County Commissioners Update Week of 2/8/22

Next week Josephine County Commissioners will discuss whether or not to put an advisory question on the May ballot asking if voters would rather live in Idaho than Oregon. During their Wednesday Business Session, Commission Chair Herman Baertschiger informed the board that he would be bringing that discussion to the Feb. 15 meeting. The public won’t have an opportunity for input at that time. During the Feb. 9 meeting, Baertschiger told his fellow Commissioners, “If we’re going to put questions on the ballot for Jay Meredith (regarding mining in the county) I have a question for Josephine County citizens: Do they embrace moving the border with Idaho that Josephine County would be encompassed in the State of Idaho and not Oregon?  Fowler pointed out on Wednesday the City of Cave Junction wants to ask to ban fireworks countywide as well.

Baertschiger brought the Idaho question to the board after holding a presentation Tuesday by the Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho. Baertschiger was the only Commissioner present.  Movement leader Mike McCarter spoke at length about his project on Zoom:

McCarter – First some background information on Move Oregon’s Border First. In 2019 citizens from Josephine, Jackson, Klamath and Deschutes counties got together in the fall and were a little unhappy with what’s going on in Oregon’s leadership and decided, well, maybe we can do something about it. And that morphed into the concept of moving Oregon’s border. We thought that probably the best thing to do right off the bat is to start trying to poll rural Oregon counties to find out did they agree with this or not. I mean did they want to see a change? Are they frustrated and so on and so we, we started a petition process to approach 19 full counties and three partial counties which would include all of Eastern Oregon and most of SW Oregon to find out if they’re interested in looking into the details, the facts the possibility of moving Oregon’s borders so those counties would become part of Idaho. The media has picked it up as a succession vote. It’s not a succession vote. It is a vote to start the process to start talking about it. Start looking into the possibilities of it. So to date…. of course at that time we had no idea how COVID was gonna affect us completely. I mean, try to collect signatures under COVID conditions is almost impossible to do. No large events, no fairs, no rodeos, no things like that so it, it came down to one-on-one type a deal. We managed to get four counties on the ballot for the November 2020 election and that was Douglas, Jefferson, Union and Wallowa counties. Two of those counties, the ordinance passed in it. That would be Jefferson and Union. Two counties it didn’t pass in was Douglas and Wallowa. We lost in Wallowa by 40 votes. But the whole process was a learning process for us because we’re all volunteers and we’re not professionals in this area. We found out that it was probably a lesson learned that we didn’t get our message out, we couldn’t afford to get it out totally, and so uh, we’ve come back now. It’s gonna be in Douglas County on the ballot in May. And Wallowa county has just approved another petition to get it back in to Wallowa County with a better message able to pass It. To date, eight counties have passed measures about looking into moving Oregon’s border. And that is Malheur, Baker, Grant, Harney, Lake, Jefferson, Union and Sherman counties. We’ve got active petitions going of course in Josephine County, Curry County in Morrow County and Umatilla County so we’re continuing on as each election comes up trying to measure the level of frustration throughout rural Oregon and get this moved up to the state legislature, to the decision-makers, to get the topic started up there. To get them talking about it. In April of last year, I spoke to the about a third of the Idaho legislature in a hearing and laid out Citizens for Greater Idaho for Moving Oregon’s border and the response was very good. They’re willing to start discussions. There was not a vote or anything …OK we want to take the counties or anything like that. That’s not where it’s at. So, my understanding is during their legislative session which is going on right now they are going to send a letter to the Oregon legislature and try to get some discussion opened up or hearings or whatever. Now we know in Oregon’s off cycle legislative session that’s going on right now it’s hard