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ENEMY WITHIN STRIKES AT JOSEPHINE COUNTY'S HOME RULE CHARTER
September 28, 2003
GRANTS PASS, OR -≠ Josephine County is the middle of a political black tornado thatís sucking up fact and fiction to the dismay of honest citizens. Two factions are going at it like the Gingham dog and the Calico cat. The county sheriff is on one side waving his gun and badge, and the charter defenders are on the opposite side. Positions have been chosen and the views are strong. Will there be anything left after the November 4th election. Who can say?
Itís all about money
Here's the story. Dumping the home rule charter and appointing a county manager (CEO) is all about money. Not chump change neighbor, but greenbacks that rustle as you hand them over to the county treasurer. If a county manager (CEO) becomes fact, the county cash registers will be working overtime just to keep pace with new property tax money coming in. If you can't afford higher taxes, perhaps you should put the old homestead up for sale and skedaddle down the interstate. A county manger you didn't elect isn't going to care if you can't afford to pay more taxes. He and the system will force you to sell your home if you can't afford the taxes to come. Wealthy Californians are salivating at our low property prices compared to what they sold their home for in the socialist state to the south. They can buy your home with money left over to pay high property taxes.
City vs. County Living
Are you glad you live in the county and don't have to pay those horribly high taxes your city cousins are stuck with? Do you snicker just a little in November when the city folks pay an extra $5.73 a thousand plus more for special assessments that bring the price up to nearly $7.50 a thousand? For a $200,000 house the city owner pays $1,146 not including the special assessments, compared to $116 the rural folks pay the county for a home of the same value. Of course, there are lots of other taxing entities attached to the tax bill, that like leeches, suck the life out of the homeowner. It doesn't matter if the homeowner is employed, unemployed, sick, or has lost his high tech good paying job to some guy in India who works for much less. The county rate of 58 cents a thousand sounds reasonable to this writer. However, there are those in and out of government who want to increase the burden on owning a family home. These people are not your friends. Of course you can point out that you don't get the extra services like city chlorinated water, sewer hookup, a big shiny red fire engine, and lots of cops in cars with flashing blue lights that look like K-Mart specials.
Psst, Whoís Behind the Attempted Take Over of Josephine County?
In the country life is good if your well works, the septic system works most of the time, and you have the guitar playing country Sheriff Dave Daniel standing guard over you at night. That is if Dave is a friend of yours. If you happen to be a critic of the sheriff you probably better not count on the protection. He really doesn't like critics. Oh, you still have to pay your taxes even if Dave doesnít like you. For quite sometime now, Dave has been pouting and pushed out of shape because the county commissioners havenít given him the loot he wants. The title of sheriff appears to be more than he can handle; like a bad cold it seems to have settled in his head. Dave and his crew have big plans for the sheriffís department, but he has to get around those dad-busted county commissioners. Dave and his buddies came up with a plan to storm the courthouse and do the commissioners in. Yep, they want to tar and feather the commissioners, then run them out of town on a rail and bring in their own boys.
The new guy gets to be called a county manager (CEO) and there'll be seven sidekicks to run the big show. He'll have his hands in the vault taking out bundles of cash on payday and spreading the money around like birdseed. The fact is, it's going to cost a lot more money to run this type of government than the present commissioners cost. Dave and his boys think maybe the new guy will be more generous when it comes to filling his stocking at Christmas. Ole Harry Mackin, part owner of Hart's Insurance, Jerry Smith, who used to be a guard in a lockup, and Romez Smith Jr. created a PAC (Political Action Committee) called Committee for the Improvement of Josephine County Government to speed the big boss' plan along. A committee to improve Josephine County? It sounds more like a committee to control Josephine County.
Old Man Smart Didnít Fall Off the Turnip Wagon
I was talking to old man Sam Smart the other day about this situation and he told me when Dave ran for Sheriff back in "98" he distinctly remembers him saying during the big whopper campaign, "I intend to restore full police service to the residents of Josephine County without askin' the citizen and the resident to pay more money to do it. I'm gonna do that by putting all available personnel back in uniform driving marked patrol units." Smart spit out a plug of brown chewing tobacco juice to accent his point. I stepped aside just as it sizzled by me like Haley's comet. As I dodged the brown juice, I recalled former DA Tim Thopson's letter-to-the-editor saying, Dave wasn't qualified to be sheriff. Boy, did he get that one right.
