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corporate dominance | economic justice | energy & nuclear oregon elections 2004

What's happening with the Willamette PUD ??

I just heard that some judge has ordered the initiative pulled from the November ballot.
Does anyone have further information about the WE PUD?
I am stunned that a judge can suddenly pull it from the ballot.
I heard the news on OPB and since they run ads from PGE they are hardly balanced.
Is there any recourse?
The Skinny 21.Jul.2004 09:24

Rick James

For Immediate Release
July 20, 2004

Contact Jeff Cropp, Willamette Electric PUD campaign manager at (503)

On Friday, July 16, Circuit Court Judge Janice Wilson issued a
permanent injunction to remove the Willamette Electric People's Utility
District vote from the November ballot. This decision was in response to a
lawsuit on the PUD's consitutionality filed by Charles Hinkle of Stoel
Rives, on behalf of the following plaintiffs:
Gary Coe - owner, Speed's Supertow
Mark Cooksey - PGE employee
Dave Johnson - PGE employee
Dan Yates - president of American Waterways (Portland Spirit cruise

The Willamette Electric People's Utility District campaign is an
attempt to establish a PUD in eight precincts which voted a majority in favor
of the Multnomah County PUD in November 2003. The lawsuit contends that
the Willamette Electric PUD violates the Oregon State Constitution
because it would be formed from "part of a municipality" rather than an
entire municipality or county. The Constitution does not explicitly say
that PUDs cannot be formed from parts of municipalities. However, Judge
Wilson chose to support Mr. Hinkle's interpretation of the Constitution.

Unfortunately, Multnomah County was the defendant in the case (not the
Willamette Electric PUD campaign). County Attorney Agnes Sowle made no
attempt to defend the case or even inform the Willamette Electric PUD
campaign of the court schedule. In fact, Sowle's formal response to the
plaintiff's motion stated that the "defendants take no position with
respect to the plaintiff's constitutional argument." The case also went
to trial one week after being filed, far sooner than expected.

Willamette Electric PUD campaign manager Jeff Cropp stated "If we had
been informed that this case was going to trial so quickly, we would
have filed to intervene and presented a meaningful defense. As a result of
the County Attorney's inaction, the plaintiffs were able to present
their case with no counter-argument, the PUD was removed from the ballot
and 30,000 voters might be disenfranchised of their vote on this issue."

The Willamette Electric PUD campaign will file a lawsuit to get back on
the ballot within the next week. The campaign expects this effort to be
successful, because the Oregon Constitution does not explicitly state
that PUDs cannot be formed from parts of municipalities. In fact,
Rockwood People's Utility District in east Multnomah County is formed from
parts of Portland and Gresham.

Cropp also noted "The plaintiffs are quite obviously acting on PGE's
behalf. This incident provides a strong indication of how much our
campaign scares PGE. They're attempting to employ every desperate trick that
they can come up with to stop this campaign, but it won't work. The
voters in the Willamette Electric PUD area have already expressed their
desire for reliable, affordable and accountable public power. Our
campaign will not waver in its commitment to achieve that."

For more information, see www.wepud.org or contact Jeff Cropp at (503)

Keep at it! 21.Jul.2004 10:34


You go, Jeff! We'll kick those rip-off bastards out, yet!

Do you need more evidence that corporations rule the world? 21.Jul.2004 10:36

An Oregon Green

The system is rigged. Vote for whomever you want but don't fool yourself in thinking it makes a difference. Corporations rule the world and they will decide what is right for you. If you try to respond, they have the legal system, including their paid representitives (elected Democrats and Republicans) to do their bidding.

You can't win without revolution!!!

PGE stoops to new lows! 21.Jul.2004 10:44


Paying a team of high priced attorneys to sift through our state constitution to find anything they can that might stop the "will of the people" is disgusting and undemocratic, but not surprising.

But to do so without allowing the opposing legal arguement to even be considered by refusing to notify all parties involved of the specifics of the hearing, is downright criminal.

Agnes Sowle, Multnomah County's chief attorney, said she did nothing wrong and disagreed with PUD advocates when she said "I don't believe it's my job to go look for people who might take a position one way or another when we're sued," Sowle said. "The county's role in this PUD formation petition is purely ministerial. The statute tells us exactly what we're supposed to do and the county has no authority to change things or take a position one way or another."

But the county is responsible to make sure that our constitution is properly interpreted and that existing precedence is considered. They failed to do so.

Why do I believe that if the situation was reversed, PGE officials would of been made aware and given ample time to offer an opposing arguement???

new lows 21.Jul.2004 12:02

se resident

this ruling disgusts me utterly. it does indeed prove that gov't is nothing but the snivelling servant of corporate america. i really hope jeff crop and the other PUD activists can get this s**t overturned. what can we do to help?

What's that smell? 21.Jul.2004 16:39


check out the upcoming two week run of "THE CORPORATION" at Cinema 21 to get a snootfull of corporado stink!
see yall there....

