Commissioner Herman Baertschiger had his weekly conversation on the radio last week. There were many falsehoods put forth in the show. This particular show may have spurred the recent Courier Editorial.
And by the way, regarding voter “fraud”, in case you missed it, a California Republican (elected official no less) was recently convicted for committing voter fraud right here in Josephine County.
For information on how Oregon vote by mail works and ballots are verified – click here.
The following may not verbatim, but close. Thank you to our secretary for providing this summary!
Bill…the attacks keep coming from the communist journalist over at Sneak Preview
There was an article on the recall petition. It was kinda fascinating to read. Curtis Hayden and Ken Smith, former Democrat leader over in Josephine County, attack us for about 30 paragraphs, then there’s four paragraphs from me in rebuttal, and three, not really rebuttal but in defense of our positions and three paragraphs from Dan DeYoung, you know and it’s a typical think and Curtis Hayden went and compared Josephine County to Benton County and Benton’s COVID rates were much better than Josephine County and, well, that’s apples and oranges. Benton County’s a blue county Josephine County’s a red county and Southern Oregon has the highest population of medical freedom folks, especially Ashland Curtis, isn’t that where Curtis is based out of, so you know, its just another slanted article. And oh, voters for good leadership, they say they’re bi-partisan however its all the Democrat Party
Bill…laughs ha, ha, ha you know when I see those leftist groups that call themselves bi-partisan because they have someone who may not be a Democrat but is just a hard core leftist that just cracks me up. I love those kind of statements. Beautiful.
Herman. Well they say the people of Josephine County parents and kids have suffered more than almost anywhere in Oregon and the nation. I mean come on, give me a break you know. Then they blame fire protection, you know, well, we put it on the ballot, and they voted it down so sorry about that. You know, I’ll tell ya, its just all partisan politics, Democrats tryin to take over Josephine County. Oh well.
Bill …Aright, so that’s the latest there from Sneak Preview. Normally the Sneak Preview enters my mailbox and immediately goes into the trash. It used to go into recycle but I can’t recycle it anymore. They won’t take it. Ahhh, be that as it may, that tends to be the way it is here in Southern Oregon. Sorry to hear that but uhm, were you really expecting em to play fair? Thirty paragraphs of attack and a few for response. Did you really expect them?
Herman…Well no I just can never get used to the hypocrisy. I mean one of the things they put in there is we consistently show unprofessional and harassing conduct toward citizens. Well just go to the Josephine County democrats web site and they got cartoon pictures of the three commissioners. They refer to us as the three stooges, and you know its amazing they say one thing and do something else. Hypocrisy is just something I can’t hardly stomach. Sorry Bill.
Bill…well if you cant handle hypocrisy then you can’t interface with many Democrats in Josephine County. So we’ll just kind of leave it at that. OK? OK Herman? Let’s just do that.
Bill…I want to talk a little bit about the budget situation in Jo County because we’re looking at real inflation year over year right now about 7 or 8 percent. How’s the county looking here, given the fact I doubt your tax revenues, and I would say the same for Jackson County and everyone else. I’m sure that tax revenues are not rising 8 percent.
Herman…No, and so last year when I first came on board I had time before I was sworn in I really went through the budget and you know spending 8 years serving on revenue finance with the state really helps me with this kind of stuff. And I said back in last February that we’re going to struggle with inflation because the most our general fund will ever go up is 3 percent because of measure 5 and so we’re gonna keep going backwards um, and are we going to go backwards slowly or go backwards quickly? And I’m starting to lean more towards quickly. Now the conversation really needs to start about 40 years ago, Bill 40 years ago, um, timber receipts in Josephine County made up 33 percent of our budget.
Bill…There was a time when you didn’t even have a property tax. Wasn’t that the case?
Herman…there’s a few years in the 70s that the county commissioners waived the property tax cause it was not needed. This last year timber receipts made up about 2 percent of our general fund.
Bill…that’s reality though. I don’t think you’ll be able to change that in any near future. Do you agree with me or disagree?
Herman…No, , no that’s the reality like COVID’s a reality you know. It’s a reality. And you gotta you know, try to figure it out. Well, most of our departments have other funding mechanisms but unfortunately, our sheriff’s department has been solely, really funded by the general fund. And over the years we’ve kinda had our law enforcement reserve but that’s pretty much been exhausted. So going forward we’re going to have to have a conversation with the citizens of Josephine County and we’ll probably start that next month sometime.
Bill…Now what happened with the sheriff’s department. You’re down what about three million or so, three and a half million I think what it was over budget right now or am I wrong? What’s that number?
Herman…we’ve found some ARPA funds that helped a little. We found a few things to plug the holes but those opportunities to plug the holes are diminishing quickly.
Bill…what ended up driving that though because I’m sure the sheriff had a budget before starting the fiscal year.
