JOSEPHINE COUNTY, OREGON
September 25, 2007
To bypass September Commissioners Report and go straight to Commissioner Raffenburg's comments click here.
This months “Commissioners Report” will begin with the “The Facts.” I hope you’ll also take the time to read my “Commentary” at the end of the Report because it is particularly important this month.
I want to clarify one thing I did not make clear in last months edition.
The monthly document generated for my review to write this report is called the “Monthly Meeting Summary.” It is a public document that anyone can review or purchase. If you want to review or purchase a copy, come into the Commissioners Office and ask for the “The Monthly Meeting Summary” and you will have everything you need to review for yourself, who said and did what inside County government.
If this “Monthly Meeting Summary” was not available, you would have to go through hundreds of pages of agendas, records and minutes each month before you would even know what to look or ask for.
Weekly Business Session Actions
In August, 2007, No Ordinances, four Orders, six Resolutions, two Inter-governmental Agreement and five Contracts/Amendments/Grants/Understandings were approved by the Board of Commissioners:
No. 2007-042, in the matter of authorizing a land use agreement between
Josephine County and Colin and Nona Clark, dba Lake Selmac Resort and
for a land use agreement for a boat concession at Lake Selmac Park. Passed
No. 2007-045R, in the matter of an appointment to the Local Alcohol
and Drug Planning Committee. Passed 8/1/07
No. 1 to DHS Agreement #121015, between Jo Co and the Oregon Dept.
of Human Services fro the financing of Public Health Services for 2007/2008
No. 2 to Grant Agreement No. 1-H79-TL16542-01, with Portland State
University for the “Bridges to Success Program”; Term: 7/1/07 through
6/30/08; Cost to the County: $79,956. Passed 8/1/07
County Administration Meeting Actions and Discussion
of standardized County Airport hanger leases. Approved by Board on
On 8/3, COO Hill and CFO Padgett discussed recruiting problems in the Planning Program. Discussion ranged from the reasons for this problem to possible options to resolve. Part of the problem is the City of Grants Pass is recruiting County employees and can pay higher wages, but the unstable nature of County funding is a major reason as well. No final decisions were made.
On 8/7, COO Hill and CFO Padgett followed-up with the discussion about the recruiting problems in the Planning Program. The Program is down to one Planner Two and if he leaves only the Manager will be left. The Board directed COO Hill to work with the Manager of the Program to develop a recruiting plan and report back to the Board ASAP.
On 8/7, Sheriff Gilbertson, COO Hill, CFO Padgett, discussed where the Emergency Management Program should report, to the BCC as required by law or to the Sheriff, as permitted by a 1979 delegation of authority from the BCC. The Sheriff wants to keep the Program under his control. Commissioner Raffenburg believes the program should report directly to the COO because more than half of the responsibilities of the Program have nothing to do with law enforcement. Commissioner Ellis reversed his previous position, now saying he thinks the Sheriff should keep it. Commissioner Raffenburg pointed out that the Commissioners are the responsible Emergency Managers under State Law and are consistently left out of the loop by the Sheriff’s Office on Emergency issues. Sara Rubrict, the Sheriff’s Emergency Manager said she’d be glad to copy the Board with her State reports. Commissioner Raffenburg said she needed to change her mindset and report through the Sheriff to the Board instead of through the Sheriff to the State. No decisions were made and as a result, without two Commissioners who want to make a change, the status quo continues.
On 8/21, potential for leasing County Property at the IV Airport to create a private Smokejumper Museum, lengthy discussion including issues of potential rent credits for extra maintenance work, parking issues and general future of the airport. Commissioner Raffenburg wants to preserve the ability to upgrade the Airport for commercial operations to stimulate economic growth in the Illinois Valley. Commissioner Toler wants to look at other economic models.
Board of Commissioner General Discussion and Actions:
The Board meets each Monday at 8:30 A.M. for general discussion and possible action on noticed issues. This month, due to overlapping vacations, the Board met only twice, on 8/20 and on 8/27.
Legal Counsel Meetings
The month of August was generally a quiet one for County government. All three Commissioners took some time off. Most of what happened was routine.
From my perspective, the most important development this month occurred on August 9th, when the Bureau of Land Management released their new Western Oregon Plan Revision (WOPR). The finalized version of this Plan (set for next August) will form the basis for how our 2.2 million acres of O&C timber resource lands are managed for the next twenty years.
This three volume, 1700 page document will likely affect everyone in Josephine County more than any other single governmental action, at any level of government, for years to come. It is long and difficult to read, but if you do not pay attention to what is happening with this important issue, you are hurting yourself now and into the foreseeable future.
The “WOPR” has three alternatives, developed after four years of careful study, at a cost of millions of federal dollars, reflecting the most modern and up-to-date science regarding what would really happen to various endangered species, under each Alternative, should it be selected as “the Plan” to manage the O&C lands.
Under Alternative 1, there would be a slight increase in the allowable cutting of timber, with new revenues that would replace about 35% of the lost Safety-Net revenues.
Under Alternative 2, there would be a significant increase in the allowable cutting of timber, with new revenues that would replace about 93% of the lost Safety-Net revenues.
Under Alternative 3, there would be no increase in the allowable cutting of timber and there would be no replacement any lost Safety-Net revenues.
There is one thing that all three Alternatives have in common: the BLM can now say with certainty, under each Alternative, there would be no significant harm caused to any endangered species living on these lands. They can say that because they now have performed the scientific research that proves it.
