Monday, August 28, 2006

Kulongoski Challenges TABOR Astroturfer to Debate

Now THIS is tackling an issue head-on, and being out in front on an issue:
Portland, Ore - Today, Governor Ted Kulongoski challenged New York multi-millionaire developer Howard Rich to a debate on the proposed state spending limit, Measure 48. Rich is the chief financial backer of the Measure, frequently referred to as TABOR, which would require billions of dollars in cuts to the state budget.

"If Measure 48 passes, it will mean larger classes for our children, cuts to vital senior services, and fewer police on our streets," Governor Kulongoski said in issuing his challenge. "If Howard Rich thinks it is worth pouring millions of dollars into shaping our future, he can certainly afford a plane ticket out from New York to explain himself to the voters of Oregon." [emph mine]

As the Oregonian recently reported, Rich provided more than 85 percent of financing to get the initiative on the ballot. [8/5/06]
The part I've highlighted is simply awesome rhetoric--it not only directly challenges Rich, demanding that he put his mouth where his money is, but not-so-subtly reinforces the point that Rich's influence comes far removed from what Oregonians are experiencing at home.

The whole letter is pretty damned good (except for the pair of typos), so I'll reprint it in entirety:
August 28, 2006

Howard Rich
73 Spring Street, Suite 408
New York, NY 10012

Dear Mr. Rich:

Since you are the chief financial backer of Oregon ballot Measure 48, I invite you to Oregon to publicly debate the merits of the measure. You have already put $1.1 million dollars into this effort, so I am certain that you can afford the price of a plane ticket.

When I took office as Governor, Oregon faced a multibillion dollar budget deficit and the highest unemployment rate in the nation. I have lead the efforts to get our economy back on track and to repair the damage done to our schools, human services and public safety programs from the revenue losses we suffered during the last recession.

Measure 48 will derail these efforts. Just when our economy is recovering, Measure 48 will take us back to the days when schools had to close early, courts were cut back to four days a week, and we couldn't afford to maintain coverage for thousands of low-income working families in the Oregon Health Plan.

If this Measure passes, we will again be forced to cut billions of dollars from a budget that is barely adequate to support our schools, senior services, health care, and public safety.

For too long out-of-state special interests have used Oregon as a laboratory for their failed ideas. As Governor, I feel it is my obligation to stand up to the special interest groups you fund and protect the most vulnerable in our population - kids and seniors - who depend on services you are proposing to cut.

Your subordinates may try to help you avoid the publicity by offering to debate in your stead. I do not see such an arrangement as acceptable. If you are willing to pour millions into our state as a social experiment, the least you can do is come here and explain in person to Oregon voters why the face of our future is so important to you.

I welcome my Republican opponent join me in this discussion with you, but while he opposes this measure, he refuses to campaign against it. Please contact my campaign as soon as possible so that we can finalize arrangements for the forum.


Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski
Chuck Sheketoff couldn't have said it better himself. If the Goobernor keeps up this kind of direct approach not only will Measure 48 fail, Kulongoski will win re-election in a walk.