to get anything miscellaneous included into it because it’s packed full with what they want to do right now. And so, we’re working through and talking to a lot of the state representatives and state senators about getting some kind of discussion going in Oregon. I think it’s a possibility. I’ve had some good response and some bad response in talking to em, they’re saying there’s just no way we can get it into this session. So we’ve ask em maybe in between the sessions if we could get a hearing going or discussion group or a task force or whatever you want to call it going on this particular subject and I guess there is a possibility that might come about. In the meantime, the counties that have passed it in Southeastern Oregon which are predominantly Sen. Finley and Rep. Owen’s counties, we’ve asked them to take it up the line to the legislature and they asked for support from the county commissioners in a letter, saying basically the county commissioners don’t have to come out and say we’re in favor of this or anything else but basically sayin’ our people have voted this in, an average of 62 or 63 percent. Would you take it up the line to the state legislature? So, they’ve asked for support, or letters, from the county commissioners to them so that they can show that the counties want to do it. I find it a little bit unusual cause the vote is already in place from the citizens signifying that they want to see something done. In January last month we ran a poll through Survey USA in NW Oregon and 81 percent of the respondents on that poll, coming out of the Willamette Valley, responded that they believe the Oregon Legislature should pick up this topic and start working with it. 68 percent, on another question there, said that they should look into the effect on what it would be on the effect to Oregon if they would become Idaho counties and how the transition could be done. 68 percent of the people said yes. We need to start lookin into this, which combined with a poll out of Idaho where 51 percent said they’re in favor of adding Oregon’s rural counties to Idaho. We’re starting to get some information back saying that there’s more of a groundswell going on behind the scenes that we’re aware of. So, in Josephine County, your county, you were one of the first ones to approve our petition in 2020 and we worked at getting signatures out of there and everything. Right now, in my possession I have about 722 signatures on the petition. We’re required to have a minimum of 2429 signatures there, so it’s coming to the point where that petition is sunsetting because it had a two-year time limit on it that’ll be coming up this spring. And it looks like we probably will not have the number that we need in place. So, what we’re asking the commissioners to potentially do is like what’s coming out of Grant County, coming out of Klamath County right now is just basically sending a letter saying there is an awful lot of support in our county to have the state legislature to start looking into this. And with that letter it that says again, I’m not in favor of it. It’s not a letter that says our county wants to secede from Oregon or become part of Idaho or anything like that. It’s just a letter that reinforces the idea of taking it up to the state legislature and those are the decision makers in this process. And there needs to be a lot of fact-finding going on because I know, in talking to people and in my own mind there are a lot of questions about what a move like this would look like, and it is a big mountain. There’s a lot of details that need to be looked at there. That needs to be done at the decision-maker level which is the state legislature. Now the overall process is if Oregon and Idaho come together and they form some type of agreement or compact about adjusting the border then it goes to the US Congress for approval. So that’s the basic steps to it. It’s gonna take a process. We know it. We’re willing to work with it and everything but we need to get that talk going up to Salem. Up with the legislators. So that’s what we’re basically askin’ you the Josephine Commissioners, if you would be willing to just send a letter saying…and I can send you Lake County’s letter and whatnot, but they’ve already voted for it. So, this a letter it would be a pre-vote for Josephine County. And we’re not giving up on Josephine County as far as…having the people allowed to vote on it and speak out. So, that’s basically where we’re coming from.

