|Mr. Smith goes to Hazelwood
THE MID-COUNTY MEMO
State Rep. Jefferson Smith held forth - at some length - at the Hazelwood Neighborhood Association meeting last month on what he did and did not do during the last legislative session.
Smith, who represents Oregon House District 47, began by arguing forcefully for Ballot Measures 66 and 67, on which Oregonians were submitting their ballots at press time. "Very few will have increased taxes because of these measures," he said, "and an enormous number will lose services if they fail." The legislature cut $2 million from the state General Fund and is counting on the two measures to raise $733 million, including money for health care, public safety and schools," he said. He characterized major lobbying interests as saying, ""'This got passed without our signoff, (and) therefore we'll kill it.'"
Of the argument that Measure 67 - in particular - would eliminate jobs by raising the minimum corporate tax from $10 to $150 he said, "It's the exact flip. If this fails, we'll have to immediately fire $733 million worth of people."
Smith also voted to increase health care for the senior, under-insured and youth populations. He noted that Adventist Medical Center lobbied against the measure and accused them of reducing their health care to the poor through "the creative placement of their emergency room - it's so well hidden that if you're in a hurry, you'll never find it."
He voted against a transportation bill because, he said, "I pledged I wouldn't support a gas tax increase unless it benefited my district and reduced our need to drive, and this did neither."
Smith, admittedly, flipped on a ban on the use of cell phones while driving. Noting that the bill only prohibited hand-held devices he said, "The (safety) issue is not about the (use of) the hands, but the brain." More facetiously he said, "I use cell phones more than anyone, and I didn't want to be a hypocrite. Also, I was tired of voting "'yes.'"
In the same vein, for the benefit of perennial candidate Ron McCarty (who may run against Smith in the next election), Smith said he introduced a bill to eliminate the penny. It went nowhere.
More seriously, he said, the session produced "some of the biggest decisions this state has made in a long time." He personally teamed with Republican Bob Jensen on a water policy bill (an area on which he admitted he knew nothing when he started) that produced "the biggest change in this area in 30 years."
East Portland doesn't get its due, Smith said, because "it casts less votes than comparable districts. There are more people not eligible to vote, more who are eligible who are not registered, and more who are registered who are not voting (than in other districts). It's hard for politicians to remember us when it comes time to invest in things we want."
Asked why people aren't allowed to register up to the day of the election he said, "There's no good reason for it, but there are some bad reasons for it." People remember the Rashneeshees, who brought busloads of homeless people to Oregon in an attempt to use their votes to take over the state. "But remember, they were caught," Smith said. "There are groups (i.e., poor people who use and need social services versus people with large, personal or corporate taxable income) that know their work will be harmed by the participation of lower-income people."
Online registration would bring the state closer to conformance with the federal Voting Rights Act. "Registration is supposed to be available at any government office, but it isn't," he said.
Smith opposes the proposed $4.2 billion Columbia River Crossing because "for the price, it will (not) benefit people enough."
When Hazelwood Chair Arlene Kimura and others - chagrined at the prospect of the strip bar Mystic moving in on Southeast Stark Street - suggested eliminating the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, Smith said, "I'm not there yet. I'd need to know what would replace it." He decried the practice many bars have of forcing strippers and nude dancers to pay to work, which he dubbed a "pole tax."
At an anticipated Special Session, Smith said he hoped the legislature would take up the issue of human trafficking, the kidnapping and enslavement as sex workers of girls as young as 12. "I thought it didn't happen here," he said. "I was wrong. It's not a small problem."
Smith argued that spending on education and social services is essential to the state's economic well-being. At one time Minnesota and Oregon each hosted the corporate headquarters of 10 Fortune 500 corporations; now Minnesota has 18 and Oregon just two. "The difference is that they invested in higher education and we didn't," Smith said.
District 47's boundaries are (roughly) I-84 on the north, I -205 on the west, Portland city limits to the east and Division Street on the south.
MEMO Advertising | MEMO Archives | MEMO Web Neighbors | MEMO Staff | Home