Editorials reveal union anti-petition strategy

Two great editorials were written this week to demonstrate how nasty the government union forces are acting to stop pro-taxpayer measures from getting to the ballot. The Las Vegas Review Journal wrote about nationwide harassment of petitioners by union groups (article here). The Bend Bulletin talked about the unhelpful motives behind Oregon’s union effort to stop petitions from reaching the ballot (article here) .

Here is some great excerpts from the two articles…

Las Vegas Review Journal 6/29/06
“The Associated Press reports that, “Organizers of a petition drive aimed at capping state spending in Nebraska are suing three cities, alleging they have been obstructing the effort and interfering with free speech.”

In their zeal to quash spending caps, according to the allegations, officials in Omaha, Lincoln and Grand Island — three of the Nebraska’s four largest cities — have tried to stop petition supporters from gathering signatures in public parks, on sidewalks and streets, and outside public facilities.

Sound familiar? Similar tactics were used in 2004 against petitioners in Nevada seeking to drum up support for proposals to ban public employees from serving in the Legislature and repeal record tax increases passed by lawmakers in 2003.

And those circulating TASC petitions in Las Vegas this month had to fend off members of a public employee union-backed group hoping to intimidate voters into not signing.”

Bend Bulletin 6/29/06
“Our Oregon is miffed about a scheme used by Arno Political Consultants, which doesn’t exactly pay petitioners by the signature but comes darned close. According to an Associated Press account, Arno pays more productive petitioners a higher per-hour rate than less-productive petitioners, and it also pays bonuses to those who collect a certain number of signatures. The Elections Division initially OK’d Arno’s payment scheme, according to the AP, but expressed “fresh concerns” last week….

So why are Nesbitt, Lowe and Our Oregon so incensed? To understand that, it helps to know who they are. Nesbitt and Lowe are the chief sponsors of the 2002 ballot measure that created the law Arno might be skirting. Though we supported Ballot Measure 26 at the time, we wonder in retrospect whether it was such a great idea….

But was Measure 26 really about fraud? Probably not. Paying petitioners by the signature may provide an incentive to commit fraud, which is why we supported it. But it’s something else as well: a powerful incentive to collect lots of signatures legitimately, which is undoubtedly why unions hated it. After all, the folks employing all those signature-gatherers were often pushing anti-union ballot measures….It’s no surprise the petition campaigns about which Our Oregon is now fuming are pushing measures unions don’t like, including one to reinstate term limits and another to limit state spending.”