Bartschiger – Where are you at in the petition process in Josephine County?

McCarter – We’ve got about a third of the signatures in that we need for a minimum. And I know there’s more of em out there than I’ve collected because a lot of people have sent em to me and things like that so I’ve got a little over 700 signatures right now. In that process.

Baertschiger – How many do you need?

McCarter – Minimum 2429. Now that’s the minimum. We know in watching all these other counties where we collected signatures. About 18 percent of em are thrown out. Whether they’re not registered voters or not from the county or whatever.

Baertschiger – And what’s your timeline to gather these signatures?

McCarter – Well we’re approaching the timeline. We’ve got about another month, I think. And so I don’t see that happening. However, we’re more than willing to come back in and reapply for the same petition and start workin at it again. Now, originally, Douglas County put it on the ballot in 2020 as an advisory question. And I thought that was a great move because it showed that the commissioners were interested in what the people were thinking that they wanted to see something like that. 61,000 people voted on that issue. We lost 25000 to 36000. But still, that’s 25K people said yeah we’re interested in looking into it.

Baertschiger – Anybody else have anything to add?

Marsha Boettcher – I gathered signatures for a year and a half. I think I was one of the first people to grab ahold of a petition and just start gathering signatures. And in that beginning phase no one had heard of it, no one knew anything about it, but I managed to get signatures anyway and within about six to nine months, of course COVID hit, almost everyone I talked to had heard of it and wanted to sign. I had far more percentage of people wanted to sign than not and one of my best experiences was at the Boatnik this summer at the parade. I only had one teammate working with me that day for various reasons and we had no idea the response we were gonna have. But we only made it up half of the way up 6th Street before the parade was over and I think if we had had a bigger team we would have had a far greater number of signatures because we would have covered more ground but we couldn’t walk down the street to get signatures because everybody wanted to sign. And I just feel the people of Josephine County really like this idea. They really want to get on board with it but between COVID and the weather another example is I did the Josephine County Fair for six days and between the weather and the very poor turnout of people we only got about 120 and people came up to me saying they came to the fair specifically to sign that petition and were so glad we were there. I get so many people saying thank you so much for doing this. We need it to be done. We want it to happen. So many people are unhappy with the way Oregon is going politically. They want a more conservative direction and that’s what Idaho is providing. So what I’m saying even though there are 700 signatures now I think it would be a lot higher had we had venues and COVID had not hit to give us opportunities to collect signatures. There just wasn’t anyplace to gather signatures in Josephine County. We were struck down in almost every attempt we made to find a place to set up to get signatures. Um, the people want it. They’re definitely interested and more and more people have heard about it now. I think just about everybody knows what it is. But people in Josephine county are focused on feeding their families, finding work and going somewhere to gather petitions and make signatures happen isn’t a priority. So we need your help.

Herman: Ok. Becky do you have anything to say?

Becky Lemler: my husband and I just moved down here to Josephine County. This is my hometown. When I was a little kid, this was a red state and it was wonderful but since then its turned totally blue everywhere. The laws and mandates we’re held under are just so wrong. And everybody is tired of it. And we want a way out.

Baertschiger – Well I think the advisory question is a very reasonable ask. And I will bring that up in discussion with the other two commissioners. I know we have some time yet to get it on the May ballot. I think that’s a good starting point. I think you need to continue with your signature gathering. I think that’s very important. Hopefully COVID is supposed to be done in March. We’ll see. And so things will probably go a little easier. I will bring that up and I don’t think that’s a big ask to put it on as an advisory question. I think that’s the smart thing to do.

McCarter – I think the advisory question is good because it doesn’t create a new law that requires the commissioners to do anything or the county to do anything. It’s basically allowing the people to speak out. And from listening to the news you’ve got your hands full with the drug issue down there. I’ve talked to a lot of people around there and secretary of move Oregon’s border lives outta Selma and they’re having some issues with what’s happening with the drug situation down there not to mention everything else the county commissioners have to deal with. If in the future if you want me to come back and speak to Commissioner DeYoung or Commissioner Fowler too so that, you know, bring it back up and answer questions I would be more than happy to do that.

Baertschiger –  I’ll get it on the agenda for a discussion amongst the three commissioners. That’ll be the first thing and we’ll see where it goes from there. How’s that sound mike?

McCarter – That is perfect Herman

Wednesday’s Business Session was short. Commissioners again pondered the need to grant an exemption to the competitive bidding process requirements for minor alterations, small repairs and necessary maintenance jobs because, since COVID hit, it has become increasingly challenging to find contractors who will do one time jobs, according to Ryan Johnson of Public Works. Commissioner Dan DeYoung had some concerns about the exemption becoming policy but was reassured that Johnson would oversee the process carefully and professionally without favoritism. Without this exemption, he said, small problems could become bigger ones if it takes too long to find someone to do the repair work.

Public Comments were from the usual callers. Guenter Ambron said his anti-vax group is having a Wellness Walk Saturday from 1 to 3 pm somewhere in Cave Junction and he is starting a COVID vaccine injury recovery group. Judy Hinkle read from a statement about how “electrical pollution” from wireless cell towers triggers flu and COVID and hospitals are “paid to lie and kill.” (The cell tower conspiracy theory has been debunked by the tech website CNET https://www.cnet.com/tech/mobile/5g-has-no-link-to-covid-19-as-false-conspiracy-theories-persist/ ) Mark Seligman, who is running against Commissioner Darin Fowler, called in to defend himself against “disparaging comments” Commissioners made last week and complained about Fowler’s stand on various issues. Seligman also claimed legal marijuana farming benefits local businesses and falsely reprimanded Commissioners for putting a tax on the May ballot.

Fowler asked the Chair not to allow campaigning during meetings.

DeYoung complained that Seligman starts out calmly but then “yells and berates everybody in the room.” DeYoung thanked Hinkle for her information and said he will ask Public Health Director Mike Weber about any monetary footholds medical facilities are getting out of COVID. After complaining about mask mandates during the duration of the pandemic, DeYoung said “it’s just kinda odd” blue states suddenly deciding to lift the mandates. In Oregon the mandate will be lifted by March 31, according to a statement by Gov. Kate Brown.

