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By Investigative Reporter
John Taft

October 12, 2004

GRANTS PASS, Oregon -- The Commissioners race in Josephine County is now entering the home stretch with four candidates in the pack including one who is an incumbent. All have supported taxes on family homes to finance their personal agendas. This is an unfortunate situation for county voters who have to choose two to represent them for the next four years. The commissioners have the authority to place a property tax measure on the ballot. The other means is by an initiative petition with the required number of signatures. Commissioner Brock, a candidate for the office, earlier voted along with Commissioner Jim Riddle to place a jail property tax levy on the November ballot. Commissioner Harold Haugen, a lame duck, voted against this tax measure. On Tuesday night, October 5th, the Daily Courier held a candidate's night for both commissioners and state legislators. One of the questions asked was a two-part question, the first part dealing with why the candidate believed that more jail space was needed. Commissioner Brock replied, "Voters should have the opportunity to make a decision on that." He didn't respond to the second part of the question, about how he would vote on the jail levy. A Courier reporter then specifically asked each of the candidates if he would support a jail levy. Brock answered the question, "Yes," he would vote for the jail property tax. Brock appeared to be attempting to avoid stating he favored the property tax while saying he put the levy on the ballot for the voters to decide. It appears Brock wasn't forthcoming with the real reason he voted to place the jail tax on the ballot. It wasn't really for the voters, but for his personal agenda. He should have so stated this fact.

Commissioner Haugen voted against putting the measure on the ballot, and Commissioner Riddle sided with Brock. Both Brock and Riddle pose a threat to family homes by using an additional property tax to fund their political agenda.

Ellis Supported Destruction Of Home Rule Charter

The only candidate to say he wasn't voting for a jail tax was Dwight Ellis. However, Ellis has a track record of supporting property taxes on family homes. In 2002 he is supported a 78 cent per thousand tax to fund county parks, and recently a library tax on homes. Ellis also supported the attempted change from the home rule charter that would eliminate the present commissioner form of government and replace it with an appointed county manager. Voters turned down these three measures. It appears Ellis may want to dismantle the office of commissioner from the inside, since he failed to do so from the outside.

Gibson Toots Horn On Sour Note

In a letter to the editor in the Daily Courier Lowell Gibson, president elect of the local Chamber of Commerce had this to say, about Ellis. "In this age when talk is cheap, Ellis has proven to be a man of action. His practice of researching and putting deep thought into topics before taking a stance or making a recommendation has always impressed me. He is a think man of action - a great combination."

Did Ellis Really Say That?

It would seem that Mr. Gibson is leading the voters astray with his recommendation. His good sounding endorsement of Ellis amounts to a goodly amount of flapdoodle when we review a statement Ellis made during the primary election, in March of 2004, while discussing property taxes on radio station KAJO.

Ellis, "Well, the property tax issue is ah is ah a huge issue on fixed income and ah it is not my desire to ah tax ah people who own property, tax people on fixed income, tax them so that they lose their homes ah that is ah absolutely a last resort if we are going down the tubes and we have to declare bankruptcy and the state has to ah send troops in here and stuff you know then ah then that's a last resort that we will have to turn to and ask the voters you know if they would be able to pony up some more, some more money."

Talk show host Carl Wilson mercifully took him to another subject at this point in time.

Union Investing In The Future?

Ellis' own words show that his comments were not thought out or researched. The credibility of Mr. Gibson and Ellis has been seriously damaged by Ellis' statement. Talk is indeed cheap. Ellis also has the personal endorsement of Sheriff Dave Daniel a.k.a. as the "million dollar sheriff" because of his expensive tastes paid for with tax dollars. Ellis has another black mark against him in that he has accepted $2,500 dollars from a county employee union for his campaign. It's known as American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees' political action committee (AFCSME). If elected, Ellis is scheduled to negotiate with the union representing the voter's interests. This will necessarily place Ellis in an adversarial position with the union so the union doesn't walk away with all the silverware after dinner. The question arises, how can he represent the public, if elected, when he has accepted AFCME's money? Is Ellis so naive that he believes the union is just plain good hearted and expects nothing for their $2,500? From a prudent man's viewpoint, Ellis has been seriously compromised as a viable commissioner for the voters. He should have done the right thing and turned down this tainted money. Ellis's supporters are now in the position of endorsing a man who appears to be indebted to the county union AFCSME, and owes them some favors for the $2,500.

