Mickey Beach
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A Home Rule Charter proposal for Douglas County will be on the November ballot for consideration by the county’s voters. This provides a unique opportunity for each of us to revisit the current structure of county government and weigh it against an alternative structure that is in practice in other counties across our state.

It is an opportunity for us in Douglas County to engage in constructive conversations on this important topic and to become personally informed, to come to our own conclusions and to exercise our right to vote accordingly. To date, we as citizens of Douglas County, have had few opportunities to understand the real issues and weigh the pros and cons of either form.

The Home Rule Charter proposes to (1) change the way our board of commissioners is structured, changing the way decisions and policy are carried out, (2) change the way we as citizens are represented at the board of commissioners and (3) potentially impact the cost of operating county government.

The charter as proposed is a document of about seven pages and is a clearly worded, straight-forward read. It’s available online at https://douglascountyhomerule.com/charter. We are being asked to weigh the Home Rule Charter structure against the way the county is currently structured. That said, the community should take the 20 minutes or so to read it and then take time to have informed conversations about the advantages and disadvantages of either form.

The proponents of the charter say that it provides a more effective form of representation and governance than what we currently have; and that this is something that has been working in other counties for decades.

The opponents of the charter say that by voting down the proposal, extreme environmentalists will be stopped; that the proposal will lead to stronger gun control in Douglas County; and the charter initiative will usurp the authority of the Douglas County sheriff.

The county government would be structured like city governments throughout the county. Five districts would resemble the wards in our local cities, where each of five proportionately populated districts would have their own representative on the board of commissioners. These would be volunteer county commissioners. The county would hire a manager to implement policy and ordinances, and carry out the day-to-day business of the county, reporting back to the board. The manager would function at the pleasure and discretion of the board of the commissioners. This is how most all cities and school districts work throughout the state of Oregon. The proposal appears to be benign with regard to impact on operations of the county.

As to an exception by the board on the sheriff’s enforcement of laws and ordinances, in what ways does this differ from the current relationship between these elected officials? Would the board gain or lose any authority under the Home Rule Charter and in what way? Are there ordinances or Oregon Revised Statutes in place that guide or limit the relationship between these elected positions?

The key to making any good decision is to understand the issue. To date, there has been little of anything of real substance presented for the public to consider.

The campaign in support of the Home Rule Charter appears to identify the merits of the charter itself as the reason to support the proposal; that it would allow the county to have better representation and a more effective form of governance.

The campaign in opposition has lead with signs that state “Stop Extreme Environmentalists” in big letters on a red background, an intentionally alarming approach to mislead the public, changing the focus of the conversation from the merits of the proposal by creating a fake environmental issue. There is nothing in the charter to substantiate the claims about environmentalists or Second Amendment rights. Are the 4,000-plus petition signers really extreme environmentalists?

Opposition brochures infer that Second Amendment rights could be in question (how?) and identify higher operational costs if the Home Rule Charter were to pass. Perhaps, or would there be a shift of current costs from elected officials to staff.

The cost and effectiveness of either form of government needs to be hashed out in a monitored forum where the community can ask questions and get reasonable answers.

When will a real discussion happen? Is it too late to clear the smokescreen created by the Vote No campaign to have real debates and informed conversations; to equip the community with the tools to vote from a place of understanding? Probably. And that’s embarrassing. At the very least, the community is deserving of more than a void of real information or being fed half-truths and misleading statements.

To quote the opening line in The News Review’s editorial of Sept. 24 on the matter, “Whatever happened to the days of honest debate?”

Mickey Beach served as planning tech for the Douglas County Planning Department from 1987 to 1994, as city planner for Myrtle Creek from 1994 to 1998 and as as NeighborWorks Umpqua’s chief operating officer/community and economic development director from 1998 to 2016.

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(8) comments

Bounder86

I respect Mickey but in this case disagree entirely with his opinion and the restructure of the County Government. It would be bad for business and bad for our community. The Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce put out a great tool in their July newsletter outlining in detail why the Charter is bad for Roseburg business. Five Really means one-Adding two additional County Commissioners would decrease public access not increase. Reduced Citizen Participation and Input-Douglas County Residents currently have the opportunity to voice their opinions with commissioners and actively participate in the decision making every Wednesday and commission meetings. The charter would restrict this to twice a month. Law Enforcement decisions in the wrong hands-The home rule proposal (Page 10 of their petition.) clearly allows a board of commissioners to dictate what laws our Sheriff should enforce. This isn't Mayberry- This is a tight knit rural community why would the charter try and change who dictates the laws of our community. Increased bureaucracy. Currently, Commissioners are readily accessible to all residents of Douglas County. Under the proposed home rule initiative, access and authorities are transferred to an appointed public employee. Most important-Douglas County loses influence and reputation. Reducing our County Commissioners-recognized leaders and experts around the country-to part time volunteers, guts the influence, reputation and access Douglas County has enjoyed for many years. The Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce July Newsletter has more detailed analysis for your review. Vote No on the proposed charter it is bad for business and our community.

