Hot off the Press
CALL TO ACTION: EMAIL COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
The Josephine Board of County Commissioners is having their second reading to finalize the Citation Authority Ordinance 2021-002 this Wednesday, Oct 20th. This ordinance would allow code enforcement officers to write citations similar to a traffic ticket, a practice common in other jurisdictions. These citations can impose strict and incrementally increased fines for situations that are not remedied. The code enforcement process is strictly complaint-driven.
Illegal cannabis grows are contributing to water theft, pollution and diversion of our waterways, human trafficking, as well as improper clearing and bulldozing of land. Makeshift greenhouses known as hoop houses are commonly erected without permits at illegal cannabis operations as well. Hoop houses and other illegal structures have often been found to contain unsafe electrical systems which can create fire hazards in our already fire-prone community.
Currently, every county in Oregon and even the city of Grants Pass has citation authority.
Please email your support TODAY for this important ordinance to the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) at:
Darin Fowler email@example.com
Dan DeYoung firstname.lastname@example.org
Herman Baertschiger Jr email@example.com
cc: Wally Hicks, Legal Counsel firstname.lastname@example.org
cc: Mark Stevenson email@example.com
cc: Art Robinson Sen.ArtRobinson@oregonlegislature.gov
If you wish to also voice your complaint directly to the BCC they can be reached at (541-474-5221)
You can use this template to contact them, or create your own.
Dear Commissioner __________
As a constituent of Josephine County, I am writing to express my SUPPORT for Citation Authority Ordinance 2021-002.
Every county in Oregon and even the city of Grants Pass has citation authority. We need to stop the proliferation of illegal grows in our county and the criminal activity that follows including human trafficking, water theft, and pollution. The illegal grows are a cancer on our community and needs to be addressed immediately. This is an EMERGENCY!
Please do the right thing for our community and pass Citation Authority Ordinance 2021-002.
It was Republican vs. Republican vs. Republican during Wednesday’s Weekly Business Session of the Josephine County Commissioners. While some landowners here would like to see the messes created by illegal marijuana grows cleaned up others saw commissioner’s proposed fix for the predicament as an infringement on their property rights.
During the board’s second reading and public hearing of a proposed county code amendment that would put a few teeth in code enforcement by allowing code inspectors the ability to write citations and impose fines, Commissioner Herman Baertschiger suddenly decided he wanted a sunset clause in the proposal after being supportive of the code amendment during previous discussions.
“I would not support this without a three year sunset,” said Baertschiger, who cited possible unintended consequences as his reasoning.
Assistant County Legal Counsel Augustus Ogu, looking perplexed, explained to Baertschiger that you can’t sunset just one section of an ordinance without sunsetting it in entirety.
“It’s not as simple as putting a sunset clause at the end stating which clauses to sunset,” he said. “Also, may I remind the board you have the power at any point in time to go back and amend the ordinance. A sunset provision isn’t necessary.”
Baertschiger disagreed with the attorney, saying he worked on “thousands” of pieces of legislature when he was a state senator and had no trouble putting sunset clauses into laws to force a revisit.
Commission Chair Dan DeYoung was open to putting in a sunset clause to make Baertschiger happy, because he said it is important all three commissioners support this. Commissioner Darin Fowler, however, favored just taking a vow to revisit the ordinance.
“If three years is the goal, you two guys sitting here will still be here. It’s not like five years when we could have a whole new commission. You guys make a vow and do it without writing into the ordinance, said Fowler.
Baertschiger asked Ogu if they could just sunset the fines. He explained if the fines were left to expire the ordinance would be left with the threat of legal action but no fines to back it up. He said unless they had a completely new ordinance passed through readings and public hearings and ready to replace the one with the sunset clause they would have no codes at all.
DeYoung, growing impatient told Baertschiger his statehouse experience did not apply here. If you want to base this ordinance on what you did in the statehouse I’m not on board, DeYoung said. He said in the statehouse everything was partisan and “you got outweighed all the time.” He told Baertschiger forcing illegal growers to clean up here is non-partisan and something a lot of landowners want. He said he wasn’t prepared to explain to them in the supermarket or post office why the proposed amendment didn’t pass after all this time spent crafting it and addressing people’s concerns.
Fowler proposed the public hearing and the decision on the matter be postponed a week so Ogu can come up with some way to guarantee Baertschiger gets his review. Legal Counsel Wally Hicks intervened to remind commissioners they had people waiting to comment during the public hearing, so DeYoung allowed them to speak during their Zoom meeting.
Two people came on opposing the code amendment saying it would make it harder for them to make full use of their property, that any property regulation would be the death of the county and that cannabis growers should be celebrated as part of the economy like the wine industry. Then state Senator Art Robinson, who represents Josephine County in the statehouse, came on with a threat:
“As the state senator for this county I am sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States….the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution of the United States forbids the uh, revocation of the private property rights of the people. It does that because if there’s no private property there can be no freedom. I am sorry to tell you that I will use the full power of my office in opposition to this measure which revokes the property rights of the people who I represent to their disadvantage. I will see that there is a referendum run and I’m sorry, there will be a lot of acrimony. I find it very difficult because I don’t want to oppose the commissioners but the commissioners are doing something that violates the Constitution of the United States. A protection we have under our federal constitution that is essential to our freedom. So, I oppose this measure because the Constitution doesn’t say you can revoke property rights for 10 minutes. It doesn’t say you can revoke their property rights for three years. You do not have the authority to revoke these property rights because the federal constitution prevents this. So, I don’t want to be impolite. I’m very sorry we’re in this situation but you’re going to find that I will use the full force of my office to benefit my constituents. My constituents are harmed by this measure. Moreover, they’re already harmed because many people in the county are very concerned because they have built lives, businesses, and other things here which are now going to be put under the control of bureaucrats. Socialist, liberal bureaucrats. And therefore, I’m your opponent. I can’t help it but as long as this measure revokes property rights protected by the Constitution I will oppose what you are doing with the full force of my office. Thank you.”
Robinson did not say where he got his interpretation of the US Constitution.
Fowler reacted to Robinson’s threat by saying “There’s always going to be folks who don’t think we need planning code enforcement but what I hear is 99 to one are in favor of this. Our planning department has never been more willing to get to a solution, to get compliance without a hammer. We’ll always have a certain instance where someone is not happy but that doesn’t represent what I’m hearing at all. Although I have some respect for Art Robinson his threat is just bluster. He hasn’t done anything since he got in the senate.”
Baertschiger retreated by saying “property rights are always sensitive, then went on to say other countries don’t have property rights so people here get nervous “like vaccines.”
DeYoung told the callers who expressed problems with code enforcement in the past to come in, sit down and discuss what happened and what a solution might be. He said he has no problem with legal cannabis growers but something has to be done about the illegal growers and code enforcement is one way to do it.
“I’m all for personal property rights. It’s a touchy subject. But we are overwhelmed with reports of people’s wells running dry, creeks running dry, use of illegal chemicals. What if I wanted to have an old car pile next to your property?” he asked.
After the public hearing commissioners voted to postpone the vote on the code enforcement amendment and continue the public hearing until next week.
