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Clackson Newsletter

Setember 2016

In this Issue:

Welcome to Attaining our 60th Year!

Libby Medley, Program/Events Chair
Welcome back to a special year of celebrations and challenges! This year we celebrate 60 years since our local League began its first year as a full-fledged League in 1956-57 under the very capable leadership of Virginia Campbell (see memoriam).
This year we also rededicate ourselves to serving Oregonians, as we respond to the recurrent questioning of popular opinions. Once an 8-year-old Virginia asked the NY Sun about Santa Claus; now the League of Women Voters hears: “I am concerned. Some of my friends say there is no democracy; so voting doesn’t matter. As a trusted organization, please tell me the truth; is there a democracy?”

Yes, Virginia, there is a representative democracy. It exists as certainly as our nation is run on the basis of law established in the Constitution. Voting matters and will continue to matter as long we hold our founders’ vision to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the common good. We work to keep this vision alive.

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September Celebration!

Robin Teater, Executive Director of Healthy Democracy, will speak about the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization formed in 2007 to strengthen Oregon’s ballot initiative process. The League strongly supports their Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR), which uses randomly selected citizen panels to carefully deliberate the pros and cons of selected ballot measures. Learn how the idea developed and why other states view this Oregon process as a model for initiative reform.

  • Wednesday, September 14| 5:30 PM dinner from The Olive Garden
  • Oswego Pointe Club House, 5050 Foothills Drive, Lake Oswego
  • $12.00 | RSVP by September 12 to:
    Sonja Kollias  503-636-2187 | vskollias@aol.com
  • DIRECTIONS: Take State Street to Foothills Road; follow Foothills Road to a 3-way stop; keep right; go downhill to left-turn lane; turn left onto Foothills Drive; building straight ahead is the Club House.

ASK a friend or acquaintance to come and enjoy an evening of food and fellowship, as we learn about opportunities to be involved in the LWV this year and explore one way our democracy is alive and well!

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Executive Committee Jottings

Judi Umaki
While mourning the impending end of a lovely summer and the shortening of days, it is exciting  to think about and plan for our new year in League.

After the always fun kickoff on Sept. 14, with good food from the Olive Garden, we will be plunging into Voter Service activities.  Since it is so easy to register to vote in Oregon and many other organizations now sponsor candidate forums, most of our efforts these days go into presenting ballot measures (7) information to our own members as well as other community groups.  And of course we distribute copies of the LVOR Voters Guide to area libraries and senior centers.  If you would like to help with these projects, give me a call at 503-636-5773.  Easy, short term work for League. 

Remember that there will be candidate information on LWV’s website VOTE411.org and LWVOR’s VOTEResources page.  Also, the Video Voters Guide with candidates interviewed by our own star, Marge Easley, will be available for viewing on cable TVCTV in October (TBA).

Here’s to an interesting, educational year in League.  Your participation will make it more meaningful to all.  Bring a friend!

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LWVOR Council: June 3-5, 2016

League members from across Oregon and Washington met in Vancouver, Washington June 3-5.  Arrival time coincided with the oil train derailment in Mosier, OR, leading to travel times as much as 12 hours! LWVCC attendees included delegates Emily Medley and Pamela Ashland, parliamentarian Marge Easley, observer Libby Medley, and state board member Karan Kuntz.
Friday evening members enjoyed Dine-Around followed by an Art Nite tour in Vancouver or the excellent play Cottonwood in the Flood, a drama based on the experiences of African Americans in Vanport of the 1940s and the rapid fall of the city with the Vanport flood.

A busy day, Saturday saw a variety of workshops and breakout sessions for the two state Leagues.  LWVWA, which does not conduct business during Council, met for an update on their 2015 Convention while LWVOR met for a business session. Building on the theme of “Meet at the Columbia River, lunch featured a panel discussion of the Columbia River Treaty. At Saturday evening banquet, Mary Christina Wood, originator of the climate change litigation approach called “Atmospheric Trust Litigation” spearheaded by Our Children’s Trust, provided a somber update on climate change science and why youth are suing the federal and state governments to get action.
On Sunday, LWVWA discussed Advocacy between Legislative Sessions, and LWVOR adopted a budget and elected members of the state board. A final joint session sought suggestions for future joint efforts.

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Hosting the 2017 State Convention

Although it’s many months away, it’s not too early to circle May 5-7 on next year’s calendar. Those are the dates selected for the 2017 LWVOR Convention, which will be held at the Holiday Inn in Wilsonville. LWV Clackamas County is the host League, so our convention committee, headed by Libby Medley, will be calling on members to help with various organizational tasks. State conventions are educational, inspiring, and lots of fun, so if you’ve never attended you now have a perfect opportunity to get a ringside seat!

