>Brookings Oregon News, Sports, & Weather | The Curry Coastal Pilot

News Classifieds Web
web powered by Web Search Powered by Google

News arrow Opinion arrow Letters to the Editor arrow Letters to the Editor May 10, 2014

Print

Letters to the Editor May 10, 2014

Respect, respected

Oregon’s branches of government need some new energy, which is why I’m asking for your support in voting for Shala McKenzie Kudlac for Circuit Court judge. 

The judicial branch of government is not immune to the election process, though it is perceived to be as so rarely is there an election. Governors often appoint judges and those judges remain until retirement, never allowing the public a voice in their selection. 

This year in Coos and Curry counties the voters will select a judge. Shala McKenzie Kudlac, a local attorney with a strong civil practice, has stepped up and is opening the doors for a conversation on your judicial branch. 

Shala brings a new perspective and a desire for change and improvement. She has a wealth of experience and a background in dealing with the public in an open fashion as a municipal attorney and assistant county counsel. She knows that in order to win people’s trust they have to be respected regardless of their background or perspective. 

I have known Shala McKenzie Kudlac for 10 years and have found her to have a practical approach to the law and a reasonableness in working with people. She would be a benefit to both Coos and Curry counties in the position of judge. 

Herman E. 

Baertschiger Jr. 

Oregon state senator District 2

Grants Pass

No to Deck chair idea

A common practice for organizations in trouble is to reorganize. 

Reorganization offers several benefits. It relays the impression that people in charge are on top of the situation and will set things right It reduces criticism from suffering populace and it gives managers a time-out period waiting to see if the change succeeds. Then, in a few years, when there’s a failure to deliver promised benefits, they reorganize yet again. 

Curry County government is unfortunately in this situation. Our government as currently constituted costs 5 million dollars annually. Our tax base provides only 2 million dollars — So we are being urged to reorganize. 

No one has explained specifically how our current system caused the problem nor how the new organization is going to correct it. They offer, as an initial carrot, savings of something over two hundred thousand dollars by eliminating commissioner salaries. But these savings largely disappear when the cost of a county manager is factored in. 

Curry County faces a simple but very hard choice: reduce county government or increase tax revenue. There are limits to how much we can eliminate and still be a county; we have a significant property rich, but income poor, population for whom a tax increase would impose a severe hardship. 

We must look for more economic ways to provide county services and revise or redistribute the tax burden based on ability to pay. 

Rearranging the deck chairs wouldn’t have helped the Titanic; neither will it save Curry County.

Jim Collis 

Brookings

Is not — and is, too

I support Tom Huxley for Curry County commissioner for what he IS NOT — he’s not willing to raise taxes without looking at all the possible options for reducing costs; he’s not part of the establishment that is looking to line his own pockets or favor his buddies in business dealings; he’s not going to stop asking the right questions until he gets complete answers; he’s not going to take a full salary because he feels the compensation package of $88,000 annually is something the county can’t afford; he’s not a politician that is looking for a long career living off the taxpayer, and he’s not going to keep secrets or refuse to answer questions from the public. 

I also support Tom for what he is — a concerned citizen who served on the Citizens’ Committee, has attended more county budget meetings than any other private citizen, and is looking for ways to bring county costs down to a manageable level. He’s got my support, and he deserves your support. 

Vote for Tom Huxley for county commissioner. 

Ken Hall

Harbor

8-76: What’s wrong

•We will lose our right to vote for county treasurer, county assessor, county clerk (the person running elections) and county surveyor, all working for an administrator; 

•The charter is so poorly written that it has over 35 missing sections to be filled in later. For example, Chapter 1 includes section 10-13. What became of section 1-9 and sections after 13?;

•There is no job description for the administrator, but the charter requires an interim to be hired within 30 days. By whom and how?;

•In Chapter 3, Section 35 an “emergency” is not defined nor is it specified which county employee will make decisions in the absence of a quorum of commissioners;

•A new government will not solve Curry County’s fiscal shortfalls. Administrators require contracts and hiring one will not save tax dollars. 

