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Sources Say: A new year, a new council

Mayor-elect Charlie Hales plans a swearing-in ceremony at 10 a.m. on Jan. 2 in the City Hall Council Chambers. It may be followed by the first council meeting of the year that afternoon, although no agenda has been announced.

Commissioner Amanda Fritz also needs to be sworn-in for a second term. She had not decided where and when it will happen by press time, however.

Fluoride fight touches financial nerve

The City Council’s decision to speed up the fluoride election means the campaigns on both sides of the issue have to gear up fast.

The council voted on Dec. 20 to move the referral of its fluoride measure from May 2014 to May 2013.

Although anti-fluoride activists opposed the move, it may actually give them an advantage. They already have a campaign organization in place — the one that collected more than 33,000 voter signatures in 30 days and referred the measure to the ballot in the first place.

Fluoride opponents raised more than $80,000 in cash and in-kind contributions during their petition drive. Although most of the money went to paid petition circulators, they also opened an office in Southeast Portland that is still functioning.

The Clean Water Portland Political Action Committee has more than $6,000 in debt, however, including $4,000 in unpaid loans.

Fluoride supporters are expected to file their campaign committee in the near future. Political consultant Mark Wiener, who advised the supporters in the council votes, says he will provide strategic and paid media services.

Potential supporters include large health organizations and advocacy groups such as Kaiser Permanente and the Oregon Dental Association.

Metro to mayors: Let’s be friends

The Metro Council is trying to defuse hard feelings among some local officials over its decision to refer a Natural Lands Levy to the May 2013 ballot. The council voted unanimously on Dec. 18 to ask voters to approve a five-year, $50 million levy to maintain the 16,000 acres of open spaces and parks owned by Metro.

The council voted despite a request from 19 mayors for a delay to study the levy’s potential impact on their budgets under the state’s complicated property tax limitation system.

The day after the vote, all members of the Metro Council signed a letter to regional mayors, city council members, parks directors and others explaining the need for the levy and promising future cooperation.

The letter admitted that the property tax limitation system was in need of reform, but said the Metro levy would not create significant problems in and of itself.

In the letter, the council members promised to work with others in the region to reform Oregon’s property tax system, saying, “It is becoming more and more evident that our current system is broken. Working together, we hope to find a better way.”