Fowler also praised Judy Hinkle, saying it’s “hard to recognize this is not a coincidence” regarding her claims that power lines and cell towers trigger diseases like the flu and COVID. “Long term studies on radio waves are inconclusive,” he asserted. On marijuana’s economic benefit Fowler said convenience stores are running out of twinkies because users get the munchies but dismissed Seligman’s claim the county gets much benefit from growers.

Baertschiger strongly disputed Seligman’s assertion about any kind of tax being on the ballot and as an aside, mentioned the recall effort and disputed claims Commissioners have obstructed Public Health’s efforts to battle COVID. “I have emails saying we haven’t obstructed his efforts,” he said.

DeYoung said if any staff has an issue with Commissioners there is a complaint process they can go through and said they welcome anyone with an accusation to come talk to them. Baertschiger quoted Winston Churchill, then Joseph Goebbels regarding the recall and they moved on to the consent agenda, approving various minutes and appointments to the budget committee.

At this point Wednesday Baertschiger brought up the Move Idaho idea and said he would bring this idea to the board next Tuesday. The issue was featured in The Atlantic magazine https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2021/12/oregon-secession-idaho-move-border/621087/ and Portland OR media https://www.koin.com/news/oregon/judge-deals-blow-to-oregon-groups-vision-of-greater-idaho/

Commissioners also noted this year’s Boatnik contract with the City of Grants Pass has been accepted with no substantial changes and that the Active Club’s theme this year will be “Let’s Go Boatnik,” a play on the Let’s Go Brandon epithet that has become a derisive cry against the President of the United States.

Thursday’s Administrative Workshop began with DeYoung having a snack while on Zoom. When the meeting finally commenced a discussion was held regarding a step up in pay for the deputy director of Community Corrections. Human Resources Director JJ Scofield recommended one step in keeping with the way pay calculations are done, while Director Nate Gaoiran argued for two steps above his current pay scale. Commissioners, realizing the deputy director has had added duties and that good employees are getting scarce voted for the two step raise. Baertschiger voted for the two-step raise despite some reservation. “It’s a balancing act trying to do retention at the same time not starting a chain reaction across the county we can’t afford.”

Other business Thursday included Emergency Management Director Emily Rings request to get approval to sign for a routine grant that finances her department. Commissioners were concerned about the grant’s requirement for matching funds, but Ring assured them that was taken care of with other grant money. She did say her budget may look different next year and if it changes radically “we’ll have that conversation.”

Finance Director Sandy Novak came on board briefly to warn Commissioners that state grants that normally flow to counties in a timely manner are being held up because of staffing problems. Money from the federal infrastructure bill comes through the state and that has hit the clog as well, she said. The county has several infrastructure projects awaiting funds, including some at the airports, broadband, parks, sheriff’s office and animal shelter but she couldn’t say when those funds would finally get to Josephine County.

During Commissioners’ comments they blamed pandemic money for disincentivizing people. “It’s coming out now that nobody wants to work as long as somebody else picks up the tab,” said DeYoung. Fowler emphasized the need for the county to keep the employees it has and Baertschiger pointed out some of the reasons for worker shortages: baby boomers are retiring at an earlier age, young people are entering the workforce at a later age because they “aren’t moving out of Mom and Dad’s or spending time getting higher education and not knowing what to do when the get out,” and that unemployment dollars during COVID got people to just decide not to work. Other factors, Baertschiger said, were the lack of legal immigrants and a low birthrate.

DeYoung brought up the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) as the $36,000 dues had to be paid again. DeYoung said the organization is worth belonging to and complaints about it being too focused on urban counties are being heard.  Rural counties are discussing the formation of a rural caucus as a way to have their concerns heard on equal footing with urban concerns. Commissioners voted to pay the dues since meetings are a great way to network and learn.

DeYoung, liaison to the Mining Advisory Committee, reported they are complaining about not knowing where the boundaries for the River Democracy Act land set-asides are and no one seems to be able to find a map showing exactly which lands will be set aside. Fowler said he’d like to get back to meeting in Ann Basker Auditorium for their April 6 meeting, then Baertschiger told Commissioners to go to the Josephine County Democrats web site.

