Ad Wars 2004

How the “Yes” and “No” forces made their cases on Oregon’s Measure 37

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In 2004, proponents and opponents of Oregon’s Measure 37, the takings initiative that ultimately became law with 61 percent of the vote, loosed a barrage of television and radio ads on an electorate whose attention was also focused on the presidential election and several other ballot initiatives covering issues ranging from medical marijuana to same-sex unions.

Proponents of Measure 37 argued that it would protect Oregonians’ homes and land from an overzealous government bent on using legal loopholes to take away their property and on abusing regulations to fine them for reasonable land use. The “Yes on 37” ads were bankrolled by the Family Farm Preservation PAC, in support of Oregonians in Action, the chief pro-37 group.

Perhaps the most memorable of the “Yes” commercials featured Matt and Amy Roloff, two Oregon family farmers who have since become nationally known as the stars of The Learning Channel reality show, “Little People, Big World,” which describes itself as “the most in-depth television documentation of the lives of little people.” Measure 37 was needed, the Roloffs said, to protect “our home, our property, and our right to farm.”

Opponents of Measure 37 argued that it would create more red tape, lead to an unfair system in which land-use and environmental regulations would apply to some and not others, and would result in higher taxes. Their ads were paid for by the No on 37, Take a Closer Look Committee, which led the unsuccessful campaign against the measure.

“Yes on 37” Television Ad 1

A voice reads text, as it scrolls on the screen over images of a farm.

Governments have found a loophole in the law . . . and now they are taking private property from Oregonians without compensation. Measure 37 protects property owners. It’s your home and your property . . . years of your hard work. Nobody has the right to take that away, especially not government. Measure 37 sets up a straightforward process to make sure Oregonians are fairly compensated when government takes their property. Measure 37 is about fairness. Vote yes on Measure 37.

“Yes on 37” Television Ad 2

Rebecca Muntean, identified as a Portland homeowner, narrates an ad over images of her yard.

I am voting yes on Measure 37. I was fined $50,000 by the City of Portland for taking out the blackberry bushes that were covering up my backyard. Why? Because Portland officials claim that my yard is wildlife habitat. How does a backyard in the middle of the city become wildlife habitat? I worked hard to buy my home, and Measure 37 will protect my home and my investment. It will protect you as well. I am voting yes on Measure 37.

“Yes on 37” Television Ad 3

Colleen MacLeod, identified as a Union County commissioner, speaks in front of a mountain. Images of farmers are interspersed during her narration.

As a county commissioner, I know a bad law when I see one. But nothing prepared me for the Botham case. When the Bothams applied to build on their ranch, they were told they’d have to move out four months out of the year, so as not to disturb the wildlife. That’s right: They could build on it, but they couldn’t live on it. If we pass Measure 37, Oregonians won’t be treated like the Bothams. You worked hard for your property. No one should take that from you, especially not government. Please vote yes on Measure 37.

“Yes on 37” Television Ad 4

Matt and Amy Roloff, identified as Washington County farmers, alternate narration of the ad over images of Roloff Farms. The names of four organizations supporting the measure (Oregon Family Farm Association, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, Oregon State Grange, and Jackson County Farm Bureau) scroll on the screen at the end of the ad.

Matt: We’re family farmers.

Amy: And this is our farm.

Matt: Families come to our farm to buy our produce, have a picnic, and tour the farm. But recently, the government told us that certain land-use laws stop us from marketing our farm products this way.

Amy: It makes it even harder for us to stay in the farming business.

Matt: That’s why Oregon farmers support Measure 37.

Amy: Measure 37 protects our home, our property, and our right to farm.

“No on 37” Television Ad 1: “Take a Closer Look

A voice narrates over images of farmers, farms, a list of county farm bureaus opposed to the initiative, and a copy of the Oregon voter pamphlet.

Family farmers and county farm bureaus across Oregon are voting no on Measure 37 because it’s unfair. It lets government change the rules as it goes along and will result in new costs to property owners and taxpayers. The State of Oregon voter pamphlet outlines that Measure 37 will cost between $64 million and $344 million each year — just for red tape. The final cost to taxpayers could not be determined, and there’s no revenue to pay for it. Please, take a closer look and vote no on 37.

