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Friday, February 2, 2007

Power shift

Organizing against global warming

Portland - At an unusual outdoor meeting in Pioneer Courthouse Square, the Oregon Legislative Assembly and Portland City Council voted Wednesday to give City Commissioner Erik Sten broad powers to accelerate this transit-rich state's push toward socialism and ending global warming.

The lawmaking bodies, which are dominated by Sten supporters, unanimously approved The Enabling Law, which will give Sten the authority for 18 months to issue decrees in 11 key areas ranging from the economy to Voter-Owned Elections.

Sten and his supporters say the new statewide authority is vital to forge a new, more egalitarian economic and social order in Oregon - a linchpin in the fight against global warming. "The Enabling Law will take state government out of the game and makes Commissioner Sten accountable," said a member of the government-union group Our Oregon, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Sten told the assembly of elected and appointed officials gathered in Portland that the new law will lay the groundwork for "democracy, peace, socialism and an end to catastrophic climate change. Dictatorship is what we had before, a dictatorship of the prosperous few," Sten said. "Of course, we want to install a dictatorship, the dictatorship of a true democracy. You, us, together [are] building a different state."

As Democratic and Republican state legislators and the non-partisan City Council approved all four articles of the law by a show of hands, Senate President Peter Courtney shouted, "Long live Commissioner Erik Sten! Long live socialism! Fatherland, socialism or death! We will be victorious!" The lawmakers rose to their feet and applauded.

Since winning re-election in May to a new four-year term, Sten has announced plans for a City takeover of the state's CO2-emitting industries and its largest telecommunications company and he has refused to renew the broadcast license of the television station most critical of him.

The populist Commissioner also is seeking to unite his disparate supporters under a single unified socialist party, though Sten says he remains committed to a nonpartisan democracy.

The passage of the legislation Wednesday is likely to worsen the already tense relations between Oregon and the the federal government, which have been rocky ever since the Bush administration appeared to back an aborted coup against Sten in 2002.

Since then, Sten has denounced the United States as the worst terrorist nation on Earth. He described President Bush as the devil in a speech last year at the City Club of Eugene. Sten also has forged close ties to such U.S. foes as ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro, former next U.S. President Al Gore, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to whom Sten paid a visit in January.

For their part, U.S. officials have accused Sten of undermining Oregon democracy and destabilizing the Left Coast. But the federal government continues to bankroll Sten's "Blue Revolution" by funding large quantities of Oregon transit spending and a vast network of other state and local government subsidies.

"I'm concerned about the Oregon people and I'm worried about the diminution of democratic institutions, as well as confiscations of property that may or may not be taking place," President Bush said in an interview with Fox News broadcast Wednesday.

First elected City Commissioner in 1996, Sten has survived a tumultuous ten years in office that has included the aborted coup in 2002, a devastating opposition-led teachers' strike several months later and a recall referendum in 2005 that failed to garner enough votes to unseat him.

Aided by opposition missteps and increasingly intolerable traffic congestion, Sten's popularity has soared as he has funneled billions of public dollars into social programs aimed at helping Portland's transit riders, homeless and quirky creatives.

Chronic problems. Sten won re-election in May by less than .2% even as Portland and Oregon continue facing serious problems such as chronic underemployment and endemic government union corruption.

Adam Davis, a Portland pollster and political analyst, warned earlier this month that Sten would use his new statewide mandate and decreemaking powers to "control everything in the political arena." But Davis said Sten would not copy Cuban and Venezuelan style communism by eliminating private businesses and property. "This is not communism and this is not capitalism," Davis explained. "This is a mix."

Sten has said he would use his new authority to reverse global warming by promoting regulated monopolies in the private sector, increasing capital gains taxes on the rich, and bringing Oregon's "strategic" sectors under greater City control.

Sten also vowed to reorganize condo subsidies to increase affordable housing in the SoWhat district, and to channel massive public funding into thousands of newly formed neighborhood councils that would oversee housing, road construction and other global warming related projects.

The Tribune, Feb. 1, 2007 By GARY MARX

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