Lake Oswego voters deserve a voice. Prior to the Safeco debacle, Lake Oswego citizens trusted their government to make reasonable expenditures based on prudent decision making. The waste, elitism and deception involved in the Safeco purchase more than justify citizen oversight.
Measure 3-269 creates citizen oversight, not spending limitations. Opponents are lying when they claim it creates a 'spending cap.' The measure simply gives citizens a say in non-essential purchases.
The campaign against Measure 3-269 is just as dishonest and patronizing as anything else this city government has done. I recently received campaign material distributed by county Commissioner Lynn Peterson and Mayor Judie Hammerstad, urging me to vote no on Measure No. 3-269 and yes on No. 3-273. Consider the claims Peterson and Hammerstad make:
No. 1: Measure 3-269 is flawed, costly and cumbersome.
Measure 3-269 would save taxpayers money by deterring $20 million boondoggles like Safeco. The only cost is a simple city election. Nothing in the measure prevents the city from spending over $2 million - all it does is require citizen approval by a simple majority of voters. In addition, the measure allows city hall to submit multiple properties for vote on a single ballot, thus reducing costs.
Apparently, this type of voter involvement is too 'flawed' and 'cumbersome' for public officials, who would rather not bother with little details like democratic consent.
No. 2: The proposed $2 million spending limit would severely restrict additions to our parks and open spaces.
There is no historical basis for this claim. Measure 3-269 would merely require public support. Lake Oswegans have historically supported measures that benefit the community. There is no reason to suppose that that will change in the future.
If anything, this measure is most needed in the context of parks and recreation acquisitions. After all, why should the city spend more than $2 million on a recreational project if they can't get simple majority approval?
No. 3: 'As The Oregonian confirmed, no other city in Oregon has such a blanket limitation on property purchases.'
Measure 3-269 does not create a 'blanket limitation.' Quite the opposite. First, the measure is not 'blanket.' No voter approval is necessary when a purchase is made for public health or safety. Second, the measure doesn't create any limitation on spending at all. The measure simply gives citizens a say when non-essential purchases are made. All that is required is a simple majority approval. It is an outright lie to characterize the measure as a 'spending limitation.'
No. 4: '3-269 asks sellers to stop and wait while the city holds an election. What seller would do that?'
How about a seller compelled by the city's power of eminent domain (see Charter Section 36) which this measure does not limit in any way? Like any other city, Lake Oswego has the inherent power to enter into purchase agreements without the seller's consent, so long as just compensation is given. The 'waiting seller' argument is incredibly dishonest.
It is extremely disturbing how city hall is so strongly opposed to a little voter participation and oversight. As Kevin Poling pointed out, it only shows how desperately voter oversight is needed.
Politicians like Lynn Peterson pander to the public by claiming to favor 'empowering citizens' but when the chips are down, she and other government officials show nothing but contempt for public input. That contempt is evident in the city's dishonest campaign against public oversight.
Now is the time for public oversight and voter participation. Vote yes on Measure 3-269.
Nicholas Heydenrych is a resident of Lake Oswego.