“No on 37” Television Ad 2: “That’s Wrong

Tom Brawley, identified as a resident of Marion County, narrates the ad over images of his family, his farm, and the words “15 County Farm Bureaus Voting NO on Measure 37.”

I’m Tom Brawley. Three generations of my family work on this farm. I’m joining county farm bureaus from across Oregon in voting no on 37. [Measure] 37 lets government decide one thing for my neighbor’s property and something different for mine — and that’s wrong. It weakens the laws that protect farmland from overdevelopment and it costs all of us millions of dollars, every year, in red tape. Please vote no on 37.

“No on 37” Television Ad 3: “Eeny Meeny Miney Mo

A male voice and a female voice alternate narration as the words “Measure 37” appear at the top of the screen and a hand on a desk points back and forth between pieces of paper with changing adjectives: “Arbitrary” and “Accountable,” “Unfair” and “Fair,” “Costly” and “No Costs,” and finally, “Yes” and “No.”

Male narrator: Eeny Meeny Miney Mo.

Female narrator: Take a closer look at Measure 37. It lets government change the rules as it goes along.

Male narrator: Bureaucrats will run the show.

Female narrator: Deciding one thing for your neighbor’s property and something totally different for yours.

Male narrator: Another way to take your dough.

Female narrator: And the red tape Measure 37 creates will cost Oregon taxpayers millions — every year.

Male narrator: Eeny Meeny Miney . . . No.

Female narrator: So take a closer look and vote no on Measure 37.

“No on 37” Television Ad 4: “More Red Tape, More Taxes

Tom Brawley, identified as a property owner and farmer in Marion County, begins the ad speaking. Then, a narrator speaks over images of farms; a lengthy list of Oregonians, organizations, and publications opposed to the measure; and the text of newspaper editorials that are critical of the initiative.

Brawley: Well, of course more red tape and more taxes are something we don’t want.

Narrator: But that’s exactly what Oregon property owners and taxpayers will get from Measure 37. That’s why so many Oregonians are voting no on 37. It’s a bizarre, fiscally irresponsible proposition. Administrative costs could run as high as $344 million a year. We’re talking about your tax dollars. So please, take a closer look and vote no on 37.

“No on 37” Radio Ad 1: “That’s Wrong”

Narrator: People across Oregon are coming together to stop Measure 37. Fifteen county farm bureaus, small businesses, and property owners like Marion County farmer Tom Brawley.

Brawley: I’m Tom Brawley. I’m joining county farm bureaus from across Oregon, asking you to vote no on Measure 37. Measure 37 lets government change the rules as they go along, deciding one thing for my neighbor’s property and something different for mine — and that’s wrong. It weakens the laws that protect farmland from overdevelopment and it costs all of us millions of dollars, every year, in red tape.

Narrator: That’s right. The Oregon Treasurer and Secretary of State concluded that Measure 37 will cost taxpayers between $64 million and $344 million in new red tape every year, and nobody knows how much Measure 37 will cost taxpayers in the end. With money so tight already, we can’t afford to the risk. Vote no on Measure 37. Paid for by No on 37, Take a Closer Look Committee.

“No on 37” Radio Ad 2: “Ducks and Beavers”

Male voice (as news reporter): And now, back to sports. This just in, the Ducks and Beavers have joined forces for the remainder of the Pac-10 football season.

Male narrator: That’s not gonna happen. Sports rivals like Oregon and OSU would never team up. But when our quality of life is threatened by a special-interest ballot initiative, people across Oregon will join together to stop it. Take Measure 37.

Female narrator: The Lane County Farm Bureau and Defenders of Wildlife are joining forces to defeat Measure 37 because it costs too much and is unfair to property owners. Measure 37 makes a mess of the laws that protect our fish and wildlife and it threatens our farmland with overdevelopment.

Male narrator: That’s right. Farmers and conservationists are asking you to join them in voting no on 37. Oregon Secretary of State and State Treasurer concluded that Measure 37 will cost up to $344 million each year, just for red tape.

Male voice (as news reporter): So please join with farmers, conservationists, ducks, and beavers across Oregon and vote no on Measure 37.

Female narrator: Paid for by No on 37, Take a Closer Look Committee.

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