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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hales' Anti-Water District Campaign Kicks Into Fundraising Mode

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Mayor Charlie Hales' campaign to keep the Portland Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services under city council control is up and running, with early support coming just from where you'd expect.

Since Valentine's Day, the mayor's Stop the Bull Run Takeover committee has reported $3,355 in donations, much of that money coming from environmental and community groups that disdain an effort to create a new water and sewer board.

The largest reported donation, $2,000, comes from Depave, a local organization that avocates removing unnecessary patches of pavement throughout the city. Smaller contributions come from the Urban Greenspaces Institute, League of Women Voters of Portland action chair Debbie Aiona (who also lodged a complaint against the Portland Public Water District campaign), and Portland General Electric, which is throwing in $275 in in-kind contributions.

The donations pale, right now, in comparison to the more-than $170,000 the water district campaign has raised from industrial ratepayers and property management groups since launching last summer (more than $100,000 of which went into a successful signature-gathering effort). Just the Portland Public Water District's last reported contribution—a $5,000 infusion from Hilton Worldwide—is bigger than its opposition's entire (reported) haul. But count on more coming in. Beyond a host of other environmental groups who oppose the new water district, Hales and company are banking on support from labor unions who fear the new board would try to slash rates by shedding jobs.

The question of whether the city needs a new seven-member elected board to oversee its utilities (and a good portion of its environmental services, to boot) will go before voters May 20.

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