During the public comment part of the meeting the usual anti-vax speakers showed up with their conspiracy theories but when caller Vicky Palmerton said vaccine mandates are not new, are part of why our country is so successful and that she was “sick of being locked down because of the crazy selfishness of people” she was thoroughly renounced by commissioners.
Baertschiger claimed the board has done “everything we can” and said people should have the freedom to choose to get vaccinated or not.
DeYoung launched into a disjointed soliloquy, dismissing Palmerton’s concerns, using the opportunity to bring up a nasty letter someone sent him, repeating some of his favorite points and praising the conspiracy theorists:
“First off I agree 100 percent with Commissioner Baertschiger and I guess if there’s a group of folks out there through the network or whatever you want to call yourselves that want to blame the board of county commissioners for everything…I, I…these are the kind of people who want to blame anybody but themselves for what’s happening on around em. If you want to blame us that’s fine but I agree with uh I checked with legal and I said gee if I stood up to the microphone….first off you’ve trashed the board of county commissioners for the last 18 months over this covid thing so it’s really non-productive. If I were to step up to the microphone and say ‘get vaccinated’ (said in silly spook voice) it won’t have any teeth. It’s counterproductive cause you’ve trashed all three commissioners cause we didn’t do what we thought you…we, we were supposed to do but we really can’t do that. If we were to do that and there was some adverse condition three years from now, God help it that there isn’t…that this thing rolls right along and eventually put to bed which I‘m questioning whether that’ll ever happen, but if that were to happen then say I saw on film commissioner DeYoung told me to get vaccinated…well I did and now I’ve got these underlying these conditions that popped up all over the place and I can’t read the future I don’t have a crystal ball here so it’s entirely up to you if you want to get vaccinated or not. To be quite honest with you I got vaccinated and I’ll tell you why I got vaccinated because I have, I am of the age and I have some underlying conditions that’s none of your business. However, I got vaccinated with the assumption I wouldn’t be able to get sick again because when you got small pox vaccination when little kids…you used to get a sugar cube with some red droplets on it when I was in kindergarten and first grade that was for smallpox, tuberculosis, diphtheria…there’s quite a few vaccines out at that time in the school system but you never got it again. Now I’m finding out not only get it again, and I have had COVID, I can not only get it again even though I’ve had COVID but I’m a spreader so therefore you look at me I’ve been vaccinated and you look at someone who hasn’t been vaccinated and they’re no more worse off than I am because I’m still a spreader I can still pass it along. If I get it again and you’re probably absolutely right I think, vaccine…I will give it credit I don’t think you get it near as bad as you possibly could but I mean I’m getting letters, I get some pretty scathing letters, got one here yesterday oh my gosh I can’t read it, I can’t read it because it has so many expletives and cuss words in it and I thought to myself wow this particular gentleman is clear full of hate for me and the board of county commissioners over a vaccine. We’re not killing anybody, we are providing it, from the very beginning, when the vaccines were available, our county health department…we stopped production out at the fairgrounds, brought in the National Guard, giving vaccines up on the top of Hayes Hill and we’re keeping you from getting a vaccine? The Board of Commissioners is? Come on! I’ve said this before I was watching drag racing the other day and it had four commercials right in a row for prescription medications at the end of it in the disclaimer not one of them said be sure and check with your board of county commissioners. Check with your county commissioners before taking this medication. Not one! Why is it up to the commissioners, you tell us not to play doctor we’re not playing doctor. We’re giving you advice to go to your doctor. And that’s between you and your doctor. I’m not picking your doctor for you. I’m not mandating a doctor you gotta see that’s on my side or the other side or if there’s even a side anymore. This thing’s doin’ what its designed to do and that’s split America down the middle. And this guy that wrote to me yesterday or day before yesterday….Mister you and I are on opposite sides of the spectrum and we’ll never be on the same side. There is no coming together with a person like this. None. Whatsoever (shaking a letter around). It’s not rational and we’re trying to be rational about this think. We know I’ve had….I’ve had a personal friend of mine pass away from COVID the other day and you say ‘you must have killed him.’ I want to know what was the therapeutics was he given. If the man’s on his deathbed did you offer him maybe some of the ‘questionable drugs’ (air quotes) that are out there. I don’t know. I don’t think that was available to him. So, if your hatred for me, or for Donald Trump, for ex-president Trump or whatever your hatred is that deep that you’re gonna ignore therapeutics and ignore a possible…a possible thing that could save somebody’s life when they’re on their deathbed I can’t help you either but please don’t blame that on me and I disagree. It says not even God will forgive you for that. Your ignorant comments may cause citizens of Josephine County your life. My comments don’t keep you from doing what’s right in your own heart. And it says sleep well and stay blank you blank blank blank John Wayne you might…and I can’t even say it from then on…but that’s not getting my attention in a good way sir. Not at all. Not at all. So with that I appreciate you Guenter, all that you’ve done and Geri I wish we could have heard from you and Judy and Craig Hinkle I appreciate you always chiming in…but with that I’ll move along…..”
In other business Wednesday DeYoung said he would hand-deliver a letter to Congressman Cliff Bentz asking for federal help with illegal marijuana grows in the county. Fowler said there are openings on the property tax appeal board which hasn’t heard a case for the entire three years he’s been a member. DeYoung also said he wanted to submit a letter to the Courier editor thanking health care providers in the county for their work during the COVID crisis.
“Good luck,” said Baertschiger.
Fowler and DeYoung couldn’t leave the meeting without more comment on vaccine mandates. Fowler raved about the ineffectiveness of vaccines, artificial mandates and how the government’s efforts at reining in a pandemic have just pissed people off. DeYoung questioned the legality of mandates and said this should be a question for our state representatives.
During Tuesday’s October 12 Board Discussion, commissioners danced around the possibility the sheriff’s department will need more than just the jail and juvenile justice levy to keep it going at its current level.
Fowler laid the groundwork:
“…..a reminder we are only a two-thirds funded county, we’re a shoestring budget kind of county and that’s what our taxpayers have said they wanted and so not only are we doing the best we can with the money we’re given but we’re prioritizing law enforcement, criminal justice, juvenile justice as being our fund first and our sheriff has embraced that and even stretched it a little saying ‘hey we’re going to get to 20 hour patrols and try and get to 24’….um and do what we can in the illegal marijuana arena which has grown exponentially over the past few years and so we’re really doing a lot with a little and I think the taxpayer appreciates that but we got to articulate it as well and say it out loud that we are not a fully funded county, we are tied for last as far as tax rate, base rate and so, but we’ve almost gotten comfortable with that, living on a shoestring budget and doing the best we can and stretching those folks, stretching and stretching those folks, paying overtime sometimes, just to make things happen in our county, so I’m really impressed where our sheriff has brought us over the past six years going on seven and I really think this levy is going to be an indicator of that…of the hard work the commissioners have done before me and myself as well but also staff, Sheriff Daniel, Sandy our Finance Director and others, Juvenile Justice and the rest of them have really sharpened their pencils and brought us to the point where you see more sheriff patrol and you see juvenile justice being done and real because you really gotta catch those folks before they become adults and let em hear that clink (35:54) and let em know they can’t just get away with stuff in our county. So, I appreciate that turn that this board of commissioners and this sheriff has been a part of, a huge part of, so I want to thank you for that event though our budget is stretched to the limit I think people kind of like that too. They like that we’re using every penny as best we can but we gotta be honest with them about where we’re at so that’s part of the discussion today.”