Herman…well what’s driving it is that budget has been based on reserve funds and the reserve funds are exhausted now
Herman…so next year’s budget’s gonna be a little bit different, uh, unless we figure out something else. And, you know, I’ve been talkin to a lot of citizens and I think citizens are interested in having a conversation. I don’t have a solution at my fingertips. This is going to have to be a citizen-driven solution process and I hope that we get there, you know.
Bill…could I ask a question here since you’re involved with the funding of that. What happened when you had all the pot grows, the pot raids, things like that. Was that coming out of the general fund to fund those raids? Where did that money come from?
Herman…No, there was some of that came out of the marijuana dollars ok. But we can’t really use those dollars to fill permanent positions.
Bill…no you can only use it to maybe pay for some overtime, things like that. That’s all.
Herman…Yeah, yeah, exactly, so you know, we can pay for some j met positions like patrol positions or jail positions, stuff like that, we can’t use it for that.
Herman…you know Bill what is happening in Josephine County is what I call bitter sweet. So we roll back the clock and we had all these timber receipts where we didn’t need taxpayer dollars cause the federal government was paying for everything because of timber harvest.
Bill…yeah, they cut the timber. Cut the trees and life’s good. Sure.
Herman…so we had this very, very low property tax rate. It was actually artificially low. OK. And then measure 5 came in and capped it. And so it can only go up 3 percent a year. Well, that’s ok. Hurray. Hurray for Josephine County. We’re doin great we got timber receipts, we got low property tax, well then the timber receipts went away and we’re stuck with the low property base.
Bill…and it’s like when Measure 5 came around Jackson County was capped but it was closer to two bucks rather than 78 cents or something it was less than a dollar in Jo County, right?
Herman…yeah, it is. I think the only other county less than us is Curry County by a cent or so. And we can’t do anything about that. I mean that’s just how the voters spoke Measure 5 is here and so now what we…so now we don’t have the timber receipts, the promises made by Sen. Wyden and Merkley are evaporated.
Bill…What promises were those? What promises were those Commissioner?
Herman…Well, that was payments in lieu of…
Bill…Oh payments in lieu of taxes. That pretty much went away. Ok I get it.
Herman…SRS is vanishing too. Secure rural schools
Bill…so what’s your finding out though is that Josephine County is going to have to live on its own revenue stream is what you’re telling me.
Herman…Exactly. So the questions that have to be answered by the citizens are what kind of sheriff’s department do you want and what are you willing to afford. And those are very hard questions but those are not questions for the commissioners those are questions for the citizens.
Bill…OK. Where’s the sheriff involved in all of this? Where is he?
Herman, well he’s I think he’s out there trying to educate the public about what happened. I think a lot of people don’t understand what has happened to us here in Josephine County. And they always think ‘well they always say this but they’ll find a way they’ll find a way. Well, it’s gonna be harder let me tell you
Bill…well, lemme ask, I’m gonna ask a dumb question, why were any reserve funds being used, at all to backfill the sheriff’s department because it just strikes…and I’m not against the sheriff’s department please understand but when I think of reserve funds, I think of reserve funds being used when you have an emergency sort of situation going on or something unforeseen, uh, earthquake comes, destroys the jail, or whatever, things like that. I just didn’t think of reserve funds as hiring officers and keeping that going because it was unsustainable. All along. Wasn’t it?
Herman…Well, based on the conversations from our good senators we I think the previous commissioners were anticipating that the senators make us whole like they said and that there would be funding since the federal government controls 70 percent of the acres in Josephine County…
Herman…What famous saying, pay your fair share? So, um, I think that’s why they were doing that and our good senators have not delivered.
Bill…the think is though, is that are the taxpayers there willing to tax themselves more to take care of a sheriff’s department and you have the biggest landholder, the federal government not kicking in much of anything. I guess that’s the question now, right.
Herman…Yeah, oh, it’s a hard conversation. It’s a hard conversation and I hope a lot of people become involved, become knowledgeable over the issue, to, and help us solve this problem in Josephine County.
Bill…you know how they’re willing to solve that problem. Somebody else needs to pay for it. Ha ha ha ha. That’s the most popular form of taxation in Josephine County or any other county for that matter, Herman.
Herman…I know it but that doesn’t look like that’s gonna happen.
Bill…hmm, so how far in the hole are we right now in the sheriff’s department in the general fund.
Herman…Well. I think we’re gonna be fine through ’22, it’s its July of ’23 that problems really start to hit, um, so I think we’re ok right now, it looks like we’ve moved things around and we’re gitten pretty close. We’ll have another discussion on that this week. But I’ll tell you what. We, we are, you know, we only have about a 6 million dollar reserve in our general fund which is actually fairly low, and we hate to take any more out of that, but the flip side is with all the activity in the county now is probably not the time to cut the sheriff’s department.