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Citizens' Initiative Review Observations

Hilly Alexander
On Friday August 19 I attended part of the afternoon session of the Citizens' Initiative Review (CIR) of Ballot Measure 97. I was quite impressed with the process overseen by the CIR Commission. The CIR Commission staff were very professional, unbiased, respectful of participants, and kept speakers within their allotted time. Observers are prohibited from interacting with the panelists or ask questions.

The 20 panelists seemed to be representative of Oregon voters and were engaged.
During the Question & Answer session with Measure 97 proponents and opponents, the panelists asked questions such as "How does the Governor allocate money?", "Which corporate loopholes is Measure 97 trying to fix?", "Who funds the campaign against Measure 97?".
The independent experts remained impartial during the next segment, even when a panelist tried to extract their personal opinions.
The Citizens' Review Statement (see pages 4-5) reflects the professionalism of the process.

The following League members also attended the session: Norman Turrill (LWVOR President), Marge Easley, Libby Medley, Jay Medley, Emily Medley, and Alice Lackey (Umpqua Valley League).
 

A View of LWVUS Convention:

LWVCC Delegate, Emily Medley
I first arrived in Washington, D.C. on the same flight as my Convention roommate. Direct flights across the country are a wonderful thing. I spent five hours crocheting and writing a letter, and then it was time for my roommate and me to catch a cab to the hotel and register ourselves after getting into our room. After a dinner of Chesapeake crab cakes, I finally took a chance to look at our Convention Workbook.

I was a little disappointed to notice that the theme appeared to be heavily oriented toward voter service. I'd just finished distribution of Voters' Guides, struggles with the postal service bureaucracy that surrounds bulk mail of large pieces, and the arrangement of three forums in my position at the Portland League office. I was interested in action. This disappointment quickly dissipated as I learned at a caucus that many state Leagues don't use Vote411.org, heard speakers and League members from other states talk about struggles with strict and arbitrary voter ID laws, difficulties with long lines at polling locations, gerrymandering, and proposed laws that would make some of our members felons for registering voters. I had dinner one night with some members of the D.C. League who discussed their struggle of taxation without the representation that is only afforded to states. It became clear very quickly that my desire to focus on action was a privilege of coming from a state that makes registration and informed voting easy.

I learned in a discussion of our definition of “nonpartisan” that we are to use our definition of the word and not the word itself, and that refusing to support or oppose parties or candidates should not prevent us from expressing opinions on hateful rhetoric, money in politics, or tone of campaigns. Having majored in rhetorical analysis, I breathed a sigh of relief. It was fascinating and inspiring to be surrounded by roughly 750 men and women, old and young, all with opinions and enthusiasm for attaining similar ends through a fair process, with civil and respectful discussion. This is how democracy should work. I left after adjournment proud to be part of the League's effort toward this goal, at local, state, and national levels.

Later adventures of sightseeing in the general area included a lovely road trip to Monticello, and a walk down an escalator waterfall in a flash flood rain storm to reach the Metro train. I have a picture of a three-foot high "wet floor" warning cone inside the station halfway submerged.
Citizens’ Review Statement

This Citizens’ Statement, authorized by the 2011 State Legislature, was developed by an independent panel of 20 Oregon voters overseen by the Citizens’ Initiative Review Commission. The panelists were randomly selected from registered voters in Oregon and balanced to fairly reflect the state’s electorate based on location of residence, party registration, age, gender, education, race and ethnicity, and likelihood of voting. Over a period of four days, the panel heard from initiative proponents, opponents, and independent experts. The panelists deliberated about the measure and produced this statement. This statement has not been edited, altered, or approved by the Secretary of State.

The opinions expressed in this statement are those of the members of a citizen panel and were developed through the citizens’ review process. They are NOT official opinions or positions endorsed by the State of Oregon or any government agency. A citizen panel is not a judge of the constitutionality or legality of any ballot measure, and any statements about such matters are not binding in a court of law.


Key Findings
These findings were ranked by citizen panelists, starting with the most important for voters to know.

