Hot off the Press
Let your commissioners know that we don’t want these changes that eliminate fire protection requirements and place citizens at increased risk from wildfire.
We should all be concerned that the Josephine County Commissioners have proposed Eliminating all Fire Protection Requirements for dwellings in the county. Only building code requirements will need to be followed for new structures.
The proposed changes are unfortunate and reckless!!
Rural Metro Fire provides contract structural fire protection services in most areas of the county. This hasn’t changed since the closure of County Fire. Citizen’s safety and fire protection should be front and center. All I heard at the recent hearing were comments by commissioners saying, “I’m already paying a tax to ODF” and stating we have now a monopoly with only one fire department, and your structure is going to burn if response is over 10 minutes. Consideration was not given to the house burning and then next house, and next house and another.
ODF are wildland fighters, which has nothing to do with structural protection. They will not go into your house to save you, your pets, or your house. They don’t even have the equipment to do that.
The Wildfire and Safety Standards Ordinance should Not be revised. No data was presented on why change is needed and the revisions will lead to increased public safety hazards.
Please Attend upcoming Hearing and let the Commissioners know these changes are unacceptable!!
JPR by Roman Battaglia – January 31, 2024
Currently, all property owners outside of Grants Pass have to show proof they’re either in a fire district, pay for a private fire service or have the resources to fight a fire on their own. This change would also allow landowners to use wildfire protection from the Oregon Department of Forestry to meet that requirement. During a land use hearing on Tuesday, Commissioner John West argued ODF already provides wildfire protection for his property, and he shouldn’t need to pay for another private fire service to meet this requirement. “I might get protection faster than anybody could ever give me protection because they have the capability of getting to me quicker than anyone else would ever be able to get to me,” he said.
Steve Rouse from the land use group Rogue Advocates said during public comment that this change could lead to more fire risk in some areas. “If [property owners] don’t want to contract, they should at least have the ability to fight a fire on their property,” he said. “And if they don’t fight that fire, they don’t have the means, that fire is going to probably spread to the next door and the next door and the next door, whether they have fire protection or not.”
County commissioners argued these changes would make it easier for rural landowners to develop on their property and would recognize already-existing wildfire protections.ODF Public Information Officer Natalie Weber said the agency was not consulted over this proposal, but it wouldn’t change how they fight wildfires. She said ODF doesn’t have the capability to fight structure fires and will only respond if the fire has the potential to spread to wild lands. “Our fleet, our firefighters, they’re all trained for that wild land fire protection,” said Weber. “And we really do not cross over into structure at all.”
An interesting read … Congratulations Vanessa Ogier!
With all the serious, gut-wrenching problems the Grants Pass City Council is facing right now, picking a new Council president should have been a piece of cake. However, deep divides among Council members surfaced during the usually routine process of rotating the responsibility at the beginning of the year.
In the city’s governance structure, with eight Councilors and an elected Mayor, the Council president’s job is mainly organizational, leading the Council only in the Mayor’s absence. The Mayor is the face of the Council, attending civic events and welcoming new businesses. The Council president’s job is more organizational, setting the agenda after gathering discussion and action items from other Councilors and staff and being available to answer questions accurately and knowledgably.
Most Councils just hand the nameplate “president” to the next person in line for the job, usually based on how long they’ve served. However, in Grants Pass, Council members were asked to apply for the job because the city charter says the president is “chosen by ballot.”
There were two formal applicants at the first meeting of the year, on Monday January 8. Councilor Vannessa Ogier applied, as did Councilor Rick Ryker. Councilor DJ (Dwight) Faszer was nominated by Councilor Dwayne Yunker who said he didn’t like the two applicants. No one nominated Yunker.
In the Mayor’s absence, current Council President Valarie Lovelace opened the process by setting out what she looks for in a Council president. The main characteristics, she said, should be working with the Mayor and City manager to set the agenda and promote good communication and good relationships among Council members. Lovelace emphasized the president needs a lot of time to be involved in the community as well as on Council committees.
However, the Grants Pass City Charter says the duties of the president are basically to preside when the mayor is absent: Chapter IV, Section 5, PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL. At first regular meeting of the common Council in January of each year, or as soon thereafter as practicable, the Council shall choose by ballot one of its members to preside over the Council and perform the duties of Mayor in the absence of the Mayor from the City, or if the Mayor be, from any cause, unable to act as Mayor, the president of the Council shall preside over the Council meetings and shall have and exercise the power and perform all the duties of the Mayor.
