Let it expire.

Today, I got this interesting postcard in the mail.

Here in the wild-and-wooly Territory of Clackamas County, we have a levy on property taxes that pays for the Sheriff’s Department. Since I live in the incorporated City of Oregon City, and in an apartment, we can debate how much I really need to care about this issue, at least in the abstract.

But what I find interesting is that the Sheriff’s Department just spent a good chunk of change to tell me they .. um .. need more chunks of change.

Let’s do the math on this one. Clackamas County has (according to the US Census’ 2007 estimate) around 140,000 households. Based upon how this was addressed (“Postal Customer”), it’s pretty safe to assume that this postcard went to every household in Clackamas County, or at least a vast majority of them. (EDIT: it also appeared in my Post Office Box in Milwaukie as well, which tells me that my 140,000-piece estimate is actually a low-ball figure). Let’s assume that the cost of producing the postcards, printing them, and mailing out 140,000 of them ran the Good Sheriff 50ยข per postcard. 140,000x.50=$70,000.

Perhaps a mere drop in the bucket compared to the $10 million the postcard claims will be raised by this levy in the 2013 tax year.

But it does raise the question of where else the Sheriff’s Department is using taxpayer resources in a fashion that might be deemed “questionable,” or at least for purposes other than legitimate law enforcement. $70,000 would pay a significant amount of a rookie deputy’s salary.

Thanks, Sheriff. You just ensured my vote will be “no.” Find a better way of financing your Posse.

End of an era…

So, I had an interesting experience coming home today. As I’m walking along the Oregon City Promenade, I notice immediately that the usual sounds of the paper factory just south of downtown… with its constant huffing and puffing and whirring and clanking, was silent. It was an eerie sensation, as I stood there on the bluff looking down on it, I had no idea that I was actually witnessing the end of an era.

Oregon City has long been a mill town. Heck, part of the reason my apartment building exists was to house workers at this very paper mill. Tonight, it sits quiet. A victim of globalization, if you read the story in the newspaper. It’s apparently cheaper to buy recycled paper from China than to recycle it locally.

Even though I’ve lived in Oregon City for less than a year, I can sense the loss. Not just of the around 200 jobs (probably all reasonably well-paying factory jobs, no less). But the loss of a small piece of this town’s legacy. Like so many manufacturing towns all across the country, the closing if this factory not only means the loss of a few jobs: it also represents the loss of a piece of this sleepy town’s soul.

With the closing of the Blue Heron Paper Company this town just becomes another Portland exurb, eventually absorbed into the fabric of the Big City just like Kenton was at this time 100 years ago, or like Beaverton has become in the past 30 years. Our city government is eyeing the property, on the south edge of downtown with some wonderful views of Willamette Falls, keen on redevelopment. They see Oregon City being the next “transit town” for Portland.. doubly so if through redevelopment they can lure either the yet-uncolored Milwaukie light rail line or the extant Green Line to our humble little Oregon City Transit Center. A revitalized and redeveloped downtown Oregon City would certainly be a tempting carrot to dangle in front of the TriMet board, that’s for sure.

But are we selling our town’s soul to save it? I don’t really know. I just know that tomorrow morning when I walk down the Promenade I’ll be hearing the traffic of 99E instead of a whirring Industrial Revolution relic. And it won’t seem like the same Oregon City anymore.

Why I voted “No” on Measure # 3-369

Here’s a little insight into the way my tiny little mind works.

There’s a local ordinance on the ballot here in Oregon City: Measure # 3-369. It concerns taking land presently used for a public park and converting it to use for a road alignment. The back-story involves a moderate-sized parcel of land owned by one of the local churches that could be developed into housing, if there was road access. Oregon City’s laws require any land deeded to the Park System can only be changed to other uses by public vote.

I voted “No.”

My reasons for voting “No” were quite simple. I opened up the ballot pamphlet, wanting to read arguments in favor or against, and saw no arguments either way.

In other words, it matters so little to anybody that nobody bothered to type up a few words for it in the ballot pamphlet.

So, guess what? If it matters that little, I guess it doesn’t need to happen.