By Dan Phegley, Ask Damascus
On Monday November 2, 2009 the city council of Damascus held a party celebrating the fifth birthday of Metro’s experimental city. The party was muted a bit as the prior Friday afternoon “Ask Damascus” a local citizens political action committee had turned in signatures on four city initiatives. All are charter amendments thus cannot be overturned at the whim of the city council.
09-01 Prohibits Light rail in Damascus unless voters choose otherwise.
09-02 Limits city spending, paves way for rainy day fund and tax refunds.
09-03 Limits city councils’ use of emergency clause for expediting ordinances.
09-04 Requires voter approval of intergovernmental agreements, Stops transfer of power, i.e. to Metro.
Clackamas County Chair Lynn Peterson seemed ready with a solution. Her idea as presented to the revelers was to have a vote to dis-incorporate the infant city and in the same election re-incorporate with a more Metro friendly Charter. This act of aborting an entire city would rid the region of a city charter that has become a thorn to governments as it requires actual citizen involvement. This charter, thanks to citizen initiatives, requires a vote on all new taxes, charges and fees. It also requires that the city council, when tampering with citizens initiative rights, must make any changes using the initiative process.
Another reveler Jim Bernard (county commissioner) told me “this is a representative government and citizens should not be voting on everything”. The subject at the time was the proposed county tree ordinance and why voting should not be permitted. When I asked if he was aware of what he swore to uphold when taking office to his credit he remembered it was the Oregon Constitution but could not recall the topic of the very first paragraph.
Their positions are interesting given the state planning goals primary requirement is citizen input, but voting apparently is just over the top.
By the way, the topic of the first paragraph of the constitution: Section 1. Natural rights inherent in people.
The rest of the paragraph reads:
We declare that all men, when they form a social compact are equal in right: that all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness; and they have at all times a right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.—