Deadline is Tuesday on PERS measure

Time remains to vote on Measure 29, the statewide ballot question regarding refinancing the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS).

Turnout is low in Hood River County, with 2,338 out of 10,500 ballots, or 22 percent, returned as of Friday morning. According to the Secretary of State’s office, turnout in most counties ranged from 20 to 28 percent. Turnout in Wasco is 25 percent so far; in Jefferson, 25 percent, and in Multnomah, 19 percent.

Voters have until 8 p.m. Tuesday to return the ballots. They must be in the hands of the elections department at the courthouse — postmarks don’t count.

“Unless there’s a last-minute surge, turnout isn’t going to be real big,” said Lee Shissler, county elections coordinator. He said ballot volume was high right after they were mailed Aug. 29, and through Sept. 3, but the returns have since tapered off.

Measure 29 would amend the Oregon Constitution to authorize the State of Oregon to incur debt to finance the pension liabilities of the state at a lower cost to the state and to pay costs of issuing and incurring indebtedness. The measure authorizes the Legislative Assembly to enact implementing legislation.

The measure specifies that indebtedness authorized by the measure is a general obligation of the state, backed by the full faith and credit and taxing power of the state, except ad valorem taxing power.

The measure limits the amount of indebtedness outstanding at any time to one percent of the real market value of property in the state.

Supporters say a “yes” vote will save Oregon approximately $44 million in costs, and refinancing the PERS obligation can save the State more than $1 billion overall.

Turnout was biggest on Sept. 3, according to Shissler, with 625 returned. Numbers have gradually declined to 147 on Thursday.

“I think this election is not on the regular schedule of elections people are accustomed to, and they may be surprised to have received a ballot in the mail,” Shissler said. “Also, it’s a complex issue concerning financing a debt.”

The next county ballot will be Nov. 4, with votes on a city initiative concerning waterfront zoning, to be voted on by City of Hood River voters only, and an initiative regarding residential development of forest land, with the entire county voting.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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