Over the last century, the groups to which some architects of Portland’s city government belonged have fallen into well-deserved infamy. The two of us were among those who tried and, in 2022, mostly failed to undo their work.

Today, we announce our intention to try again: this time, with a five-year campaign and a full-fledged plan.

Our blueprint for a new government is completely original. No society in the history of our species has dared as boldly to enshrine democracy. Political philosophers will be writing about us for millennia. This city structure, once enacted, will make us a beacon for billions.

Two reforms form the core of our new system: election-by-lottery (“sortition”) and a tricameral legislature. No city government in the world today combines these features. These reforms will make our city – a semi-functional democracy at best – worthy of its aspirations.

Our proposed sortition system will work as follows.

First, competitive elections will be abolished. No more “vote for me.” No more sloganeering. No more name recognition. Instead of popularity contests, members of every representative office in our city will be elected by sortition, or through a lottery system, with officials chosen at random for a term of one year. We will have 66 districts, each containing roughly 1,000 people. This will make our city a true government of the people. The mechanics of election-by-sortition are simple: An algorithm will randomly select a name from the city’s draft rolls.


Next, we are proposing a tricameral system of government: a 66-person Popular Assembly of Legislative Supremacy (“PALS”), a House of Landlords and Yeomanry (“HOLY”) and a three-person Supreme High-most Unlimited Council of Knowledge Systems (“SHUCKS Troika”). Our nine-person City Council will be gone. So will be our city manager. All three new branches have key roles, but the PALS shall be our chief lawmaking and deliberative body.

Sortition shall select the members of the 66-person PALS branch. The idea is simple: It could be you. PALS will be a raucous parliament made up of average citizens, all chosen at random.

Membership in the HOLY branch will be a matter of status (prominence), birthright (old families), diocese (archbishop, priests, Unitarian Universalist ministers, rabbis, imams and Wiccans), land ownership (Geoffrey Rice, et al.) and charismatic authority (decorated civil servants, civic dignitaries, retired military officers, people who serve on more than three high-profile corporate or nonprofit boards, people with buildings and scholarships named after them). This chamber will have unlimited membership and provide continuity and institutional memory as times change and people come and go; HOLY would have no legislative authority but rather would be tasked with maintaining the status quo and to oppose anything that the PALS want to do. Seats would be hereditary; the HOLY branch would be able to elect new members on an ad hoc basis.

Although the HOLY branch shall be mainly advisory in nature, it will have some veto power over the sale of municipal property, the repurposing of religious structures and the condemnation through eminent domain of hotels, parking lots and other productive private assets.

The Supreme High-most Unlimited Council of Knowledge Systems Troika will be made up of two PALS and one HOLY chamber member, also to be chosen at random. The SHUCKS Troika will have three duties: to break ties in the 66-person PALS branch, to issue advisory opinions on legal disputes, and to oversee an annual citywide Juvenalia celebration.

We will also give voters a chance to rename the city. “Portland,” as we see it, is taken; the people in the western city with the same name exhibit a profound level of self-absorption. We don’t need that association. On voting day, in the year 2030 or so, voters will have a menu of names to choose from. Some preliminary ideas:

• Poetland
• Arcadia-by-the-Sea
• Democracity
• Brewville
• Seagull
• Lobstown
• Porkland
• Prooklyn
• Falmouth Beforeside
• Heaventown

We do this so that Portland “shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Please join our campaign by emailing democracy@aprilfools.com.

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