“If you go to the Josephine County Democrat web page they are obsessed with us. They’re absolutely obsessed. Every single one of our meetings are transcribed in a very professional way. Every one of the radio shows that I’m on is transcribed in a very professional way. Very accurate with the caveat whoever’s the transcriber when it comes to a particular issue that they disagree with us, then their position is embellished, then ours is reduced in size. But other than that, check it out. I figure somebody is spending 20 to 30 hours a week simply transcribing meetings. It’s almost eerie as you’re bein’ stalked. I’ve never seen in my whole political career and all the campaigns I ran I’ve never seen anything quite like this. This is an obsession. Absolute obsession.” (Note: The Democrats routinely report on Commissioners’ meetings as do Democrats in Jackson County in the interest of promoting transparency and more participation in local politics.)

The Herman and Bill Show on KMED

After calling Democrats “commies” and encouraging Republicans in the Oregon State Legislature to walk out using gun metaphors, KMED host Bill Meyer and Josephine County Commissioner Herman Baertschiger accused the Grants Pass Daily Courier and “liberals” of wanting to shut the Sportsman Park gun range down.

Meyer – On the gun range the Courier is trying to make some hay on this one.

Baertschiger – Yeah, absolutely. It’s always negative, negative,  negative on the gun range. It’s obvious to me the Daily Courier would love to see it shut down, which falls into the progressive liberal agenda of anti-guns and so you know, my conclusion, my personal conclusion is the Daily Courier is anti-gun. We’re trying to give the gun range away to the Sportsman’s Association and one of the deed restrictions will be in there it that it has to maintain is a operating gun range and open to the public in perpetuity. Basically, what we’re doing is we’re givin’ the gun range to the citizens of Josephine County.

Meyer – Annnnnnd…as long as it would operate under the same rules what would be the problem? There would be no difference here. Now did someone actually reach out to you and want to buy that land? And that’s something that was referenced in the Daily Courier story.

Baertschiger – Um there’s a group of people that in lieu of shutting the gun range down um would entertain the idea of purchasing it. However, that would not reassure that it would be open to the public in perpetuity so um, when we discussed that’s what we want to do we want to give it to the association with a deed restriction that it has to remain open to the public they liked that idea much better.

Meyer – OK. Alright. So, I guess that would be like Jackson County could do something equivalent with the Jackson County Sports Park where a lot of the firearms range is if you think that would a, that would work out that way. I understand the concept. Now I don’t think it’s all that unusual for counties and cities….counties and cities seem to be really good at giving away land for all sorts of left-wing policies or am I wrong about that, heh heh heh…It just seems that…

Baertschiger – No in fact right now the city of Grants Pass wants us to give them some land just west of Grants Pass so they can add it to their open space project um, and the Courier um, doesn’t seem to be against that. So….

Meyer – Oh Ok, alright so it’s a…I’m sure the way they’ll twist it in the Daily Courier, not to put words in their mouth, is because you use the gun range hence you’re trying to benefit your buddies, probably, I imagine that’s probably the tactic they’ll use so just be on the lookout for it, I think

Meyer – Wouldn’t you think that Shawn Hall, a seasoned reporter would be out interviewing people who use the gun range and to get their opinions on what should happen? I don’t see that. I don’t see any interviews, so…..OK so maybe they will. Maybe Shawn will at some point. Maybe he could be shamed into asking people within the community. And by the way not just running a stupid on-line poll with self-selecting Democrats going to the dailycourier.com website. Heh heh heh…we all know how that game works for crying out loud. They’re thinking that a, like we don’t understand that. It’s a self-selected poll.

Baertschiger – That’s the stupid…you know that shows you how of the arrogance of Scott Stoddard and the Courier to actually think that we believe that is a legitimate, scientific poll.

Meyer – Now if they end up doing a legitimate scientific poll, alright. Great. We’ll say. Then we’ll see. But of course that would actually cost money rather than just putting it on your website. Just sayin Scott, alright. Now then, Herman, we’ll set that aside here because it sounds like a reasonable proposal but of course I’m a big fan of the Second Amendment even if the Daily Courier is not. And, uh, what the heck that was land that was seized by the county in a property tax issue back in the 1960s. It’s been run responsibly so far. It would seem to be a good public policy situation to keep the status quo. No one’s making money on it. It’s not like it would be a profit for the Sportsman’s Association right? Like they would be making money on being given it. They would just have to continue running it. Right? Isn’t that the rule?

Baertschiger – That is correct.

