Big-business opponents of the citizen initiative are so afraid they'll lose their insider lobbying connections with the county commissioners, they're willing to spread Big Time untruths about what the Measure will do.
Measure 24-292 gives ordinary people more control over county
government, and promotes better decisions by the county commissioners.
It changes the Marion County charter in positive ways, including:
-- Adding two members to the Commission, for a total of five, bringing us in line with other similarly-sized counties in Oregon.
-- Electing the commissioners on a non-partisan basis by district, instead of the partisan, county-wide elections we have now.
-- Eliminating the treasurer position and transferring those duties to the finance department for significant cost savings.
These are facts. Opponents of the Measure should face them head on.
Instead, two members of the Salem Chamber of Commerce (CEO Mike
McLaran and board member Dick Withnell) have mailed a letter to county
residents that is filled with untruths.
Download Measure 24-292 untruths
(In blacking out the name and address of the person who got this "No
on Measure 24 292" letter, I inadvertently blacked out some of the
reverse side also, so I've written in the illegible words.)
Untruth 1. "Measure 24-292 will add over $500,000 in cost." No, it won't. Actually it's projected to save over $270,000 for taxpayers. Check out the truth (chart near the bottom of the Have a Voice Everyone (HAVE) home page).
The commissioners set their own salary/benefits, and hire their own staff. The current commissioners each have a high-paid personal "policy advisor" who makes more money than the commissioners do.
If five commissioners tighten their budgetary belt, like almost everyone else has to these days, the cost to the taxpayer should be reduced when Measure 24-292 is approved. Presently the commissioners pay themselves about as much as the Governor gets, over $100,000 in salary/benefits.
Untruth 2. "Measure 24-292 could force additional cuts in public safety." No way. The three current county commissioners are the ones who have cut fourteen positions from the Sheriff's budget while retaining their own highly paid personal assistants.
As noted above, this Measure should save the county money. Read more about this untruth here. The Chamber of Commerce is using scare tactics, which is reprehensible. Public safety is too important to be used as a childish Boo! that is supposed to make people jump in the direction a selfish special interest wants them to move.
Marion County voters need to see through this game, which citizens are tired of. Failing to face facts, while diverting attention to extraneous issues, is how lobbyists like to play the political game. The Chamber of Commerce mailing is just more of the same.
Untruth 3. "Measure 24-292 would allow secret government meetings." No, Oregon has a strong public meeting law that promotes openness and accountability. The Measure doesn't change this in the slightest. It simply enlarges the number of commissioners from three to five.
Because currently two commissioners constitute a quorum, the present three-member board uses "policy advisors" (who are paid more than $100,000 a year) to shuffle messages between the commissioners.
The Measure will allow two commissioners to discuss issues without running afoul of the public meeting law, just as elected officials in every other body with more than three members is able to do.
If the Chamber of Commerce is so afraid of "secret government meetings," why isn't it trying to reduce the size of the Salem City Council (now with 8 members) to three? Along with the Oregon House of Representatives (60 now) and Oregon Senate (30 now)?
Here's the truth about this.
Untruth 4. "Measure 24-292 would greatly limit your voice in local government." No, not at all. Exactly the reverse. The Measure simply elects five commissioners by district, instead of countywide.
This is how Salem City Council members are elected: by district, instead of citywide. And this is how state Representatives and Senators in Oregon are elected: by district, instead of statewide.
Most people would much rather have a politician from their own area represent them, rather than someone who isn't accountable to local citizens. But the Chamber of Commerce feels differently, because special interests like to lobby behind closed doors and leave ordinary people out of the loop.
So vote "Yes" on Measure 24-292.
I wrote and paid for a voter's pamphlet statement in favor of the Measure because I believe Marion County government needs to be more efficient and better represent the citizenry.
If you learn the facts about Measure 24-292, I'm confident you'll come to the same conclusion. Don't let the Chamber of Commerce's untruths distract you from making up your own mind on this important upcoming vote.