•The charter is viewed by most who read it as unconstitutional in the state and will cost Curry taxpayers to defend it in court. 

This effort seems to be fueled by a “turf war” brought on by the city of Brookings council because Brookings is now the “big dog” in Curry County (Pilot, March 12). This “big dog” has a history of a desire to annex Harbor, the county-owned airport in Brookings and relocating the services provided by Curry General Hospital District. 

We also have a history of administrators bamboozling boards into increased fees, bond measures, unaffordable expansions and leave us holding the bag while they leave town with a generous severance package. 

Vote “No” on Measure 8-76. This charter is wrong for Curry County. 

Sandra Ensley

Brookings

Course considered

This is regarding the letter submitted on March 8, 2014, by Mike Schrum (about Salmon Run). 

“The green fees are too expensive for most locals.” How many are “most locals”? Where are his numbers? 

“Only the well-to-do can afford to play there.” I am a retired teacher and play there with discounts. There are many other senior citizens who take advantage of the discounts. We are not “well-to-do.” 

I cannot speak to the issue of is it economically prudent to support Salmon Run. I don’t have the facts and either does Mike. 

His letter is negative, hurtful, and angry. It is the kind of letter one would expect from Jake Pieper or our mayor Ron Hedenskog, who are known for their lack of tact.

Rich Ruppert 

Brookings

8-76 is too expensive

Get out your checkbooks, the Charter is coming to town. 

As your elected treasurer, I watch our finances very carefully. I understand the financial crisis the county is in and every penny counts. There are 36 counties in Oregon; only nine have Charters and here are some examples of why there are few charter counties in Oregon. 

Clatsop County, the county administrator makes $120,540, the treasurer makes $93,252. Hood River County, the county administrator makes $135,211.25, the treasurer makes $86,484. Jackson County, the county administrator makes $215,924.80, the highest in the state. The treasurer there makes $108,014.40. 

My salary is $56,248, one of the lowest in the state, and as you can see Home Rule Charter counties pay higher salaries to their appointed employees. 

Additionally, Home Rule Charter county taxpayers, on average, pay more taxes. For example, both Clatsop and Hood River counties, which Measure 8-76 is modeled after, have the second and third highest median RMV for single family dwellings, out of all 36 counties in the state. This means the Home Rule Charter county taxpayers pay four times more in county taxes than do our citizens in Curry. 

So please, look for yourself, and after doing so, you too will see the fiscally responsible choice for us is to Vote NO on Measure 8-76. We simply cannot afford it. 

Thank you for the honor and privilege to serve you as your elected county treasurer. 

Deborah Crumley 

Curry County 

treasurer 

Gold Beach

Want the records

The May 3 Pilot has an article entitled “New quake data won’t halt plans for hospital.”

On Page 8A, the article states: “When it can no longer take the strain, scientists predict the fault will release an earthquake at 8.1 to 9.1 in magnitude and create a tsunami with waves that could reach up to 110 feet in height — as archaeological records show it did at the mouth of the Rogue River in the 1700s.”

I have never heard of these “archeological records” and would be very interested to learn about them. When, where and by whom were they done? Where is the evidence for a height of 110 feet? 

Also, the article states that the last major quake was in 1780. I thought that 1700 was the accepted date. 

If the new hospital is high on a hill, it may still be destroyed by the large earthquake predicted.

I suggest that it be built on the existing site. 

Mark Kramer

Gold Beach

FRESH PERSPECTIVE

I am recommending that we all get out and cast our votes for Shala McKenzie Kudlac for the position of Circuit Court Judge (15th District, Position 6). 

I have known Shala for many years — not only does she have the requisite expertise to serve our community, she will bring a common-sense, fresh perspective to our legal system. 

We owe it to ourselves to get the best and brightest into this position! 

Rick Francona

Port Orford

No on Home Rule

There is frustration with county leadership in Curry County at several levels.