Ogier’s outlined why she wanted to be president:
“I would be honored to serve as Council president for this year. I think over the last few years I have taken the time to learn the ins and outs of not only being a Councilor but what it takes to be a Council president as well by observing for three years of that position. I’m confident, not only the organizational skills that I have would be a huge benefit to help the Mayor and City Manager keep agenda scheduling on track with the direction given by Council. I’m confident I would be able to step in for the Mayor in the event that she’s absent. I feel strongly committed to working with everyone, albeit when anyone has concerns or they have policy ideas. I think that my ability to locate and recall information from past meetings and direction given by Council could be an asset. I understand the importance of representing the Council’s majority decisions when going out to the public or when speaking with interest groups. I would be devoted to being a conduit of information for anyone that needed it, if that’s the city manager, if that’s the mayor, if that’s any of the Councilors we work alongside. I also think it’s equally important that the president is someone who is well aware of the material within our packets and the material needed to make decisions. I’m confident that I do have that ability and that I have shown myself to be well-prepared for every meeting. And equally important I think the Council president is someone who holds themselves to a high standard and those around them. I think that provides the opportunity for professional growth, not only personally but as the group as well. I’m confident in my ability to handle difficult situations and see a positive outcome. With all of that considered, I would be honored to serve the role, thank you.”
Riker was next, simply saying he’s been on two city committees, has lots of experience and thinks he can improve relationships on the Council.
Councilors, with Dwayne Yunker present by phone, were asked to fill out their ballots and hand them to Lovelace. Two voted for Faszer, three voted for Ogier and three voted for Ryker.
Lovelace announced a tie.
Then the swords came out. DeLaGrange said he favored Ogier because of her organization skills and how well-prepared she is for each meeting. Councilor Rob Pell said Ogier is well prepared on every issue, not just those of interest to her, she has no affinity toward any interest group and she’s assertive enough to speak up when appropriate.
“I don’t want to embarrass anyone but I know Rick is not particularly well prepared. He even said on the radio he doesn’t look at all the issues in a packet,” said Pell.
Councilor Joel King said he voted for Riker because he gets along with everyone. Lovelace said the next president would need to establish a good relationship with Josephine County Commissioners and she hinted that Ogier would not be able to pull that off. Pell said if Lovelace, who had established connections with the Commissioners, couldn’t get anywhere with them, maybe it isn’t a lack of city representatives trying, but maybe the bad relationship is coming from the Commissioners themselves. Yunker said he had issues with both Ogier and Ryker. Ryker “always wants me to speak for him and Vanessa definitely has issues with me so I don’t see how she could represent me. If she says it would be different if she’s president, why not now?”
Councilor Brian DeLaGrange nominated Ogier, observing that there is a divide on the Council but making Ogier president would be a “low risk” way of bridging the rift and a show of good faith by those on the opposite side. He said Councilors talk about bridging their divide and maybe this is a way of doing that. Pell said the Council is subject to tribalism and thought selecting Ogier president might overcome that. Lovelace agreed there is a divide and said a recent survey of employees indicated a lot of problems come from the Council’s internal bickering. Dwayne and Vanessa have an issue. I don’t know where it comes from but that’s why I’m supporting Rick. Lovelace also said she heard Ogier say she was “uncomfortable” meeting with the City Manager one-on-one. Ogier straightened that out by saying she wasn’t “uncomfortable” meeting with the manager, she was uncomfortable with the idea the Council was wasting his time by having eight people meet with him one-on-one. She said it would be more efficient if two or three people met with him at one time.
Ricker was then nominated for president and Ogier surprised everyone by voting for him to break the stalemate. The vote remained a tie, however because four people voted yes and four no.
After another vote it was still a tie with Faszer and Yunker going back to voting for Faszer, City Manager Aaron Cubic intervened with a suggestion. He said after discussing it with the city’s Legal Counsel, Augustus Ogu, the Council could vote for both candidates by making one a vice-president. They could discuss among themselves what duties they would take. Faszer and Yunker said that would be a terrible idea. Faszer said “it’s a way to skirt a difficult issue were having right now and I’m an adamant no on that.” Yunker said he’s a no because it isn’t in the charter to have a vice-president.
