Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Measure 49: how I would run the campaign

I have the utmost respect for Oregonians In Action, Dave Hunnicutt, Bill Moshofsky, Ross Day and the work Larry George did for years. They have accomplished more in the last few years, against great odds, than most conservative activist groups have accomplished in decades.

Their problem is that their opponents cheat, and they have the power of the government to prevent the cheaters from being held accountable. They have gotten away with it, and they are about to again, unless we win this campaign.

Here's the history:

Measure 7, the "father" of M37, passed in the year 2000. The Democrats were freaked. They got caught sleeping - M7 was one of Bill Sizemore's seven ballot initiatives he qualified for that election cycle. It had a truly beautiful ballot title: Amends Constitution: Requires Payment To Landowner If Government Regulation Reduces Property Value.

When Sizemore filed the petition and got the draft ballot title back, 1000 Friends of Oregon screwed up, and failed to submit comments on the title. Only if you submit comments on the draft title do you have standing to force the draft title to be taken up by the Supreme Court. I talked to Roberty Liberty on my radio show durng the campaign, and he admitted that he was on vacation when the draft title was issued, and so did not get comments filed by the deadline.

Sizemore knew he had a winnable title, which is more than critical - he says 60% of voters make up their mind based solely on the ballot title. Just read that title - most of people probably think that it is already the law that the government would have to pay if its regulations decreased their property value.

And sure enough, it passed. Sizemore handed the campaign over to Oregonians In Action (OIA), where Larry George did a brilliant job of maximizing the ad buy with the resources he had available. (I've worked with Larry on this kind of thing, and I can tell you that he gets about three times more exposure out of a dollar than the campaigns run by the other side.)

So Measure 7 passed, and the Democrats were furious. It was the only one of the seven Sizemore initiatives that passed, and the D's clearly thought that the result was somehow invalid. The Oregonian was beside itself - it had done its usual hatchet job on the measure, but couldn't overcome the strength of that ballot title.

So, the Democrats cheated. They conspired to throw the court case and get the measure tossed. This has been documented, by both Willamette Week and BrainstormNW Magazine.

When the lawsuit came, the state was, of course, the defendant. The measure was now law, and a lawsuit to throw it out on some basis is a lawsuit against the governor.

But guess what our governor, Kitzhaber, did? He met with his lawyers (the AG's office) and the plaintiff, to script how the lawsuit would be handled how to get the judge they wanted, when to file the various motions, and which Assistant AG would handle the case for the government!

This should be a criminal offense. Yet, the Oregonian and other state newspapers were completely disinterested, because they thought Measure 7 was somehow invalid, and so I guess it was OK to cheat to get it tossed.

The AG who handled the case, David Schumer, put up an entirely feckless defense, failing to introduce material evidence, and failing to object to obviously invalid evidence from the plaintiffs. He got rewarded for doin Kitzhaber's bidding - shortly after Measure 7 was tossed, he got appointed a plum judgeship.

So, they cheated to throw out Measure 7.

So OIA did it again, with Measure 37 in 2004. This time with a statutory measure that was not vulnerable on the grounds Measure 7 was tossed. They again ran a great campaign, and again were treated to an hysterical Oregonian onslaught - and won by a 60% - 40% landslide.

The only question was: how will they cheat to throw it out this time?

Well, they found a judge - Mary Merten James. She tossed it, but her "legal reasoning" (called "brilliant" by the Oregonian) was so incredibly stupid and flawed - truly laughble - that even the Oregon Supreme Court couldn't stomach the farce, and they overturned it on a unanimous vote!

That was an incredible rebuke to a sitting judge. A unanimous vote to overturn a decision on a high profile case such as this is akin to accusing her of corruption. But this is Oregon. Such corruption gets rewarded, not punished.

So it looked like Measure 37 would survive, but then the Democrats took over both houses of the legislature, giving them the opportunity to cheat once again. And that is why we are voting on this issue for yet a third time.

The Democrats have referred to voters a measure that repeals Measure 37 and replaces it with a scheme that appears on its face to allow some people the right to build some houses on their property, but that actually would be so bureaucratic and litigous that it would allow the government to steal our property value just as before Measure 37 passed.

This time, they cheated by circumventing the usual process for determining the ballot title. Instead of going through the usual process: draft ballot title issued by the AG, comment period, certified title, and appeal to the Supreme Court - the Democrats poll tested the wording for the title that would have the best chance of passing, and wrote that title right into the enabling legislation!

Here is the title:

Modifies Measure 37; Clarifies Right To Build Homes; Limits Large Developments; Protects Farms, Forests, Groundwater

Guess what the AG's draft ballot title said for the exact same measure when OIA subitted it, in order to make the point that the Democrats were cheating:

Modifies Measure 37 (2004); Limits Number Of Homesites Permitted By Waivers; Requirements For New Claims

OK, so where does that leave us? I headlined this post "How I would run the campaign" and then I spent a couple thousand words giving background. I did that because I think this background is necessary to understand my strategy for winning this thing.

