Monday, June 04, 2007

GOP: The electorate is too stupid to vote on Measure 37

With the Measure 37 fix headed to the ballot for voter approval, the shrieks eminating from the Republicans in Oregon are shrilling up a local media outlet near you. In fact its starting to appear that the most dangerous place in Oregon is the space between a microphone and a Republican whining for the camera about this M37 fix.

For example on the YouTube video below, you'll see and hear a gaggle of GOP House members screeching about the "will of the voters". This is a video stream enhanced with nasty little subtitles by somebody on the GOP side..but the theme is absolute: any fix of M37 is a thwarting of the voter's will...

Ironically, even the most ardent supporters of Measure 37 seem to understand that in its current form, the law is a mess. This includes Sen Larry George (R-Sherwood) and even Ross Day at Oregonians In Action. Both have known that the law has had unintended consequences and needs fixing. But the theme you'll be hearing from the Oregon GOP and land use special interests groups is going to be "don't let those liberals in Salem thwart the will of the voters by changing Measure 37". This meme is a seething, steaming pile of crap. And they know it.

Another way you can tell that the Oregon GOP thinks that the electorate is too stupid to vote on Measure 37: The "process" meme. You're going to hear them bellyache and stomp their feet claiming that the Democrats had all manner of closed door hearings and behind-the-scenes deal making with "special interest" groups in order to garner political favor with campaign contributors. More BS.

There were over a dozen public hearings on this bill. There were also work group meetings that the GOP committee members attended. The problem wasn't that the GOP didn't have input on the legislation. The problem was that when they came to the table to talk--they kept screwing around.

At first they just tried to run out the clock--knowing that Measure 37 had timetables and if they just waited long enough, the legislature couldn't enact any fixes. But the governor made sure that the legislature had time to really tackle the unintended consequences that all stakeholders agree need tackling.

When that didn't work, then Garrard and Smith (and presumably House leadership) kept moving the goal posts for completion of the various fixes. They'd bring a laundry list of stuff to the work sessions and ask that it be addressed. The Dems would address each line item (to Garrard and Smith's satisfaction, as I understand it). Garrard and Smith would agree that things were great..and then come back to the next session with a whole new list of stuff.

Finally, the Dems decided enough was enough. They asked for one last call when it came to line items--Garrard said everything is great. Every issue they had was addressed (Smith was more tentative, but agreeable). Then Garrard checked in with Dave Hunnicut and Dale Riddle (VP of legal affairs for Seneca Timber--who lines the pocket of many a GOP campaign), and came back to the table with a whole new list.

That's when negotiations really broke down. Essentially, the GOP are willing to concede some things, but have been completely unwilling to strike a complete deal on this issue.

There's more on this to come--specifically the latest changes to M37 from the latest negotiations. I'll try to have more on this later in the week.

There's no interest on the part of the Oregon Republican Party to broker an appropriate fix for M37. It bucks their campaign contributors and it doesn't stroke the right egos.

The Dems in the legislature and the Guv finally had enough. They showed leadership in an effort to actually get things done.

And you won't see the GOP attack the substance of this when it gets to the ballot. You'll only see them attack the people and the process.

Why? Because they think you're stupid.