Got my ballot, got my Voter’s Pamphlet, got dots to fill. The races are pretty easy. Straight Democrat all the way. It’s not a thoughtful policy in normal times, but ever since the Republican Party hung out their “You must be this vile to run as a Republican” sign, it’s been an easy call. If the Democratic Party runs a shingles virus for State Legislator, they get my vote.
The ballot measure that’s catching my eye is the one where we redesign the form of our city government. Currently Portland is run by four commissioners and a so-called “weak mayor” who has exactly as much power as the commissioners and doesn’t get to decide much. The mayor does decide bureau assignments for the commissioners, usually in a fairly random manner, although historically the mayors grab the police bureau for themselves. If the mayor is ticked off at a commissioner, they are likely to snatch back Parks and Recreation and give the commissioner the Bureau of Where The Poop Goes.
This system is the last of its kind anywhere in North America except, apparently, Toronto, where they were somewhat better off having a weak mayor in the Rob Ford era. Our system was put in place in 1913, which is the same year my mommy was put in place, but she was abolished in 1981, and this system lives on. Everyone agrees it’s a stupid way to run a city, and this is the first time anyone has tried to do anything about it.
I wouldn’t even have to study the issue if the usual method applied, which is to read the arguments in favor and in opposition and note who brings up irrelevancies like fetal supremacy and the sacred right to strut around with a personal arsenal unavailable to Ukrainians. However, this time nothing was clear. The people and organizations lined up pro and con are all wonderful. The Time Is Now! say supporters, but turn the page and you discover Now Is Not The Time, after all. It’s a conundrum.
One very good idea is creating a City Manager to run all the bureaus. That way commissioners can draw the broad strokes while not having to abruptly get up to speed on Poop Particulars because they ticked off the mayor again.
Since currently commissioners could conceivably all live in the same tony block in the West Hills and yet represent the whole city, the new proposal aims to spread the blame out a little better by creating four new districts and allowing their residents to vote for three councilors each. The idea is no matter where you live, you get to vote for someone who will have your area’s interest at heart. Twelve councilors is a lot of councilors. Any more, and it seems like you’ll have people running on the platform of getting that abandoned Trans-Am off the corner of 143rd and Whatsit Street facing off against the dude who’ll get Velveeta back on the shelves at the Shop & Drop. I don’t know.
A better plan would be to create, say, eight districts with one representative for each. But that’s not on the ballot, and proponents of the current initiative say it’s better to jump on this bandwagon and tweak the thing later.
In another 109 years, say.
What could possibly be the benefit of an election day holiday in a state where everyone votes by mail? Democrats: We may not be exciting, but the other side is fuckin nuts.
Is that on the ballot? I haven’t gotten all the way through.
I think that we should be more like Australia in this regard, where voting is compulsory. There could be a ticky box for “none of the above” for people who don’t like either candidate or don’t know or care much about politics (shame on them!) Perhaps River could elucidate this point? The penalty for not voting could be a fine.
Or better yet, a spanking!
Yeah, but some people are INTO that, so that would not necessarily get one to vote. Ain’t nobody into fines! Unless they are REALLY weird.
And — not judging — you seemed to come up with the spanking comment pretty quickly! Just sayin’…..
I’d comment more, Murr, but I assume Mimiandrly takes care of replies, and I remember talking (writing) to you. I value your comments, as I remember them. So, I’ll fade back into the woodwork. Your blog comments and articles are great, It’s good to see someone who has the same Portland history as I remember.
Should Fish More.
Don’t fade. I need to fish more too.
Mary W—Your last sentence would be a great bumper sticker!
Sadly, there is no ticky box for “none of the above”. If there were one, probably more than half the people would use it and nothing would ever change in government. Although to be fair, whichever government we choose, nothing changes anyway except the face behind the words.
We have local council elections happening here and I’m supposed to have my papers in by the 10th, but haven’t yet received any in the mail…
I haven’t seen many elections in which I personally would pick “none of the above.” Nor do I slam politicians in general. Plenty are corrupt and power-hungry but at least around here we have some super reps who are fighting the good fight and I’m happy to keep voting them in!
A very important point for EVERYONE to note. While Australia has what they call “compulsory voting” I’m a nit-picker and call it “compulsory attendance.” By that I mean that, should you NOT turn up on polling day you can be fined for said non-attendance.[I expect Mr Google can tell you what that fine will amount to.] But those of us who do stand in line, have our names crossed off and are given a voting slip and duly go into the dinky little cardboard cubicle, complete with its attached-to-a-string pencil can do whatever they damn’ well please with the voting paper. Draw Mickey Mouse on it, write a clever limerick.
My point is, it’s only the turning up and being crossed off the list that is compulsory. The actual voting for a candidate? Nope.
I wonder if it’s a good idea? I really don’t know. I know a lot of people I wish wouldn’t vote.
From one Portlander to another. (and long time municipal employee)…. it’s gotta change, but I used to watch Chicago city council mtgs —— all 50 members misbehaving in turn, w Daley turning off the microphones of his critics…..Somehow the city mgr part is the most important
I believe I will wait for the improved version next year. And yes on the city manager.
Our county wants to amend the charter to “permit the County Council to directly communicate with county employees in the Executive Branch to obtain information.” They also want to amend the charter to “establish the grounds and the process to remove a Council Member.” There is no explanation to be found for these changes. They both sound ominous. It is difficult to get a grasp of local politics, yet incredibly important if we don’t want more mayhem.
I sure would wonder about that first one!
Commissioners can be important or not – your only hope is to employ Commissioner Gordon as he has a direct line to Batman – and as we know, he opposes evil.
As long as no one’s Robin anybody.
About 30 minutes south of Portland City Hall is our town’s City Hall, and we have a “weak Mayor,” weak City Commission (who are really a town council), and a good City Manager and awesome Department Heads that run our city.The so-called commission sets policy and the mayor appoints advisory committees. It seems to work pretty well.
I live in Arizona. Please send thoughts and prayers.
I’m reading that Drazan could well be guv, and that Oregon could flip to red in the house representatives. I’m hoping my move back from the state of Montana did not trigger some weird climacteric event that caused a right shift in people’s minds…