My premise is that the Democrats have cheated, and if the vote is based on this ballot title, they will win. It has already been poll tested, and even our side's polls have it above 60%.

To me, that means we cannot win this thing based on the merits of the phony ballot title. No matter how much we try to tell everybody that it doesn't do what is says it does, we can't reach enough voters with this rather involved argument.

We need something simpler, a message that we CAN reach enough voters with; something that is conducive to a short, repeated message that will turn them against the measure.

What would that be? We know voters in Oregon HATE it when the legislature asks them if they "really meant it." When Oregonians pass something by the ballot, and the refers the same question back to them, it usually is reaffirmed by a larger margin. It happened with Death With Dignity (Measure 50 in 1998.)

So I think the only hope for victory is to run a "How Dare They!" campaign.

For instance:

Narrator: "Back in the year 2000, voters were asked if the government should be able to regulate away their property value. You answered:" [Sound of a large group of people, in unison, shouting "NOOOOOOOOO!"]

Narrator: "But the enemies of property rights got the courts to overturn your will. So, in 2004, you were asked again. Did you really mean it? Do you think the government should be able to regulate away your property value? You answered even louder: [Sound of an even larger mob of people, in unison, higher volume, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!]

Narrator: "But they refuse to listen to you! Now they have the gall to ask you again! Measure 49 asks you for a third time whether you really, really, really meant it. You really don't think the government should be able to regulate away your property value?

How dare they ask you again! Why won't they listen to you?

Well, I guess we are going to have to tell them, once again, louder than before. Will you vote for Measure 49, so the government can once again regulate away your property value?"

[Sound of an even larger mob - a huge crowd - yelling "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!]

That is the type of campaign and ad that I think might have a chance to overcome that ballot title. We have won this issue on its merits twice already, so the Democrat simply drafted a ballot title that makes it hard to argue the issue on its merits.

So we have to define the question, in a way that stirs the passions of the voters. I think the "How Dare They" campaign is the best way to do it.


Anonymous said...

Heard a No on 49 radio ad today; it was awful. I'd really like to know where they dredged up the voice talent. She's stiff as a board and utterly unconvincing.

Even OIAs signs suck. I would have donated my graphic design skills to make some No on 49 signs that actually got your attention.

We're going to lose this thing. Too little thought going onto the No campaign and too much money on the other side from jerks like Lemlson.

Peter Bray said...

You note that Measure 7 passed because there was no challenge to the Measure's title language. It's worth pointing out that there was also no challenge to Measure 37's title language, and this was a large part of why it passed.

Oregonians have voted time and again to preserve SB 100. And this fall we will once again return to vote for commonsense land use planning in Oregon.

Yes on Measure 49.

MAX Redline said...



In Oregon, it appears that you can have any kind of sense you want, so long as it isn't "common".

Ordinary people aren't smart enough to properly care for the land they own, and they're way too stupid to be able to decide what sort of lifestyle suits them.

Yeah, right.

Anonymous said...

The Democrats in the legislature are nothing more than school yard bullies. If Measure 49 passes then indeed the Oregon voter is stupid! I will bet that few voters if any are aware of NOAA’s 4(d) rule, which covers steelhead and salmon…. The city sent workers to look for fingerling in the waters here. You can pretty much find them anywhere and since I live near a creek I’m concerned. Here’s a small sample of the 4(d):

“….means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot,
wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, a
listed species or to attempt to engage in
any such conduct (ESA section 3(18)).
The term ‘‘harm’’ refers to an act that
actually kills or injures a protected
species (64 FR 215 (November 8, 1999).
Harm can arise from significant habitat
modification or degradation where it
actually kills or injures protected
species by significantly impairing
essential behavioral patterns, including
breeding, spawning, rearing, migrating,
feeding, or sheltering….”

This means if you live anywhere near a river, stream, creek or dry creek bed (and they measure near as within 200 feet from ‘the highest recorded meandering point’, your home could be on the line. So if you use roundup to control weeds, or even weed and feed on your lawn…you’re in violation. If you want to build a deck off your back door…well, you could cause ‘modification of breeding, spawning…

The people of Oregon need to tell the bullies NO on measure 49. If not, well they best not complain when they can’t use their back yards inside the city.

Anonymous said...

Oh...excuse me...I forgot. The State of Oregon, 1000 bullies et al don't want us to have back yards. Silly me!

Anonymous said...

SB 1000, centralized planning and the odd governmental overlay known as Metro were touted as the way of the future thirty years ago.

Know how many states or communities have followed suit?


Oregon... things are indeed different here.

Dave Lister

Victoria Taft said...

Of course the other aspect that could be brought into a campaign is the obvious gambit that these people are moving the goal posts until Dorothy English dies. Talk about feckless. It's reprehensible.
Nice job, btw, Rob.

Anonymous said...

SB 100 doesn't even exist anymore.
It was hijacked and morphed into the crap that spreads deliberate overcrowding and chaos into every city in Oregon while prohibitting many things which M37 only partially reversed.

M49 is not about preserving SB 100 you piece of ,,,,

Jim Labbe said...

