Portland’s “arts tax” smells fishy

by Steve, October 22nd, 2012

electionOn the ballot in Portland is measure 26-146, which supporters say would “restore arts education to Portland schools.” Hey, great idea (and full disclaimer, I don’t vote in Portland, but I’d probably vote for it if I did), but there are some significant questions to consider with this $35 head tax.

  • Why can’t Portland schools fund universal access to K-12 music education like Beaverton schools do (with the exact same funding per student from the state), and why should the city bail PPS out (again)?
  • Why does only a little over half of the money go to schools with the rest going to RACC’s friends?
  • Why a regressive (and possibly illegal) head tax to the city instead of an operating levy to the district?
  • Why does it spread equal resources to rich and poor schools instead of focusing on the schools that need it the most?

The answer to the first question is tightly linked to the last question. Portland Public Schools has for years shifted funding out of its poorest neighborhoods to its wealthiest neighborhoods. The result is wealthy, white students have largely maintained arts education while non-white, poverty-affected student have lost it. This is the direct result of attendance policies implemented over the years by the school board. They should be held to account for it.

The PPS school board should be ashamed that this flawed measure is even on the ballot. It shows their total lack of ability to run their district in an efficient and fair manner. Yes, the state does not provide enough funding, and that should be dealt with. But this is not the way to do it.

The MHLW 2012 Oregon Voters’ Guide

by Steve, October 22nd, 2012

election08Having trouble getting excited about the 2012 election in reliably blue Oregon? Worried that your presidential vote doesn’t count because of our archaic 18th century electoral college designed (in part) to give more power to slave states? Fear not! Here at Chez Wacky, we got our ballots in the mail over the weekend and dutifully filled in the dots for the establishment characters best suited to pretend to represent us! Nancy made her statement by voting on a copy of the International Socialist Review. I think I used a copy of Nat Geo Kids or the Smithsonian or something patriotic like that.

President

Who knew Rocky Anderson was running? Not me! The prog former two-term mayor of Salt Lake City (yes, that Salt Lake City) was on our ballot for the Progressive Party (who?), as was Jill Stein for the Greens. I’ve been registered Green for ages, and I’m sure Stein is cool and all, and I know Oregon prez votes don’t count because there’s a 99.9% chance all the electoral votes are going to Obama and it really only matters how they vote in Ohio and Florida and Iowa and Wisconsin and Colorado and North Carolina and Obama is a killing machine with his drones and kill lists but fuggit, I voted for the incumbent.

Congress

Earl “The Pearl” Blumenauer is up for the rubber stamp in Portland’s third district, and Suzanne Bonamici is up in the first. Both seem like shoe-ins, but why take chances on more GOP votes in the House? Yeah, I voted Dem.

Secretary of State

Brown. I once had lunch with incumbent Kate Brown at the City Club when uncle Ted was giving a state of the state address. She was running her first campaign for SoS, and I wasn’t impressed with her grasp of the issues. She’s shown herself to be a true Blue Dem, making some questionable decisions to favor Dems. She also pissed off a pot activist, fining him $65K for signature gathering violations. The activist, Robert Wolfe, is now running against her (Progressive Party), to the delight of GOP challenger Knute Buehler. The Greens are running Seth Wooley. So the familiar Hobson’s choice is presented to Oregon progs: a vote for the prog candidate is a vote for the GOP challenger. My nose is already sore from holding it, so I voted for Brown.

State Treasurer

Ted Wheeler, of course. I’d write him in for Governor if that race were up this year.

Attorney General

Ellen Rosenblum.

State House/Senate

Ah, fuck it. Just vote Dem, and here’s why. Oregon Democrats have systematically refused to fix our completely broken state revenue system for decades now. As it stands, we have an evenly split House, which gives them an excuse to do nothing. Break that tie, and maybe — just maybe — they can be pressured to do something. (Yeah, right!) Worth a try anyway, and certainly better than the alternative.

Labor Commissioner

Avakian.

Supreme Court Position 3

Baldwin. (Labor endorsements)

Court of Appeals Position 6

Volpert. (Labor endorsements)

Measure 77 (Emergency powers for governor)

Yes.

Measure 78 (Constitutional house keeping)

Yes.

Measure 79 (Constitutional amendment prohibiting real estate transfer tax)

No. Real estate brokers really don’t want to pay a hypothetical transfer tax (none is currently in place or proposed), so they’re going over board to prevent one from ever being put in place. This kind of tax would actually make sense, so this ill-advised measure gets an emphatic NO vote from me.

Measure 80 (Legalize and regulate marijuana)

Yes. Prohibition is ineffective and outrageously costly in terms of money and lives. War on drugs was lost before it began. Legalize it and regulate it.

Measure 81 (Gillnet ban)

No. Original supporters of this measure have pulled their support in favor of a negotiated settlement with commercial fishermen.

Measures 82 & 83 (private casinos)

No. These are DOA anyway. Supporters have pulled campaign funding.

Measure 84 (kills estate tax on millionaires and allows tax-free transfers of wealth)

No. Bad idea to reduce a progressive tax and further choke state revenue stream.

Measure 85 (give corporate “kicker” to schools)

Yes. One small piece of revenue reform that is long overdue.

(By the way, here’s the official guide, if that’s what you were looking for.)