Saturday, November 03, 2007

Commentary by Brain Stipak

This is reprinted with Brian's permission.

One acre, one vote. That's not democracy

By Brian Stipak of Portland, Oregon. Brian is a professor of public administration in the Mark Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University.

Every citizen has an equal vote in national elections -- "One Person, One Vote". But in the Multnomah County Drainage District it's "One Acre, One Vote".

Bridgeton Neighborhood residents earlier this year tried to elect a local resident to the supervisors of Peninsula Drainage District No. 2 by attending the meeting for that election. Although we were a majority in attendance, we had but one vote each and were easily out-voted by several people (non-residents, I believe) casting hundreds of votes representing businesses owning hundreds of acres.

What consequences results from such undemocratic process? In the current controversy about tree-cutting in the Bridgeton Neighborhood, the District supervisors and staff ignore the voices of the local residents. 0);"> The State Legislature needs to change this undemocratic "one acre, one vote" governance that robs people who live in a neighborhood of representation on a local agency affecting the livability and safety of that neighborhood.

State Representative Tina Kotek has taken the lead in trying to correct this lack of representation of local residents, and she deserves our support.

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