However, changing how we govern ourselves with a poorly written Home Rule Charter will only worsen the situation.

The mandating of a highly paid County Administrator while reducing County Commissioners to part-time volunteers has financial and political consequences for Curry County. 

Having a mandated County Administrator ( average salary: $168,793) in a county as poor as Curry County with fifteen departments and 117 employees is unnecessary and a poor use of limited funds. 

County Commissioners do not run county departments, department heads do. They can operate their departments effectively without the micro-managing of a County Administrator or County Commissioner. 

While empowering one unelected official to run the county, the Home Rule Charter shrinks the pool of qualified persons for County Commissioner by reducing it to an unpaid, part-time job. As the charter proponents said, the $10,000 a year stipend is to cover the gasoline to attend county meetings.

But County Commissioners do far more than just attend county meetings. Counties are not cities. Counties are  units of state government and have mandates and responsibilities that cities do not. 

By greatly reducing the ability of county commissioners to not only represent us, but to acquire the knowledge needed will be an exercise in frustration for the conscientious or a reason to show up just for meetings for others.

Either way, Curry County loses. 

A mandated County Administrator will put lots of power in the hands of one well paid individual not accountable to the voters. Put this person in front of an uninformed board of volunteers and you will have the tail wagging the dog.

Please vote NO on Home Rule Charter Ballot Measure 8-76.

Georgia Yee Nowlin, 

former Curry County Commissioner

Itzen has my vote

A recent Pilot editorial stressed that character and leadership should be foremost in the minds of voters when choosing a Curry County commissioner. I agree.

I cannot speak to this regarding three of the candidates, but I can about the incumbent David Itzen.

I met Itzen 30 years ago. His is the third generation of the Itzen family in Curry County. He graduated from Brookings-Harbor High School (BHHS) in 1964 and then from the University of Oregon, before going to Washington to be an educator. In 1985 he returned to Curry County to help his family run their lily bulb business.

Itzen immediately became involved in the community and was elected three times to the Brookings-Harbor School District Board and after that was elected twice to the Coos Curry Electric Cooperative Board of Directors. His children went through local schools and graduated from BHHS, as did his wife. He is a church-going man and tries to live by his Christian principles daily.

If character is the aggregate of the features that form an individual, Itzen’s deep roots in Curry County, his education, his careers in business and education, his years of service and his strong moral base serve him well.

If leadership is the guiding of a group, his election on six occasions to three different, important positions in Curry County speaks to his ability to lead and indicates the people believe in him and the job he is capable of doing.

For these reasons, and others, I urge you to vote for this man who is committed to moving Curry County forward during these difficult times.

C.J. Ruona

Harbor

Uncovered Oregon

Oregon has a grand tradition of taking care of its low income residents whether it’s the Oregon Health Plan, FHIAP, or any of the myriad assistance programs. 

Love it or hate it, the Cover Oregon rollout was a grand failure, not because of political opposition, not because of the millions spent promoting it ... simply due to lack of oversight and poor business practices. Your headline of several weeks ago: “Cover Oregon Ends in Failure” was accurate. 

The Oregon state government, the recipient of many millions of dollars of federal aid to jump start the program, is laughable. Yes that money is gone — evaporated into thin air! Try owing this state $75 in state taxes beyond the April 15 deadline? You will hear from them! 

Let’s just hope that those who turn to the Federal Exchange don’t experience the same sort of Health Insurance Insecurity. 

Steve Braun 

Brookings

No to special interest

Caring citizens of Curry County:

We have the opportunity to vote for real and positive changes for our county. 

Home rule works well in many counties, most cities and is growing.

The proposed charter essentially crafts a county operating system very similar to our cities, ports and districts.

A professional administrator with unpaid citizen commissioners is the structure the 24 citizens committee recommended as our number-one priority in 2010. I was there.

The then-BOC failed to act, so the Citizens Charter Committee obtained initiative signatures to place it on the ballot. Much work by your caring and concerned neighbors has given you the opportunity to make a significant improvement in county government.

