MEASURE 30 - PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNIONS LOSE BIG
By Bill Sizemore
February 5, 2004
For a while, it looked like the state legislature's billion-dollar tax increase just might fly. Polls showed the race tightening towards the end as the public employee unions began to spend their wad of ill-gotten campaign cash on radio ads and huge phone banks to get-out-the-vote.
Some of us, who have been around these kinds of races for a long time, were beginning to sweat. Low turnout elections are hard to predict, because the race is decided only by those who actually show up and vote.
But, come election night, what looked like a tight race turned into such a blow-out that pollster Tim Hibbits called the race in favor of the No vote at three minutes past 8:00 p.m. That's the earliest I have seen him call one.
How did Hibbits know the race was over so soon? He knew because the early returns were from liberal Multnomah County voters, and they showed the measure going down about 58 percent to 42 percent in liberal Multnomah County, almost the exact margin it was expected to win by. With Multnomah County voters rejecting the measure, the tax increase was hopelessly dead.
Turns out the only county to support the measure with any gusto was Benton County. For you newcomers, Benton County, home of Corvallis and Oregon State University, can now safely be called the most liberal county in Oregon. Benton County voters consistently vote like Berkley, California. They make Portland voters look almost conservative.
It's not just Corvallis, though. If you took a map of Oregon and colored in the most liberal pockets of voters in the state, you can bet your last dollar that there will be a university in the middle of each liberal pocket. That goes for Portland, Eugene, Ashland, and LaGrande, as well as Corvallis. Bend is following close behind. Yes, even on the East side of the mountains, if there's a university, there's a pocket of liberalism.
Taxpayers put a lot of money into our public universities without regard to the fact that those institutions are staffed overwhelmingly by extreme lefties and have become hot beds of liberalism. There is no more radical bunch of radical socialists in the country than you can find teaching our young people in our taxpayer funded colleges and universities.
Back to the subject at hand. The public employee unions lost big this time. They put a lot of resources into the Measure 30 campaign, and they were blown out of the water. I was reminded of the race for the Democrat nomination in Iowa and New Hampshire. The labor unions threw their weight behind Dick Gephart and he also lost big time. The unions gave him lots of money and put their supposedly huge grassroots network to work for him, and he came in a distant fourth and dropped out of the race. The unions couldn't deliver.
Maybe the unions are not as tough as they claim to be. Maybe Tim Nesbitt, head of the AFL-CIO in Oregon is not the boy genius they claim he is. He sure fell on his face this time. Sure, the unions he orchestrates have a bottomless pit of money, but they don't seem to be all that good at spending it effectively. The Measure 30 results show clearly that these guys can be beat.
I have been fighting public employee unions for many years, and it can get bloody. Sure, with a small fraction of their resources, I have been able to beat them at times, and have been able to save the taxpayers billions of dollars; dollars that the public employee unions wanted for themselves. However, I have never been able to win the really big one: the measure that stops unions from taking political money from employees' paychecks without first getting permission. That measure would put the unions in their place, and they know it. They will fight to the death to keep their ill-gotten political money flowing in.
They fight so vehemently on this one issue, because they know how vulnerable they are. They know that if the only money they had for politics was money employees willingly gave them, they would be non-players in politics. That has been proven in other states.
Unions have a bottomless pit of money because they can legally steal it from workers, protected by the Democrat political machine that keeps their ill-gotten gains flowing in exchange for the huge campaign dollars unions give to Democrat candidates.
Measure 30 was a great win for taxpayers of Oregon, and it was a big loss for the public employee unions. But don't forget, the Measure 30 win was a defensive one. We were defending ourselves from a legislatively imposed billion-tax increase. Defeating Measure 30 didn't take any new ground. It merely stopped the other side from gaining some of ours.
In the ultimate scheme of things, we have to play offense, if we expect to make any real progress. Reining in the political power of the public employee unions has to be the first step in winning this war.
© 2004 Bill Sizemore - All Rights Reserved
Bill Sizemore is a registered Independent who
works as executive director of the Oregon Taxpayers Union, a statewide
taxpayer organization. Bill was the Republican candidate for governor
in 1998. He and his wife Cindy have four children, ages eight to thirteen,
and live on 36 acres in Beavercreek, just southeast of Oregon City, Oregon.
"Measure 30 was a great win for taxpayers of Oregon...In the ultimate scheme of things, we have to play offense, if we expect to make any real progress. Reining in the political power of the public employee unions has to be the first step in winning this war."