Bill..Yeah..defunding the police is probably not a good plan in Josephine County that is for sure I man Jackson to for that matter. When we talk of defunding the police I’m speaking of course about the sheriff’s department here. Any possibility of additional help or is help from OSP pretty much a non-starter these days.
Herman…Well, there’s no…the problem with OSP and I fought for it for years and I was successful with the help of President Courtney getting more funding for OSP in Southern Oregon. However I’m no longer in the Capitol and Sen. Courtney will be exiting and the fight has always been with the Portland Democrats saying why should we use Portland money to fund OSP in Sothern Oregon when you won’t fund your own sheriff’s department.
Bill…Hmm..I’d like to respond to those Portland Democrats why should we be putting up with the crime growing your dope you can smoke in Portland is what I’d like to tell them…ha ha ha…Uhh, OK, that’s kind of a peeing match as it were there. Alright. This is where we find ourselves. These are the conversations we’ll be having. It’s gonna be what level of taxation. Another question I have for you, uh, Daily Courier of course talking about the gun range. More than a million dollars apparently is what this is worth and the commission is thinking about donating it. Actually getting it to the shooting association that’s running it right now, hmm?
Herman…Yeah, they’ve been running that thing for I don’t know 40 years or more. They’ve been very successful. And um, what’s the upside for the county to own it? I mean they’ve got a long track record. The county doesn’t put any funds into it and um to be quite honest there’s a certain amount of liability there with the county so why don’t we just give it to em and get out from the liability blanket and um, and not just, when I say liability I’m not talking about somebody getting shot or something but you know those buildings and all the driveways and the roads and all the improvements and all that stuff is basically under our parks department and you know, they’re running it and doing a good job. Lets just let them have it and get out from the liability.
Bill…that’s something you should refer to the voters though, rather than making that decision yourself on the board.
Herman…You know that I haven’t heard yet. Maybe so. I really have not heard it. It’s been a discussion between the board of county commissioners and their board. Um, I will tell you this it is a business decision from the county perspective. I will be quite honest. Our insurance company would love to get rid of it.
Herman…it’s just a liability.
Bill…How much is the insurance right now? That you’re having to pay.
Herman…you know I don’t have that exact number because it’s kinda comingled with all our other things but they’ve been quite clear that they were not even aware that we had a gun range uh uh, that we were ownership in a gun range.
Bill…Yeah but you’re not running it. It’s contracted by the group running it. They do a good job from all accounts
Herman…Doesn’t matter, you know anything that happens out there at the end of the day is gonna be the county’s fault. That’s just how it works.
Bill…that’s the way it is in litigious land. Alright. Anything else we should know abut in Josephine County before we take off this morning.
Herman…You know I wanted to touch on voting. Voting by ballot and everything. I sent you something and I received a phone call over the weekend from an individual lives in Newburg and their mother lived in Wallowa County and they put her in assisted living about two years ago and had all her important mail forwarded to their address in Newburg. Well guess what shows up in their mailbox in Newburg? A ballot.
Herman…for her to vote. And she doesn’t live in Yamhill County. OK. So, they inquired with the county clerk and she said Well when you forward your mail the US mail contacts the county and tells them you have moved. Well, forwarding your mail doesn’t mean you’ve moved. And so then she inquired, she says, does she still voting in Wallowa county? Oh no, that couldn’t be possible you know.
Bill..I think there’s I’m gonna tell you right now, this is the weakness of the Oregon vote by mail system. This is the lack of curiosity in the system. And when people say it’s a clean system I say no, you don’t know, because nobody asks these kind of questions. Nobody will really bird dog this. It’s not a matter of whether the votes get counted correctly at the county clerk’s office. That’s not the issue. I don’t think that’s the kind of fraud that goes on I think it’s people who shouldn’t be voting, voting in the elections. And no one really breaks it down.
Herman…well, surprisingly enough she’s also receiving a ballot from Wallowa County.
Bill…Oh two places?
Herman she has two different ballots in two different places. And yeah, I think this type and also the ballot harvesting you know now, as time goes on we will see more people coming out over this last election there was an individual came out and said they were paid a dollar a ballot up to 40,000 ballots in ballot harvesting so ballot harvesting is where you run around and pick up ballots from people, you know. So, you know….
Bill…now is it legal? Is it legal in the state of Oregon to ballot harvest? I thought it was.
Herman…it is legal. It is legal.
Bill…Well, this is what the Oregon Republican party needs to do. Need to fight the dems on their territory on that. OK. Seriously.
Herman…that’s right, but this vote by mail, there’s too many ways to manipulate the system Bill. I’m confident of that.
Bill…and that’s why I voted against it when the time came but uh, once again just like various other things people didn’t listen to me. Oh well. Will be gone next week have to reschedule.