During a rambling discission on The Bill Meyer Show Jan. 24 about Oregon Democrats’ energy legislation in the statehouse, Josephine County Commissioner Herman Baertschiger said when Democrats don’t make sense they’re hiding another plan. Later in the same show, Baertschiger wanted to “spend a couple of minutes on what the county is doing,” regarding the Grants Pass Daily Courier. He made no sense in that conversation because he’s the one hiding the real plan.
It’s been widely known Josephine County Commissioners hate the Courier because they said so at nearly every meeting during the past year. They hate the front-page coverage of their meetings, they hate the editorials for pointing out their lies and foolishness and they even hate the letters to the editor that criticize them. Baertschiger and Meyer have also derided the Courier on Meyer’s show.
So when Baertschiger tried to tell Meyer’s audience they moved the county’s legal notices to the Illinois Valley News in Cave Junction and to the county’s website for “modernization” he was hiding the real motivation – revenge for truthful stories about the Commissioners that did not flatter them.
“So we have people coming out and saying (using a gruff voice) ‘You guys you’re gonna do everything in the dark. We’re not gonna know what’s going on.’ Well guess what Josephine County? We redid our entire website and you can go on there, it’s so easy, and you can look at our agenda, you can look at our minutes, you can look at all the supporting documentation, you can look at all the foreclosures, all of our legal notices, everything is on our website,” said Baertschiger, who went on to describe e-notification and “dings.”
Meyer, who traffics in conspiracy theories on his show for entertainment, said, “I think what’s really going on is that the Josephine County Democrats, and there’s a little bit of partisanship in this argument, Josephine County Democrats…I think are really big on propping up the Daily Courier. Just my opinion. I understand why they would want to. I get that and so that’s just the way it is, but ultimately I think this law that requires printing notices in a paper of record, it’s completely antiquated, it makes no sense and I think we can do it better the way you described.”
Baertschiger, who forgot to mention the IV News in his first attempt to cover up for the Commissions’ revenge, tried to claim the county would be saving a lot of money as well by going to the small, weekly paper in Cave Junction with just 1300 subscribers (The Courier has more than 9000). He said he couldn’t say how much money the move will save because “you know what Bill? We don’t know how many notices we’re gonna put in it. Ok?”
“I guess we’ll find out. But one way or the other you’ll have it up on the county website right there and you can get notices so….said Meyer, interrupted by Baertschiger.
…”And that’s modernizing. You can’t git any better than that.”
What went unsaid in this conversation is that internet access to the county’s website is not free. People have to pay for that and not everyone can. And some people live in parts of the county where they can’t access a decent internet connection even if they can pay. In addition it’s hard to break a community’s 100-year-old habit of turning to the back page of the paper after reading the news to see who’s in a foreclosure or messy divorce. There’s a lot of gossip in legal notices. Now those outside the IV News circulation will have to make a conscious effort to find out who hasn’t paid their taxes on the county website, where finding a Commissioner’s email is a chore. People don’t have time for that.
It was also obvious that both Meyer and Baertschiger missed the entire point of the community protest at the Jan. 18 Commissioners’ meeting against moving the legal notices. It wasn’t about the legals. It wasn’t about moving them. It wasn’t against “modernization” or the IV News. It was about the Commissions’ attempt to take revenge on the free press and possibly put it in financial trouble because they don’t like reporting that lets their constituents know who they are. Bullying a newspaper is never acceptable. Democrats are not coming to the Courier’s defense because it favors Democrats. They have about as much sway with the Courier as the Commission does and have disagreed with some of their content and endorsements. Democrats do care about Democracy, however, and a Democracy only thrives where there is a free press. Many people in the community understand this and showed up at the Jan. 18 Board meeting to say so. By ignoring them Baertschiger and his sidekick, newly elected Commissioner John West, will now be under the public’s microscope as long as they are in office and more attention then ever will be paid to those pesky Courier articles about their shenanigans.