Ryker said he saw electing two as an opportunity for teamwork. “I see an opportunity. I don’t see a fight occurring as to who’s going to do what or go to what meeting. I just see it being a backup and helping to communicate.”
Faszer asked if the Mayor might break the tie by phoning in. Lovelace wasn’t having that but she was in favor of the vice president concept. DeLaGrange then made a motion to elect Ogier president and Ryker vice president. Pell pointed to Ogier’s earlier vote for Ryker, attempting to break the stalemate, and said her character in doing that for the good of the Council instead of herself was all the proof he needed that she should be president.
The vote was 5-3 in favor of the president/vice-president concept with Ogier as president. The vote was: Ogier – yes, Lovelace – yes, Pell – yes, DeLaGrange – yes, King – no, Ryker – yes. Faszer and Yunker voted no.
Lovelace wasn’t ready to give up her seat though, saying she started the meeting so she might as well carry it through. DeLaGrange said it’s typical to let the new president preside over the rest of the meeting, given the Mayor’s absence. Then they went back to the issue of public safety finance with Ogier presiding without incident.
Read the full Robert Riech article in Substack.
Here they are:
- Become even more politically active.
- Do not succumb to the tempting anesthesias of complacency or cynicism. The stakes are too high.
- Counter lies with truth.
- Do not tolerate bigotry and hate.
- Do not resort to name-calling, bullying, intimidation, violence, or any of the other tactics that Trump followers may be using.
- Be compassionate toward hardcore followers of Trump, but be firm in your opposition.
- Don’t waste your time commiserating with people who already agree with you.
- Don’t decide to sit this election out or vote for a third-party candidate because you don’t especially like Biden and you’re tired of voting for the “lesser of two evils.”
- Demonstrate, but don’t confuse demonstrating for political action.
- Don’t get distracted by the latest sensationalist post or story by or about Trump.
In Josephine County, this also pertains to our local candidates and issues in the May Primary and November elections. Get Involved!
— Become Active in your Local Democratic Party —
Forward to a like-minded friend, relative and/or neighbor!
A former Josephine County Commissioner, who voted to approve a mining project for Commissioner John West in 2015 and helped West win again in 2017, is now being recommended for a job by West even though his resume is light on expertise in that field. At the Commissioners’ Dec. 14 Administration Workshop West recommended Illinois Valley resident Simon Hare for Broadband Project Manager, to replace the retiring John McCafferty, who currently holds that position.
The first question, asked by Commissioner Dan DeYoung was, “Does he have any qualifications for that?”
West, said the current Project Manager, John McCafferty, told him Hare doesn’t need IT experience. West said, “He agrees Simon brings local knowledge, the people and the ability of dealing with contracts because he’s been in the government, in the county specifically, for eight years and that he believes with us that he would be an asset because he knows a lot of those community members.” Hare was elected to the Commission in 2010 and served until 2018. He declined to run again after a series of personal controversies.
DeYoung said he wondered if there’s anybody else out there who might like the job, like a retired “broadband guy who does have experience.”
Finance Director Sandy Novak told DeYoung, “The subject matter experts that we have in the community have already been involved.”
Commission Chair Herman Baertschiger asked West if Hare has agreed to take the position. West didn’t answer that question specifically but said “He has been attending our meetings and not getting paid. He’s been attending them and we feel like it’s not the technology part of it, we have all these broadband experts. That person is guiding the ship, coordinator, to make sure that those people in those outlying areas get the broadband.” West didn’t say what meetings Hare has been attending, but there is a Broadband Action Team, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), working to extend service to rural areas.
West, in his typical word salad way of talking, said Hare’s familiarity with the county is an asset. “If we brought in somebody that doesn’t know our area or isn’t familiar with our area like Simon is, so we just think that it’s a good fit because it’s local.”
Baertschiger told West to bring his selection to a meeting. West said he consulted Legal and learned the temporary position was “under the threshold” of needing a vote or board order to hire Hare. West was told to bring it to a meeting anyway “so we notice it,” said Baertschiger.