Establishing precedent & ways to help 21.Jul.2004 17:03

Jeff Cropp info@wepud.org

This afternoon, I managed to confirm that there's a solid precedent for forming a People's Utility District from parts of municipalities. That is Rockwood Water PUD, which was formed from parts of Gresham and Portland in 1990. Since there's a long-standing precedent, that should help us demonstrate that the Willamette Electric PUD would be constitutional (if we're actually given a chance to present our case in court).

I genuinely hate to make a pitch for money on Indymedia, but the best way for folks to help out now would be to contribute to our legal fund. We've got to sue Multnomah County to get back on the ballot, and it's going to be expensive to fund a good lawyer to accomplish that. Most lawyers who normally work pro bono don't have expertise in this area of law. As a grassroots campaign, we're pretty much tapped out on funds right now. If you're interested in donating, check out: www.wepud.org/donate.php

Since I know most people won't be able to donate, I'd encourage you to write letters to the editor to the Oregonian (150 words or less) and/or get involved in the campaign. We need to maintain the visibility of this issue! We're going door to door through all of the neighborhoods in the Willamette Electric PUD area in an effort to educate people about the advantages of public power. Your help is critical to overcoming PGE's big bucks and strong-arm tactics!!


This is OUR local experience of the 4th world war! 21.Jul.2004 18:50


This is our local expression of the 4th world war, the war of monopolyzing corporate forces enclosing the commons and preventing us from having public access.

Fellow radicals, critics, revolutionaries, activists- there is nothing more important then our ability to take on the ownership of our own life support systems. The blocking of our ability to even vote on the WEPUD issue is an act of Tyranny and MUST be opposed.

I call on all of you who care about our world and who take the work of LIberty, Democratic Access, and Public Good to stand in rebellion against this unjust decision.

Local, Statewide, Federal and Global 21.Jul.2004 19:40

Lachlan Alexander lachlanalexander@yahoo.com

This sort of corportate control is, well, out of control. What is it going to take? We must work to inform people -- and empower them to ask the hard questions of the right people. Lachlan http://lachlanalexander.blogspot.com

Look to Bolivia and Argentina 21.Jul.2004 20:26


It's time to look to the inspiration of struggles like those in Boliva and Argenina for inspiration and start a Direct Action campaign about this issue.

We need to do something to highlight the importance of this issue in the public mind./

Charlie Hinkle is the ACLU's main lawyer in Portland 22.Jul.2004 13:53

Alan Graf

Again, Charlie Hinkle, one day defends the Constitution and the next day steps on it. Hinkle is the local ACLU's main lawyer and at the same time defends corporations like Fred Meyers in their quest to get rid of petitioners.

This is one reason why I am not so hot on the local ACLU's politics.

Alan Graf

WEPUD Volunteer Meeting is Monday, July 26 22.Jul.2004 19:16

Norris Thomlinson scrub@corrupt.net

I just wanted to point out that a big WEPUD volunteer meeting is coming up this Monday...a great chance to get involved and help kick PGE/Enron out of inner east Portland. Come on out if you can, and learn how you can plug into the campaign!

Date: Monday, July 26.
Time: 7 - 9 PM
Place: Southeast Uplift, 3534 SE Main St

RE: A Oregon Green's comment that Corporations Rule 24.Jul.2004 17:18

Joan w/Oregon Public Power Coalition


Do you need more evidence that corporations rule the world? 21.Jul.2004 10:36

An Oregon Green

The system is rigged. Vote for whomever you want but don't fool yourself in thinking it makes a difference. Corporations rule the world and they will decide what is right for you. If you try to respond, they have the legal system, including their paid representitives (elected Democrats and Republicans) to do their bidding.

You can't win without revolution!!!

Voting for a PUD, any PUD, is not "Voting for whomever ...". It's definitely a vote AGAINST a Corporation. It's a vote to takeback from a Corporation assets that the customers have already paid for. These assets provide an essential resource that we all need & use. (and don't try to argue with me that we don't "need" it. If you're reading this, you need electricity)

Voting for a PUD, and working in its campaign, IS revolutionary !!!

I was recently verifying voter signatures for one of the petitions going around. In doing this I can see a voter's Voter History: ie whether or not a voter return their ballot in a specific election. It doesn't show HOW you voter, just if you did or not.

I was shocked by the number of registered Green voters who did not vote in last November's Multnomah County PUD campaign.

A large number of Democrats also failed to return their ballots in November.
This doesn't surprise me as much since so many of their leaders either spoke out against it or remained silent about the PUD.

Mind you, I was looking at voters who had signed a petition, so you'd think their
political awareness to be higher than the average voter. Evidently not.

Help WEPUD, even if you don't live within its boundary.
Do the work.
Raise the money.
Make change where you live.

Another PUD within PGE territory creates possibilities for the rest of us that we don't have now.

And I'd just like to say, if it weren't for the PUD work, we wouldn't know about Goldschmidt & the OPUC would probably have approved the sale of PGE to Texas Pacific Group last week.

Instead it told them "Hey - ratepayers need a rate cut. No Sale. (Well, not yet anyway!)"

Volunteer Meeting Monday night 7/26 7-9pm Southeast Uplift 3534 SE Main st.