Despite good intentions by some, the current system is clearly NOT working. Fixing the system without waiting for four year election cycles is desperately needed.

Did you know that the “protect your vote,” no PAC was formed in part by current county commissioners David Brock Smith and David Itzen? Check the filing for yourself.

Does opposing changing their $88,000 salary and benefits package to a $10K annual stipend sound like a conflict of interest to you?

Shouldn’t they at least declare a conflict along with their opposition? Has anyone heard them say anything in this regard?

Putting out false flyers and deficient “white papers” is hardly being honest or forthright with the public.

Make your Yes vote for 8-76 count!

Say no to self-serving special interest groups.

Take back your county; it is past time!

David A Bassett, 

PE, CBO

Port Orford 

 

Ron Hedenskog, mayor, city of Brookings

Ballot initiative 8-76 will change the way county government operates. Regarding the opposition’s controversy, it is time to cut through rhetoric.

 Charter vs. no charter? A committee was appointed by the commissioners in 2010 that represented a cross section of the voters. County commissioners have had several years to augment changes recommended by that Curry County Citizens’ Committee (CCCC). The commissioners’ failure to follow their own committee’s recommendation led a group to pursue a ballot initiative. Although home rule government could be accomplished through the board of commissioners, a voter’s initiative requires a charter. 

The charter was hastily written by inexperienced and ignorant citizens. The group included three mayors, three city administrators, one Brookings councilor, one Port Orford councilor, several former CCCC members, a retired attorney and several fresh faces. They reviewed charters from the other home-rule counties. The group met weekly over a period of several months and with determination, not haste, they hammered out a well-crafted document.

Opposition says this charter will take away voter rights. This charter actually increases voters’ authority by increasing the number of commissioners from three to five without increasing costs. More commissioners will mean more local representation and more voter control. Doesn’t the voter look to the commissioners for accountability? Yes. It was decided for the sake of efficient government, clerk, treasurer, and assessor should be selected through a qualifications appraisal process. Their duties are established by state law. When was the last time two or more candidates ran for one of these four positions? Some of them were appointed by the commissioners when the position became vacant.

Paid or unpaid commissioners? The compensation discussed by the initiative group ranged from $0 to $15,000 per year stipend, but in no case was compensation for full-time commissioners ever considered. The group settled on a $10,000 stipend, with no benefits, and part-time commissioners. The decision was that volunteer commissioners, much like the city councils, school boards, port commissions, and a number of other elected boards in the county, would begin the process of rebuilding voters’ trust in county government. 

Commissioners by district, or at large? We currently elect commissioners at large, without districts. Election by district requires that those districts are proportioned by population. That would guarantee that the majority of positions would be held by the south half of the county. It was decided to keep the current method.

Administrator or no administrator? The CCCC’s number one recommendation was to hire a county administrator. After several years of waiting, the initiative group started the process to fulfill this CCCC recommendation. After the initiative signature process began, the commissioners formed yet another committee to advise them on this issue. Now they claim the county is “managing just fine” without an administrator while simultaneously saying County Counsel Gerry Herbage functions as county administrator. 

Unpaid commissioners will not be taken seriously in state or federal issues. Elected officials have authority by their elected status as the people’s representatives, not because they receive a pay check. Their effectiveness is measured by their ambition to serve and accomplishments achieved.

Unpaid commissioners will not be able to afford to travel to state- and federal-level events and represent the county’s interests. This statement would lead people to believe that commissioners pay for travel out of their own pockets. Not true. State law allows for reimbursement to elected officials who incur expenses during the course of their assignments, and money is budgeted for this purpose. The charter does not change that. Does lobbying take multiple personal visits? Doesn’t the Internet mail work? Who pays the bill? Who is minding county business at times of commissioner absence?

