It's always tough to say why an election result turns out the way it did, especially at the local level where we don't have exit polls.
But here's an initial attempt to get into the minds of Salem voters who rejected Measure 24-399 by 52% to 48% in yesterday's election -- combining that opining with insight into a mind I'm much better acquainted with: my own.
Here's a couple of reasons why I'm optimistic about the defeat of the $82 million police facility bond measure that I led the fight against via Salem Can Do Better.
The defeat shows the downside of top-down governmental planning.
As the Salem Can Do Better web page says, one reason to vote against the bond measure was "lack of public involvement in the police facility planning process from start to finish." I cited some documentation.
"Start," from a January 2014 blog post, City of Salem planned new police facility in backwards way.
There was basically no opportunity for citizens to be involved with planning for a new police facility, or to weigh in on the pluses and minuses of locating this facility in a brand new building at the Civic Center. Even City Council members complained they were kept in the dark about this project.
"Finish," from a June 2016 Salem Weekly editorial, Top Down.
The most important decision made by the Salem City Council during the six year reign of Mayor Anna Peterson was made on June 8 at a special public hearing with most of the citizenry unaware of what was going on... The $82 million full meal deal has had almost no public engagement. It comes from the top down.
Citizens don't like it when City of Salem officials view "public outreach" as asking people to accept what's being offered without questions. This attitude needs to be dumped at City Hall.
Hopefully the Mayor, City Manager, and city councilors now will fully involve the public in a Plan B public safety proposal that costs less and includes the vital seismic upgrades to City Hall and the Library that used to be part of the police facility project until the building doubled in size and cost after Chicago consultants were hired.
The DLR Group now needs to be fired and replaced by a local Oregon architectural firm with a better understanding of what this town needs and is willing to pay for.
The defeat reflects the rise of people-power over money-power.
As a Statesman Journal story points out, those advocating a "yes" vote on Measure 24-399 via a Keep Salem Safe PAC vastly outspent Salem Can Do Better.
The grassroots organization raised just under $2,000, mostly from Hines himself, former mayoral candidate Carole Smith and Salem Community Vision Steering Committee member Jim Scheppke.
...In contrast, the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce-backed Keep Salem Safe PAC garnered more than $100,000 in contributions. Big donors like Mountain West Investment Corporation, Salem Health and the DLR Group donated tens of thousands of dollars.
Yet we prevailed, even with a 50:1 handicap in money available to us. We had to rely on buying some voter's pamphlet arguments, getting free press, and making use of social media (mostly Facebook).
Keep Salem Safe had lots of big name endorsements, lawn signs, a direct mailing to Salem households, a Statesman Journal editorial urging a "yes" vote on Measure 24-399, Chamber of Commerce backing -- everything that traditionally led to a political win in this town.
Except this time it didn't.
The times are a'changing. People are a lot more skeptical of the Power Structure, whether at the national, state, or local level. Their votes aren't a given anymore if certain political buttons are pushed
On the whole, this is a good thing. In a democracy people-power should outweigh money-power. Let's have more of it in Salem.
Along that line, here's a photo someone sent me of the Keep Salem Safe election night party buffet table at the Illahe Country Club. Reportedly lobster canapés were served to donors and supporters.
By contrast, here's a day-after reenactment of the Salem Can Do Better election night festivities. I spent the evening at home obsessively watching presidential election news on MSNBC and CNN, with checking of Marion County results on my laptop after 8 pm.
I served wine and bagged popcorn to myself, sharing some with our non-political dog, ZuZu. (Popcorn, no wine.)
Thank you Brian. Your well thought out analysis of the situation and your effective communication skills overcame the entrenched groups that had come to see themselves as unstoppable. It does not happen often, but, as you have demonstrated, one person can make a difference.
Posted by: Kurt | November 09, 2016 at 04:06 PM
I agree with Kurt. Thank you. I'm starting to think that you represent the world of post-print local journalism.
Posted by: Richard van Pelt | November 09, 2016 at 04:51 PM
Thanks to Brian and to Carole Smith how led this "David vs. Goliath" effort and won! Will the City learn from this? I certainly hope so.
Posted by: Jim Scheppke | November 09, 2016 at 05:12 PM
Another job, WELL DONE by Salem's very own David against the ever present tax and spend Goliath's in government. I really appreciate your efforts on this and other wasteful efforts on government's part to blow OPM. (other people's money)
I am sure that you are as thrilled as I am about the sinking of Measure 97?
It takes good citizenry like us to hold our elected feet to the fire.
You CAN beat city hall and Brian seems to do it on a semi regular basis.
Thanks again to Brian and everyone else that spoke up.
Now, lets move that 3rd bridge a couple of miles south and plug HWY 22 W directly into HWY 22 E. and get all of that traffic OUT of our downtown streets.
Posted by: HarryVanderpool | November 09, 2016 at 06:13 PM
Thank you for your work Brian.
I saw the photos of the party at Illahe Country Club on the Statesman Journal website and laughed and laughed. Those knuckleheads at the chamber of commerce really have no clue how symbolic and tone deaf holding their celebration at a wealthy country club is. I am surprised they weren't smoking cigars and guffaw-ing while slapping each other on the back, while in the background a sad Brian Hines dressed in pauper's clothes peers in through a window from the chilly outside.
Posted by: Salemander | November 10, 2016 at 02:52 AM