City of Damascus uses city website for campaigning

City of Damascus uses city website for campaigning.

The City of Damascus has posted on its official web site what it claims are the ballot measures to be voted on by its citizens in November. However what they have posted is not the measures that will be on the ballot.

The City and Metro were stung in the March, 2008 election when citizens voted overwhelmingly to support property rights and demanded a vote on the endless list of taxes by passing three citizen initiatives. The City Manager, Jim Bennet and City Attorney Andy Jordan (Prior METRO General Council) are now using a unique law (Ordinance 2007-21) passed by the City Council at the encouragement of Bennet and Jordan to use the city/s website for election and propaganda purposes.

This ordinance mandates the city write an explanatory statement in the voters pamphlet in addition to the summary the city attorney already gets to write. Unlike the summary however, the explanatory statement has no requirements for review by anyone for accountability. In fact there is no provision for it to even be viewed by anyone prior to its submission to county elections.

So important was this ordinance to Bennet and Jordan that included was a declaration that without this statement the Clackamas County voters pamphlet is a threat to the health of citizens.

The ordinance states:

“The city council declares it necessary for the preservation of the public health, welfare, and safety for this ordinance to take effect immediately upon its passage and therefore declares an emergency.”

This ordinance was written only to apply to measures submitted by citizen initiative but is now handy in the city sponsored tax measures.


When you go to the city website at and click on the “elections button” a list of measures comes up. Clicking on any of the measures you get only the explanatory statement written for and by the city.

The actual measure is not to be found.

Few citizens are aware of this as the local monthly tabloid is supported by the city (our taxes) at the rate of $1,900.00 per month. Knowing who butters their bread this tabloid has yet to
see anything negative in Metro’s plan for Damascus, it has however vehemently protested any citizen efforts to bring issues to a vote. No surprise the main propagandist, Marcia Sinclair was rewarded with a job at Metro.


Measure 3-330 Establishing a franchise fee on all utilities
The city website says “…fees collected are used by the City of Damascus primarily to maintain City streets.”

The measure does not even mention street maintenance or any requirement on how the money is spent.

Measure 3-328 Establishes System Development charges
The City website says “such charges are assessed to the developers of property”

The measure does not even mention “developer” but includes any “new development” with no definition. New pavement on an existing driveway or adding on to your existing home all fit as new development. Even a pole building fits new development. It is at the city’s discretion to require an impact study to determine desired fees even from homeowners!

Remember Portland charging system development charges of around $30,000 for a pizza parlor that that wanted to move across the street.

Measure 3-326 A citizen measure protecting initiative rights from city imposed limits.

The city website refers to many numbers of signature requirements for different scenarios with complicated formulas and questionable results.

The measure simply states regarding signature requirements: “…a city initiative, a referendum or a recall shall not exceed the respective percentage requirements set forth in the Oregon Constitution for statewide initiative, referendum and recall.”

Each measure has similar distortions and not one posting on the city website has the actual measure language.


The city is and has been all about limiting citizen participation and voting under the guidance of Jim Bennet and Andy Jordan who see no wrong in protecting their and Metro’s perceived turf. Combine this with a naive City Council and you can see why citizens must use the initiative process to keep Damascus livable.

The city has come up with 4 measures. One to stop the citizens efforts to protect the initiative process and the other three that immediately impose taxes and prohibit a vote on future taxes.

With Jordan and Bennet at the helm any means necessary will be employed.

The irony of a claim on the business website of MR Jordan is not lost where it states:
“We focus on results — solving the business problem — rather than the legal process.”

The business problem here is raising taxes while writing the legal process.

Perfect for a Metro General Counsel.

Dan Phegley of Ask Damascus ([email protected])