Taxpayer Award Nominees Announced!

With 6,000 ballots distributed, this is one of the largest public voting awards in the state. The official winners will be announced at a live broadcast on the Victoria Taft Show, KPAM 860AM, on January 10th at the Portland Airport Shilo Inn during the monthly Executive Club meeting. The event is open to the public, and is sponsored by the Taxpayer Association of Oregon and the Oregon Executive Club.

Thomas Jefferson Award :
Awarded to Oregonians for advancing the principles of individual liberty and limited government in 2006.

Jim Fox, Joe Bando and Lenora Bando: These taxpayers stopped the huge Lane County Income Tax. They used grassroots power to help stop a quarter million dollar pro-tax promotional campaign.

Janice Brooks, Brian McElligott, and Nathan Rietmann: These taxpayers stopped the Corvallis Cell-phone tax enacted by City Council. Brian McElligott and Janice Brooks took to the streets and gathered 3800 signatures to refer the new tax to voters. Rietmann won a court case against the city for trying to sneak in a biased explanatory statement in the voter’s guide. Voters rejected the tax by 70%.

Nicole Barone, Colleen Fleming and Cal Husbands: These taxpayers stopped a sales tax. The Wood Village mayor tried to ram a sales tax onto voters without any public vote. Cal, Colleen and Nicole gathered signatures to put a “no new tax without a public vote” measure on the ballot. The measure passed by 86%, and talk of a sales tax has since vanished.

Ross Day, Dave Hunnicutt and Bill Moshofsky: These Oregonians In Action activists were able to score a big legal victory when the Oregon Supreme Court upheld Measure 37 (compensation law) earlier this year. Also, in a year when 80% of the state ballot measures failed, these guys successfully passed Measure 39 which protects landowners from unjust condemnations.

Wiener Politician Award:
The most obnoxious, cowardly, or reckless elected official.

Superintendent Susan Castillo: State School Superintendent Castillo has a record of opposing charter schools. With two days before school started, Castillo threatened to yank the funds for the approved charter school, the Oregon Connections Academy. This sent over 500 students and parents into chaos. Thanks to huge public support for the school and public pressure Castillo changed her mind.

Director Leslie Clement: The State Landscape Architect Director cashed over $30,000 in unauthorized payroll & vacation checks, and used the state credit card to buy $18,000 in clothes, furniture, home entertainment goods, and concert tickets.

Councilor Barbara Ledbury: — During testimony at a Damascus town hall meeting, a citizen exhibit featured a map with push-pins indicating where City Councilors and city planners owned property, and revealing how they would benefit from the zoning laws the councilors proposed. After the meeting, City Councilor Ledbury attacked the citizen’s map and removed all the push-pins to hide the information from the public.

Mayor Willis Van Dusen: Astoria Mayor Van Dusen was charged with his third DUI after colliding with another vehicle and pleading with the victims not to call the police. Weeks later, he was re-elected. The judge fined him $405 and said he could have his license back if he went to diversion class (again).

Pork Barrel Project :
The worst example of government waste.

Portland’s Arial Tram: Lack of oversight caused costs to triple from $15 million to an astonishing $55 million. The public/private tram moves staff from one office to another office up a small hill, saving them 10 minutes of traffic time.

Stayton’s $65,000 Rocks: Stayton spent $65,000 for rocks to protect against soil erosion from flooding. Dept. of State Lands said the rocks are bad for the environment and wants them replaced with more soil, which is expected to wash away at the next flooding cycle.

Portland to Pay People to Come Back: To deal with the flight of families fleeing Portland (down 20%), City Commissioner Erik Sten is considering offering rent and mortgage subsidies to lure fleeing residents back.

Bureaucratic Bungler :
The worst example of government regulation, bureaucracy, or mistake

The “Learn Less, Score High” Test: The Federal Government has faulted Oregon’s Dept. of Education for setting 3rd, 4th & 5th grade tests too low, which artificially raises Oregon’s test scores. Thousands of kids who passed may not have passed after all. Also other grades were being reviewed as testing too high.

Powerless Police Officer: Molalla policeman, Ron Lister, got caught falsifying police reports, & consequently, the courts refuse to honor any of his tickets. The city now pays $57,000 for an officer who can’t write tickets.

Golden Schnoz Award :
Best example of government sticking its nose in other people’s business.

Donation Interrogation: A new election rule requires people donating to a candidate to divulge their place of employment, their field of work, and location of employer.

Portland Why-Fi? Portland is getting into the private Wi-Fi broadband business by using as much as $16 million of taxpayers’ dollars to make a deal with a private company to provide free Wi-Fi service to the entire city. This service is something which many companies provide without involving public tax dollars.

Government Innovation Award :
Best example of government cost-savings or successful program.

Oregon Connections Academy — This on-line virtual public charter school doubled enrollment in a single year, has successful test scores, and accomplished it at 50% the cost of a standard Oregon public school.

Portland City Ombudsman — For instituting landowner notification for homeowners for when their neighbors’ overlapping tree is designated a protected Heritage Tree (for which trimming could land you in jail). Notification allows affected landowners to be a part of the discussion before tree regulations are set upon them.

Clackamas County Jail: Saved taxpayers $110,000 a year by serving cold cereal instead of a hot breakfast — something which inmates said they already ate before their incarceration.

Portland Public Schools: Reduced the number of psychologists by a third, in response to criticism for having more psychologists per students than comparative districts.

Clackamas County Court: Instituted a restitution court to better recover criminal fines. By allowing a judge to extend or revoke probation, they have already doubled criminal collections to $1.1 million.

Presidential Straw Poll :
Leading candidates based on announcements, news reports, speculation and second-rate rumors.

Bayh, Evan (Sen. IL)
Biden, Joe (Sen. DE)
Bush, Jeb (Gov. FL)
Clinton, Hillary Rodham (Sen. NY)
Dean, Howard (Chair Dem. Party)
Edwards, John (Fmr. Senator NC)
Feingold, Russ (Sen. WI)
Gingrich, Newt (Fmr. Speaker)
Giuliani, Rudy (Fmr. Mayor NY)
Gore, Al (Fmr VP)
Huckabee, Mike (Gov. AR)
Kerry, John (Sen. MA)
Kucinich, Dennis (Rep. OH)
McCain, John (Sen. AZ)
Obama, Barack (Sen. IL)
Rice, Condoleeza (Sec. of State)
Richardson, Bill (Gov. NM)
Romney, Mitt (Gov. MA)
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