VOTE/REVOLT

“If you don’t vote you don’t get to complain.”

So goes the old saying. What’s left of our “democracy” – really a corporatocracy – still allows us to get measures on ballots, run for office and gives us a sense of power balance with our political leaders. If you aren’t familiar with the term “corporatocracy”, don’t feel bad.  What exactly is a corporatocracy you ask? According to Wikipedia,

“A corporatocracy is a situation in which corporate bodies interact with sovereign power in an unhealthy alignment between business and political power. In a corporatocracy an elite upper-class, maintains ties between business and government, sometimes by lobbying efforts or funding political advertising campaigns, or providing bailouts when corporations are seen as too big to fail, for the purpose of controlling government and dictating policy to serve its financial interests.

A corporatocracy is viewed as anti-democratic or opposed to democracy or used to describe situations in which democracy has been manipulated negatively, sometimes resulting in a passive citizenry and subservient media.”

So, now do you feel like you live more in a corporatocracy than a democracy? Passive citizenry, subservient media? You can add subservient schools and prisons to that list as well, especially with the push for private charter schools and private prisons. Heck, that’s why Occupy Portland called for F29 – SHUT DOWN ALEC. 

Here at the Portland Occupier, we share a broad range of beliefs in political action and direct action. One of the wisest things I’ve ever heard was told to me by Dr. Vandana Shiva. Shiva, a food security activist with a doctorate in quantum physics, founded Navdanya, a Grandmother’s Institute to preserve Elder knowledge and seeds in Uttrakhand, India. I had the chance to ask her if she thought it was more important to be eating local food or organic food. I had been arguing with an older friend about this and he constantly drew the line at “organic”. I was not so sure and decided to ask Dr. Shiva. She looked me in the eyes with all seriousness and said slowly, “Never think in dichotomies.” The phrase burned through my soul. Every time I’m confronted with a “which is better,” it forces me to look at all sides and recognize  that truths lay in both.

So here we are with election season looming in a time of revolution. I just got my ballot in the mail and it’s due back by May 15. I’m not sure if, or how, I’ll vote. We could argue for hours about why direct action is superior to voting, or vice versa. But let’s not. Let’s instead extend respect to all. The Portland Occupier’s 2012 Vote/Revolt section provides equal voice to those who are interested in moving beyond politics and into direct action, and those who are still confident that voting does actually make a significant impact upon our destiny. We will give the basic facts on politicians and measures.

Your job is to fill in the blanks. The most important part of this section is your voice. Your thoughts and knowledge are needed. We just have one request – Please back up your claim with at least one link to a credible source. We won’t be critical of your source, that’s a judgment call. Please note if your comment is a first hand account, by putting your name and phone number on record so that others may quote you. Send in your photos and images to PortlandOccupier(at)gmail(dot)com. 

And if you think politics are a waste of time and feel that direct action is the only course, please submit an essay of 500 words or less, explaining why you’d rather not participate in the US electoral process.

On that note, let the VOTE/REVOLT discussion begin!

VOTE

This section is laid out according to the ballot I received in my home on Apr. 28, 2012.

CANDIDATES

NON-PARTISAN STATE JUDICIARY – THE JUDGES
These people get to judge us in court and have the final say in ours and others guilt or innocence.

NON-PARTISAN STATE- DISTRICT ATTORNEY, Multnomah County
The D.A. represents Multnomah County in prosecution of criminal offenses. There’s only one name on the ballot but do they deserve your vote or do we need a write-in candidate to win? Michael Schrunk is not running again and is endorsing Rod Underhill.

NON-PARTISAN COUNTY – COUNTY COMMISSIONER DIST. 3
County Commissioners are the administration board of the county. They decide who gets hired and fired, liaise with different arms of the government, influence the budget, etc. See more information->HERE.

CITY OF PORTLAND MAYOR
The Mayor of Portland’s duties include appointing bureau positions, chairing City Council meetings, helping Portlanders work – either by opening new avenues of employment such as selling grown or hand-crafted products, or laising with companies who may open up shop in Portland, promoting policies that they feel represent the peoples’ desires. The mayor is also the commissioner of certain branches. (I’ve been a Portlander for 1 year and as far as my knowledge goes, commissioner duties are fluid from term to term.) Here’s the most current layout. Many at Occupy Portland got a chance to get close and personal with Sam Adams. We learned what kind of power the mayor has and what kind they don’t. Please check out each of the candidates, not just the three with the most money.

CITY OF PORTLAND COMMISSIONER, POS. 1 and 4
Please check out the most current layout.

METRO COUNCILOR, 6th DISTRICT
From OregonMetro.gov, “The Metro Council provides leadership from a regional perspective, focusing on issues that cross local boundaries and require collaborative solutions. The council oversees the operation of Metro’s programs, develops long range plans and fiscally responsible annual budgets and establishes fees and other revenue measures.”