DeYoung tried to anticipate a blowback:
“People are always saying you would like to see more things go to the ballot so there’s going to be some things coming up in the not too distant future and rather than throw stones I wish you would look at the proposals and there will be more than one and look at the proposals kinda on the merit. Could this work for our county? Look a little outside the box. I’m going to tell you that right now, if it’s what I think it is and, ahh, its exciting cause it’s gonna…we’re gonna be at the tip of the spear again, if it works or doesn’t work, at least we’re gonna throw something at the wall.”
However, Sheriff Dave Daniels said he wanted to remain focused on getting the levy passed right now:
“Well…I’d like to focus on the levy right now, on the renewal, I think that’s the most important thing. I don’t have a whole lot more to say. Let’s stick with what’s on our plate right now. I’ll tell you this I’ve seen it in the past, kind of looking at the citizens in the county funding law enforcement and they don’t do it (vote for a levy)….then it’s kind of like a punishment phase, like we’re going to shut the doors we’re not going to do this we’re not going do that. Being positive and forward moving and forward thinking is a choice. And I think it’s important to let our citizens know that no matter what happens from the sheriff’s office perspective down to every man and woman that works in this job, we will provide the most professional public safety service possible. If things don’t work out we’re going to remain positive, were not going to give up. We’re not going to quit and we’re not going to go away. We’ll always be here. The level of service may not be there if things don’t work out. Things you’re satisfied with. We might go back to 2012. But I chose to look forward. I chose to be positive and I choose to make the best example of law enforcement that can be there.”
Then he looked into his monitor and asked the people of Josephine County to support the levy.
“It’s important to all of us,” said Daniel.
Finance Director Sandy Novak was prepared to give commissioners the bottom line on the sheriff’s finances but in light of the levy vote coming up they cut the discussion short of that.
During matters from the commissioners Tuesday, Baertschiger brought up the Asante vaccine mandate and said his experience in the legislature tells him there’s “something else driving them.” He claimed (35:54) he looked at an audit done by Hillsdale College (a conservative religious college in Michigan that does “audits” looking for misdeeds in liberal states) and he discovered the governor of Oregon solicited hundreds of businesses when she was running for governor in exchange for, so far, the state has awarded $2.6 billion in contracts to those companies she solicited to so she’s using taxpayer money to do things. The legislature is still sitting on billions of dollars of this money they got from the federal government and MY QUESTION, and it is a question Daily Courier, My question is, has the governor, through the Oregon Health Authority, offered hospitals money in cooperation for upholding her vaccine mandates in the absolute….I do not know that but looking at her behavior on some other things that she has done that lifts an eyebrow I would like to ask that question Wally.”
Hicks said he will research that.
Commissioners, looking for some way to get back at Asante for implementing the vaccine mandate, asked Hicks if they had to maintain a certain level of service to qualify as a tax-exempt service.
Fowler said Asante has “quite a few properties that they hide money in” (43:58):
“They (Asante) just have not been good community partners. They don’t play well with others. They’re protecting their own like a for profit company, and look at the capacity levels they’ve settled on, 130 beds in a county of 85,000 people. They make their own decisions and they went for the minimum instead of the actual and so they’re an embarrassing partner and they’re also rural Oregon. They should get it, why some of their employees don’t want a vaccine, and should make accommodations appropriately and they’re not doing that either. And so, they’re drinkin’ the Kool Aid the state is putting out and it’s embarrassing for our local community because we have great quality folks that are going to be told to take a walk in a week or so. Kicked to the curb, the heroes who showed up and did overtime and poured blood, sweat and time into all of their career are now going to be booted to the curb and that’s embarrassing. I hope that they reevaluate their really bad stance not only in the community but on this COVID thing. They have a chance to embrace their community, become a good partner and they’re choosing to gather all the kings’ men and build a bigger wall to keep people out and that is not right. It’s not community-based, that’s not do no harm, that’s not not for profit, for the benefit of the community. They’re missing on just about everything and that’s embarrassing to their employees and I wish their staff would wake up and smell what’s really going on.”
Baertschiger brought up Texas, saying we’ve got one state (Oregon) that’s got us all in shackles and another that says, “no shackles at all” and wondered if there could be some solution “without all this flak.”
There are four vacant advisory committee openings in the City of Grants Pass.
Please consider applying for one of these positions, as this is a fantastic opportunity to get Democrats and progressives involved in our local government! Use this link to get to the online application form.
Parks Advisory Committee: Deadline Nov. 1, 2021, 5:00 pm
The purpose of this board is to review and make recommendations related to the needs and locations for new parkland and trail locations, park planning, allocation of recreation resources between users, preservation of park resources, and funding.
Criteria for membership: The Council desires to have a balance of viewpoints and demographic representation including individuals with interest or experience representing athletic leagues, individuals knowledgeable in natural resource preservation, people involved with recurring park events, frequent park users, and individuals who use park family play-friendly facilities.
Committee on Public Art: Deadline Nov. 5, 2021, 5:00 pm
CoPA works to engage the community and enrich public spaces through the placement of original artwork, creating a unique sense of place, enjoyment, and pride for all.
This committee also provides the Grants Pass City Council with information pertaining to public art, creates opportunities for the placement of art in public locations and promotes collaboration between city departments, artists, architects, developers, and property owners.
Housing Advisory Committee: Deadline Dec. 13, 2021, 5:00 pm
The HAC explores opportunities to facilitate provision of housing for all income levels, and it makes recommendations to the City Council. It also promotes public awareness of housing resources and promotes public participation in identifying and addressing housing issues and needs. The City Council may authorize HAC to conduct those public hearings specified in the City’s CDBG citizen participation plan, which are not reserved to the City Council for decision-making.
The special qualifications for this position:
- A representative who is a renter in the low- to moderate-income category (LMI).
Historical Buildings and Sites Commission: Dec. 3, 2021, 5:00 pm
The committee’s purpose is to review proposed alterations to any Historic District or designated structure in the Urban Growth Boundary; to promote the community historic preservation; to advise other interested agencies on matters related to historic preservation; and to identify areas of archeological significance and buildings of historic or archeological significance. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and be a resident of the City of Grants Pass.
This position is a citizen at large.
Senator Jeff Golden kicked off the meeting with highlights of the last Oregon Legislative Session. Following him were supporters of the four levies on the November 2nd ballot. Please note, all voters will see the Jail and Animal Shelter levies on their ballot. Residents of Illinois Valley and Williams will have one of the levy renewals. Key here: VOTE!
