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New effort muddies water ballot choices

Second initiative could put city's system in a 'public trust'


Portlanders may have a chance to vote on two ballot measures related to the Water Bureau next year — one in the primary and one in the general election.

Organic farmer Robert Jonah Majure filed Monday a prospective initiative petition with the city auditor’s office that would place the city’s water system in a People’s Water Trust. It would amend the city charter to require greater accountability in bureau decisions.

Supporters must gather nearly 30,000 valid Portland voter signatures to place it on the November 2014 ballot.

Majure has no previous political experience and will rely on volunteers to gather the signatures to place the measure on the ballot. The auditor’s office has until the beginning of next week to determine the measure’s constitutionality. If the measure passes muster, it will be referred to the city attorney’s office for a ballot title.

Meanwhile, paid petition circulators are still gathering signatures to place a measure creating an elected board to manage the Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services on the May 2014 ballot. If both measures are approved, the new board would have to operate under the stipulations of the trust. If the original measure fails but the trust measure passes, the stipulations would apply to the City Council.

The trust measure does not apply to the environmental services office, which operates the city sewer system and oversees its stormwater management programs.