Supporters of the new "Portland Public Water District" will have to wait just a little while longer before the city auditor's office gives the hoped-for May 2014 ballot initiative a green light for gathering signatures.
Because of typos in the proposed charter amendments submitted to the city last week, as reported by our own Dirk VanderHart this week, Portlanders for Water Reform officially withdrew the petition yesterday and filed a new version today. Refiling the petition restarts the approval process—on whether a measure is constitutional and has a title that passes muster—that any petition must survive before voters can place it on the ballot. The last petition was filed July 18, more than a week ago.
Among the fixes: No more competing and weird references to a "Portland Public Utility Board"—confusion that could have made its way into the city charter if voters approved the measure as previously written. Still troublesome, however, is a reference that ties the new water district's zones to Portland Public Schools'—ignoring the fact that PPS doesn't actually include all of Portland.
Lobbyist Kent Craford, a longtime advocate for industrial water consumers, said that while the changes "weren't material, we decided we've got time. And in abundance of caution, we wanted it all to be correct."
"We withdrew and refiled and corrected the typos," he said, "and we're off and running again," Craford added. "We talked about letting it ride. But we didn't want to leave it exposed to somebody challenging it on a technicality later."
But if the district measure is back up and running, it's not necessarily running smoothly. Not yet. The Oregonian's PolitiFact crew posted a takedown this afternoon of a Republican-linked fundraising letter first reported by the Mercury. Regarding the claim that most of the increase in rates driving people mad are because of "pet projects," the finding was a clear-cut "Mostly False."
Dubious projects like a Water House and a new HQ for the Rose Festival might be annoying, but they're nowhere near as expensive as the basic maintenance and upkeep of the city's sewer and water systems, not to mention the added cost of complying with questionable federal mandates to bury and cover our water supply.