Here is the video:
This week Josephine County Commissioners were so outlandish in their opinions about vaccines and mandates they made the Oregonian newspaper in Portland this week….. https://www.oregonlive.com/coronavirus/2021/10/oregon-politician-says-ask-god-about-covid-19-vaccination-you-cant-trust-doctors.html
Wednesday Commissioner Darin Fowler put forth this magniloquent rant (41:48): “This virus has become completely political. It’s only got a few things left in the medical field and I’m not sure I want to tell people to talk to their doctor whether to take the vaccine anymore because they’re threatening doctors’ licenses and livelihoods. Umm, so I’m not sure I want you even asking your doctor. You’re just going to have to ask God and pray for wisdom on this one. Because you can’t trust the politicians you can’t trust the doctors you certainly can’t trust the CDC or any world health organization. And so I’m saddened that all these folks (vaccine refusers) are at the moment in their lives where they have to make really hard decisions things that have long term consequences. Ahhh, I’m also very disappointed in our governor’s office who is willing to, ahhhh, kick all of our heroes out of the hospital after talking so nicely about them for the last 18 months, be willing to kick em out and I can only think it’s because you’re down to the Republicans and if you can purge all of our systems of Republicans, get them to leave the state, um, then I bet you would. I bet you would in a heartbeat. And I think that’s a lot of what’s behind the governor’s agenda right now. Let’s cleanse Oregon of all the red and get as blue as we can. That’s also very unamerican. It’s petty politics and it shows the immaturity at our governor’s level. She doesn’t know what she’s doing. She’s out over her skis, she’s lost track of the truth and she doesn’t have anybody she could trust. Apparently she’s way out there and we’re going tie this thing around her neck as being one of the failed governors of this whole era. That’ll be her legacy. So ah, like I said, stay tuned we’re trying to do what we can to fight but we all know mandates are illegal no matter what you say I will still stand on the side of freedom every single time. The freedom to choose is very American. And I won’t be moved.”
FYI: A judge recently upheld the governor’s mandate… https://www.oregonlive.com/coronavirus/2021/10/judge-wont-halt-governors-covid-19-vaccination-mandate-despite-oregon-police-troopers-lawsuit.html
This came as Fowler reported to the board he talked to representatives of a long list of employee groups in Josephine County who, according to him, said they would lose 5 to 30 percent of their employees who would rather quit their jobs than obey the state mandate to get vaccinated by October 18. On Tuesday Commissioners reviewed drafts of two letters they want to send to Governor Kate Brown’s office, Oregon Health Authority, the State Epidemiologist and the Office of Emergency Management as well as to the Secretary of Labor Martin J. Walsh in Washington DC with County Counsel Wally Hicks. The state letter to Gov. Brown “& others” asks that the October 18 mandated deadline for getting vaccinated be pushed back to November 30th to give workers extra time to finish the “vaccination process.” They asked for this considering the November 30 deadline extended for about 24,000 employees represented by the Service Employees International Union 503 because their collective bargaining process was still underway. In the letter, they cited an unofficial and easily skewed poll from the Grants Pass Daily Courier as evidence that 75 percent of the people in Josephine County don’t want health care workers and teachers to lose their jobs because of the vaccine mandate. They even included a screenshot of the poll. The letter says Fowler met with several organizations including those representing charter schools, a longshore and warehouse union, manufacturing, trucking, restaurants, lodging, school boards, senior care providers, naturopathic physicians, a school activities association, Mercy Flights, school administrators, fire district directors, volunteer firefighters, nurses, and the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe. Commissioners said these organizations sent a “resounding message” that the state’s mandate will cause dramatic harm to those who belong to these organizations. Later, at Commission Chair Dan DeYoung’s request, they added that the citizens of Josephine County will be harmed because of a shortage of workers represented by these groups. Then the letter changes tone from the beginning paragraph where they are asking for a deadline extension, to the last paragraph where they ask “that you eliminate the vaccine mandate” or at least delay the deadline.
The letter to Secretary Walsh asks the federal government to include the medical and religious “exceptions” to the mandatory vaccines as the state of Oregon has done and that those who can prove they had COVID be considered “low risk” and exempted from the vaccine mandate.
Commissioners made no mention of the “Liberty” resolution that garnered them so much negative email activity and public comments last week.
They did ask Hicks if he had a copy of the Jackson County emergency declaration because if as many workers walk off the job as Fowler says will go many services could be impacted. Hicks mumbled that he didn’t have a copy at hand and that declaring an emergency before an actual emergency was not usually done. It would be like declaring an earthquake emergency before an earthquake happened, he told Commissioners. However, he promised to find out what Jackson County has done.
Commissioner Herman Baertschiger wondered what declaring an emergency would do to help Josephine County prepare for a worker shortage.
“Nothing comes to mind,” Hicks said.
DeYoung worried aloud that declaring an emergency would rip authority away from the board. He said their drought declaration sent authority to emergency management and other agencies and left the board without control over managing the emergency.
Hicks said the board doesn’t surrender authority but “assigns” authority to those staff members with expertise in the areas of emergency. Hicks also assured Baertschiger that the board can rescind that authority at any time.
After the letter discussion DeYoung brought up a handwritten letter sent to him from a father telling him his two daughters were about to lose their jobs at Asante because of the vaccine mandates and that the hospital wasn’t allowing medical or religious exemptions. He promised to read it as soon as he could find it.
This prompted Baertschiger to “throw” out one of his Tucker Carlson-type speculations.
“It would be interesting to know, because I do not know, it would be interesting to know, since the legislature is sitting on somewhere around a billion dollars on the e-board (Baertschiger is fond of throwing around legislative jargon), if these hospitals have been promised a golden ticket if they absolutely enforce this vaccine mandate. I do not know that but it would be interesting to know if there’s any of that going on,” he said.
By this time, DeYoung found his letter and said he’d make it available to boil the other two commissioners’ blood. Then he launched into a tirade about how commissioners form their opinions because they see a lot of things the rest of the community doesn’t see. He did not elaborate on what they see the rest of the community doesn’t see, however.
The rest of Tuesday’s Legal Update meeting was taken up with the design and message of the informational brochure for the jail and juvenile detention levy. Sheriff Dave Daniel was on hand to make sure the commissioners and Hicks didn’t get carried away. He advised the board to keep the brochure simple and informational since they are not allowed to spend county money on something that promotes one side or the other in an election. DeYoung pointed out that additional information can become talking points when they are asked to speak to organizations like “the Democrat Party” on the issue.
In Matters from Commissioners Tuesday, DeYoung advised all the commissioners to go to the next Association of Oregon Counties meeting coming up in Eugene, using commissioners’ travel budget. He said it’s a useful place to bond with other commissioners and you usually get useful information. Fowler and Baertschiger indicated they wanted to see the agenda for this year before making a commitment.
After the pledge of allegiance and recognition of employees they held a public hearing on an ordinance updating rules for commissioners that included electronic participation in meetings. The only one to comment during the public hearing on this was Holli Morton who said she was still hearing from constituents on some issues but she would come in and meet commissioners face-to-face to discuss those issues. It wasn’t clear if she was addressing the ordinance at hand or just made a general statement.
After closing the public hearing commissioners went straight to public comments from citizens who wanted to talk about anything. As usual, anti-vaxxers Judy and Craig Hinkle took up the first six minutes of the public comment session with their conspiracy theories, this time something about population control, chemically induced sterility and the real purpose of the vaccines – to wipe out most of earth’s human population while Biden and Congress secretly skip the vaccinations.
Malcolm Drake called in to add sanity to the public comments, as did Tracy Thompson who asked commissioners in all their talk of “freedom” if it doesn’t extend to his right to be safe from a disease, a woman’s right to choose and a person’s right to marry whomever they want, “then it’s just hypocrisy.”