DeYoung said he’d rather the matter be brought to the board after the holidays because “I’d like to talk to Simon Hare about it.” DeYoung was on the Board of Commissioners during Hare’s last term. At the time, DeYoung said, “he’s probably the smartest person I know when it comes to government.”
Baertschiger said he wants the Hare deal to be noticed, “because Simon is a political figure so we can get public input.” He added, “probably not, but just in case.”
Hare is, indeed, a political figure in Josephine County. In 2010 Hare won election to the Board, defeating incumbent Dave Toler. In 2014 Hare won a second term to the Board of Commissioners, despite being targeted by a write-in candidate, Toni Webb, for voting yes on a controversial gravel mine in Sunny Valley. In January of 2015 Hare also voted in favor of a plan by now Commissioner West to reprocess old mining tailings on Dog Creek Road, about two miles west of Sunny Valley. West, of Brimstone Natural Resources, with partner Robert Stumbo, asked the Board to approve his venture as a “reclamation” project. According to Steve Rouse of Rogue Advocates, calling it a reclamation project instead of a mining project was an attempt to avoid land use safeguards to protect other resources and impacts on neighbors. The Board agreed and rejected West’s project.
After West altered his application to say it was a mining project, which requires stricter regulations, it was subsequently approved by Hare and then Commissioner Keith Heck, while then Chair Cherryl Walker didn’t vote, saying she had not been present during the first hearing. Even though West’s mining project would involve a rock crusher, impact neighbors, increase heavy truck traffic, and potentially harm waterways with runoff, the project did not generate as much controversy as the Sunny Valley Sand and Gravel application did, since it was thought of as cleaning up an old mine site and not as an extraction project. Since then, Brimstone has been cited by Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) for failure to submit a plan before removing a stream crossing, then replacing it with a sub-standard culvert. West filed lawsuits against ODF which are on-going.
In 2017, while Hare was still on the Board, West appeared again with a land use issue. Brimstone Natural Resource’s application for a Riparian Corridor Site Plan Review had been approved by the Planning Commission with 21 conditions for approval. On appeal to the Board, Commissioners ruled that West didn’t need permission from the county to mine for gold on property in the Sunny Valley area. This outraged residents in the area at the time who said they were denied the ability to participate in the public land-use hearing process because the board members made their decision in a private session.
Hare’s personal issues were also of increasing concern during his time as a Commissioner. An editorial of Nov. 6, 2014, in the Grants Pass Daily Courier pointed out that Hare only won his second term by 46 percent of the vote, so 54 percent of county voters did not want to see him re-elected after a couple of incidents people called unbecoming to a county official.
In May of 2013 Hare reported to police that his Jeep Grand Cherokee had been stolen from downtown Grants Pass. Police eventually concluded it was a false report after the Jeep was found a few miles from his house. Hare was reportedly taken home from a bar after his friends decided he was too drunk to drive. Hare was not charged with a crime, however, after the Oregon Department of Justice reviewed reports and decided there was not enough evidence to warrant charging him with filing a false police report.
December 5, 2014, Hare picked up a cell phone left on a table at the Cedarwood Saloon on Redwood Avenue in Grants Pass and used it to send texts that said “Dude ur so hot” and “God I gotta get in your pants” to a then 18-year-old and her 21-year-old cousin. The phone he used turned out to belong to the mother of the 18-year-old. The father of the 18-year-old was livid and demanded an apology. Hare said at the time he thought it was someone else’s phone and the texts were meant as a joke. Witnesses said Hare was very intoxicated that night at the Saloon but Hare disputed that. Nevertheless, he made a public apology in the Courier, saying it was a “prank gone wrong.”
Hare’s apology wasn’t enough for some in the community however, and a movement calling for his resignation began. Right around Christmas a small group gathered on the Courthouse steps to launder all their gripes about Hare, which included behavior not becoming to an elected official, losing the trust needed to lead the people, voting yes on the controversial gravel mine in Sunny Valley and squandering the county’s money.
Hare managed to float through the criticism then, but a year later he was arrested for DUII and reckless driving in Eugene. According to police reports, Hare was pulling out of the driveway of a strip club in a Toyota Tundra when he nearly crashed into a police officer’s patrol car. Hare was pulled over and taken to jail after refusing a breathalyzer test. While in jail, Hare missed an O&C meeting he was supposed to attend in Eugene. Meanwhile, he was still voted in as vice-president of the O&C Board.