  • Measure 97 is an amendment to an existing law (ORS 317.090), that would revise the minimum corporate income tax for C- corporations making over $25 million in Oregon sales.
  • The revenue generated by Measure 97 can be utilized according to the priorities identified by the Oregon legislature.
  • If passed, the estimated 6 billion dollars generated would represent a 25% increase in overall state revenue biennially.
  • Approximately 80% of the state budget is already in education & health care, so there is a strong propensity for money to go to those areas if M97 passes.
  • M97 raises the corporate minimum tax on sales above $25 million on large and/or out-of-state C corporations, affecting less than 1% of businesses in Oregon.
  • Our state's primary revenue is generated from income tax, which can be volatile. If passed, this could provide more economic stability.
  • M97 taxes sales, not profits. It would require C corporations to pay 2.5% on sales over $25 million, even when they make no profit or lose money. That could hurt C corporations that have slim margins; like grocery stores, medical clinics and some farms.
  • If a business chooses to leave Oregon and continues to do business in the state they will still be subject to the corporate tax.
  • According to Roberta Mann, a law professor at the University of Oregon, if this measure passes, it is likely that 75% of the tax burden would be borne by shareholders & investors rather than being reflected in increased pricing for goods & services.

Statement in Support of the Measure

We, 11 members of the Citizens’ Initiative Review, support Measure 97 for the following reasons:

  • Measure 97 would raise $3 billion annually, allowing for major investments in education, healthcare, and senior services. This revenue could improve Oregon’s low graduation rates, make healthcare more accessible, and provide 20,000 more seniors with in-home care.
  • Oregon schools & critical services have been underfunded for decades. According to accounting firm Ernst & Young, Oregon ranks last (50th) with the lowest rate of corporate taxation in the country. To increase the ranking to 49th, the state would need to raise an additional $1.5 billion a year in corporate tax revenue.
  • Oregon state expenditures are growing faster than tax revenue, according to Mark McMullen, State Economist, and Ken Rocco, Oregon Legislative Fiscal Officer.
  • Each corporation that would be subject to the taxes under Measure 97 would have the opportunity to write off their state taxes against their federal tax.
  • Without new revenue sources, Oregon faces an estimated

$750 million a year of new budget cuts. Measure 97 could raise $3 billion a year to fund education, healthcare, and senior services, as determined by the legislature.
We are currently in a crisis of underfunded public education, healthcare, and senior services. The passage of Measure 97 would quickly fix this. The measure would provide a more stable economic base for all Oregonians. We believe that fairness, responsibility, and accountability are the core values at stake in this matter.

(11 of 20 panelists took this position)

Statement in Opposition to the Measure

We, 9 members of the Citizens’ Initiative Review, are opposed to Measure 97 for the following reasons:

  • A nonpartisan study by the Legislative Revenue Office says M97's tax could increase costs consumers pay for essential goods and services, costing a typical family $600 more per year.
  • The Legislative Revenue Office report stated that if M97 passes it could result in a 1% lack of creation of jobs.
  • The estimated overall impact of M97 is based on an assumption that consumers would receive 50% of the burden, however the actual burden on consumers cannot be determined.
  • A nonpartisan Legislative Revenue Office study shows 97's tax is regressive. It could increase consumer costs for food, medicine, clothing, housing, utilities and other essential goods and services.

The passage of M97 would create a regressive tax. A regressive tax takes a larger percentage of income from low income earners creating an unnecessary burden on many Oregon families. One of the major risks of passing M97 is significant job loss. Another result of passing M97 could be a large increase in costs to corporations resulting in increased costs to consumers. This could lead to decreased economic stability and bring financial harm to all Oregonians. Efficiency, transparency, and fairness are the core values at stake in this matter.

(9 of 20 panelists took this position)

Disclaimer: This vote indicates that if this microcosm of people, who are reflective of the demographics of Oregon, were to vote on this measure today, this is how they would vote.

Reminder: A new League year begins! Dues are due.

The LWVOR Board Takes Positions on Ballot Measures

Ballot Measure 94:  Support - The Oregon Elimination of Mandatory Judicial Retirement Age Amendment, would eliminate the requirement that judges retire at the age of 70.  It would also authorize or require the retirement or of judges with a physical or mental disability or any other cause rendering judges incapable of performing their judicial duties.  Action felt that the forced retirement age was age discrimination, against League positions.

Ballot Measure 95:  Support - The Oregon Public University Diversification of Investments Amendment would amend Section 6 of Article XI of the Oregon Constitution to allow public state universities to invest in equities.  This would allow universities to allow growth through investments other than patents.  University Boards will have public meetings, so they meet our positions on being transparent, accountable.

Ballot Measure 96:  Neutral - Amends Constitution, dedicates lottery funding for veterans’ support services.  Because this is another carve-out of the lottery funds, and because it amends the constitution, the League has concerns.  But, these monies are likely needed for veteran’s services.

