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corporate dominance | energy & nuclear oregon elections 2004

PGE wins round 2, but PUD effort will continue

Judge Janice Wilson has ruled that forming a PUD from part of a municipality is unconstitutional. The WEPUD campaign was not able to participate in the first hearing, and has been denied the right to intervene in the case afterward. Despite being removed from the November 2004 ballot, public power supporters refuse to be daunted by dirty tricks. The PUD campaign is planning its next steps, which will probably include an attempt to bring the PUD back for the May 2005 ballot.
Last Friday, August 13, Judge Janice Wilson denied the Willamette
Electric PUD campaign's Motion to Intervene in the lawsuit which
declared our efforts unconstitutional. Judge Wilson declared that the
WEPUD campaign was required to intervene in the case during the one week
before the expedited July 16 hearing, even though our campaign was
neither invited to participate in that hearing nor informed of the
hearing date, and the defendant (Multnomah County) made no attempt to
defend the case.

This means that the Willamette Electric PUD is now permanently removed
from the November 2004 ballot. An appeal of this decision would take
approximately two years. WEPUD area voters have effectively been
stripped of their right to vote on this important matter, after the
campaign was not even given a chance to defend itself in court.

Needless to say, WEPUD campaign members and supporters are outraged by
this violation of our democratic right to vote. However, we refuse to
allow PGE's dirty tricks stop our efforts to achieve reliable,
affordable and accountable public power. The WEPUD campaign will not
stop until we have held a real trial on the merits of the PUD's
constitutionality (which we will win). We will then hold an election in
which all WEPUD area voters can express their choice on public power
(which we also expect to win).

In light of this, the WEPUD Campaign Steering Committee will meet
tomorrow night (Tuesday) to decide our next steps. The most probable
course of action is that we'll have to start all over again in this
process and get on the May 2005 ballot. Most likely, this will involve
changing the name of the PUD and the chief petitioners to legally
differentiate it from the first attempt. It also means gathering another
629 signatures (relatively easy) to be placed on the ballot. We'll then
have to (again) go through the Oregon Department of Energy hearing and a
boundary hearing before the Multnomah County Commissioners. At the
boundary hearing we'll be back to square one, when the previous
constitutionality lawsuit was filed against us.

Our attorney, Tom Nelson, has done an excellent job of researching the
case against us and has thoroughly demonstrated that the claims of PGE's
supporters are ludicrous. The Oregon Constitution does not forbid the
formation of PUDs from municipalities, and three current Oregon PUDs
have established a precedent for this over the past 25 years. Our
campaign WILL win a trial on the merits early next year. You can read
more about the legal arguments on our website at www.wepud.org/legal.php

While this is all very frustrating, and we hoped to be on the November
2004 ballot when the largest number of people would be voting, there are
a number of advantages to the delay. For one, in the May 2005 election
thre will probably only be a group of School Board races. Therefore, the
new PUD campaign will not have to compete with other campaigns (such as
Kerry/Edwards & Tom Potter) for money, volunteers, lawn sign locations
and other valuable resources. This also gives the campaign an additional
six months to further its grassroots educational network in the
district. The campaign has already put together the most important
elements of campaign infrastructure, including task coordinators, a
website and volunteer lists, meaning that the campaign can focus almost
solely on raising grassroots funding and mobilizing the volunteers who
have already pledged their support. Finally, the PUD campaign will have
the support of many thousands of district residents who are outraged at
the way PGE has used dirty tricks to keep people from being able to vote
in November 2004.

The Willamette Electric People's Utility District campaign thanks its
supporters for this phase of our efforts, and urges them not to lose hope
while we transition to the next phase. Portlanders are ready for public
power, and we will do whatever it takes to give them an opportunity to
vote "YES" again!

homepage: homepage: http://www.wepud.org
phone: phone: 503-235-0962


PGE - An Albatross Around Our Necks 16.Aug.2004 19:10

North Portlander

I continue to find it frustrating that PGE uses money squeezed from ratepayers to lobby against their own best interests and continue to insure inflated salaries for its overpaid executives, stockholders, and public relations hangers-on. No public utility should operate for profit - at least not the huge profits PGE reaps while hiding behind the protections it claims from the State.

It looks particularly ludicrous in light of today's story citing Portland as the fourth most overpriced place to live in the country.

By the way, did you know that retired PGE employees get a special break on their electric bills? I know because my stepfather is one of them and he always votes against the PUDs because he is afraid of losing his perk.

here it is 17.Aug.2004 06:45

another n portlander

we don't have to look to the white house to see example of sleazy, corporate control of our government. pge'd have to pipe light up your ass to find your head if you can't see it.
thanks to multnomah county for defending the people's rights and to her honor wilson for her service to the community. maybe these pesky citezens with their "people's agenda" bullshit will now shut up and go away.

Huh 17.Aug.2004 16:14

Harmony

Hey Another N Portlander:

How long have you been a PGE employee?