From The Statesman Journal:

I was a panel participant in the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) that studied Ballot Measure 85, which would amend Oregon’s constitution to redirect the corporate kicker into the general fund for K-12 education.

I, along with 23 other Oregonians from across the state, met in Salem and committed a full week to learn from proponents and opponents of the measure. We heard from nonpartisan legislative and fiscal experts who provided historical and current context. We examined funding formulas. We identified core issues, and we separated fact from opinion, spin and hype. We asked questions—a lot of them. We made findings, and ultimately, we took positions.Our work will be published in the Voters’ Pamphlet and sent to every voter in Oregon.

I am puzzled by Our Oregon’s hostility toward this process. Our Oregon is the sponsor of Measure 85, and the recent opinion piece by their communications director, Scott Moore, suggested that meeting with the CIR panel participants (folks who apparently have nothing better to do) would somehow take away their opportunity to talk “with hundreds or thousands” of voters that week. Mr. Moore does not believe that the CIR offers any benefit to voters. He’s wrong.

In the future, I will rely on the CIR statement as a primary source of information when considering how I will vote on a ballot measure. I will have confidence that the findings and positions outlined via the CIR process are the result of deliberate and careful fact finding. I will know that 24 voters dedicated a great deal of time, time that few of us are willing or able to devote to a single topic, to provide information useful to me in making a decision. As a result of our study of Measure 85, panelists can be influential regarding this issue—not to convince anyone to vote one way or another, but to offer facts and findings (which support neither position) and supported arguments regarding the measure.

I believe that every participant in the Citizens’ Initiative Review will have developed a greater appreciation for our democratic process and, more importantly, they will have developed greater skill in looking beyond campaign slogans and emotional pleas.

The CIR does not take away from public forums and rigorous debate. Rather, it is a mechanism to educate and involve those voters disinclined to make decisions based solely on biased information.

Kathy Cooney