Ballot Measure 97:  Support -  increases certain corporate taxes by establishing a 2.5 percent tax on corporate gross sales that exceed $25 million.  Specifically, it would establish a minimum tax of $30,000 plus 2.5 percent of gross sales that exceed $25 million.  LWVOR’s position that says, “A tax system that recognizes the individual's responsibility for government services by providing for broad sharing of the tax burden.”  Oregon has faced a consistent revenue shortage for the past 25 years. While Oregon’s economy has grown, voters have placed limits on the state’s ability to impose new taxes, which has caused inadequate funding of schools and public services.  In addition, Oregon faces a budget shortfall of $1.35 billion in the upcoming budget period. That is a substantial gap, amounting to about 6 percent of the state budget.  According to Oregon's Legislative Revenue Office, the measure would raise more than $6 billion each budget biennium.  This measure effectively replaces losses from Measure 5.  Although this measure is somewhat regressive, since it is a statute, the legislature can always correct it later without the 3/5ths vote required from both houses for a tax increase. We cannot ignore the needs for K-12 schools, human services, the elderly and public safety.  Without this additional revenue, we will again see cuts to the services the public needs and wants.

Ballot Measure 98:  Neutral – requires that the Oregon State Legislature fund dropout-prevention, career and college readiness programs in Oregon high schools.  It would require that the legislature provide at least $800 per student initially and adjusted annually for inflation and population growth.  LWVOR supports comprehensive K-12 funding, which is why we support M97, but if M97 does not pass, this measure will likely reduce funding for early childhood education, an area where LWVOR has increased our voice in support. 

Ballot Measure 99:  Neutral - creates an "Outdoor School Education Fund," sourced from state lottery proceeds, to support outdoor school programs.  The outdoor school initiative seeks to designate about $22 million in state lottery funds for outdoor education for all fifth and sixth graders in Oregon. This outdoor education involves a stay at a camp for a few nights while learning about science.  This is a worthy program but we cannot afford more carve-outs of Lottery Funds.  We fully expect that the Legislature would provide this funding if M97 passes.

Ballot Measure 100:  Neutral -. This measure supports prohibiting the sale of products and parts of 12 types of endangered animals in Oregon: rhino, cheetah, tiger, sea turtle, lion, elephant, whale, shark, pangolin, jaguar, ray, and leopard.  We have an LWVUS position on ecosystem protections and this measure would probably not cost Oregon (except ODFW is responsible for enforcing).  However, we have no strong positions on this issue.

Virginia Campbell: 1910-2016

Nancy Murray
Such an accomplished woman of great integrity deserves our respect and admiration, especially when she is one of our own. Virginia Campbell has been called First Lady of Lake Oswego, not because she was once the mayor’s wife, but because of all the “firsts” she made happen in the young, unplanned city of Oswego and throughout its growth to the fully-fledged city of today. There is hardly an important institution that did not benefit from her leadership: the library, the Festival of the Arts, Lakewood Center of the Arts, Oswego Heritage Council, the Adult Community Center, Rotary, church and more.

Virginia was also a founder of our local League. She was president of the provisional League when it was recognized as a local League by the National League in July 1956. A lot of work must have gone into launching a new organization in town: attracting members, seeking sufficient funding, selecting important topics for study and action. Virginia would have been central to all that planning and work. She would have done so with intellect, passion and strength, qualities that are so often accorded to her.

At that time in the mid-1950s, the City was recognizing the need for planning ahead to provide services, better streets, and water. Also, the new League was meeting with the county planning director to learn about the zoning measure to appear on the November 1956 ballot. The voter service committee would draw up the pros and cons. Members of the Oswego League of Women Voters expressed an interest in getting qualified candidates to run for council. Virginia was not only integral to our League’s early profile of community service, but she went on to use this experience to study metropolitan government. League recognized that the region needed planning and coordination to manage growth and infrastructure. This timely study of tri-county planning issues helped lead to the eventual creation of Metro, the only directly-elected regional government in the U.S.

If all of this sounds like familiar work to you, Virginia Campbell was central to shaping the important work of our local League for decades to come. She has indeed left us an important legacy; we are fortunate to benefit from her insights, energy, and leadership.

Coming Attractions

September 14: Fall Kick-off: Speaker: Robin Teater, Executive Director of Healthy Democracy, 5:30 PM, Oswego Pointe Club House, 5050 Foothills Drive, Lake Oswego, RSVP by September 12 to Sonja Kollias  503-636-2187 | vskollias@aol.com

September 22: LWVCC Board Meeting: 9:30 am Social, 9:45 AM Meeting, Pacific West Bank, West Linn

October 18-21: Unit Meetings: Ballot Measures

November 8: Election Day

November 14-18: Units: LWVOR Election Methods Study

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