"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

The Macpherson appointment

Greg Macpherson

Greg Macpherson

The appointment of state Representative (and former attorney general candidate) Greg Macpherson to the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission has drawn enough fire to be slowed down, if not necessarily nixed. But it could say something about what that commission should be like in the months to come.

The opposition is not qualitative in terms of qualification for the job – Macpherson, who has a legislator and elsewhere has been immersed specifically in land policy for years – is well past that threshold, likely playing into the appointment by Governor Ted Kulongoski.

Oregonians in Action, which has spearheaded the opposition, takes issue instead with Macpherson’s specific stands (this from a press release appearing on Oregon Catalyst):

As many of you know, Mr. Macpherson is the state legislator from Lake Oswego who led the charge to draft Measure 49, run it through the legislature on a straight party line vote, and craft an exceedingly deceptive ballot title for the Measure without any public input.

As a reward, Governor Kulongoski has nominated Macpherson for a vacant spot on LCDC. If Macpherson becomes an LCDC commissioner, he will have no sympathy for Measure 49 claimants, rural Oregon property owners, or anyone who wants to make reasonable changes to our broken statewide land use planning system.

During his legislative career, Macpherson has opposed the most reasonable changes to Oregon’s land use laws. The last thing that LCDC needs is another hyper-partisan Portland area legislator who cares nothing about fixing a broken set of laws that are nearly four decades old.

Macpherson’s central role on Measure 49 is a matter of record; the rest is interpretative, and if you’re a fan of Measure 37 (the more ragged measure that 49 replaced), as OIA is, then you’re not going to be a Macpherson fan.

OIA said yesterday that a proposed Senate vote to confirm Macpherson has been put off, owing to calls generated by the group, but also noted that a vote still could come later this year (or presumably in January). There may be an opportunity in this for more discussion about Oregon land law, which the state could well use. Macpherson might even welcome it; he was, after all, on the big majority side in the vote on Measure 49.

UPDATE Turns out that Oregonians in Action had less to do with the timing of the Macpherson appointment than they claimed. We got some some background on it from a correspondent yesterday, and now this has shown up on the Oregonian‘s opinion blog, from Doug Bates:

“When the Senate Rules Committee met last week for a confirmation hearing on Macpherson’s appointment by Gov. Ted Kulongoski, the panel’s vice chairman, Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, raised a legal technicality. He asked whether a sitting member of the Legislature could be lawfully confirmed for such an appointment. Legal counsel didn’t have a ready reply, although Kulongoski has made several such appointments in the past without challenge. Macpherson told the committee he’d prefer holding up his confirmation hearing until the legal question can be addressed. There’s still plenty of time for that to happen between now and January, when Macpherson’s term in the Senate is over.”

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