PAT MCCORMICK is an odd bird. As the public face of the campaign against Measures 66 and 67, it's his job to convince Oregonians to vote "no" on January 26. You would think the task would involve showing up for a newspaper's endorsement interview, but McCormick was too chicken to come to ours.
We asked Measures 66 and 67 proponent Steve Novick what he thought of McCormick's no-show to our interview, as Novick sat in our conference room next to a real raw chicken with McCormick's face taped to it on Thursday, January 7.
"I think they might have concluded that they had some sort of shot with Willamette Week," Novick said. "Any paper they have a shot with, they'll show up. I think it's laziness."
Agreed. McCormick made time for his successful endorsement interviews with the Oregonian and Portland Tribune over the last few weeks, and then on Friday, January 8, he took a whole lunch hour to address Portland's genteel City Club in a ballroom at the Governor Hotel. Declining to discuss which services he would cut if his side is successful, McCormick hit back at his opponents for "personalizing the campaign."
The problem is, it is personal. McCormick is working on behalf of a small group of pissed corporate lobbyists like Mark Nelson—who topped our survey of legislative staffers last year as Salem's most "satanic" lobbyist—to show the Democratic legislature that any tax increase, no matter how necessary, will not be tolerated unless it's done completely on their terms ["Advocates, Mercenaries, or Minions of Satan?" Feature, July 9, 2009].
We think it's time Oregon voters forced chickens like Nelson and McCormick to cross the road. When he's not schmoozing power brokers in ballrooms or behind closed doors, McCormick is paying for misleading advertisements on behalf of the construction industry, timber companies, grocers, and large out-of-state corporations who have paid for his campaign.
The controversial advertising the anti-66/67 campaign has financed over the last six months includes imitation ballots that drew a rebuke from the secretary of state's office, impassioned letters from supposedly destitute dairy farmers and accountants who actually make over $250,000 a year, and claims that the tax increases will go to raising state employee salaries, though state employees are actually taking pay cuts in the coming year.
Voting "yes" on both measures will increase the minimum tax on corporations from its 1931—yes, 1931—level of $10 to $150, and raise the tax on profits for big companies from 6.6 percent to 7.9 percent. It would increase income taxes on those earning over $125,000 a year from 9 to 10.8 percent, and to 11 percent for those people earning over $250,000 a year.
The measures will bring in about $730 million for the cash-strapped state legislature to fund basic services like public safety, teachers, and help for seniors. If the measures are defeated, those services will be slashed. It's a no-brainer.
Fortunately, there's something you can do about it: VOTE.
Polling by the yes campaign shows voters aged 18-39 are split 60/35 in favor of the measures, compared to 55/38 for the whole electorate. The younger you are, the more likely you are to support the measures. So, as long as people aged 18-39 actually show up to vote, this is in the bag.
Here's the catch: Young people are the demographic least likely to actually show up. Who's most likely to vote? Older people, who are way more likely to vote "no."
This is why young people end up carrying the burden when there's a budget crisis. It's why cuts to community colleges and universities, tuition increases, and slashing of financial aid are the first things on the chopping block. All three of those will happen if the measures fail.
So, Mercury readers, this election really is in your hands. If you can put the bong down for five minutes and convince a few friends to do the same, we'd be eternally grateful and so would Oregon. It's time for you to save our state—vote "yes" for Oregon, and stop the chicken. Stop the chicken dead in its tracks.