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Sources Say: People's Water Trust measure all washed up

In a move that surprised no one, backers of the proposed People’s Water Trust ballot failed to qualify their measure for the Nov. 4 general election ballot in Portland by the July 7 deadline. In fact, they only claimed to have collected around 1,000 voter signatures, far short of the 30,000 or so needed to qualify.

The initiative was launched in response to the proposed Portland Public Water District by a very loose-knit coalition of activists who felt that proposal favored corporate interests too much. They had little money and no previous campaign experience, however, which severely limited their chances of success. After the water district measure was overwhelmingly defeated at the May 20 primary election, what little attention it attracted evaporated.

The failed initiative was sponsored by the Cascadian Public Trust Initiative. Chief petitioner Jonah Majure says it will be refiled, but there’s no reason to think the result will be any different.

Fritz puts her bet on parks bond

Commissioner Amanda Fritz is encouraged about voter support for a parks maintenance bond. That’s true, even though the poll, conducted by DHM Research, found only 48 percent would vote for it without more information.

As Fritz sees it, that’s not bad, considering the poll was taken just after the May 20 primary election, when some voters were likely discouraged about government because candidates they supported lost. And while the poll was in the field, Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick announced their plan to have the City Council impose a new street fee without putting it on the ballot. Then the Water Bureau issued a boil water alert, although it last less than 24 hours.

So even though 48 percent is just short of a majority, Fritz thinks it’s not too bad. And when voters are told their taxes won’t go up because the levy will replace one that is expiring, support climbs to 68 percent in the poll, which has a margin of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

Complacency may be only election obstacle

The parks levy poll also confirmed that Portland continues to be dominated by Democrats, which, given its size, is a big reason why Republicans have such a hard time winning statewide elections.

According to the demographic information in the poll, 67 percent of respondents were Democrats compared to just 16 percent who were Republicans. in fact, more voters were either unaffiliated or belonged to minor political parties than were registered Republican — 17 percent.

And the Democratic voter registration edge wasn’t because rich white people were left out of the poll. A full 27 percent of those questioned live in households making more than $75,000 a year. And 89 percent identified themselves as white or Caucasian.

That’s a big reason why the two Democratic statewide incumbents on the general election ballot — Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and state Sen. Jeff Merkley — are widely considered well on their way to being re-elected. Their biggest challenge could be complacency on the part of their supporters. Republican state Rep. Dennis Richardson and surgeon Monica Wehby have to hope most Portland voters forget there’s an election on Nov. 4.

Kansas City hotel fight, meet Rose City HQ hotel

Portland isn’t the only city wrestling with issues surrounding taxpayer funding of a headquarters hotel to attract more convention business.

Officials in Kansas City, Mo., who lost a bid for the 2016 Republican convention to Cleveland, are wrangling the same issue. Doggone, some officials argued, if the BBQ City had a convention center hotel, it could attract those big money gatherings like the GOP convention.

Sound familiar? (Although the Rose City is not likely to be on a short list for the GOP convention anytime soon.)

In a June 27 column, Kansas City Star writer Dave Helling says city officials were “picking through the shards of their shattered Republican convention dreams, looking for some sparkle amid the debris.” What they found, however, Helling writes, is a plan to crank up arguments for a publicly supported convention center hotel project. He expects the campaign for the hotel to get underway by the end of this year.

Jackson County, Mo., voters have been notoriously stingy when it comes to those kinds of projects, Heller notes. A year ago, voters rejected a sales tax to install a roof on Arrowhead Stadium, so the NFL would consider the site for a future Super Bowl.

There are lots of other things to spend money on, Heller writes, and voters aren’t interested in fancy hotel projects at the time, sort of like some in Portland who are challenging Metro’s proposed $200 million hotel near the Oregon Convention Center that includes $10 million in public investment.