Who Will Raffenburg Be Working For?

Jim Raffenburg, who is attempting to unseat Commissioner Jim Brock, would also appear to be compromised as a commissioner, he accepted $2,500 from AFCSME for his campaign as well. One can only wonder what he was thinking when he took this contribution and ran. If elected, he also will be or is supposed to be in an adversarial position in negotiating a new union contract with AFCSME. Again, you don't give out $2,500 and expect no return; on your investment, the union officials are not stupid. It appears that Raffenburg is a hired consultant for the union. This factor alone is reason enough to keep Raffenburg out of office. Money always has strings attached to it leading back to the source.

Raffenburg, if elected, has a lot of baggage he would carry into office, and some of it has a sheriff's office seal. He is a reserve deputy and has the blessings of Sheriff Daniel. Daniel, no doubt, would expect more money from the commissioners if his boys Ellis and Raffenburg were to get into office. Daniel could very well become the forth commissioner if his boys were elected. Raffenburg is also a tax and spend kind of guy. He supported the library tax, and he supports the levy on homes to fund more beds for the county jail. This is a direct attack on family homes by Raffenburg. There are other means and efficiencies that can be activated to find more revenue for deserving public services. Looking at these issues shows that Raffenburg has too many allegiances that may not be in the publics best interests.

Shunned By AFCSME Ain't That Bad

Both Jim Brock and Cherryl Walker have been shunned by AFCSME which the voters should take note of. It's obvious that union officials believe there will be a benefit to them by splitting $5,000 between Raffenburg and Ellis to help defeat Brock and Walker. Brock has held office for the past 8-years and appears to have made no friends in the county union. Walker also appears to beheld with disdain by the county union officials. As a candidate Walker does have some warts in that she is not user friendly to those living in homes, apartments, and rentals. Walker supported the library tax and she supports the jail tax to be funded by another tax on family homes. Walker has a history of supporting taxes on homes to pay for her social agenda.

All Four Candidates Have Supported New Taxes on Family Homes

Unfortunately, none of the four candidates for the office of commissioner is friendly to those living in a home. They are all willing to place a property tax on your home, which is secured with an unregistered lien. They take no consideration of the ability of the homeowner to pay an additional property tax. Nor do they seem to care how you come up with the money to pay for this tax. Property tax is a police state tax. If you fail to pay this tax, in due course the county will seize your home, and you will be forced to leave. Property taxes are a high stakes game and should never be used to fund public projects or services. If these taxes are unpaid and you don't leave your home when ordered to do so, they ultimately are collected at the point of a gun, held by a local law enforcement officer.

Questions Raffenburg and Ellis Don't Want Voters To Ask

When voting for a candidate for the office of Josephine County Commissioner, it would be prudent to ask the following questions: Does he support property taxes on your home? What special interest group has he accepted money from? What kind of experience does he have? Did he try to destroy the home rule charter supported by 66% of the voters? And ask why Sheriff Daniel took the unusual step of endorsing one of his reserve deputies, and a second candidate who is pro property tax.

� 2004 John Taft - All Rights Reserved

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John Taft former president of Josephine County, OR. Taxpayers Association is presently an investigative reporter for the US-Oregon Observer and 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 John's Web site:











Is Ellis so naive that he believes the union is just plain good hearted and expects nothing for their $2,500? From a prudent man's viewpoint, Ellis has been seriously compromised as a viable commissioner for the voters. He should have done the right thing and turned down this tainted money.