Smart, Whistle Blower
Sam shook his mop of gray hair and said, "Ya know, I don't think that man told the truth. He's always askin' for more money. He just ain't got no respect for the taxpayer's money. He spent thousands of dollars remodeling his office when he had the best lookin' office in the public buildings. Then he spent $23,000 for a consultant to teach him to be a better sheriff, and that didn't do no good. He didn't even follow the manís advice. Then he got all those key chains, magnetic cards, and Swiss army knives with his name on them in big letters to give to his friends. I think he's politickin' with our money that should be used to protect the people. He wants to get rid of the charter thinkin' he'll get more money. Confound it, I think a man ought to keep his word. I'm not gonna vote for no county CEO who'll raise my property taxes and force me to sell my home because I can't afford no more taxes. It jist ain't ethical. My income ain't what it used to be, matter of fact I ain't either. I'd have to go live down at the new Gospel Rescue Mission if they put me out on the street. And I know about them CEOs. They're the guys at Enron and them other big companies with the high fallutin salaries that don't care about the common folks. Some of them have even gone to jail."
Some Things the Charter Provides
I asked Sam, "What do you think about getting rid of all the Charter Amendments that the folks in Josephine County have put in place to protect the peoplesí rights from intrusive government?"
Sam took on the wild-eyed look of a Brahma Bull waiting to get out of the pen at the Calgary Stampede. Sam snorted and said, "Nobody but a pusillanimous pole cat would do something like that. Why I voted for a lot of them measures back when you used to go to the voting booth instead of this sissy stuff of votin' by mail. We told the county government they couldn't raise our taxes without a vote of the people and we made it stick. Then we put in the charter that if they took any property for any reason they had to give the property owner just compensation. That's called being fair. Then we put in that one about keepin' them smut shops out of town where they sell them magazines with women who ain't got no clothes on. I can't believe this committee about improvement of Josephine County wants to get rid of these good things. That ain't any improvement, that's deprovement. These folks have got something up their sleeve beside an arm that's reachin' for my pocket book. And then they wanna go and hire a danged old CEO who will just mess things up real badly. You would have to be addlepated to vote for this here charter change business. Folks have put a lot of time and work into creatin' that charter. It's kinda like our own Declaration of Independence. Makes me proud to be an American."
Basic Freedoms Under Attack by Enemy Within
Sam Smart is a symbol of the people who have helped create this nation and the liberties it provides. We all know that bureaucratic government at all levels is daily encroaching upon our freedoms. The removal of the county charter and the installation of a CEO bureaucrat strikes at the beating heart of these freedoms our present form of county government helps to insure. We are under attack by a self-serving, selfish, and dedicated enemy who desires to take these rights away from the common man. The home rule charter gives county residents important protections from government officials. This group wants to remove these protections for their own purposes, including more money for Dave Daniel. They wish to instate a county CEO with powers the county commissioners have never had, nor should they ever have. These powers are reserved for the people, not a CEO. The defense against this evil attack against basic freedoms lies in a resounding no vote on ballot Measure 17.96. Your ballot is due in the county clerkís office November 4th.
© 2003 John Taft - All Rights Reserved
John Taft former president of Josephine County, OR. Taxpayers Association is presently an investigative reporter for the US-Oregon Observer and NewsWithViews.com. He has had many years of broadcasting, news writing and reporting experience. He also has written a popular conservative newsletter for a taxpayers organization to inform the public on taxing issues. John can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org John's Web site: www.Strobezone.homestead.com
"Ole Harry Mackin, part owner of Hart's Insurance, Jerry Smith, who used to be a guard in a lockup, and Romez Smith Jr. created a PAC (Political Action Committee) called Committee for the Improvement of Josephine County Government to speed the big boss' plan along. A committee to improve Josephine County? It sounds more like a committee to control Josephine County"