When asked about a $35,000 payment to the Grants Pass Irrigation District due last January during the Bill Meyer Show March 7, Commissioner Herman Baertschiger innocently said he “honestly didn’t know why it got so late.” He said the payment is on the Board’s agenda for approval next week, then turned the conversation into a complaint about the Grants Pass Daily Courier, which has reported how Baertschiger and Commissioner John West have delayed the payment to force GPID to pay the Fort Vannoy Irrigation District, which has less than three miles of canals, $3,000 for wear and tear on its channels by county stormwater runoff. Baertschiger lives in the FVID and has admitted he has a business connection with it. On the radio, after brushing off the non-payment as an oversight that will be corrected, Baertschiger fulminated against the Courier and its courthouse reporter who he says never bothers to call him to get the real story.
Baertschiger went on with a story about how declaring an emergency is “dangerous” especially since only .03 percent of the population in Josephine County is homeless. He didn’t say where he got that number and Meyer tried to get him to correct it. Commissioners have been urged to declare homelessness an emergency in order to receive a state grant that would help move the homeless out of city parks. So far they have refused saying it isn’t an emergency in the county, not recognizing the high number of citizen complains about the homeless residing in city parks because of a court order. The order says until a workable alternative is found for the homeless, they have to be allowed to sleep in city parks. Commissioners have so far not recognized that the city parks are in Josephine County.
Declaring an emergency means the state government will come in and tell Commissioners what to do “like during COVID,” Baertschiger said, then wondered what the city would do with the money anyway when the warming shelter set up during very cold weather “is not being used compared to the homeless population out there.” Baertschiger did not seem to recognize that setting up a place for the homeless to go will satisfy the court order so police can go back to enforcing “no camping” rules in city parks.
Meyer allowed callers while Baertschiger was on. The callers included Ron Smith who said Grants Pass should copy what the Republican mayor of Coronado CA has done to virtually eliminate the homeless in his city. “They enforce a no-camping policy there,” said Smith. Josephine County Commission perennial Judy Ahrens also called in, suggesting everyone seeking any kind of service from the county should bring in a bag of trash first. Meyer cut her off after saying that couldn’t be enforced. A man claiming to be Baertschiger’s neighbor said the homeless living along the river where he goes fishing leave heroin needles scattered all over the place. “Are we okay seeing heroin needles floating down the river?” he asked. Meyer allowed that those who voted for Measure 110, which removes criminal penalties for low-level drug possession and emphasizes treatment rather than jail for addicts, are to blame for carpeting our recreational areas with heroin needles.
Earlier in the week Meyer’s guests tried to wake up Republicans who they said don’t “fight” enough in Oregon. Sen. Dennis Linthicum called in saying he hopes the lawsuit against Oregon counties alleging voters were disenfranchised during the last election helps get rid of mail in voting. Linthicum went on to talk about the “evil government” and how Oregon Democrats want to allow people to register to vote right up to the election. Meyer managed to squeeze in the word “Communist” when describing state Democratic officials.
Oregon Firearms Federation Founder Kevin Starrett also called in to say since Republicans are in such a deep minority in Oregon the only thing they can do is use the only tool they have, a hammer. “If the only tool you have is a hammer you better start breaking stuff,” he said. Meyer praised him for his speech at the Republican Patriots’ Day fund raiser in February as a wake-up call for Republicans. Meyer was so impressed he posted it on KMED’s website here https://kmed.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/19/2023/03/Kevin-Starrett-Speech-10-25-23.pdf. The speech is mainly a review of Starrett’s difficult time in Oregon fighting against liberals who want to ban guns and judges who want to let Measure 114 stand.