREGON MEASURE 82 – Amend constitution to allow private casinos

Seriously, amend the constitution for this? Yeah no. Also the backers have dropped support and the measure is dead. Give it a good kick in the ass on the way out. Vote no.

* * *

OREGON MEASURE 83 – Wood Village Casino

See above; measure is abandoned. See it and the private equity firm(s) involved off with a middle finger and vote no.

* * *

OREGON MEASURE 84 – Repeal estate taxes for inheritance over $1 million, others

Yeah, I don’t think so. Silver spoons in babies’ mouths cause silver poisoning, meanwhile I pass Oregonians living under bridges every day on my way to work and there are still scores of applicants for crappy job listings on Craigslist. This measure also has the stink of private money and 1% financing all over it; do the research if you are inclined. I don’t like those people.

I don’t know any people inclined to be doling out multimillion dollar inheritances.  Likely neither do you, and if you do, they should also be against this.  Vote your self-interest; vote no.

* * *

OREGON MEASURE 85 – Repeal corporate “kicker” tax refund

The kicker is the stupidest thing short of Dubya’s $300 checks (which I never got, BTW). Repealing any part of it is good; starting with repealing the one that goes to corporations (for fuck’s sake!) is fine by me.

Vote yes.

* * *

MULTNOMAH COUNTY MEASURE 26-143 – Library district

We have one of the best-funded library districts in the country. How surprising, then, that it’s got some of the best patronage and circulation numbers in the country. So why aren’t all the branches open from way early til way late? We need more library access, not less (or even the same amount).

Vote yes.

* * *

PORTLAND MEASURE 26-145 – Close police and fire pension loopholes

This closes loopholes that increase retirement program costs to the public for NO good reason. I like pensions. I like good compensation. I like old people eating real food, not dog food. Keeping the loopholes in place has nothing to do with any of that.

Vote yes.

* * *

PORTLAND MEASURE 26-146 – $35 a head “arts tax” for “schools”

This isn’t actually for schools and is the stupidest way to institute a tax I’ve ever seen. I want art in schools. This will not do a good job of it since a lot of the money is siphoned off to not-schools, and it’s incredibly regressive. Lower-middle class earners pay $35. Rich bastards in their West Hills mansions also pay $35.

Smack this measure upside the head and maybe it’ll come back next election in a humbler and better-written form. Vote no. If you feel sad after voting no, go donate $35 to something cultural.

* * *

PORTLAND SCHOOLS MEASURE 26-144 – school bond

This is an example of a measure that was smacked upside the head and came back in humbler and better-written form. Let’s not have our kids killed in a rubble pile next earthquake, huh? Vote yes.


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