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Another Portland Blog

Friday, November 07, 2003

 

PUD THE CHUD

No one comes to Blog looking for thoughtful political analysis. The following should not be mistaken for such.

On Tuesday, local voters shot down a ballot initiative to form a Multnomah County people's utility district (AKA PUD). The vote was a 68 percent to 32 percent, a washout pointing firmly to "no."

Many expected it to fail. Over the past few weeks, the local weeklies and even the Oregonian itself have pointed fingers at a "misleading" multimillion dollar ad campaign financed by privately-owned PGE.

Blog would like to think it's due to a lack of faith in local government, especially in Portland. In a town where City Hall is busily pursues MLB franchises instead of reigning in police chief Mark Kroeker (AKA Blog's favorite customer) and addressing everyday matters, is it any wonder that the PUD proposal failed?

Plus, like all those expensive ads claim, a publicly owned utility company would probably become a mismanaged, costly nightmare. Similar attempts to operate utility-related ventures (PGE Park anyone?) resulted in tax payers picking up the tab when everything went array.

Proponents, who have collected enough signatures to initiate similar ballot measures in other counties, argue that locally owned UCs are more efficient and have lower rates than their privately owned counterparts. The Willamette Week article linked to above points to EWEB as an example of an efficiently operated PUC. Ask anyone living in Eugene what they think of their power company and you're likely to have a tirade dropped in your ear.

What Blog's read in recent days seems to suggest that the defeat of Measure 26-52 is a mere roadblock. This issue isn't likely to go away in a state like Oregon. PUD is an inevitability, as are all the nasty rate increases that will come with it.

PS: The title is a no-so-clever reference to "CHUD II: Bud the CHUD," a long lost cinematic classic.

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