Portland-area labor endorsements for May 21 election


The Northwest Oregon Labor Council (NOLC) issued endorsements for several ballot measures, and in several political races for the special election May 21.

Ballots are in the mail today. They must be at a county elections office or designated dropsite by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21, for your vote to count. Postmarks don’t count.


Yes to Metro levy

NOLC endorsed Measure 26-152Restore Our Natural Areas — put on the ballot by Metro to generate operating and maintenance funds for open space that it owns. The request for endorsement came from AFSCME Local 3580, which represents most employees at Metro.

If passed, homeowners in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties would pay 9.6 cents per $1,000 of their home’s assessed value. The owner of a $200,000 house, for example, would pay an extra $19.20 a year. The levy would raise $10 million annually for five years.

Measure 26-152  is supported by AFSCME 3580, IBEW 48, Oregon AFSCME Council 75, and Laborers Local 483.

NOLC also endorsed Measure 3-423 in Oregon City. The measure amends the City Charter to eliminate the automatic rollback of water rates to near 1994 levels.

A 1996 City Charter amendment enacted by Oregon City voters requires the City  to roll back water rates to 1994 levels in 2014. The Charter also restricts water rate increases to no more than 3 percent per year without a vote of the people. The chief petitioner of the initiative was Dan Holladay. Holladay successfully led the May 2011 referendum that killed Clackamas County’s $5 annual vehicle registration fee assessment earmarked to help pay to replace the Sellwood Bridge.

The resetting of the water rates didn’t occur in 1996. That’s because shortly after the measure was adopted, a group of bond holders sued the City to avoid the rate setback and ensure that their bonds could be repaid. A federal court judge ordered the City not to implement the provision until the bonds were repaid. Those bonds are scheduled to be repaid in 2014.

“If the rate setback goes into effect, it would decrease water revenue by approximately 27 percent, and those rates would not cover current operating costs and maintenance requirements, resulting in significant changes to the City’s water system operations and maintenance programs,” said Oregon City Commission President Kathy Roth, who made the appeal for endorsement  to NOLC’s Executive Board.

Roth said Oregon City has 154 miles of water pipe, with many over 40 years old and some over 100 years old. “Seventy-five miles of pipe are leaking and need replacement quickly,” she said.

The request for endorsement came from AFSCME Local 350-2, which represents employees at Oregon City.


No NOLC action on fluoridation, but other unions endorse it

NOLC failed to garner enough support among delegates attending the March 25 night meeting to endorse Measure 26-151, a Portland City Council initiative to fluoridate Portland’s water supply. The vote to endorse fell two votes shy of the required two-thirds majority.

The endorsement request was brought to the labor council by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555.

Measure 26-151 has received endorsements from Local 555, the Oregon Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals Local 5017; the Oregon Nurses Association; and Service Employees International Union Local 49 and Local 503. “This is a social justice campaign that advances public health, one that will benefit our communities, particularly children without access to proper dental care,” said Theodora Ko Thompson, Local 503’s Civil and Human Rights Committee co-chair.


School board and water district candidates

NOLC endorsed the re-election of Vivian Scott to the North Clackamas School Board, Position 5. She is being challenged by businessman Steven Schroedl, director of the Cascade Heights Public Charter School.

North Clackamas is Oregon’s fifth-largest school district, serving 17,300 students. Scott has served on the seven-member School Board since 2005 — the last two years as chair.

A former career counselor and music teacher, Scott has worked as an education and workforce development manager, including three years at Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. She holds a masters degree in Education from Humboldt State University and has carried union cards of the Retail Clerks Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in Northern California.

At its April 22 meeting, NOLC delegates endorsed three candidates for the five-member  Clackamas River Water board of directors. Larry Sowa, Kenneth Humberston, and Hugh Kalani are running for full terms on the volunteer board. All three were appointed by the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners in November, following a successful union-led recall of board member Patricia Holloway in March.

Last September, water district employees — members of AFSCME Local 350 — took a vote of “no confidence” in the board and demanded they all resign. Workers took the drastic action following years of in-fighting amongst board members that resulted in more than $1 million spent on lawsuits and special audits. It reached a point where the board was unable to accomplish even routine business, which threatened the water district’s ability to obtain liability insurance.

Two “friendly” board members — Barbara Kemper and board president Kami Kehoe — heeded the call and resigned in October.  Holloway and board member Grafton Sterling refused to step down, which led to the recall. [An effort to recall Sterling at the same time as Holloway failed due to a clerical error that disqualified the petition.]

Now, Sowa is running unopposed for Position 3, but Humberston (Position 4) and Kalani (Position 5) face opposition.

Kalani is being challenged by former Clackamas River Water board member Warren Mitchell, who was an ally of Holloway before losing his bid for re-election in 2009.

Humberston is being challenged by Sterling (yes, current board member Grafton Sterling).  According to an Oregonian report, if Sterling, a former Oregon state trooper who has two years remaining on his term, wins the seat, he’ll have to resign either his current seat or the new one. Either way, the board would have to appoint a replacement for a still-vacated seat.


Teachers unions endorse for school board

The Portland Association of Teachers has endorsed Steve Buel, Pam Knowles, and Tom Koehler for Portland Public Schools board. The teachers union also endorsed Nels Johnson and Francisco (Frank) Acosta Jr. for the Multnomah Education Service District board.

The Beaverton Education Association has endorsed Tom Colett, Anne Bryan, Susan Greenberg, and LeeAnn Larson for school board seats.

The Hillsboro Education Association has endorsed Jaime Rodriguez, Rebecca Lantz and Janeen Sollman for school board seats.

The Tigard-Tualatin Education Association has endorsed Barry Albertson, David Matheson and Maureen Wolf to school board seats.

Portland Community College Federation of Faculty and Academic Professionals Local 2277 has endorsed Kali Thorne Ladd for PCC director, Zone 2.

Reynolds Education Association endorsed Diego Hernandez for Reynolds School District Board of Directors Position 2.


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