DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER: Vote YES on Measure 15-141
State Rep. Val Hoyle, (D-Eugene) is one of three candidates in the Democrat’s primary for Oregon’s Secretary of State. It has been a tight race, but last week, she reported a major cash contribution which may give her the bump in advertising and staff that she needs: Former New York City Mayor and current billionaire Michael Bloomberg donated $250,000 to her campaign. The largest funder of gun control legislation, Bloomberg singled her out, for her past efforts on gun control.
Yes, less than a year after the shootings at Umpqua Community College, two years after shootings at Reynolds High School near Portland, and three years after two Christmas shoppers were killed at the Clackamas Town Center, little has changed for sensible gun measures—and we agree that the State of Oregon needs someone to guide policies towards a safer and fair measures. Perhaps knowing that Hoyle has Bloomberg’s cash endorsement will sway your vote one way or another.
But for our money (which is woefully less than what Bloomberg carries even in his smallest coin purse), the most important ballot measure this election is Measure 15-141, a matter that does not have the drama of national politics, but matters immensely to the lives of residents in the region. Vote YES.
Sure, perhaps this would have been wiser to attach public transportation funding to a regional gas tax, however, this is how this matter is being presented: A temporary 13 cent property tax assessed per $1000 of value, with funds directly applied to Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD). Vote YES!
In recent years, RVTD has struggled to make budgetary ends meet; like city roads and federal highway on which cars drive, RVTD relies on public funding to maintain its services. A keen example of this funding is a 2012 federal grant to pilot Saturday services. At its peak, 2000 people were riding the buses on Saturday, a large number using the buses to get to jobs. But when the grant ran out in 2015, RVTD was forced to cancel the services, leaving dozens of residents struggling to reach their jobs.
Public transportation is more environmentally sound than single-car commuters, and public transportation helps those most in need—students trying to get to class, workers trying to reach jobs, the elderly going on errands. Fine, most of us do not ride the public bus—but for hundreds and thousands of our neighbors and regional residents, public transportation is a critical to living their lives.
It is notable to see the number of endorsements favoring Measure 15-141 in the Voter Pamphlet: Medford School District, City of Ashland City Council, City of Talent. And, moreover, to note there’s isn’t a single argument published against the proposal. Even so, Measure 15-141 faces an uphill battle. Why? Why is no one speaking publicly against funding public transportation, yet it’s unlikely to pass? Because most self-respecting people understand that denying public transportation is shameful; it is turning your back on a neighbor who needs help. Yet when asked to pony up $35 a year to help out our region’s most needy—and services directly helping people live and better their lives—many of us favor holding on to our money.
On the fence about this one? Think about it this way: Would you give $1 each week to a neighbor’s teenage son so that he could go to school? Or, would you tell him, sorry, I know that this $1 will help move your life forward, but I really need to buy a box of Tic Tacs? $1 each week for the school year? $35 a year to maintain—and restore—public transportation for thousands, and keep the community operating smoothly?
Already Saturdays and evenings are all but gone. Without this funding, more services will vanish, and leave more residents stranded and vulnerable to losing jobs, losing access to health care, losing a means to get to school.
The only expansions that RVTD is proposing are lines dedicated to the Rogue Community College Table Rock campus, and to the South Medford School District, a school district where one out of seven are considered financially vulnerable, and desperately need this service.
Is it clear that we strongly believe Measure 15-141 is important?
We hope you agree.