Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Sweet Jesus I hate Bill Sizemore

Traditionally, ballot measures in Oregon that are tilted toward the conservative have tended to bring out conservative voters. This cycle I'm not convinced that will be the case.

The mood of the nation in general and Oregon specifically has worn thin against conservatism. While there are still some hardcore advocates who will always consider government to be "wasteful" or "bloated, Oregonians have watched the state budget slashed for years. I remain skeptical that the current slew of potential conservative measures will draw conservatives to the polls.

If anything it seems now like the opposite might be true. The same old crowd of same tired ideas keeps coming back again and again. Sizemore, McIntire, Ross Williams, David Hunnicut, Loren Parks..etc. I think the citizenry is wise to their scams now. It seems logical that this knowledge will draw out more voters on the left--and discourage moderate conservatives.

I believe Bill Sizemore thinks that the public is wise to him as well. That's why the smell of desperation permeates his commentary in today's Oregonian:

Tim Nesbitt and Ellen Lowe have sold Oregonians a bill of goods. Their 2002 ballot measure that banned in Oregon the nationwide practice of paying petition circulators by the signature has not "cleaned up" the initiative process as promised ("Assuring the integrity of the initiative process," July 17). In fact, it has had the opposite effect.

Before Measure 26, when initiative sponsors were allowed to pay circulators by the signature, Oregon had a small problem with petition signature forgeries. During a typical election cycle, two or three forgers would be caught; the other 99 percent of petition circulators played by the rules. Professional circulators knew that they would be blackballed if they were caught forging signatures -- their careers would be over.

Measure 26, on the other hand, has attracted a whole new breed of petition circulators. During this election cycle, nearly 20 signature forgers have been caught and turned in. That's approximately 10 times more forgers than when petition sponsors were allowed to hire professionals who were paid by the signature and had reputations to maintain.

That's one theory--gotta give Bill that. But not an especially plausible one.

The more likely scenario is that since M26 passed, there are more groups out there paying attention to signature gatherers and looking for violations.

There's nothing keeping professional circulators from gathering signatures right now. The difference is that they're required to be paid by the hour. If its true that they'd be blackballed for forgery, why shouldn't the same be true if they violate other laws in Oregon?

Or perhaps are some laws just so unimportant to Sizemore that flouting them doesn't really matter?

Oregonians should know that the U.S. Supreme Court has stated unequivocally that there is a First Amendment right to pay petition circulators. States cannot prohibit that right. And why should they? There is nothing inherently corrupting about paying signature gatherers. Newspaper editors are paid to write editorials. Ministers are paid to prepare and deliver sermons. Does that mean we should doubt the sincerity of their words? Since when does getting paid to do your job corrupt you?

Since Measure 26 doesn't prohibit paying signature gatherers, this paragraph is irrelevant to any reasonable point. But any keen observer of Sizemore knows that he's nothing if not a big fat kettle of red herrings.

But frankly, Measure 26 was not placed on the ballot to clean up the initiative process. That's not what it was really about. Measure 26 was a ploy by public employee unions to make it more difficult for conservatives to put measures on the ballot. Tim Nesbitt's claim that he was trying to clean up the process is almost laughable. If that were the goal, it would have been wiser to demand serious jail time for forgers. But there was no mention of that in Measure 26. Even today, after the measure has been shown to be a failure, its supporters are demanding punishment for initiative sponsors, not signature forgers. Could their motivation be more transparent?

Oh those boogeymen public employee unions! I don't know how Sizemore has managed to get his money laundering, scheming and various other dirty deeds done. Those public employee unions have made it so darned difficult!

The punishment for forging signatures on ballot petitions is up to a maximum of $125,000 fine and/or 5 years in jail. I believe that's for each infraction. So its clearly not a cakewalk when a forger is caught and prosecuted.

And whining about the fact the chief petitioners are responsible for the people that they hire to gather their signatures is very fourth grade. These people are trying to get new laws passed in Oregon. The least they can do is take responsibility for their workers.

This year, those of us sponsoring conservative measures caught and turned in nearly 20 people for forging signatures on petition sheets. If history is any indicator, not one of these cheats will do any time in jail. That's the real problem. There are no consequences for forging signatures. (Incidentally, the petitioners you actually saw on the street likely were not the forgers. The forgers were probably off in some dark corner somewhere.)

See that part in bold? That's an OUTRIGHT LIE. I called the Secretary of State's office and checked. And I listed the consequences: $125,000/5 years jail time-for each infraction.

Measure 26 has not deterred petition forgery, and it has not increased the validity rates of initiative petitions. But it has succeeded in greatly increasing the cost of placing a measure on the ballot. Given all of that, Measure 26 has been a dismal failure for the people of Oregon and a booming success for the public employee unions that sponsored it.

Indeed. Measure 26 hasn't fixed the problems with initiative petitions completely. Not yet. But then Sizemore hasn't been following the law and now the Secretary of State's office is investigating petitions--so that may very well change.

Rome wasn't built in a day, Bill. And if you had your way Oregon would be at your mercy while you sucked the state dry and padded your bank account with all that money coming in from out of state ideologues who try to use Oregon as their political petri dish.

Measure 26 is here to stay. Get used to it.

Update: Scott at the Merc's blog has discovered that Bill in fact had a convicted forger working on his initiative petition--likely a la Democracy Direct/Tim Trickey.

Gee..we have a law against forging signatures on ballot petitions in Oregon. But it hasn't stopped people like Trickey/Sizemore from hiring convicted forgers to circulate their petitions..so therefore forgery law is useless and expensive, so we should get rid of it. Right, Bill?