Public Forum: Response to concerns about Safety Summit

By The Curry Coastal Pilot February 05, 2014 09:41 am

Pamela Dickson, director of Administration and Economic Development, Curry County

This letter to the editor is in response to those members of our community who have written to express concern at the efficacy and expense of the Curry County Public Safety Summit. 

Although it is tempting to accept credit for bringing the Curry County Public Safety Summit to our community, I am compelled to give credit where credit is due. Commissioner David Itzen proposed the Summit, which was discussed, and subsequently approved by a unanimous vote by the Curry County Board of Commissioners which includes Commissioner Susan Brown, chair; Commissioner David Brock Smith, vice chair; and Commissioner David Itzen. 

As a public servant, I understand I have a significant responsibility to be a careful steward of the financial resources available to our community. I take this responsibility very seriously, and understand the perspective from which your concerns originate . I am pleased to share with you that Curry County had no direct Costs in relation to the Curry County Public Safety Summit. Generous contributions were made by the Ford Family Foundation, the Gordon Elwood Foundation, the Association of Oregon Counties, the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association and the Oregon District Attorney’s Association. Support was also provided from the Gold Beach Chamber of Commerce, the Gold Beach Visitor’s Center, and Coastal Home Health and Hospice. County employees and elected officials donated their time in order to work through their lunch hour, and to attend after 5 p.m. and weekend portions of the Summit. 

Our attendees included the attorney general for the State of Oregon, representatives and senators from the State of Oregon, senior staff from the offices of the U.S. Congress, representatives from the Oregon Department of Revenue, representatives from the governor’s office, representatives from the Association of Oregon Counties, county sheriffs from 22 Oregon counties, county commissioners from 18 Oregon counties, Sovereign Tribal Representatives, district attorneys, judges and juvenile directors from various counties in Oregon, officials from Del Norte County, as well as a group of citizens from our local and adjacent counties. 

While teleconferencing is a viable option for many meetings, it seems inconceivable that a meeting such as this could have been coordinated in that way. Further, we must recognize that legislative work is done in this fashion. Informed, educated, and elected representatives meet to discuss these significant issues in our House and Senate Chambers in every state in the nation and at our federal level in Washington D.C. Our government was founded on the principle of representative government. These representatives meet publicly, and in open meetings to discuss issues critical to their constituents. It is understood that the salaries of these policy makers support time spent in meeting with other elected officials, and with other informed professionals who can add to the content and development of the issue at hand . 

We are appreciative for the concern and commitment of those who attended to work on the issues surrounding public safety in our communities. The Curry County Public Safety Summit focused on critical aspects of the public safety system including what is adequate public safety, and how do we support necessary public safety functions over the long term. This problem, affecting so many Oregon counties is complex, and requires considerable collaboration and cooperation to solve. I would invite you to join our team as we search for a solution that is sustainable and palatable; one that benefits our community members as we move forward. 

The economic impact the Summit had on Curry County was significant. Over 100 individuals traveled to Gold Beach and enjoyed our well-appointed hotels and motels, our delightful restaurants, shops, events, beaches, and forests. The hospitality of our citizens and business owners was recognized and applauded by so many of our participants. Many of our participants chose to extend their stay until Sunday or Monday, further multiplying the positive economic impact to our county. I believe that the positive experience our distinguished guests had will only serve to strengthen their resolve to help Curry and other struggling counties. 

I thank you for your interest in this important topic, and welcome you join us as we search for solutions that will benefit the community we live in and the citizens I am working hard to serve.