Councils oppose Measure 8-76
Written by Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer   
April 25, 2014 08:08 pm

The mayors of Curry County’s three cities might support the home rule charter on the May 20 ballot, but their councils — with the exception of that in Brookings — have recently come out in opposition to Measure 8-76.

Earlier this week, the Port Orford City Council President Tim Pogwizd presented, and the council approved, a resolution outlining the reasons they do not support the measure, specifically citing District Attorney Everett Dial’s “white paper” that outlines some of the weak points he believes the measure contains.

Measure 8-76, an initiative crafted by the Citizens Charter Committee, would change the form of county government from one of general law to a home rule-run operation. 

Specifically — as all charters are designed for the needs of their cities or counties — Curry County’s charter would allow for five, volunteer, part-time commissioners and a full-time, paid administrator.

The administrator would oversee day-to-day operations of the county and its 20 departments, freeing up the commissioners to address issues that pertain to the county at the state and federal levels.

Another major issue within the proposed charter is that four of the six currently-elected positions — surveyor, assessor, clerk, treasurer — would be appointed by the administrator, with approval from the board.

Dial’s white paper also points out that, under the guidelines of the home rule charter, while the three current commissioners would retain their seats, it would take until 2016 before the board would have its full complement of five. That would leave much of 2015 with just four commissioners, which could create difficulties in obtaining a majority on decisions.

Carl King, a Nesika Beach resident who helped craft the resolution, said in a forum Wednesday night that on this issue, Dial’s white paper was flawed. King said the three seated commissioners would appoint two new commissioners on July 1, and those two seats would be available in the November election, keeping the board continuously filled with five members.

In Pogwizd’s resolution, he cites a concern about a section in 8-76 that grants one commissioner or the administrator, in the case of a county emergency, to declare one if a quorum can’t be met.

The idea behind that wording is that, if the county experiences its anticipated 9.0 earthquake along the Cascadia Fault and the five commissioners cannot communicate due to downed power lines or physically meet due to collapsed bridges, someone could officially declare the emergency to begin rescue operations at the state level.

Pogwizd’s resolution also reads that, under home rule there would be no discernible improvements over the current form of government, that appointing rather than electing the clerk, treasurer, surveyor and assessor positions infringes on the liberties granted to citizens, and that home rule would result in a larger — and more expensive — government.

The county also has, the resolution notes, a Curry County Charter Committee that is currently examining other county and city charters to see if pursuing a home rule charter would be best for the county. The committee was given two years to make a recommendation.

At its last Gold Beach meeting, city councilors Tamie Kaufman and Brice Gregory wanted to go on record as being opposed to it. The entire city council of Brookings earlier this month passed a resolution in favor of the home rule charter, as well.