Meyer – Alright. Alright. We’ll set that aside her for right now. Some other questions I want to…to touch on here. What about the parliamentarian question? We had a listener, Race Banning call up here a few minutes ago that was wondering you know hey bill every time they try to do something hanky in Congress you end up hearing news stories about the parliamentarian that says no you can’t do this or else you can do this. Is an equivalent position within the Oregon state government? IF so, I have never heard of this position.

Baertschiger – Yes and the Senate is the secretary of the senate and in the house it is the clerk of the house and both of those positions, ah, those people are elected by those individual bodies .

Meyer – Are they public employees? Do they work for a Senator or a House member? I mean where do you find em?

Baertschiger – They work for the body. Bill OK. Herman – So the Secretary of the Senate works for the Senate and the Clerk of the House works for the House. They are not under the direct um, they’re not like under the senate president and they’re not under the speaker. They’re on their own and they are elected by those bodies.

Meyer – OK, so do they ever come out with rulings that are saying Hey what Democrats or Republicans are doing are hinky? Do you ever actually see that or is it just something we never hear about.

Baertschiger – Absolutely.

Meyer – Oh. How’s it work?

Baertschiger – It works pretty good. They’re uh, my experience I was involved in two different secretaries in the Senate and they were both very very good very very fair, non-partisan and they were always good for, you know you could go down and ask them Hey I want to do this and I want to do that and they would research it and get back to you and say these are the rules and this is what you cant so it was always, uh, I always found them very helpful.

Meyer – OK. I guess I just never heard much about that and…so we’ll set that aside so we gotta answer for this. Now then, the quorum question. State Sen Dennis Linthicum, state house Rep. Werner Reschke today was like a Klamath Falls sort a day alright? Heh heh…and the main question everyone’s wondering is why are they there Herman. Why. Are. They. There. You are people you are one of the people who led the walkout a couple of years ago and it just seems to me that if you are there, as long as you are there, what comes out of this short session is going to be there because you gave it permission to move forward by being there. Because you’re not really I mean Republicans are not able to stop any Democrat bills if they really want them. Isn’t that the case? Because they got the numbers. They can’t do anything.

Baertschiger – Yeah, very little I mean the quorum is kind of the last resort. The problem is Bill it’s hard to get all the caucus members to agree. That is a huge challenge.

Meyer – So there was a huge agreement then on Cap and Trade a few years age. So there was that support.

Baertschiger – Well, it didn’t come easily let me tell ya.

Meyer – Oh yeah?

Baertschiger – That took a…there’s a lot of things that went into finally getting that caucus to agree to deny quorum so that wasn’t…

Meyer – Translation arm twisting?

Baertschiger – Um yeah. That and then some.

Meyer – OK. Ok, Alright. Arm twisting and threats. Got it. Alright. I’m just teasing. I don’t know if there were threats actually done but, uh, but it was about playing ball. So, this is the reality. Alright. Is there anything in this session that you can see so bad that they should be walking out? I’m looking at the sales tax that’s gonna have a hearing today. And listen, Oregonians have said time and time again, no sales tax, but now they’re gonna start with a luxury tax. And you know what they’re gonna do Herman. They’ll redefine everything as a luxury. That’s how the game works. How stupid do you think we are? Not you, but you know, them.

Baertschiger – Well, the first thing you have to do is see if its gonna have traction you know, Um so yeah, even though this sales tax bill is gonna have a hearing it doesn’t mean it has traction. Ok. That may be all it ever gets. I know there’s Democrats that probably don’t want to walk down the sales tax pathway because Oregon voters have voted down sales tax 11 times and so there’s a very good chance if they did pass a sales tax that Oregonians would start the initiative process and overturn it just like they did with driver cards several years ago

Meyer – And what’s so ironic about this is I actually agree with what Len Ha used to talk about, you know former state Sen. Lenn Hannon when he was in Ashland that it would be good to have three. My thing is that if I were doing a sales tax it would probably be modest sales tax and then cut the income tax so that way you’re not just screwing people who are wage earners. That’s the way I kinda look at it. We have a very regressive state income tax from what I can tell.

Baertschiger – Well it’s huge. It’s 10 percent and so, um, yeah, it’s 9.9 percent so I’ll be corrected but um, yeah it is big but you know there is a publication out that I used to refer to a lot when I was the vice chair on finance/revenue. It’s called Good States Bad States and it has all the stats from all the different states and how they tax and this that and everything and I will agree with former state Sen. Lenn Hannon. When you look at states that have a little bit of sales tax, a little bit of income tax and a little bit of property tax that seems to be the fairest way to fund government, in my opinion.