The negative, angry response by the Environmentalist Industry to this new management plan in the news media clearly shows that a new “cold war” is already underway. Your future will be affected either positively or negatively, depending on which side in this cold war eventually prevails.
The issue really boils down to politics, and that is where the cold war is being fought right now. This Commentary is part of that “cold war.”
Dave Toler’s 9/16/07 article in the “Oregonian” and his 9/19/07 Guest Opinion in the “Grants Pass Daily Courier” newspapers are also part of that “cold war” effort.
What is interesting about these two nearly identical articles is that Toler deleted his pledge to support even a diminished version of Alternative 1 in his “Oregonian” article. Apparently his “pledge” on that point was meant only for local consumption. Why would that be?
At stake is what you believe the truth is about this issue.
Dave Toler wants you to believe that the days of timber harvesting are over. He says that “Congress will never allow harvesting again” and that the “Courts decisions…were conclusive” on that issue.
Commissioner Toler, like all the other radical environmentalists he represents, is desperate for you to take the mental leap from expecting the federal government to enforce its own laws (the 1937 O&C Act, requires these lands to be managed for timber revenue production), to accepting that “it‘s all over” and now you just have to pay higher general property taxes, pay new special district taxes and then of course, pay new sales taxes. Commissioner Toler has stated repeatedly this is his “vision and plan” for your future. [E-mail Toler]
I strongly disagree with him.
Here’s a little history for you.
In the early 1990’s, the Clinton Administration convinced the timber industry and the Environmentalists to accept “Northwest Forest Plan,” which was supposed to assure at least some level of future timber harvests “in our time.”
Just like the ill fated 1938 statement by British Prime Minister Chamberlain when he returned to Britain from Munich, Germany, where he waved a paper in the air as he proclaimed, “Peace ‘in our time’,” the Northwest Forest Plan survived about as long as the treaty Hitler had signed in Munich, promising not to invade his neighbors. Germany invaded Czechoslovakia a few months later and Poland a year after that, turning the cold war of the 1930’s into World War Two. Hitler never intended to honor the Munich Pact in the first place. He was just buying time.
As soon as the BLM tried to sell a timber contract under the guidelines of the Northwest Forest Plan, the Environmentalists Industry sued to stop it. Clearly, the Environmentalists never intended to honor the Northwest Forest Plan in the first place. Their standard operating procedure is to “buy time” by fighting any BLM sale that requires real timber harvesting on our timber lands. I know that’s their bottom line because they have told me so in person.
Dave Toler has said his (local) pledge of support for (a watered down version of) the WOPR’s Alternative 1 is angering his supporters. Perhaps they should read his “other Portland area pledge” where his support for even that tiny amount of logging is missing. Maybe that would help them feel better.
One thing that is absolutely certain however, if Alternative 1 is the selected Plan, your taxes will go up or you will have no public services. And remember, it matters not to any endangered species which Alternative is selected as the final management Plan, because the spotted owl and its fellow listed species will be protected, the watersheds will be protected, and the trees themselves will continue to grow, under all of the Alternatives.
What is really endangered here is your money and whether you will get to keep any of it in the future.
Oh, there is one other thing that will become “endangered” if the BLM actually does cut timber again and proves it can be done without harming the environment. All those millions of dollars in contributions to all those Environmentalist organizations that make up the Environmentalist Industry would stop. And that would require a lot of people to find real jobs.
But there is a skilled labor shortage, right? Then again, maybe that might not be much help to them after all.
Note: (From August Administrative Actions, Request from Commissioner Raffenburg, on 8/3, to approve his participating in the September Washington, D.C. Fly-in).
Commissioner Toler challenged me on whether I was the best person to go on this trip, saying my pessimism regarding the possibility of success disqualified me, in his opinion.
When you send someone to secure something of great importance, you should send someone who believes in what they are doing.
I believe, with every fiber in my body, that the federal government has a legal and moral obligation to harvest our timber and share the revenues with us. Failing that, they must pay us a compensation revenue, like the Safety-Net, or they must allow those lands to be returned to the tax rolls, so enough people are paying property taxes to make them affordable to everyone.
Dave Toler does not share those beliefs. Should we have sent Dave instead?
Dave has made his beliefs abundantly clear. His opposition to the WOPR in general and to its Alternative 2 in particular, proves he will never support any financially viable harvesting of timber. By opposing my going to Washington, D.C. to secure the Safety-Net money and his stated opposition to the continued membership of Josephine County in the Association of O&C Counties, he wants to sever all of our legal rights to that timber revenue, forever.
And because Dave Toler does not believe in harvesting any timber, ever again, he really believes that you should pay for supporting his beliefs with higher taxes. [E-mail Toler]
That’s what is truly at stake in this new “Cold War.” I hope you are paying attention.
Thank you all for taking the time to read this report.
© 2007 Jim Raffenburg - All Rights Reserved
E-Mails are used strictly for NWVs alerts, not for sale
Commissioner Jim Raffenburg is serving in his first term as Josephine County Commissioner (Oregon). He was elected in November, 2004. He is married and lives with his wife in the North Valley area. Jim served eight years as either Chair or Vice-Chair of the Josephine County Rural Planning Commission and served two years as a Josephine County reserve Deputy Sheriff. He is a trained, Court mediator. Previous work experience is in both the private and public sectors. He has worked in heavy, commercial construction and construction management most of his life, including serving as Construction Administrator for NASA.
I hope this report will be viewed by the public as a positive step forward and as a representative example of the openness in which government should regularly operate and communicate with those they serve.