Two women called in to talk about the coming emergency in health care if the vaccine mandate isn’t lifted with one predicting suicides over this and the creation of “a minority (of unvaxxed) chastised for life!”
And of course Guenter Ambron of Cave Junction got in again to talk about Ivermectin.
Holli Morton was put on the microphone but she just said she wanted to make sure the board knew she was observing them.
Fowler started the board review of comments by telling Tracy “I disagree with everything you said.” He did not tell Judy and Craig or Guenter that, however. Those people are thanked profusely for their contributions each week and never refuted no matter how crazy they get. Then Fowler launched into the rant about the governor trying to rid Oregon of Republicans. He didn’t extend that logic to the possibility Democrats may be fleeing Oregon’s conservative areas because of health and safety concerns brought about by elected officials who listen and praise conspiracy theorists, however.
Baertschiger waved a stack of e-mails on liberty he printed out and said he’s baffled about why all these “unsung heroes” in our health care system are being fired and villainized for not getting vaccines.
“I find that appalling,” he said.
Baertschiger went on to talk about how COVID is being used as a political wedge and claimed there are two valid sides to the vaccine issue, then he cited Benjamin Franklin’s “liberty” quote and implied that if you give in to vaccine mandates then you’re giving up your liberty.
DeYoung also made a swipe at Tracy’s comments saying something about his right to “freedom from disease” wasn’t the same as hospital workers right to freedom from vaccines and that you “don’t have a right to throw rights at a dartboard…..but in his characteristic random thoughts expression he didn’t go on to explain what he meant by that. He was still fuming over the letter he read the day before about hospital workers not getting medical or religious exemptions at Asante, although he didn’t say he actually called Asante to make sure that was factual. Then he revealed a good friend of his had just died in the hospital here of COVID and his family was disappointed he didn’t get any therapeutics.
During the consent agenda commissioners approved the letters to Governor Brown and the Secretary of Labor with DeYoung’s addition. They have written many letters to Governor Brown but so far have not announced any replies.
During Matters from Commissioners Fowler announced he met with the broadband assessment consultants and they are now at the stage where they are putting their data together to show what the broadband situation is in Jackson and Josephine counties. He also said the ARPA deadline was Sept. 30th, so now all applications will be ranked and the commission will decide who gets what out of the $7 million American Rescue Plan funds. They will do the process over for the $8 million they expect to get next fiscal year.
Baertschiger said he met with Asante’s CEO in Grants Pass last Friday to ask him questions about the hospital’s vaccine mandate “but I didn’t get a lot out of him.” He said he met with the CEO for 30 minutes and told him he didn’t know why these “unsung heroes” are now being “villainized” by mandates. He said about all he learned is that Asante is “still reviewing” the possibility of exceptions to their vaccine mandate and little else.
“That’s my report. Wish I had other news but I simply do not,” he said.
DeYoung congratulated the city on last weekend’s Art on the Rogue but admitted he didn’t attend. He said the city should have set up a vaccine booth as part of the event. He again brought up the letter from the father about how his two daughters were getting dumped from their nursing jobs because they wouldn’t get vaccinated and there was no religious or medical exemption at Asante and predicted there will be a huge walkout of like-minded people in Josephine County. He then addressed Tracy’s comments to the point where anyone listening might assume those who express a disagreement should expect a breathtaking spuddle of vitriol aimed at them for the duration of the meeting. Then he got into a bizarre discussion about reports COVID causes sterility in men and said his doctor took care of that years ago while the other commissioners tried to look busy with something else in front of their Zoom screens. He ended his soliloquy by saying COVID has divided people as bad as the civil war after squeezing in a comment about not believing anything in the Courier and how he got e-mails from a lot of people who thought that during the city/county meeting last week the county got the upper hand and the city had no answers.
The Baertschiger and Bill Show Tuesday Oct 5.
During his weekly call-in to KMED’s Bill Meyer Show, Commissioner Herman Baertschiger pondered the possibility that local labor shortages are caused by people collecting unemployment, Oregon Trail benefits (food stamps) and Medicaid while making $1,000 a month in cash by working in the marijuana grows. Meyer said his “source” tells him corruption is a big problem and insinuated county officials and judges could be bought off by all the money swirling around in the industry. Baertschiger didn’t get into that one as Meyer is always throwing out some kind of rumor in the hopes of making his rather boring show more exciting. Baertschiger did say even with state and some federal help the sheriff’s departments here in Southern Oregon are limited in their ability to address the illegal grows in these geographically large counties. Both then groused about state leadership with Baertschiger saying they don’t seem to want to fix the problem while Meyer said they probably like the product. Baertschiger said actually most of what’s grown in the state isn’t used here and said, as an example, a cannabis shop in Ontario Oregon sold $90,000 worth of product and he doubted the residents there used that much.
When asked about his meeting with the Asante CEO, Baertschiger reiterated what he reported to his fellow commissioners…that he didn’t get any answers to his questions. He and Meyer then went on about how Josephine County used to have a county hospital and maybe that system should be brought back, presumably so commissioners would have more control.
Then they got into the “war” between the Grants Pass Daily Courier and Baertschiger. He said he revised his op-ed to admit he forgot he said Biden didn’t win the election but they still didn’t print it. He denied putting it in the Sneak Preview as an ad and said he didn’t know for a long time who did that but now he knows. Bill said the “war” must be because Baertschiger exposed the Courier’s application for CARES funds. Baertschiger denied he ever said the paper committed fraud but still said the paper didn’t include enough information to qualify for the grant even after the Courier explained last week that SOREDI didn’t get all their paperwork because their software didn’t have the ability to download all of what they submitted.
Meyer continued the unfounded rumor that the Courier is just trying to get Grants Pass Mayor Sara Bristol elected to the board while Baertschiger agreed, saying he thinks the voice in the “ad” on the Courier’s website showing him saying what he denied later was the voice of Sara Bristol’s husband who works at the Courier.
While he denied putting his op-ed in the Sneak Preview Baertschiger told Meyer that the more the Courier goes after him the more people seek out the Sneak Preview to see what he said.
Commissioner Darin Fowler sounded like he was starting his campaign for reelection during this week’s monthly city/county meeting between Josephine County Commissioners and representatives from the Grants Pass City Council. Although Grants Pass Mayor Sara Bristol hasn’t said anything publicly about running for another office and Councilman Brian DeLaGrange has only been suggested for a possible run, Fowler brought up the “transient issue” in the city to hammer the Mayor and DeLaGrange about how terrible they’ve been at handling the homeless in the city. Josephine County Republican Party Chair Holli Morton has spread rumors that Bristol is running for a commission seat and the Grants Pass Daily Courier, where her husband works, is plotting to get her elected by making commissioners look bad.