Meyer – And you’re also not dependent on just one income source so if you end up having some dings in the property world all of a sudden your state income goes down etcetera, etcetera. I get that. And everybody has some skin in the game. And also given the fact that we’re into this big deal about having sustainable tourism in Southern Oregon to replace actual real industry it would seem to be a way to carve some money out of tourism if that was the case. But I know that…please don’t hate me im just talking logically if we were looking at this logically not emotionally we’d probably be ok with a state sales tax but Oregonians just hate sales taxes. It’s just the way it goes. No changes about that.

Baertschiger – Yeah….and you know, Oregonians, uhh, don’t have much confidence in government and that’s why I don’t think you’ll ever see a sales tax…

Meyer – Now that’s the quote, that’s the quote Herman. It’s not that a sales tax wouldn’t be a good thing to have if you reduce the other taxes but Oregonians do not trust their system enough to be wiling to give them the opportunity. They don’t trust them. For good reason. For good reason.

Baertschiger – That’s right. And, and, for good reason. In fact they have a list a mile long not to trust government.

Meyer – Right…so is there anything else going on in the local and the state politics we should be knowing about here? Jo county? Otherwise here?

Baertschiger – Well the ORP (Oregon Republican Party) met in Salem over the weekend to discuss open primaries and after a long discussion voted not to open the primaries. So, the Republican primary will still be closed. So that’s kind of what went on the party there.

Meyer – Could you actually explain to me what would have been the advantage of having an open primary. I heard both sides of it and sometimes it seems to be a, a bit of appeal here to try to broaden the tent. And then I’m thinking to myself, alright I actually take the effort to become a member of the Republican Party but then I also realize that you, you can’t just use the votes of the Republican Party for a statewide office. You have to have more than just the Republicans. So, how should we understand this more deeply one way or the other Herman? Could you explain that?

Baertschiger – Well, there’s conversation on both sides the pros are that you open the tent and get more and more people involved with a voting Republican. That’s the one side. On the other side of the tent is or the other side of the conversation is if you want to vote in a Republican primary just become a Republican. So, those are the two sides of it. You know people that become non-affiliated, independent they’re mad at whatever, the Parties and everything. I’ve always said to em first of all the Independents or the non-affiliated do absolutely nothing of moving the agenda. They do nothing to move the agenda. Um, so if you are unaffiliated or Independent there’s nothing, you’re not moving the agenda at all. Those parties are doing nothing. Um, and so I tell people I said you know, even with myself I said I’m a Republican because I have more in common with the Republican Party than I do with any other party. Does that mean I agree on everything? No. But just because I don’t agree on one thing doesn’t mean I run and become an independent cause once you become Independent, now you’re not helping at all. You’re doing nothing. So, uh, I tell people ah, you know, join a party that is actually moving the ball one way or the other that you have more in common with. And that’s the reality. In the United States, effectively, we’re a two party system. And if you don’t belong to one or the other parties you’re not doing anything to advance your cause at all.

Meyer – But would there not have been an advantage to broadening that primary in order to get a candidate for statewide office that perhaps had broader statewide appeal than perhaps say a hyper partisan Republican might vote for. I’m just, you know, playing Devil’s Advocate on something like that.

Baertschiger – Yeah Bill, there’s pros and cons on either side, you know, some people say if you open up the primary you water down conservatism. And so, you may have a less conservative candidate.

Meyer – Well of course for governor the last few times we haven’t exactly had real conservative candidates. The last few times. Just sayin.

Baertschiger – Yeah…No comment. Laughing.

Meyer – Well I’ll make the comment. Yeah, talking about you Newt. All right. But uh…Yeah, you too Bud although he’s running again. We’ll see. OK. What do you think is the overall feel going into this fall election. I know that on the national, the national Republican Party, they’re kind of in this mode of well you know, wind’s at our back and its looking good and we’re just getting ready to take power. Do you think there’s any version of that playing in the state of Oregon given how blue we can be in much of the state?

