This Week in the Mercury


Friday, September 6, 2013

Water District Supporters Get a Hefty Cash Infusion from Portland Bottling

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Fri, Sep 6, 2013 at 5:08 PM

The exact language voters will parse in the upcoming battle for Portland’s water and sewer systems hasn’t been ironed out—it’s currently before a judge.

But the first notion of who’s bankrolling the effort became public today, as organizers for a proposed Portland Public Water District have filed the first batch of fundraising transactions with Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown.

Surprising no one, the group's received a hefty infusion from Portland Bottling Company, which has long complained about the city's water rates. The company—whose president, Tom Keenan, was on-hand to speak at a press conference unveiling the push—cut a $25,000 check for the initiative. The only other item? An $800 payment to local web design firm BitClone LLC.

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The initiative would wrest control of the Portland Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services from the City Council, and put it in the hands of a seven-member elected board. It’s an initiative backed by industrial interests—who think they’re paying too much for their considerable water use—and water activists leery of the city’s stewardship.

Organizers of the initiative petition have claimed for more than a month that people have been clamoring to give to the cause, but hadn’t tipped their hand. They have 30 days to report contributions.

As the Mercury first reported, the political action committee hit the ground running, tapping seasoned Republican fundraiser Tiffany Grabenhorst shortly after announcing its formation in July.

The initiative needs almost 30,000 signatures to get an initiative on the May 2014 ballot.

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