“I continue to field complaints with the way city’s handling the tragedy in our parks people won’t go to the park anymore. It’s pushed out all the good activities so now we’re left with driving by an eyesore and I certainly want to separate transiency from homelessness because homelessness is a totally different issue for folks. If you are homeless based on things out of your control you’re usually not the one that ends up in the park. We’re enabling transients to stay in our parks so that they don’t have to function in regular society and so I think you guys are handling it terribly. I think it’s an eyesore on our community. I can’t believe in the marquee park downtown you kicked out all the kids and families from that park and regardless of the judge’s order you guys have property all over that you could do something with and you’ve chosen not to. And so, you guys are the ones running our parks into the ground. I’m extremely disappointed that I have to field these calls for something that I don’t know if you want to look like Eugene and Portland but you got it. You got the look,” said a scowling Fowler during their Zoom meeting.
Bristol, who was told to raise her hand to be recognized by Commission Chair Dan DeYoung even though Fowler and Commissioner Herman Baertschiger jumped in whenever they had something to say, explained the situation and what the city is doing about it.
“As you know we do have a court injunction that requires us to allow camping in all of the parks except for the all-sports park. We did have a 24 hour notice we were able to give for a long time, but earlier this summer it became a 72 hour notice before we can ask anyone to pack up their stuff and move, so we’re only able to have people leave approximately twice a week and we are very aware the problem has been growing. It’s not something the council is ignoring and we are actively working on finding locations for a campground to help us establish a safe and preferred place for people to go and camp rather than camping in our parks. That still won’t change the injunction, but we’re hoping that with a place where people are welcome, where they have access to services, they will choose to go there and help clean up the parks. We’re doing the best we but I feel your accusations are pointing the finger at people who are actually trying to help solve the problem rather than being very helpful Commissioner,” said Bristol.
DeYoung suggested the city put chain link fences around parks and close them at night. He also said communities that don’t provide services, like Canyonville, don’t have any homeless. Baertschiger asked if the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) was involved in the lawsuit against the city that resulted in the injunction.
Grants Pass City Manager Aaron Cubic said it was three individuals who filed the lawsuit and explained how the city is working within the spectrum of the rules and regulations.
“We do close our parks at night but the injunction we’re operating under does provide for them to rest in the park and stay there evenings. If we see people wandering around in parks we check on them and if they don’t have a campsite we ask them to move on,” he said.
DeYoung asked why the Reinhart Volunteer Park doesn’t allow camping while other city parks are full of homeless camps.
“To me that’s pickin’ and choosin,” said DeYoung.
Cubic told him that was negotiated during the court process for a number of reasons, including that it’s a place where children play organized sports.
Baertschiger said he hears from a lot of people complaining about why the city lets homeless people camp in the parks. Cubic said to refer those people to his office. Bristol and Cubic said they also get a lot of complaints.
“I will be happy to sit and talk about understanding what the rules are we operate under,” Cubic said.
DeYoung, thinking Bristol had asked the county to help them find an urban campground, launched into a long-winded explanation that the county can’t provide sewer hookups and water like the city can. Bristol said portable toilets and showers can provide that. DeYoung then asked why the city doesn’t just designate a ravine out on Dollar Mountain for the homeless. Bristol explained that people do live out in that area and the homeless need to be close to services if they are going to get their lives back together.
“This is not a situation where you can put the homeless out in the woods somewhere out of sight, out of mind,” she said.
In other concerns, the Council wanted to know what Commissioners are doing with the $538,000 in vaccine promotion money they finally accepted and wanted to know if they would get a share.
DeYoung talked about the county’s “robust” ad campaign but couldn’t say how much they were spending or even if they had the money budgeted, so he rambled on about mailers and radio ads and hinted they might “do some stuff” with the Courier. Bristol asked what age demographic they are trying to reach, since KAJO and KLDR have an older audience.
DeLaGrange said while he was glad the county was finally doing something with the money provided, “I’m just wondering if you have an estimate of how much of those funds these things will use…is it 30 percent? 70 percent? 100 percent? And does Mike Weber (county Health Department Director) have any ideas that might be utilized?”
DeYoung didn’t know how much they are spending and mumbled about the ad people getting numbers together.…. “but with $538,000 available I don’t think we’ll have any trouble staying within that realm.”
“That’s an awful lot of money. One of the reasons we turned it down in the first place, that we got beat up for, but we still had money left over from the CARES Act at the beginning of the rollout which we hadn’t used and, ahh, there’s only so much you can do with it. So, I tell ya, if you have some ideas maybe try to put them in writing and send ‘em over to the board’s office and we’ll see if it fits with what we’re allowed,” he told the council representatives.
When DeYoung indicated they would be leaning on mailers to get out information about where to get COVID tests and vaccines. He said they were going to send everyone in the county at least four.
“Would that be four mailers going to the same household?” asked DeLaGrange.
DeYoung emphasized they would be going out at different times with different information. Then he went on about how impressed he was with State Rep. Lily Morgan’s mailer and even though he knows her he was compelled to read it so he’s sure the county can make up mailers that everyone will read.
Baertschiger said spending money is such a struggle…..”We come up with these ideas then we gotta check with Mom (County Finance Director Sandy Novak) first to make sure we can do it and that takes time and so the next thing you know two or three days go by…it’s really frustrating with all the strings attached. I wanted to use it to provide transportation for people from their house to the health department to get a vaccine or maybe we could go to them or something like that. Nope. Can’t use it for that so it’s pretty frustrating.”
Fowler said he’s surprised “we haven’t seen an application from you guys to do anything with it. It’s been a month and so we’re going ‘OK, we got the money for ya, why is there not a single request to spend it on anything? Now we’re just sittin’ on it waitin’ on you!”
“We’ve been asking for information and Commissioner Fowler did respond very briefly to let us know that the funds had been received, but I guess this is our first opportunity where we really heard that you’re waiting for us to provide a request and we’d still like to know exactly how much funds are available and exactly what you’re doing, but we do have a better idea now,” said Bristol.
DeYoung starts talking then Fowler jumps in and they are talking over each other with Fowler squirming in front of his camera but neither could tell Bristol just how much money may be left over from their ad campaigns for the city to spend. Bristol tries to reply but DeYoung talks over everybody, revealing that he’d been talking on his phone to Novak while driving…then he looks in his screen and says “yes I was on my way here so Shaun can pick that up.”
DeLaGrange said the Council has talked about how to use vaccine promotion money and suggested the Mayor, Cubic and the Council President sit down and put their ideas in an application and get it over the board “in short order.”
DeYoung asked them to send it to the board and they will send it over to Novak because “like Herman says, you gotta go ask Mom to make sure it clears.”
The city representatives also asked about swift water rescue resources and wondered if the city should keep a boat near the Rogue River somewhere. Fowler called Emergency Services and was told the sheriff does have a boat he keeps “in the jail area” but there is only one marine officer and water rescues are done mostly by volunteers “like a volunteer fire department,” he said.
Baertschiger added most “rescues” are really recoveries and that it takes a long time to organize a rescue no matter where the boat is.
Bristol said she would like to know what the county’s water rescue resources are and if they could supplement those resources for greater safety. Baertschiger interrupted with the suggestion they put a meeting together with Search and Rescue and the marine deputy to find out.
The Council also wanted to know how the county is spending American Rescue Plan Act funds so they won’t duplicate efforts with theirs. She said the City received $9.4 million and is putting $3 million toward their water treatment plant to offset a water bill increase.
DeYoung tried to say that promise might not last because he thinks inflation will cause the city to raise rates anyway.
