Love Oregon? The curious rhetoric of BM 49

Not my lawn

Rainy skies and crisp fall air. They’re a gentle reminder to me that campaign season is in full swing, as if the incessant TV ads would let you forget. But it isn’t the TV ads that captured my attention this year. It’s the lawn signs and specifically the messages on them that caught my eye.

“Love Oregon?” asks one. “Garbage dumps or grapes?” commands another. As if it’s either/or; any day now market forces be damned, someone’s going to buy out Sokol Blosser and dump trash right on top of their tasting room. An eight year old with some baseball cards and a Beckett’s Guide understands those economics don’t make sense. Supply and demand, anyone?
I’ll leave it to the pros to debate private property rights (I support “˜em), but there’s something about these words that isn’t right. Aside from the obvious need to put down the Joni Mitchell songbook while conjuring up these banal little gems, the contempt with which the message-writers hold their fellow Oregonians borders on the profane.

They seem to be saying that you can’t love Oregon unless you see things their way. In my vision of Oregon, we respect everybody’s opinion, especially those with whom we do not agree, and try to forge a fair compromise for everybody. Nobody is doing this very well, sadly, but that’s a topic for another day.

Taking a step back I can’t help but think that the “Love Oregon” types regret their arrogance just a bit, but my audacious hopes are dashed time and again. Remember, these are the same people who think nothing of ignoring voters who twice approved private property rights (M7 & M37). What was it that Einstein said about doing the same thing over and expecting different results? But hey, it worked for Christine, er Chris Gregoire. Just ask our friend Dino Rossi.

I’m reminded of a story from the 2002 election cycle. A nice car plastered with bumper stickers and signs for every liberal candidate and issue pulled up in front of my campaign office. I ran into the owner on my way out of the office and joked with her that she ought to have a Billy Dalto bumper sticker on her car, just for balance (save your comments about RINOs — I’ve heard them all).

She told me she would never support a Republican because all of them wanted to rape the environment. Really, I asked? All Republicans want to rape the environment? Well, 99% of them, she said. And another thing, she said, nobody should live in the country unless they absolutely need to? Did she need to, I asked? Well, I have horses, she said. So you must be a native Oregonian, I asked? Well, I’ve lived here for 30 years, was the reply. Exactly.

She’s entitled to her opinion so I’ll avoid veering off into a discussion about the intellectual dishonesty of people who’ve gotten theirs and don’t want anybody else to share the same opportunities (except when they want to sell out for big bucks). It’s important to note, though, that this comes from the spouse of a Marion County Planning Commissioner. Think he’s unbiased when it comes to land use decisions?

Few issues rile people more than property rights. People have strong opinions about this issue and it’s important that we work to find some common ground. Legislators were working on exactly that until the Democratic leadership capitulated to their supporters and decided to pack in the workgroup and put the issue on a ballot. Again.

How do I know? Their pollster called me earlier this year with a 50+ question survey that focused heavily on land use. Funny how the poll questions asked became Democratic talking points.

Let’s debate this issue. Let’s work something out. But please don’t suggest we can’t love Oregon if we don’t restrict private property rights. This nation and the American West has far too much history to suggest otherwise.

  • iop

    Mr. Dalto, I love Oregon so much that I want to strip away all your rights as a land owner and kick you out of Oregon. Don’t be mad, it is all done out of love.

  • Frank

    Liberals always act like they have the monopoly on love. They espouse it so much, that I do not think they realize that people view it as vain, prideful and often silly.

  • Tim Trickey

    I was just making the same observations to a good friend of mine the other day who is not a political junkie like you and I. She was so confused about the issue, largely due to the flurry of ads that paint M37 as some sort of corporate-driven attempt to erase the natural beauty that exist in rural areas.

    The real truth about the impact of M37 is this: All the claims in the state amount to less than 1% of the land mass of the state. Nearly all the land affected by claims is in and around existing urban/suburban areas–precisely the place for expansion and development of new housing, etc… The pristine areas of the state; places where most California liberals have never ventured into (deep into the Cascades, the Coast range, and the beauty of the Steens, etc…) are not really going to be affected.

    Thanks for putting the elitism of the drafters of M49 into context. As an avid outdoorsmen, and rural Clackamas county homeowner, I may not like the individual claims that affect my neighbors and my community, but damn it… It’s none of my business. I, and others, just have to accept that this is part of living in a society that values individual rights, including the right to own and use private property.

    Also, as someone who until recently, vehemently insisted on drinking only Oregon wines, I am now seriously reconsidering this decision. I am so disappointed in the winery owners who have demonstrated nothing short of pure “selfishness” in their attempt to overturn the will of the voters. Voters, mind you, who spoke loudly (two seperate times) on this issue through the initiative process.

    I may go back to drinking only whisky…

    • iop

      First no French wines, now no Oregon wines? Tim, I think politics is driving you to hard drinks.

