The big guns have come out in the Portland fluoridation fight, pushing the supporters of Ballot Measure 26-151 to a huge fundraising lead over their opponents.

But early this week, Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland reported raising more than $500,000 in cash and in-kind contributions. In comparison, Clean Water Portland reported around $175,000.

Topping the major contributions in support of the measure on the May 21 special election ballot was a $169,920 cash contribution from the Northwest Health Foundation. Other big donations include $50,000 from the Washington Dental Service Foundation, $10,000 from the Service Employees International Union Local 49 and $5,000 from the Willamette Dental Management Corp.

The largest contributors to the opponents are from out of state. One is James Garvey, a Kansas real estate developer who has contributed $43,000. Another is California’s Carl and Roberta Deutsch Foundation, which recently contributed $10,000. Another big contributor continues to be Abundant Living Information Services, a Utah health food chain that recently upped its commitment to $9,000.

Income tax fight could just be starting

Those fighting Democrats at the Legislature who want to raise corporate and personal income taxes should remember the battle might not end when the 2013 session adjourns.

Democratic allies have shown an interest in using initiative measures to raise taxes in the past — and might turn to the ballot box in the future.

Most recently, Our Oregon, a progressive advocacy group backed by public employees unions, started work on five tax-related initiative petitions in early 2102. Three would have raised income taxes on wealthier individuals, and another dedicated the corporate tax kicker to education. The fifth would have required the Legislature to limit tax breaks.

Although Our Oregon chose not to circulate the petitions at the time, all received ballot titles, meaning they are still ready to go. New ballot measures raising individual and corporate taxes could be drafted, too.

Next stop for Kitzhaber: TriMet’s challenges

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber says he’s prepared to help TriMet address its labor and financial problems, just not at this time. During a visit to the Pamplin Media Group last week, Kitzhaber said he is following the agency’s travails closely, but won’t be able to give it much attention until after the 2013 Legislature ends.

“I think there are problems with TriMet, and I intend to aggressively pursue them,” the governor said during a 40-minute meeting with editors and reporters. “I think that it’s an organization that’s very challenged.”

Kitzhaber did say that he opposes a measure by state Rep. Chris Gorsek (D-Troutdale) that would remove the governor’s authority to select TriMet’s board members. He also predicted it would not be approved by the Legislature.

“I don’t think that just changing the way the board is appointed will change very much,” the governor said last week.

During a Monday, April 15, hearing on the bill before the House Committee on Transportation and Economic Development, TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane told the panel that the agency’s board was tackling a host of challenges and trying to improve transit service with shrinking resources.

“These have been difficult times and we are doing our best to serve our customers and get our fiscal house in order,” McFarlane told the committee.

“And our board is suited to the task.”

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