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Ballot Measures Need Your Immediate Kick-Start

With only a few weeks remaining before the January cut-off date for collecting signatures, Adrienne Ratner estimates that the campaign for the Police Accountability Campaign (PAC-2002), a voter initiative she hopes to place on May ballot, is still about 2500 signatures shy. Under PAC-2002, everyday residents of Portland would have more opportunities to examine complaints of police misconduct and brutality. (Although PAC-2002 has gathered more than enough names, when the City Auditor reviews signatures, inevitably some are tossed out because of duplicates or persons who are not registered voters.) The campaign tried to qualify for the 2000 ballot, but fell a few thousand signatures short from the requisite 26,000.

The Mercury always encourages the democratic process and hearty debate. Signing a petition for a ballot measure is not a vote in favor of an initiative; it just means that you support the idea of debate-at-large for such issues. This coming May, during primary elections, two potentially heavy-hitting initiatives could shift political power away from the stronghold of City Hall and into the neighborhoods. Although the ballot measures are sponsored by very different organizations, both share a demand that the interaction between City Hall and Portland residents change.

Even though the City overhauled the Civilian Review Committee of police and gave it more autonomy this past fall, the watchdog group remains on a short leash. Still lacking full investigative powers, committee members must rely heavily on Internal Affairs for its information--not always the most unbiased perspective. PAC-2002 creates an oversight committee that has more powers to take on police misconduct. You can add your signature to the petition to place PAC-2002 on May's ballot at one of two locations: Vinnie's Pizza at 300 N Killingsworth and The Third Eye Shop, 3950 SE Hawthorne.

The second initiative is long overdue in Portland. Under the Good Governance Initiative, City Hall would take two significant steps away from its current format of commissioners as bureau directors. The first part of the initiative departs from elections of city commissions at-large. Instead of the entire population of Portland voting together for all of the city's commissioners, each district would vote individually for its representatives. With Latino and African American populations concentrated in NE Portland, such a mechanism would allow more direct representation for special and neighborhood interests.

The second proposition of the Good Governance Initiative is to revamp the program where commissioners would no longer serve as the directors for the city's bureaus--like fire, police, and water. Under this plan, qualified administrators, not politicians, would handle the basic day-to-day operations of the city (like every other major metropolitan city in America).

Campaign director Robert Ball has already gathered more than 40,000 signatures and is confident that the initiative will appear on the ballot in May. But if you want to be certain, contact 226-4663 for more information and to add your signiature.

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