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At last Saturday's Transit Riders Union forum, Portland city council member Amanda Fritz talked with local organizers about the importance of preserving access, on the Nov. 2010 ballot, of low-income and other disenfranchised voters being able to run for, and supporting candidates for, city council races. Randy Leonard, invited to attend the forum as the most visible opponent of VOE, was busy and did not attend.
At last Saturday's PSU forum on Voter-Owned Elections, organized by Transit Riders Union, city council member Amanda Fritz put forward the case for working actively in local neighborhoods to educate and advocate with neighbors for keeping VOE by voting yes on the November ballot measure which seeks to renew the five year old program in Portland.

Two organizers attending the forum on VOE, however, Crystal and Joe, made some telling points in criticism of Amanda vis-a-vis what they believe to be the 'standing down' by Portland City Council members, including Amanda herself, re the recent unanimous passage of sit-lie 2 by the city council. Amanda talked about the importance of dialogue between different sectors of our community, including business interests, reps from Portland Business Alliance, and citizens at a recent forum at a church where 200 people engaged in dialoguing on sit-lie.

However, in terms of Voter Owned Elections, as a measure on the upcoming Nov. 2 ballot (and ballots go out by mail shortly in mid-October), Amanda noted there are other jurisdications which have forms of VOE, including elections in the state of Maine. However, Amanda said that Portland has taken the lead on this issue nationally, as a municipality, which makes it easier for critics to criticize it.

For example, the Oregonian's Dave Lister recently compared Amanda Fritz to Lucille Ball, that Amanda purportedly has 'explainin' to do re the ethical practices and overall utility of VOE. The Tribune just editorialized that VOE is a horrible system and is the easiest thing on the Nov. ballot locally for voters to abolish. Amanda says there are no polls that she knows of about popular sentiment in the city regarding VOE, however.

In addition to Amanda, also invited to the Saturday PSU VOE forum were: Jim Middaugh, Erik Sten's former chief of staff who got 22% of the vote in using VOE against Nick Fish an election cycle ago (Jim had a family conflict and could not attend); Randy Leonard (who said he was busy/out of town that weekend); Bernie Bottomly, VP of Portland Business Alliance (who failed to respond at all); and Victoria Taft, Tea Partier, KPAM Radio host and organizer of the pro-police free coffee event outside Red & Black earlier this summer [the Facebook 'boycott' of Red & Black had 20,000 friends and the story made CNN] (Victoria said she would be late, but didn't show up, either).

Of these folks, only Bottomly (brother of the Oregonian's managing editor, Theresa Bottomly) failed to respond at all. Transit Riders Union very much appreciates the invited speakers considering coming to the forum, and especially Amanda's coming and talking (and listening) for an hour, as well.

With Citizens United gutting both McCain-Feingold and 20 state campaing finance laws -- and with Meg Whitman (to cite one example) spending $120 million of her own money to try to defeat Jerry Brown for California governor in November -- the need for campaign finance reform and VOE is clearer than ever, Transit Riders Union believes.

At least with Portland City Council races, VOE exists. For Metro races, it does not. For the TriMet Board of Directors, citizens aren't even allowed to vote to elect the TriMet board since it is an appointed body (so far).


homepage: homepage: http://www.trimetriders.org
phone: phone: 503-222-2974
address: address: PO Box 40011, Portland, Oregon 97240