Baertschiger – Um yeah I think there’s a certain amount of that. I think Democrats are regrouping right now. I think they see the mid-terms is not going to be on their side so they’re already switched gears and gone on to the next presidential cycle. Um, I think that’s what they’ve done. And in Oregon, um, I think that they know there’s a good chance that they’re gonna lose some more seats. This agenda that they’ve pushed. The coronavirus is not helped the Democrat Party at all. With most people. The only its helped em with is about 40 percent of the Democrat Party. And so I think they realize…and that’s why I think the masks and everything’s comin’ off here in March. They gotta get done with this before we get into the election cycle.

Meyer – Yeah, so that’s really what this is about. I kinda had that suspicion too. Uh, I wanted to ask, I know I’m asking you to spitball a little bit but you know her. What role do you think former state senator Betsy Johnson will be playing in this gubernatorial process here. Do you think she’s more of a Democrat killer? Do you think she’s more of a Republican killer? Given what’s been going on. I mean she’s an independent, reliable gun vote, Phil Knight just wrote her a big fat check for a quarter of a million dollars. I mean this is a big question on my mind. What is Betsy gonna do? Whattya think?

Baertschiger – Well the first thing is, I know Betsy very, very well. She’s a good friend of mine. Um, her vote in the senate in my eight years was very impressive, leaning towards Republican. In fact to be quite honest her vote was as good or better than some of my members in my own caucus. Um, her dad was Sam Johnson, a big-time Republican. Uh, he also served in the legislature but outside the legislature he was a very big supporter of Republicans in the state of Oregon for a very long time in Central Oregon. Um, you know what is probably gonna come down to is ah, whose raising the most, for the primaries this summer its gonna be whose raising the most money and what does the polling look like.

Meyer – Hasn’t she raised the most money of everyone? Right now?

Baertschiger – Yeah, yeah, but that could change. You know we don’t know what Republican’s coming out. Um, I will tell you Betsy Johnson was absolutely hated by her caucus. I mean viciously hated by the Democrat caucus in the Senate. And I watched her stand up to that caucus and I used to ask her why don’t you just get out of that caucus and she used to tell me well I need to know what the heck is going on with the Democrats so I stay in that caucus. But they were with their attack on Sen Johnson and she took it boy, she’s got ah, she could put up an armor shield that was very impressive.

Meyer – This is quite the wild card then. Isn’t it, this candidacy?

Baertschiger –  I don’t know what’s gonna happen. It’s a three way race come November and its gonna be very, very interesting,. Um, she’s a very…she has a lot of charisma. Um, she is extremely smart, but, but we also have some Republicans that are extremely smart and have a lot of charisma so this is going to be an interesting summer I guess. Is what im sayin bill.

Meyer – Yeah…Well I’ve talked to a few gubernatorial candidates on the GOP side. Do you have an insight to Betsy. Betsy doesn’t seem to be talking to a lot a people right now. Is that by design I wonder?

Baertschiger – Yeah, she’s very calculating and so I don’t know what her strategy is but I know she..knowing Betsy the way I do she does have a strategy. I do not know what it is. Um, so …

Meyer – Well at some point she’s gonna have to let herself get pinned down on some issues though and I wonder if maybe that’s the whole thing right now. Don’t say anything right now. Just let people think about what you’ve done so far. That could be. That could be what we’re looking at.

Baertschiger – I think her strategy…and this is just me thinking out loud of course, is just raise money and don’t get in trouble.

Meyer – uh huh. That kinda reminds me of the national Republicans kinda lookin at the same thing. I know as it was Mitch McConnel says I’ll tell ya what we’ll do after we get the power back ok? Heh heh heh kinda doin’ that Nancy Peloisi thing. Hey finally any other news on the effort to recall you and Dan DeYoung?

Baertschiger laughs – You know they just keep expanding things. There’s another article in the Sneak Preview

Bill interrupts…well I know Sneak Preview is where I go for really sharp political analysis so anyway, please continue…

Baertschiger – I don’t think that helps Curtis, I think that when people open that up and see that kind of …it it’s so far fetched that I think the Sneak Preview finds the trash can much quicker than it normally would without that. And you know it’s interesting I was looking through the ORESTART account and one of the big funders is Redwood Nursery and what’s ironic about that business is that Dan DeYoung and Darin Fowler saved that business’s access on Redwood Avenue. ODOT wanted to just about eliminate any reasonable access to that business and commissioner DeYoung and Commissioner Fowler stopped ODOT so they basically saved that man’s uh, business and he’s one of the big financial supporters to recall us. Isn’t that ironic how that works.

Bill…well, politics can make some strange bedfellows.