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Be careful what you sign during election season

Registered voters should read initiative petitions carefully before they sign them this spring and summer.

That's always good advice in any election year, but it's especially appropriate when it comes to an initiative petition seeking an exclusive right to build a private casino in neighboring Multnomah County.

The developers are pushing two measures: a statutory amendment that would allow the building of the Wood Village casino and a constitutional amendment that would allow unlimited private casinos in the state, so long as each project wins voter approval and is more than 60 miles from tribal casinos.

The idea of a privately-run casino in Wood Village is unpalatable, but it's even more worrisome that these developers are close to their goal of gathering enough signatures to bring about a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment allowing private casinos.

For folks living in Sandy and the Mountain Villages, a yes vote on this measure holds little risk; odds are remote at best that we'll see a casino proposal for the property next door.

But for the residents of Wood Village, it would almost assuredly put their quality of life at risk. If voters eventually approved a casino, we fear the strain it would put on local infrastructure. We also view a casino as a bad fit for that part of East Multnomah County, which clearly caters to families and a less glitzy quality of life.

In recent weeks, we've learned of at least one petitioner who misrepresented these measures as he attempted to solicit signatures at a Gresham TriMet/MAX station.

Our efforts to confirm this story were unsuccessful. But our reporting staff was told about how the petitioner only reluctantly revealed the casino connection after being pressed for more details. In fact, the petitioner initially referred to the measure as promoting 'family recreation' with water slides and restaurants. Of course, the full truth is much different.

We know that people from the villages and Sandy - on a daily basis - ride SAM into Gresham and continue onward into Portland using the TriMet and MAX systems. And petitioners commonly frequent transit stations as they solicit signatures.

Registered voters who sign these petitions ought to take a closer look at what they are supporting. In the case of the casino measures, they represent much more than a swimming pool. They represent a significant change in the quality of life for people who could wind up living next door to a casino.

If approached by someone for a signature, we say it's a better bet to steer clear until you've have a chance to fully study what's being proposed. And it's an even better idea that you never rely on a petitioner to describe a proposed ballot measure.