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Water District measure loses badly

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: ADAM WICKHAM - Portland Mayor Charlie Hales celebrated the defeat of a water district measure Tuesday evening at a Pearl District pub with others who opposed the intiative. The measure was widely defeated by voters in the primary election."Damn, that's a big margin!" Mayor Charlie Hales exclaimed when the first election results showed the proposed Portland Public Water District failing by a margin of 28 percent yes to 72 percent no.

The early results galvanized the crowd gathered at the On Deck Sports Bar in the Pearl District to watch the election returns. The 44-point spread held when the second batch of results were released an hour later, sealing the defeat of the measure to create an independently elected water and sewer district.




Measure 26-156
Results as of 3 a.m. Wednesday, May 21

Should voters create a new water district? Votes
No
54,188
Yes
21,625



Hales organized and raised much of the money for the campaign against Measure 26-156. He accepted congratulations from the other opponents, but credited a coalition of public employee unions, environmental organizations, private utilities and other businesses for the drive that effectively painted the measure's supporters as corporate polluters and other special interests.

By election day, the Hales' committee had raised far more money than the measures supporters.

by: PHOTO FOR THE TRIBUNE: ADAM WICKHAM - Charlie Hales, Jeff Klatke and Gale Shibley check voting results at the No on Water District Election Party, Tuesday evening.The Committee to Stop the Bull Run Takover PAC raised over $335,000 in cash and in-kind contributions according to the most recent reports filed with the Oregon Secretary of State's Office. Major donors included primate utility companies, public employee unions and environmental organizations.

In contrast, Portlanders for Water Reform had only reported raising about $137,000 to pass the measure. Major donations came primarily from a handful of large corporate water users. They and other supporters had previously spent around $177,000 to put the measure on the ballot.

Election day does not mean the end of potential changes for the management of the Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services, however. Both Hales and Commissioner Nick Fish, who is in charge of both bureaus, have promised to appoint a blue ribbon commission to explore options for increasing public oversight o them.

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