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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Portland Property Managers Come Out in Force For "Water Reform" Bid

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Thu, Oct 3, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Water_commission_presser.jpg

A group of water activists and big ratepayers who want to wrest control of water and sewer bills from city council hands continues to haul in big donations.

In transactions posted to the Secretary of State's ORESTAR website earlier today, the group Portlanders for Water Reform reported $42,100 in new money to play with as it mounts its effort. The group took in five donations since mid-September, but the bulk of the money comes from three big cash infusions:

Portland property management firm Commerce Properties kicked in $10,000. American Property Management, another Portland company, kicked in $20,000. And the Portland wing of Siltronic—a German semiconductor firm—donated another $10,000.

That last one is no surprise. Siltronic and other industrial interests have backed this effort since the beginning. Portland Bottling Company gave the water reform group its only other contribution to date—$25,000—in early September. But this is the first time we've seen robust support from property management folks. American Property Management, it should be noted, is Portland Bottling's landlord.

As the Mercury first reported, the effort's backers have hired a professional fundraiser to coax cash.

The proposal, which Portlanders for Water Reform is working to get on the May 2014 ballot, is to establish a seven-member elected board that would take control of the Portland Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services. Board members would be beholden only to the electorate.

Proponents say the body would be less prone to abuses of ratepayer money and setting exorbitant rates. Their detractors—city officials and environmental groups, largely—paint the effort as a takeover attempt in order to score rate decreases for big water users.

Portlanders for Water Reform needs to collect almost 30,000 signatures by January 21 in order to land the measure on the May ballot. Before it can collect signatures, though, two challenges to the initiative's ballot language need to work their way through Multnomah County Circuit Court.

Attorneys are scheduled to meet in court to argue that matter tomorrow morning .

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