MEASURES

These are the nuances of how our laws are created and changed and how our government collects money.

26-125 Local Library Funding: continues local option levy at current rate.
Question: Shall county maintain open libraries, programs, services; renew levy of $0.89 per $1,000 assessed value for three years beginning 2012? This measure renews current local option taxes. More info.

Arguments for YES

Arguments for NO

26-126 Amends Charter tort notice provision for consistency with state law. (A tort is wrongdoing for which an action for damages can be brought.
A tort claim notice tells a public agency that someone thinks they have a reason to file a lawsuit against it. It’s not a lawsuit, and the person who submits the notice isn’t obliged to prove his or her case. The statute of limitations on torts is two years, so if a suit hasn’t been filed by then, the plaintiff loses the right to sue on that issue.)
Question: Shall tort claim notice provision in Portland City Charter be amended to be consistant with state law? Currently, Portland City Charter Section 1-106 states that tort claims notices must be presented to the City Attorney. The Oregon Tort Claims Act identifies who may or may not receive tort claims notices for the City, including the City Attorney and other City Officials. For consistency with state law, this measure removes the Charter requirement that service be made only on the City Attorney. More info.

Arguments for YES

Arguments for NO

26-127 Amends City Charter provisions regarding Mayor’s fund.
Question: Shall Charter language allowing use of Mayor’s limited fund without documentation be deleted and name of fund be changed?
Summary: Portland City Charter Section 2-105(a)(14) currently provides that the Council may appropriate up to $2,000 per year to the Mayor for a secret service fund and that no supporting documentation of expenditures from that fund must be provided. This measure would delete the Charter language allowing the fund to be used without providing supporting evidence of expenditures. As a result, expenditures from this fund would be accounted for in the same manner as other City expenditures. The measure would also change the name of the fund from “secret service Fund” to “discretionary Fund.” More info.

Arguments for YES

Arguments for NO

Measure 26-128 Amends Charter by deleting Unenforceable Obscenity Provisions
Question: Shall unenforceable power in Charter regarding regulation of obscenity be deleted to be consistent with state constitution?
Summary: Charter Section 2-105(a)(50) currently states that the City has the power to define what materials are obscene, to prohibit distribution and to punish persons who distribute such materials. Prohibiting obscenity has been foreclosed by the Oregon Supreme Court’s interpretation of Article I, Section 8 of the Oregon Constitution. This measure would delete Section 2-105(a)(50) to make the Charter consistent with the Oregon Constitution. Deletion of this section of the City’s specific powers would not impair the City’s general powers and authority to protect and support public health and safety.

Arguments for YES

Arguments for NO

Measure 26-129 Amends Charter by deleting outdated, unenforceable provisions regarding vagrants and Paupers.
QUESTION: Shall outdated and unenforceable Portland City Charter power regarding vagrants and paupers be deleted?
Summary: Charter Section 2-105(a)(51) currently states that the City has the power to define vagrancy and to provide support, restraint, punishment and employment of vagrants and paupers. This measure deletes Section 2-105(a)(51). Portions of this Section are outdated and unenforceable because the City does not have legal authority to punish or restrain or to require employment of vagrants and paupers. Deletion of this section of the City’s specific powers will not impair the City’s general powers and authority to protect and support the City’s public health and safety. More info.

Arguments for YES

Arguments for NO

Measure 26-130 Amends charter by deleting outdated provisions prohibiting exhibition of persons, begging.
Question: Shall outdated Portland City Charter language referring to prohibitions on exhibition of “deformed or crippled persons” and begging be deleted?
Summary: Currently, Charter Section 2-105(a)(54) states that the City may “prohibit the exhibition of deformed or crippled persons” and prohibit all persons from begging on streets or in public places. This measure deletes Section 2-105(a)(54). The terms “deformed or crippled” in the current Charter section are outdated and offensive. Further, the City does not have legal authority to prohibit all begging. Deletion of this section of the City’s specific powers will not impair the City’s general powers and authority to protect and support public health and safety, including constitutionally allowed restrictions on activities in the right of way and in public places. More info.

Arguments for YES

Arguments for NO

Measure 26-131 Amends city charter provisions regarding Council Emergency Fund
Question: Shall Charter language allowing use of Council emergency fund without documentation be deleted?
Summary: Portland City Charter Section 2-108 currently provides that an annual appropriation of $5,000 will be placed in a fund to be used at the Council’s discretion. The Charter further provides that the Council is not required to provide documentation of use of the funds. This measure would delete the Charter language allowing the fund to be used without providing supporting evidence of expenditures. As a result, spending from this fund would be accounted for in the same manner as other City spending. More info.