Cubic said the rate raise, which would have ultimately been about $8 per household, won’t be needed with the ARPA money because the current rate will now be sufficient to pay the bond debt on the plant. Fowler said he hoped if an infrastructure bill is passed in Congress he hopes the city will backfill the sewer plant expansion with that and help the county with other projects, such as expanding broadband.
During the end of their discussion DeYoung asked why the Allen Creek Road project is taking so long. Cubic explained there are many right-of-way issues to resolve and that takes time. Then DeLaGrange asked if he could meet with the county forester to talk about carbon offsets. This set DeYoung off on a wordy lecture about how carbon is necessary for trees and how we’ll all be dependent on Arab oil again because this administration cut off a pipeline from Canada.
DeLaGrange said he just wanted to talk about using carbon offsets as a potential income stream for the county. DeYoung perked up at that and suddenly became interested in carbon offsets.
Fowler, springing awake to the discussion, added his two cents….” I don’t know why the Council President isn’t here. You (speaking to Bristol) just bring in one perspective in this character. Could you bring another city councilor and maybe expose them instead of bringing the same one? That would really help out.”
Bristol smiled and calmly said the Council President had a sick child and couldn’t attend.
During the Wednesday September 29 Business Meeting Commissioners headed off a lot of criticism by tabling their controversial “In the Matter of Valuing Liberty” resolution during their Legal Update session Tuesday. The resolution, consists of a list of quotations, and text calling vaccine and mask mandates “the direct enemy of liberty” and saying as contemporary American patriots they “will fight using words to protect liberty.” Even though it was off the table for now, some people attending the Wednesday meeting wanted to know who wrote it.
As soon as this proposed resolution was made public, the commissioners received dozens of calls and emails telling them it was the silliest resolution many had ever heard of so they dumped it from Wednesday’s agenda. Commissioners told people they would bring the resolution up later so anyone with comments about it can save them till next week.
Meanwhile, they held a public hearing starting the process to amend the county code ordinance to allow code enforcement to cite unpermitted structures and levy daily fines until mitigated. This is in response to countless complaints about junky illegal marijuana grows with squalid living conditions for workers. Assistant County Counsel Augustus Ogu gave a slide show of the junkpiles neighbors are dealing with and presented the proposed changes as laws the government has to abide by. Litigation is to be a last resort with voluntary cleanup compliance the ultimate goal, he said. The ordinance gives code enforcers from the planning department the ability to respond to complaints, cite people for being out of compliance with county building codes and fine them up to $500 a day until they clean up their property. Code enforcers will respond to complaints only and all unpermitted structures installed before Jan. 1, 2016 will be grandfathered in. Property owners will be notified in person with a hand delivered letter. Code enforcers will also be confined to observing violations from the outside and will not go inside any dwelling on the property in question. Violations include erecting structures without a permit, erecting or maintaining multiple structures as dwellings, such as sheds and garages, for people to live in, changing the character of the land without a development permit and diverting streams, creeks, rivers or any other waterway without permission. All money collected from fines will go into the general fund because the county does not want to budget against this money, Ogu said, because the first priority will be voluntary compliance.
Comments on the proposal were mostly positive including those from a group called Friends of Country Living in Sunny Valley who have seen the devastation from illegal grows first hand in their neighborhoods. Many will be stranded for 12 days while the county repairs a bridge leading to their homes damaged by heavy trucks delivering water to illegal grows in the area. Fear for personal safety was also mentioned as stories about pit bulls chasing people getting their mail and water trucks intimidating drivers surfaced. Commissioners generally praised themselves for coming up with an ordinance they called “fair to everyone” while Mark Seligman, who said he supported the ordinance, also accused the commission of causing the problem through lax code enforcement and limiting legal grows on residential property.
The second reading of the ordinance will take place in two weeks and can be amended if the commission decides they missed something.
After the public hearing public comments were taken. The Hinkles from O’Brian were first up with a new conspiracy theory. They warned Commissioners smart toilets will be monitoring poop to see who in the household might have COVID. Others were determined to talk about the resolution even though it had been tabled. Six people urged Commissioners to scrap their ridiculous Liberty resolution, some saying they are not representing all their constituents with the sentiments expressed in it. Libby Watts reminded Commissioners their constituents include a sizeable population of elderly people who bear the brunt of their stand against vaccine and mask mandates. These are vulnerable people who die of COVID in greater numbers, who try to avoid death by being shut in, unable to see their grandchildren, who have to eat sad and alone in care homes and people who have had to put off urgent medical treatment because hospitals were crowded with unvaccinated COVID patients. Then Holly Morton called in saying she supported the Liberty resolution, hopes commissioners pass it and thanked them for all their work.
Commissioners responded to the comments by asking people to have patience with the long process of changing county codes they believe will send a message to anyone coming back next spring intending to grow marijuana illegally that it will “be a different ball game.” After the ordinance is approved it won’t take effect for 90 days.
Then DeYoung droned on about learning in third grade that fossil fuels were good for plants and how God put carbon on earth but its shifting around now and how liberty means different things to different people. Baertschiger urged people to understand each other even if they don’t agree and Fowler reminded everyone that he doesn’t represent all his constituents, only the majority in Josephine County, which he believes is against vaccine mandates. Addressing a commentator who asked Commissioners to represent all their constituents….
“Tommi Drake, who I respect for past volunteerism, says we have to represent all of Josephine County and I don’t understand that. Today I represent the majority on this vaccination mandate but tomorrow I’m supposed to represent the minority? And then I’d be accused of talking out of both sides of my mouth so, I will represent the majority of Josephine County residents and not, ahhh, just a special interest like you are describing,” said Fowler.
Fowler went on to chide Malcolm Drake for reminding people that vaccines against deadly diseases have always been mandated in the past (1.50.10 Sept 27 Business Meeting).
“Of course, all those were real vaccines,” Fowler said. It’s his contention that real vaccines are those using dead viruses to prevent illness rather than the mRNA which uses a harmless piece of spike protein to build immunity. Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC
Fowler said he’s against all mandates and gets tired of arguing about “whether the vaccine is effective or not, legal or not, tested or not safe or not, I don’t care! You still cannot mandate anything in America like this. You cannot do it. You have no right to ask me a medical question Mr. Government, and I don’t have to answer so get that through your thick heads that you cannot mandate things in America. That’s not the way it works. You can try and pass laws with court challenges but they’re doing none of that. It’s simply a mandate of government and we won’t stand for it.”
Fowler also took issue with those who said the Liberty resolution used quotes out of context because he thinks quotes become defined over the centuries by maturing in American minds. DeYoung thanked Holli Morton and her friends for sending the board nice compliments about the resolution.
In other matters, Commissioners approved a zoning change from woodlot resource to rural residential that will allow a 5-acre lot subdivision on 87.7 acres in the Merlin area across from Sportsman’s Park after the developers made the case to them the land was neither woodland resource nor farming land. Commissioners also approved a resolution acknowledging the Soroptimists’ 100th anniversary, approved an agreement with the City to allow art features relating to Travis Boersma’s horse racing development (which DeYoung praised while claiming Boersma is an old friend) on city property near the fairgrounds, approved a plot map for the Summerfield subdivision off Redwood Highway, and finalized the purchase of property on the corner of 5th and A streets in Grants Pass (the old gas station) for a new Children’s Advocacy Center run by Juvenile Justice.
