fbpx

Working for You

Menu

Commissioners: June 26 2024

“Last year, OSU (Oregon State University) held the Rainbow Classic. Trans genders,” yelled Josephine County Commissioner John West at Wednesday’s meeting. “Takin their clothes off in front of kids. I watched the video of it. At OSU.”

Someone giggled.

“Oh Ma’m. You think that’s ok? Yeah. You think that’s ok? Yeah, yeah but…good point Ma’m, I like that.”

Wearing a t-shirt that says, “I’m voting for the felon 2024” Mike Pelfrey accused 4H of “indoctrinating children” and said, “I’m sitting here looking at a video right now from 4H and not only am I looking at this video but the person putting on the video is a transgender person.”

Pelfry went on shouting about being tired of 4H pushing the trans agenda and asked the Commissioners not to give “a dime of our taxpayer money because this is what they’re going to do, is they’re going to continue to push this agenda.”

“Mr. Pelfrey you’ve got some very valid concerns,” said Commissioner Dan DeYoung after the hearing. I share those. I share your concerns. I think it’s brought to the table now and out if the open so what is 4H going to do about that?”

So, all the OSU programs could be wiped out because Pelfry and West watched a trans video they think is going to turn kids into transgenders, as West calls them?

But there was more.

Fourteen people testified to the value of 4H and OSU programs, saying 4H is not just about livestock but has many other valuable programs from public speaking to robotics. Two people objecting to re-funding the programs on “moral” grounds, one objecting to the giggler and Republican Party Chair Holly Morton asked for budget clarification. When West closed the hearing Commissioners let loose.

DeYoung started with trans concerns then slid into concerns about the 4H that prompted the Board to defund them last year. He said he wants the programs fixed but he doesn’t want them defunded.

Commissioner Herman Baertschiger brought up a new reason to vote to defund the OSU programs. He said he asked Oregon House Rep. Dwayne Yunker and Oregon State Sen. Art Robinson to get him some financial information from OSU but they were told to come up with $291 for a Public Information Request. Baertschiger ranted about that and accused OSU of not being transparent.

“They want me to approve a million dollar budget but they don’t want me to see how they’re spending the money,” said Baertschiger as his voice entered shrill territory. “So that’s my big beef. It’s about transparency. I want to open the book and take a peek to see how much things are costing.”

Someone in the audience said there was a person present who could answer those questions. That person was not allowed to speak.

West sat fuming through Baertschiger’s self-righteous indignation, then tried to outdo him. West lashed out at those who were there to defend 4H and Master Gardeners. Practically screaming at the audience he said “It appalls me that all of you sit here and you make a big deal about us. It’s all about you (It was unclear who he was referring to here). It is not about the people and the kids and the folks here. I offered up a couple of weeks ago and said why don’t we take the $441,000 we get and split some of it up and put a percentage of it to the Master Gardener program instead of it all going to OSU and I got booed! You don’t want the money. I never heard of such craziness in my life. Last year OSU held a Rainbow Classic. Transgenders. Taken’ their clothes off in front of kids. I watched the video.”

He then accused the OSU group of being “segregators” because they weren’t allowing kids with crosses in the program and said he was insulted by someone who called the Board “corrupt” on the radio. West jumped around from complaining about a budget document he received from OSU he didn’t think was complete enough to blasting a 4H late fee of $5, then said he didn’t know what OSU does with the fee money. He lectured and belittled the audience while the few who spoke against refunding the Extension Service silently cheered him on.

During public comments Elliott Kristopher, OSU Extension Vice Provost, speaking through Zoom, basically dissolved Baertschiger and West’s arguments about transparency and where the money goes. Kristopher said the fees West brought up are managed by OSU Extension but cannot be spent anywhere but in Josephine County. The County, however, can choose to manage those fees themselves, but OSU does this without charging for the administration. He also explained how the budget process works, saying there are several checks and balances and it’s important OSU maintains a cordial and ethical relationship with the counties it serves. As for the person on the radio who called the Board “corrupt” Kristopher said that was a caller who did not represent OSU.

With regard to transparency Kristopher said the budgets are audited frequently, to make sure everything is done to the highest ethical standards. He said the way the budget plan works is the county authorizes the budget and as expenditures are made they are billed to the county quarterly. So when the Board approves the budget they are not transferring an amount of funds over to OSU Extension to spend them. The Board is approving an operation plan.

“As we spend, under agreement from that budget operations plan we send quarterly invoices and those invoices are detailed on all transactions, everything that’s been done over that quarter. So at that point there’s another check and balance by the county to determine if there’s anything in there that doesn’t seem to be aligned with the budget, may have additional questions that come up, and the county can pause refunding for those services until all of the information is provided,” he said.

So there’s another check there in the process four times a year. Kristopher said he wanted to make it clear this doesn’t transfer funds to OSU to spend how they want that there’s a review of those funds as they come in in the form of invoices.

“The last thing I want to mention is again, we’ve been meeting quarterly. I think we’ve been in good communication back and forth,” he said.

Kristopher also said Yunker made the request for the records June 14 and those will be to his office this afternoon or tomorrow morning. The reason Yunker and Robinson were told to file a Public Records Request was because that is an Oregon state Statute.

“The unfortunate thing is that request came in at the end of a fiscal year so someone would have to take time from their job to meet this request. Our books are wide open, we will always provide information but the hiccup was timing of request,” he said. OSU Extension has 36 counties plus Warm Springs Reservation so all of those budgets being wrapped up for this year, Kristopher said.

He closed by saying the Extension Service has shown progress with the county, that they take a position of religious neutrality and no student will be turned away for wearing religious paraphernalia.

“Faith is a value we appreciate,” said Kristopher.