Charter change happy meal looks good to the starving

You may have caught a scary headline in the O the other day: A poll taken by the business types shows that the crazy Portland charter reform proposal about to go before the city's voters is way ahead.

As regular readers here know, I'm a hard no on that plan because, although it scraps the city's absurd "commission" form of government, it has many other features, and they're all bad. Breaking the city into districts, but only four of them. Padding the City Council with 12 members. And worst of all, a wacky, experimental, untested variation of "ranked-choice" voting that will give fringe voters two or three times as many votes as those in the mainstream.

The "commission" who drew up this confused melange was a bunch of unqualified, naive young people who were left without an adult in the room. I wouldn't trust that group with taking my suit to the cleaners, much less redesigning the city government.

And so am I worried by that headline, that poll? Darn tootin'.

But I'm not resigned to losing on this issue, at least not yet. That poll may be the business community's way of scaring people straight. I remember that before the mayoral runoff between Dud Wheeler and Sarah Yada Yada Yadaroney, she was way ahead in one poll toward the end, and suddenly everyone in their right mind woke up, came together, and got Dud through as the lesser of two evils. Maybe this is just another version of that.

Besides, a different article, in the Weed, points out that the poll asked the charter question a number of different ways, and when voters heard there was an alternative to the charter "commission's" goofball package, they liked the alternative just as well, if not better.

And so it's likely all going to come down to how many people realize that it's not a choice between this ballot measure or nothing. The alternative plan is ready to go, as soon as this one fails, as it rightly should. The alternative, presented by City Commissioner Mingus Mapps and pals, will likely be much simpler, and much better. They need to get it out in front of the public, and fast.

But mostly, Portlanders need to get the message: You can get rid of the "commission" circus, and even get election by district, without buying into all the rest of the garbage. Reject the happy meal and hold out for just the burger. The more voters who hear that, the better the chances Portland has of turning things around. If you care, tell anyone who will listen.


  1. IMO it's entirely reasonable for people to believe it's too late and there is no fix or saving the Titanic city. The repeated hits have done too much damage and the floundering seems to be worsening. EcoNW put full recovery at 2034 so bottoming out is sometime in the future.
    So loyalists can easily extend forgiveness to those who view any charter change as insufficient.
    A much bigger alteration will be needed after Portland hits bottom.


    That bumper sticker was cute and funny thirty years ago

    It’s not funny anymore

  3. The city used to be much safer, cleaner, and thriving with the current funky system- so that is not the reason we are a mess. It's all the idealists we elected, instead of pragmatists that know how to run a city.

    I agree that the proposed change is going to be horrible and a huge mess to manage. Sort of reminds me of when a bunch of "do gooders" attempted to get rid of an invasive species with another and whoops, unintended consequences.

  4. Find me someone that thinks a change in the system will improve the quality of the candidates

    1. I think the point of the city manager is that the poor quality of the council members won't matter so much.


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