Hare later released a statement that said: “I recognize the use of alcohol causes me to make poor decisions. I am therefore entering an outpatient treatment/diversion program for the better part of a year.” He added that the “incident” wouldn’t impact his ability to perform his duties as a Commissioner. A Courier editorial of December 17, 2015, called for his resignation. Three incidents and Hare’s uncommon “hubris” concerning them were evidence he won’t learn from his mistakes, the editorial said.
Hare continued to evoke criticism, even after he said he went through rehabilitation. Several letters to the Courier editor complaining about his personal tribulations as well as his decision to allow a polluting gravel mining operation in Sunny Valley continued through his term, at the end of which, Hare announced he would not run again. In his exit interview in December of 2018, Hare was vague about his future but said, “I have a PH.D in running a county.” Hare was the youngest commissioner in the state when he was elected to the Josephine County Board at age 32. Before that, he earned a bachelor’s degree in agri-business, helped manage the family ranch in the Illinois Valley and was a legislative advisor for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, according to his exit interview in the Courier. Hare agreed with the incumbent he defeated, Dave Toler, that the job of commissioner is 80 to 90 percent administrative, with lawmaking a relatively minor part of the work. Hare said the highlight of his time of the Board was the hiring of a good team of managers. Many of those managers subsequently left during Baertschiger’s reign on the Commission.
This is long. Included is Library District Board President Rachele Selvig’s speech and that of Tina Gotchall, Member of the Library Board. Well worth the read!
The public hearing to consider four petitions to opt out of the Josephine County Community Library District was abruptly halted after Commissioners decided to ask for legal advice before moving on. Baertschiger called Assistant County Counsel Stephanie Nuttall to the podium for advice but she said what Commissioners were asking couldn’t be answered in a public session, so they promptly turned off their microphones and held a discussion among themselves before coming back on and voting to postpone the public hearing until next Wednesday’s meeting.
Two of the opt out petitioners were at last week’s meeting speaking in favor of Mike Pelfrey’s petition. They echoed his reason for asking to opt out, that the library didn’t serve their property. Library District Board President Rachele Selvig countered that:
“Regarding the petitions to withdraw from the library district, commissioners are tasked with interpreting Oregon Revised Statute 198.870 sub 4 which states: I stand before you on behalf of the library district to voice our objection to all the petitions based on the feasibility of service. We firmly believe that each territory in question has viable avenues to access library services. This accessibility encompasses traditional means through our facilities in Grants Pass, Illinois Valley, Williams and Wolf Creek as well as modern options, such as in home internet access, personal devices and telephone lines. It is essential to note that library services are available exclusively to residents holding a valid library card. These services encompass borrowing e-books, audio books, printed materials, on-line courses, magazines, research articles, virtual librarian consultations and the provision for talking books and braille services via mail. Additionally, our library of things offers items such as laptops and hotspots to facilitate remote access to our services. Public libraries, as essential community institutions, have a direct impact on property values. The absence of a library can deter skilled professionals including physicians from relocating to a community. An example of this impact can be observed in the struggles faced by the local hospital to recruit new physicians during the two-year closure of libraries in May 2007, Additionally, senior support services may diminish, leading to potential drops in property values. Approving these withdrawals would unjustly allow petitioners to benefit from increased property values while shifting the tax burden onto their neighbors who continue to pay taxes for vital community services. The central questions for your consideration are two-fold. First, is it feasible for the petitioner to receive services regardless of whether they choose to use them and two, how can the petitioners establish that they cannot and will not feasibly receive services. It is essential to emphasize that the burden of proof lies with the petitioner to clearly demonstrate their inability to receive service. We respectfully request clarification regarding the criteria used by the commissioners to evaluate this proof, both in individual cases and as a general standard going forward. Transparency in these criteria is vital to enable the electorate to comprehend the basis of your decision. It is worth noting that the determination made by the Josephine County Board of Commissioners will establish a precedent impacting not only library districts but also other districts across the state including hospital and park districts. Whether the commission explicitly acknowledges this responsibility or not. Approving these petitions would have severe repercussions for both the library district and the county. The library district would suffer a loss of tax revenue leading to a depletion of service that would affect all current beneficiaries of our library services. Moreover the county would endure a substantial administrative burden associated with the mandatory filing to the secretary of state’s office, and the Oregon Department of Revenue for each commission approved petition. This burden would directly impact the county assessor’s office and the county clerk, resulting in additional costs for local taxpayers. Additionally, these actions would undermine the 