10/29/08

Union political cash-flood pollutes Oregon

Related story: "The 28 labor-states"

Out-of-state labor union cash insults local preferences

The state's largest teachers union, the Oregon Education Association, has given an additional $1 million to a coalition fighting seven ballot measures authored by prolific initiative sponsor Bill Sizemore and Salem attorney Kevin Mannix. The coalition reported the money late Monday.

The union and its parent organization now have given more than $6 million, pushing total money for and against the seven Nov. 4 ballot measures close to $14 million. Most of the money has gone toward TV advertisements.

Funding for the five Sizemore measures and the two by Mannix has come mostly from Loren Parks, a millionaire who owns a medical equipment company in Aloha and moved from Oregon to Nevada in 2002.

Parks spent more than $1.3 million to help collect the signatures needed to place the initiatives on the statewide ballot. He has given $1.5 million to campaigns for those measures.

In addition to the $6.2 million from the 48,000-member OEA, Defend Oregon, an organization formed to oppose the seven Sizemore and Mannix-backed measures, has received $1.6 million from the Service Employees International Union.

Three other unions have added at least $600,000 each: The American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, the Oregon School Employees Association and the Oregon Nurses Association.

The American Federation of Teachers added another $450,000, while AFL-CIO contributed $270,000.

Mannix's Measure 61 would create mandatory minimum prison sentences for some drug, identity theft and residential burglary crimes, which opponents say would increase prison expenses and crowding. His Measure 62 would allocate 15 percent of state lottery proceeds for anti-crime efforts.

Sizemore's Measure 58 would prohibit non-English-language teaching for more than two years, Measure 59 would erase the state's limit on federal income taxes that can be deducted on state returns, and Measure 60 would switch teacher pay to a performance-based rather than seniority-based system.

Measure 63 by Sizemore would exempt construction projects from building-permit requirements for improvements valued under $35,000 and his Measure 64 would prohibit using public resources for political purposes.

(oregonlive.com)

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