Arguments for YES

Arguments for NO

Measure 26-132 Amends charter to clarify election procedure for filling vacancies.
Question: Shall Portland City Charter procedures to fill vacancies in elective office be clarified?
Summary: Section 2-206 of the Charter specifies the elections process and timing for filling vacancies in elective City offices. Section 2-206 provides an election procedure to fill vacancies that may occur at any time during a City elected official’s four year term. Each of the three subsections of Section 2-206 – (b), (c) and (d) – applies to different periods of time during the four year term. While the wording of Subsection (b) is ambiguous, the City has interpreted Subsection (b) to apply to the periods of time not covered by Subsections (c) and (d). However, because of one ambiguous word, Subsection (b) could possibly be interpreted in a way that renders Subsection (b) meaningless. Changing the single word “but” to “or” in Subsection (b) would clarify that section’s meaning consistent with intent and would ensure that vacancies occurring during the first three years of an elected official’s term are appropriately addressed by the Charter election procedures. More info.

Arguments for YES

Arguments for NO

Measure 26-133 Amends charter by adding terms and vacancy provision for charter commission.
Question: Shall terms of office and vacancy provisions for the Charter Commission be added to the Portland City Charter?
Summary: Currently, Charter Section 13-301 directs the City Council to appoint a Charter Commission at least every ten years. The Charter does not specify the length of Charter Commission members’ terms, nor does the Charter identify how vacancies on the Charter Commission will be filled. This measure provides that the term of office for Charter Commission members shall be no less than two years; the Council will also have the power to reappoint members to additional terms or future Charter Commissions. The measure defines when a vacancy exists on the Charter Commission and how vacancies will be filled. More info.

Arguments for YES

Arguments for NO

Measure 26-134 Amends charter by deleting outdated exposition-recreation commission chapter.
Question: Shall obsolete Exposition-Recreation Commission Chapter of Portland City Charter be deleted?
Summary: Charter Chapter 14 provides for the creation and operation of the City Exposition-Recreation Commission. Charter Chapter 14 is no longer needed. The functions that were previously carried out by the City Exposition-Recreation Commission are now carried out by the Metropolitan Service District (Metro) through its Metropolitan Exposition and Recreation Commission under a 1989 agreement (as amended) among Portland and other government bodies. Any remaining rights or obligations of the former City Exposition-Recreation Commission vest in the City Council pursuant to the Charter and these agreements. This measure would delete Charter Chapter 14. More info.

Arguments for YES

Arguments for NO

REVOLT

Statement by the Radical Anti-Capitalist Caucus of Occupy Portland

With state primaries on the horizon, the Radical/Anti-Capitalist Caucus of Occupy Portland rejects the legitimacy of this year’s elections. We believe city problems are inadequately addressed by local elected officials. These problems can only be addressed by a politics of popular liberation and direct community empowerment. Regardless of who wins this year’s elections, these problems will continue to grow until the system of capitalism is destroyed.

As voters consider the decisions that will be put before them in the May 15 Oregon primary, the Radical/Anti-Capitalist Caucus of Occupy Portland, ask occupants of the city of Portland, the state of Oregon and the United States to consider something of a more fundamental import. What does real democracy look like? In a world without political action committees, in a world without campaign donations or lobbyists, in a world without bureaucratic chicanery or corporate guile, what could a truly democratic society actually look like? In response to this inquiry, we find it necessary to reject the legitimacy of the upcoming city elections.

Problems faced every day by working class Portlanders cannot be adequately addressed by local elected officials. The city government has, time and again, proven itself to be unreliable when it comes to promoting the common interest of the people of Portland. It has proven this through an inability to adequately provide for the employment of its citizens. It has proven this through an inability to defend its children from attacks against their education. It has proven this through an inability to protect those presently housed from predatory practices of banks and financial institutions or landlords, and an inability to protect the unhoused from the indignities of a concrete & cardboard subsistence.

The city government has proven incompetent when it comes to holding its terrorist wing, the Portland Police Bureau, accountable for its abuses. In point of fact, it is likely beyond the scope of the city government to address these issues. It is our position that a government unable to stand guard against extant threats to the lives of those it governs is an illegitimate government. Subsequently, the processes through which the official power is transferred are equally illegitimate.

The solutions to our problems are not beyond our reach, and it is only through the politics of popular liberation and direct community empowerment that we will solve them. If we are to build a truly democratic Portland, we must vote with actions which promote such liberating empowerment within our communities. To this end, we affirm the following: We must liberate our work places! We must liberate our schools! We must liberate our homes and churches! We must liberate our communities from repression at the hands of those who would fight to stop us!

We recognize that this fight is part of a larger fight against the socio-economic ideology of greed which is at the heart of the American political system. Until the system of capitalism is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, we must continue our collective struggle for human dignity and freedom. So long as power is relegated to people in proportion to the amount of capital they control, ourdignity and freedom will continue to be under constant attack. All power to the people, with no dinner scraps for corporations!


ENTER THE COMMUNITY SOLUTIONS DISCUSSION

 

***If you feel any of this information is incorrect, misleading, or lacking, please contact PortlandOccupier(at)gmail(dot)com***

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