2017 election, in which the electorate voted to form the library district. Every territory within the district was given the opportunity to participate in a fair election based on majority rule. Any attempt to subvert that election process not only harms the electorate but also jeopardizes future elections aimed at forming special districts in Oregon. It is crucial to emphasize the statute governing withdrawals from a district is distinct from the statute governing property annexation. The criteria and procedures for withdrawal differ significantly from those for annexation. Furthermore, we must address the commissions’ inconsistent procedure regarding these withdrawals. In the case of the Marshall petition, we believe it should not be approved today because the petitioner failed to provide a copy of the petition to the district as required by ORS 198.70 sub 2. In contrast, other applications, as indicated in the packet, were properly delivered to the district. Marshall filed their application on Dec. 7, giving them until Dec. 12 to fill this requirement, which they did not. Also, half of the four petitions presented today have not been signed by the petitioners including those of Birch and McDonald. Nevertheless, the crux of the matter revolves around the feasibility of petitioners accessing service benefits rather than conflating individuals with territory. Viewing ORS 187 solely in the context of property, while overlooking the potential impact on property occupants and future stakeholders is illogical. It is not whether occupants, owner user like the service, it is about whether the current or future owner or occupant of the property could use the services. Ultimately the core of this argument centers on the question: why should I have to pay for roads I don’t drive on? The answer is simple. Because these roads are fundamental components of a community’s infrastructure and individuals feasibly benefit from them. In conclusion we urge you to deny these withdrawal petitions bearing in mind the evident procedural errors, misinterpretation of the law by the commissioners and the far reaching consequences on both our library district and the county.”
Commission Chair Herman Baertschiger asked what Selvig meant by “transparency.” She said her board was having difficulty understanding the criteria on which Commissioners based their decision.
“You speak of transparency. I kinda lost you on that,” said Baertschiger.
“I think the transparency issue is that we’re having difficulty understanding the criteria upon which the commissioners are basing their decisions to approve, not only the individual petitions but the petitions in general as a whole,” said Selvig.
“I disagree that’s not a transparency issue. That’s just a issue you’re not understanding. So hopefully we can…”said Baertschiger.
“Maybe not transparency but maybe an issue of lack of communication and of building of a substance behind to explain the decision,” said Selvig.
After Selvig spoke the petitioners came to the podium with reasons behind their withdrawal requests. Victoria Marshall claimed she could get the same services the library offers elsewhere. She said she’s also experienced “public vicious vitriol” because of her comments last week which “makes me want to opt out more.” She didn’t say where this “vicious vitriol” came from.
Library District Board member Tina Gotchall said it has definitely been proven that library services are available to every property owner and that these petitions have no standing and based on ORS, no petition should be granted. These petitions have no standing in law “or intelligence.”
“They do, however, have a standing with a group of people who resent the Democratic process for which their neighbors chose to create the district. They do have standing with angry and disappointed petitioners who ran for office and who lost in a fair and public election, partly because of their public statements desiring to close the library. The real question today is whether this Board will continue to violate the law in their attempt to force their agenda on a public that has twice voted against that agenda. This fact is made worse by the fact that petitioners have stood at this microphone expressing their hatred of the local library, by citing events at libraries outside the district, outside the county and outside the state. Further they have testified that the basis for petition is not in law but in their passionate hatred toward libraries based on this evidence of activity and locations of their choice and not of these library services. The deliberate choice to boycott the library is in no way related to the question of whether or not the library provides services. One petitioner even tried to evoke the spirit of the American Revolution by declaring that being in the library district was a clear example of taxation without representation. This situation is exactly the exact opposite of that. The tax was not levied by a king but was put in place by the citizens initiative and a majority vote of the citizens. Further the district is managed by a board of people freely elected by the voters residing within that district. Just because someone loses the vote to be a member of that board does not mean he is unrepresented. He is just not well liked by his neighbors or the person who beat him. It is a fearful thing for every citizen in this county if this board choses to conduct itself based on personal agendas rather than the rule of law. These laws can be changed through legislative, electoral or court systems but the dare not be changed on the whim of a gang of people trying to inflict their desires on a community that has twice voted against them. In spite of this overwhelming evidence and the clear and present danger to Democracy in our county we should fully expect this board to continue its illegal behavior until they are stopped by a court order. Be that as it may, the facts are still the facts and the fantasies and phantoms of logic are still as vaporous as they are moronic,” she said.