What is the opposing rhetoric really about? Keeping the status quo? Stalling? Guarding turf? I think it is really about the paycheck and benefits. Their rhetoric is just more of the same. Same diversionary tactics, same scare tactics, same intimidation, and same bullying. 

Cut through the rhetoric. Vote yes on 8-76.

 

Kathi Lindsay, Port Orford

Why I don’t support Measure 8-76:

Please don’t feel you must vote for this Charter if you favor a Charter form of government for Curry County. 

This Charter is very poorly constructed. It will not solve any of our fiscal problems and should not be voted on because of anger toward the county government or any of its representatives. If passed, this will become the constitution for Curry County. 

There is a group of appointed citizens working on a Charter committee for our county who should put forth a better constructed one next year, with opportunities for public participation. There is a vacancy on this committee and you or any of your friends can apply for it. Unlike the current Charter, time is being taken for research to construct a well made document that fits our county’s particular needs and the meetings are all held in public. 

I was part of the Fiscal Independence Committee that met in Gold Beach. That group subdivided into small focus groups, and I was on the original Charter committee, along with Carl King and Beth Barker-Hidalgo. Beth subsequently took a job that prevented her from attending any Charter meetings. Before we actually met as the Charter Subgroup, the larger Fiscal Independence Committee group voted to wait until November 2014 to attempt to get a charter on the ballot to ensure we had the time to research and develop a well-constructed document. 

Carl and I met with several other interested people two times at his house and were in the process of exploring other charters and discussing aspects of what should be in our proposed Charter. I asked if anyone in the group had seen any efficacy data to show whether any county had functioned more efficiently or with less expense than they had under General Law. Nobody was aware of any such data and, in fact, I can’t find data like that anywhere. Apparently it has never been examined. 

We set the date for the third meeting, but prior to that meeting, Carl and certain city officials met at his house and came up with the document you now see as the Measure 8-76. Carl brought it to the larger Fiscal Independence Committee group and asked if anyone had any input on it. I suggested that they include a section on fees and that was included. None of us knew anything about how to construct a charter, nor had we spent the time to examine the other charters. 

Because of a rush to get it on the ballot, several very important items were left out of this Charter, such as a “Severability Clause,” which ensures that if any part of the Charter is deemed to be invalid according to state law, the rest of the charter stands. Another important section included in other charters is the mandate for a periodic review to ensure it is still working well for the county and does not need amending, or if changes are needed, it starts that process.  

Because of the rush, there are problematic, poorly written sections, such as Section 63. These sections are not effectively communicated as to how the process is applied. Without the severability clause, if one section, such as Section 63, is ruled invalid, the whole charter can be deemed invalid. An attorney familiar with constructing and interpreting charters would have seen this. The Association of Oregon Counties recommends the use of such an attorney. 

The proposed Charter you now see as Measure 8-76 was rushed in order to get it on the ballot because the group (including me) feared that the county-appointed committee would develop one before we did. I am not sure why we were so arrogant as to assume what we had would be better than what they had. 

The group began collecting signatures to try to get it on the ballot in November of 2013, but failed to gather enough signatures for that election. About this time, I became concerned about what we were proposing, since I had spent more time on research and realized the limitations of what we had created. I have not been involved with the group since mid-year 2013, but have watched what they are doing and have asked questions of them. 

I like the people who are promoting the Charter and think they believe in what they are doing. They do not have answers to most of my questions. In fact, several times I have been told to “have faith” that it will work out. I am one who prefers certainty when dealing with a new county constitution.  

 

 

Print

The Pilot front page

Get home delivery of the Curry Coastal Pilot in Brookings-Harbor for only $4 a month or $48/year. By mail, subscriptions are $55 a year outside of Curry County. After filling out one simple and secure online form, you could be on your way to learning more about Brookings-Harbor, Curry County and America's Wild Rivers Coast.
subscribe

Follow Curry Coastal Pilot headlines on Follow Curry Coastal Pilot headlines on Twitter

© Copyright 2001 - 2014 Western Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. By Using this site you agree to our Terms of Use