The fact that the majority of Oregonian voters have upheld Oregon's land-use planning system four times at the polls (1970, 1976, 1978, and 1982) is the longer history that Mr. Kremer neglects to detail here.

That same history also must be recognized a reason why Measure 37 and Measure 7 passed. Neither the Measure 7 nor the Measure 37 ballot titles mentioned the things they put at risk, namely the land-use planning system and the environmental protections that safeguard Oregon's natural and working landscapes.

The majority of Oregonians understand intuitively that land is a finite resource that is subject to increasing pressure due to population growth and increasing consumption of natural resources. While they certainly believe in property rights to a degree, history suggests they also generally support the notion that society has a strong interest in protecting and regulating the use of land and the natural resources and processes it supports.

Polls suggest that Oregonians put a particularly high and increasing value on clean air and water, abundant and diverse fish and wildlife and quality life in general.

Jim Labbe

Anonymous said...

Jim, your pablum is typical of the pro-49 leftists. Like the lies you've spread about the Stimpson lumber deal; where they want to put homes on 25 acre lots -- oh, the horror!! (Can you imagine homes sitting on massive 25 acre lots?)

You and your ilk make it seem like Stimpson is going to mow every tree down and put in freeways, condos and strip malls. Nothing can be further from the truth. The development will be very low density with plenty of "rural fuana" left to thrive. Plus, it's a fact Stimpson will have to abide by all county regulations and zoning ordinances.

I'm a life long Oregonian and probably have done more stream restoration, ivy removal and watershed enhancement than any of your Greenie buddies. And I'm confident M37 is not the hell you all purport it to be. And I have no, nor do I know anyone with a M37 claim.

BTW, what about all the farmers you love so much letting massive runoff, silt and fertilizer pour into this state's tributaries? M49 says it's about protecting them, right? Way to go; let's protect the guys ruining our rivers!

What, you think the Willamette is so polluted because of Oregon City?

Anonymous said...


Your ignorance and dishonesty is clearest here.
>>>>>"Neither the Measure 7 nor the Measure 37 ballot titles mentioned the things they put at risk, namely the land-use planning system and the environmental protections that safeguard Oregon's natural and working landscapes."<<<<<

Neither M7 or M37 put "at risk" anything like you fabricate. That's your misrepresentation not the real effects of etiher measure.
Both measures didn't allow for approval of enough parcles to make the sort of impact you repeatedly lie about. Neither in terms of our land use system or current environment protections.
What they would do is allow for a modest amount of land use where it is currently forbidden while keeping inplace all of the building requirements every use must comply with.
Your entire pitch of lies is dependent upon your deliberate misrepresentations that M7 and M37 allowed for the skirting of our very comprehensice and protective building requirements.
Have you sir ever taken out a building permit or applied for a new development of any size?
Likely not. Yet you mischaraterize M37 as neutralizing or avoiding not only zonging restrictions but the rest of the layers of regulations ALL building must comply with including M37 construction.
There is also very little of our land use system M37 "risks" as the measure simply does not effect enough of the system.
Your false presumtion, or rather dihonesty, must presume that our planners will soon be finding the need to be yet again rezoning our entire state with fresh labels and altered plans. Therefroe triggering new rounds of M37 claims.
That seems to be an implied pitch by you land use planning defenders. "Gee we won't be able to meedle with Oregon's property rights indefinetly if M37 is waiting in the wings."
Good thing. They've done enough and there's still far more zoning in place than is needed to protect our state's environment and a reasonable level of regulation.

I notice others have raised many issues you avoid responding to.

For this one, please explain how M37 could possibly fill up the Wilammette Valley with subdivisions? That is probably the biggest out right lie in this entire debate.

Anonymous said...

Free Oregon
No on 49

Anonymous said...

What's amazing is how many people - like Jim - WANT the yoke, willingly put it on, willingly get on their knees, willingly offer themselves up for servitude.

Freedom is Slavery

rural resident said...

The list of things that Oregonians place a "particularly high and increasing value" on apparently doesn't include things like a dynamic economy that provides enough funding for social and environmental programs, access to a reasonably priced and good quality college education, and the survival of the state's rural communities. If there's an endangered species in Oregon, it's residents of areas more than 20 miles off of I-5 with family wage jobs providing good benefits. I had to laugh at both the Register-Guard and Blue Oregon, crying about the lack of funding for our state colleges and universities. Oregon's restrictive land use regulations are a direct result of a poor business climate that limits revenues for state government -- revenues that pay the college profs and allow for lower tuition to our public colleges. Oregon doesn't have an exemption from the laws of economics. There are trade offs for all those "wonderful" land use laws. People voting for M49 are also voting for higher tuition, less access to higher education, and lower funding for K-12 schools than would be available with a more moderate approach to economic development. If you don't think there's been an impact, just look at the decline in the numbers of students attending public schools in Oregon's rural communities. It has been dramatic and the forecast for the next ten years is for an even more dramatic drop. Voters need to think through the wide range of consequences that will result from the approval of the ill-considered M49.