After Gotchall’s comment, Baertschiger said he’s going to “stand at ease” on the opt-out petitions until he can consult with legal. The meeting went dead for several minutes, as commissioners talked among themselves with their mics turned off. Those streaming the meeting couldn’t tell what they were talking about. Then after turning the microphones back on, Baertschiger took a vote, which was unanimous, to continue the hearing until next Wednesday at 9 a.m.
During public comments, several people got up to complain about the process used to reject an environmental group’s bid on the Pipe Forks property in the Williams area. Then Mike Jones took the podium with questions relating to the opt-out petitions.
“I have a question about the process for annexation and withdrawal (library district). When I self-annexed my property into the Merlin Park District, there was a $60 fee to do that, that the park district picked up to pay for my process. I’m curious with this process of withdrawal, who pays the fee? Do the petitioners pay the fee or is the county picking up that bill cause I’m pretty sure the district won’t pay. The library district probably won’t be paying for that. So I’m curious, is that a cost that the county is having to absorb? And then the other question is the cost of lawsuits based on this. And I’m really glad to see that you put a stop to the hearing today to get some clarification. It’ll help, hopefully, stop some wasted money on lawsuits,” he said.
After closing public comments, DeYoung said he’d look into the fees Jones was concerned about. West had the ordinance in hand so he obviously knew the question was coming. He didn’t say who should pay, however. He just mumbled something about how he hopes people can agree to disagree on the opt-out controversy “not matter how it comes out.” Baertschiger just stated the board had an obligation to follow the letter of the law.
Yes, taxpayer money is going down the drain because our commissioners don’t ask for legal help before making rushed decisions to placate their supporters.
Couldn’t our County Legal Counsel have given better advice? Couldn’t the Commissioners have spoken with other state organizations for help, such as Special District Association of Oregon?
Read (or listen to) the JPR Article: Josephine Community Library pursues legal action after residents opt out of tax district | Jefferson Public Radio (ijpr.org)
Despite the fact that the Josephine County Commissioners had agreed to preserve Pipe Fork rather than clear cut it, they have not yet agreed to the $2,020,000 purchase offer from the Conservation Fund. This offer matches the “Yellow Book” price and is greater than the County’s own appraisal in 2020.
Read More about Pipe Fork — AND — Sign the Petition to stop the Commissioners from selling off for logging.
Join us for our Holiday Gathering.
Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Michael & Colette Storms Sending-Off…you name it! Any reason to celebrate with our Democratic friends and family at the December regular meeting. Tuesday December 12th at 6:30 PM.
This will be a potluck!
** Last names ending A-M bring a side dish with serving utensils as needed
** N-Z bring entree and serving utensils as needed.
** Everyone is welcome to bring their favorite Christmas cookie or family-favorite fruitcake (the dessert, not that nutty cousin!).
We will have non-alcoholic beverages, however, bring your own alcoholic as desired. We will have glasses.
Gathering will be in-person ONLY at Unitarian Universalist and via Zoom. 6:30 is Social. 7:00 is JCDCC General Meeting, this month with Announcements only.
But you probably know that from the massive number of emails you are getting to donate.
Here is something different. you could give $50 to the Josephine County Democratic Party (or $100 for joint-filers) and get every dollar back when you file your Oregon taxes. It’s like a free donation!
It’s a unique, important way to keep Oregon’s elections powered by grassroots supporters like you.
This is due to the Oregon Political Tax Credit for Oregon taxpayers. It is once a year, but you have to use it before 2023 ends.
Here are the requirements:
Then… please donate now! We need to raise money to build our local party for the very important 2024 election!
Online via: ACT BLUE
Send your checks directly to:
Josephine County Democrats
PO Box 2007
Grants Pass, OR 97528