    • Dave A.

      Actually some of the winery owners behind Measure 49 don’t want to see any land developed near them. That’s because they can then buy it at undeveloped ag land prices.

  • DMF

    I used to love Oregon. All my life I wanted to come here. Now, it’s ruined. What was a beautiful state is now useless. I hope the enviros choke on it.

    • common sense Carl

      Good. If you don’t like it the way it was, go back to California. The voters of Oregon are about to speak. And they’re pissed because they were duped by a bunch of elitist fat cats who care nothing for the common good – and their mini-mes. All sarcasm aside, there are plenty of states that allow you to rape the land. You want no land use planning? Go to Vancouver and take a hard look. Or try Long Beach. Oregon is the only state on the west coast without urban sprawl that threatens farmland. And it’s that way because we have good land use planning.

      • Silence Dogood

        Wait just a minute Carl. You’ve got it exactly wrong. The strong-arm politicians who are behind Measure 49 could NEVER have advanced the repeal of voter-backed property rights without the THUNDERING, never-ending campaign funded by out-of-state multi-billionaire Newhouse family, owners of The Oregonian.

        The daily newspaper has given literally hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free and unreported publicity to the anti-property rights movement since the passage of Measure 7 in 2000 when it all started. Without their SARCASTIC bias against property rights, the voters would have their way instead of being constantly second-guessed and made to look like fools.

        The Oregonian is the mouthpiece of ELITIST FAT CATS – and UNION BUSTERS to boot – who care nothing for the common good – only for the dozens of Newhouse billionaire trust fund babies back in New York, who owe it all to skimmed Oregon profits throughout their 47 year geographic monopoly in Oregon (and lots of other places.) Ask their advertisers – they’ll tell you how much YOU are really paying for all this.

        • Anonymous

          You’ve got no disagreement about Newhouse.

          But if you think that measure 37 was: a. Understood by the public b. In the best interests of Oregonians, well partner you’ve another think coming. It seems to me a matter of what one values. Open spaces. Farm land in close proximity to the city. (Which by the way is likely become very important in the future.) And the like, well then you in all likelihood support strong land use planning aka a limits on property rights. If on the other hand you value an individuals right to do what one wants to his land regardless of the common good, well then you don’t. Like I said go to Vancouver and see what happens when you don’t restrict development. One thing its not about is some poor little old lady who wants to divide her land for a few of the kiddies to put a double wide on. 7000 claims in 2 years. I think the timber companies more than qualify as elitist fat cats. While we’re at it lets call RJ Reynolds – the main supporters behind anti measure 49 efforts – elitist fat cats as well.

          Just as an example of measure 37s shortcoming it ignores:

          -water availability issues
          -limited public funds available to reimburse for claims
          -limited infrastructure problems

          Las Vegas is about to significantly draw down the aquifer under much of the great basin. Limits on property rights is necessary to prevent these kinds of things from happening down the road.

          • common sense Carl

            Oops, RJ Reynolds supports anti measure 50. And I’m not anonymous.

          • Chris McMullen

            Yeah, gotta protect those farmers. Gotta continue to let them dump silt, fertilizer and chemicals into our rivers. Talk about water quality issues. You think Eric Lemelson cares how much runoff pours into our tributaries?

            M49 is all about selfish nimbys who have ‘theirs’ but don’t want anyone else to enjoy the area in which they reside.

          • common sense Carl

            This is why this is both fun and a waste of time.The issues discussed are so complicated as to defy sound bite discussion but we do go on and on anyway. While you make 1 point by busting farming chemicals, etc. ( Although I am really not sure it belongs in a “discussion” about land use. ) You lose one point for saying m49 is “all about selfish nimbys who have theirs and don’t want anyone else to enjoy the area in which they reside.” I mean listen to yourself. The whole thing is about selfishness.

            It’s polarized politics at it’s worst. What we really need is a set of politicians who can compromise and negotiate reasonable limits and privileges that make sense and takes everyone into consideration. But no. That’s not going to happen since the system is so corrupt with big money and lies from all the stakeholders, It’s all bull$hit, all of it.

            Democracy is devolving into one big giant bar fight. Fox news sets the tone of political discourse and we allow it to. You have to pay extra to access thoughtful, balanced, informed sources because the TV is too busy with Anna Nicole Smith’s illegitimate offspring and Newhouse and their ilk are tooting their own causes. We have a media and a culture that allows lies and deception and minimizes it’s impact by labeling it “spin” and acting as if it’s normal ethical behavior. Karl Rove is elevated to hero status as we torture and kidnap and disappear people like some cheap sociopath South American dictatorship.

            So then forums like this one become a reflection of the ignorant dialog elsewhere in the media. Blah. Blah. Blah. I think I’ll go watch the paint dry.