Herman Baertschiger on KMED
On Tuesday September 28 Baertschiger was incensed that he called to get an appointment with the CEO of Asante to discuss the firing of “his constituents” because of the vaccine mandate and couldn’t get in to see him until Friday. “Unbelievable,” he said. Then he said he found it interesting that the doctors who came to a Commission meeting a few weeks ago saying their hospital was overflowing are now the same people letting staff go because they won’t get vaccinated. On the “Liberty” resolution, Baertschiger said he wants a resolution that asks the governor to extend the deadline for getting vaccinations to allow people time to make arrangements. He then repeated claims that death rates for Josephine County weren’t much higher than normal during this pandemic, which he doubts is a real pandemic after all.
“It’s not a pandemic by historic definition,” he said.
Baertschiger took a few calls from anti-vaxxers who complained about not getting Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine when they got COVID and how they had to demand the monoclonal infusions from impassive doctors.
After sympathizing with them, Baertschiger discussed redistricting, saying it was rigged because the Democrats were never going to allow Republicans a say in redrawing the maps. He said Rep. Cliff Bentz will have an easy election but Alek Skarlatos probably won’t have a chance now, running against Rep Peter DeFazio. Baertschiger hinted that Bentz could be primaried because some of his votes, such as acknowledging Biden won the election, aren’t making hardliner Republicans in his district happy.
Then, as something to “throw out there” Baertschiger said Gov. Kate Brown took donations from Pfizer and George Soros, but then admitted he took $1000 from Pfizer when he was running for his state senate seat.
Back in May, our Commissioners sent a letter to Federal Senators to not support the River Democracy Act, titled something about stopping the “Land Grab”. They are afraid that protecting rivers and streams in Oregon will stop the mining wanted by local American Mineral Research. The are saying Josephine County voters don’t support the River Democracy Act or our Southwest Oregon Mineral Withdrawal. They based their objections to protecting our rivers on a misrepresentation of an advisory vote and propaganda put out by the mining company.
Senators Wyden and Merkley (and congress) needs to know there’s big support for protecting the beautiful, crystal clear creeks and rivers of the Kalmiopsis and Wild Rivers Coast in the River Democracy Act.
Vote now on the Courier Website: http://www.thedailycourier.com/ You don’t need to be a paid subscriber to vote.
The River Democracy Act protects the tributaries of the Wild and Scenic Illinois, Chetco, North Fork Smith and Rogue rivers and Hunter Creek and the Pistol Rivers as Wild and Scenic Rivers. The RDA includes Wild and Scenic River designation for Rough and Ready Creek, Baldface Creek, Silver Creek and Indigo Creek that have been USFS Candidate Wild and Scenic Rivers since 1994.
On September 28, 2021, on a party-line vote, Oregon Democratic legislators passed the history-making redistricting bill, which was promptly signed by the Governor, adding one new seat to Oregon’s congressional representation. Some counties face pretty significant changes in districts, and some are not as dramatically affected. Click on the links below to see the new district boundaries.
Peter Defazio’s seat has become a safer blue District, but sadly Josephine County has been wholly annexed into the very red Congressional District 2, currently held by Cliff Bentz.
LINKS to DISTRICT MAPS:
However, it’s important to note that the redistricting process is not yet completed. Electors can file challenges to the redistricting plan until Monday, October 25, 2021. If a challenge is filed it goes to the Oregon Supreme Court for consideration and we will likely not have final districts set until January 31, 2022. If no challenge is filed then final district lines will be approved as early as November 22, 2021.
OPB reports “The new map includes four U.S. House seats that either are safe Democratic or lean in the party’s favor, one reliably blue seat and one seat that could be a toss-up. Republicans believe the proposed boundaries will likely result in the Democrats obtaining five of the U.S. House seats to the GOP’s one.
One seat that could be in play is held by moderate Democratic U.S. Rep Kurt Schrader, who has served as the U.S. Representative for Oregon’s 5th Congressional District southwest of Portland since 2009
That updated congressional map puts the newest congressional district south of Portland and mostly east of Interstate 5, the same as in a previous plan. But it makes several changes to previously proposed borders of the other congressional districts, including keeping Portland and Bend in separate districts instead of combining.”
New Local State Rep Boundaries
New Local State Senate Boundaries
This week’s Josephine County Commissioner’s Weekly Business Meeting includes a Resolution proposing county-wide opposition of “virus rationalized mandates.”
Their resolution has been included as part of the consent calendar on page 21:
We are asking all who oppose this resolution to provide public comment during the meeting.
The meeting will be live-streamed via the County website on Wednesday, September 29, 2021 at 9:00 am.
Registration to make public comment must be done in advance of the meeting.
To pre-register for public comment via zoom, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org and add “Public Comment” in the subject line and their office will get back to you with a zoom invitation. (Public comment via zoom is recorded as audio-only, no video.)
If you have suffered income issues due to COVID, you may qualify for assistance with current and back rent
The Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program helps eligible low-income households with their past-due rent and utilities. This program uses funds from the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which allocated a collective total of $280 million to Oregon, the City of Portland, and multiple counties in the state. In most cases, approved applications will result in payments made directly to landlords and utility providers. Rent relief funds are available to help tenants pay current rent, as well as back rent. Tenants are strongly encouraged to apply for rent assistance to pay their July and August rents as soon as possible.
Eligibility for rent assistance
You must meet all the below criteria to be eligible:
- You are a renter in Oregon behind on your payments.
- One or more members of your household can demonstrate how the COVID-19 pandemic has directly or indirectly impacted their ability to pay rent or utilities.
- Your annual household income is at or below 80% of the Area Median Income for your household size. Please refer to this link for more information.
How to apply for help
If you or your household receive an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent, call 2-1-1 immediately to learn about rapid-payment rent assistance that may help you avoid eviction. You can begin your application at oregonrentalassistance.org.
Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program: Online application portal for statewide rental assistance. Be sure to apply here if you need help paying either your current rent or any back rent that you’ve accrued between April 2020 and June 2021. Processing an application using the state’s portal can take significant time, but a completed application can be used to activate additional eviction protections.
Information about eviction protections
Oregon’s statewide eviction moratorium expired as of June 30, 2021, and is no longer active.
Starting July 1, Oregon Senate Bill 278 provides protection from nonpayment evictions to renters who apply for rent assistance if they provide documentation of their application to their landlords. Eligible Oregon renters may be entitled to 90 days of protection from eviction after providing their landlord with the required notice. The 90 days start when the tenant provides documentation to their landlord of their rent assistance application. Renters can receive the appropriate documentation from the rent assistance provider they are working with.
Tenants should apply for rent assistance immediately if they are unable to pay their rent.
If you have additional questions about how and when to submit evidence of your application, please contact your rent assistance provider or Oregon Law Center(link is external), Community Alliance of Tenants(link is external) or Legal Aid Services of Oregon(link is external).
Please be aware that tenants cannot be evicted for owing rent for the months between April 2020 and June 2021, and have until February 28, 2022, to pay that rent back.