Creeksend

Your Comments are utter butterfly poop. The Chamber of Commerce of Roseburg only represents the BUSINESS interests of the City of Roseburg and NOT the interests of the 60,0000+ other voters in the County. Each of our Commissioners say that they represent all the voters, but nothing is further from the truth.
The proposed five districts of @14,000 voters means each area is given a voice.

Douglas County is NOTa tight-knit rural community and never has been.
The County seat is a tight-knit gaggle of Country Club geese that have neglected and even worked to the detriment of rural communities.
Take for instance the original Umpqua County which included Reedsport, Winchester Bay, Gardiner,Scottsburg, Elkton, Drain, Yoncalla and Curtin.
Those communities were absorbed into Douglas County, and let me tell you, they have wanted to secede ever since. Their comments include things like, "This should have happened years ago," and "Douglas County should just leave us alone."
They do not even feel a part of this county.
The citizens of that area would be given a voice again in their governance.
The citizens of South County and the Eastern county have negligable police presence. Yet everyone in this County should have equal representation in safety since 100% of the property tax dollars returned to the county are earmarked for our Sheriff's department. That is taxation without representation.
The sheriff says that he will be forced to end the graveyard shift next year due to a lack of funding. Currently there are only 2 sheriff's deputies on the graveyard shift in Douglas County for the entire 5100 square miles.
The commissioners say the sheriff's department is due to be put up for a taxing district (like the libraries were) very soon. Check out the NR article from a couple months ago.
Today we learned the cost of 1.5 deputies in the Board of Commissioners meeting: "In a Contractual Agreement for Deputy Patrols on timberlands for 24 timberland holdings. The Companies agree to pay Douglas County $199,347.25 for 1.5 deputies to patrol their respective timberlands. In addition, the BLM agrees to pay the remaining half (.5) position separately. Term Expiration: June 30, 2018. "
The cost of the Commissiner's budget is currently greater than $627,000.
We can get a professional manager for 1/3 that cost and only be paying into the retirement of a single person. And have a person who can look at where we have been and make a long term projection for where we can go.
Who is guiding this Multimillion dollar business? A gas station mechanic and a muffler/ tire salesman and a photographer?
Give me a break.
There are many retired professionals willing to help rebuild our broken vision and many young visionarys in Douglas County. Cities and Tribes are run by councils of volunteers while these commissioners make a carreer out of kissing the butts of the Corporate Interests SO well that they are willing to create a $100,000 war chest to keep them there.
Oh yes, in 2014 this county voted an overwhelming 70% IN FAVOR OF TERM LIMITS. Term limits are an intergal part of the Home Rule Charter.
The judge ruled against the citizens vote because we HAVE to HAVE a Home Rule Charter to have Term Limits.
Vote YES on the Home Rule Charter and give the ENTIRE community a voice and some professional leadership.
And real term limits.
And transparency in government.

Bounder86

Transparency? Who proposed the charter? Why aren't they coming forward to claim sponsorship for the poorly written document. That is the definition of closed doors. Why should a few citizens decide what is write for the rest of us without public input. This charter is bad for Douglas County. If we do not like the commissioners we can vote them out. That is what is great about our democracy. We do not need to reinvent the wheel on the tax payers dime. I know how hard our full time commissioners work. Vote No on the charter.

S

Here is transparency for you:

How many in our community know that County Counsel Paul Meyers essentially hid an item on a Commissioner's Agenda on June 26, 2017 asking the Board of Commissioners to grant a waiver of a conflict of interest so their own law firm could turn around and sue the County Clerk AND the County and the Chief Petitioners over the Clerk's approval of the initiative.

It is all documented, though nicely tucked away so if you weren't paying attention or were not in attendance at the meeting you would not know it happened. The only way this was known was via a citizen recording of the meeting. Commissioner "work sessions," are not recorded. The minutes are not a true record of Commissioner actions.

And, by the way Commissioners Freeman, Boice and Leif unanimously approved this waiver to make way for the lawsuit against themselves. Tell us what you think:
Here are the links to the Agenda and Minutes relative to the waiver request: Check out Item 8:
AGENDA: http://www.co.douglas.or.us/commissioner/view_agenda.asp…
MINUTES: http://www.co.douglas.or.us/…/BOC%20WORK%20SESSION%20MINUTE…
Can you figure out what its about? Go here to see the specifics: https://websites.godaddy.com/…/downlo…/1bkd8h3lb_370421.pdf…

FYI . . . this is not transparency this is subterfuge.

Neutralcomment

I agree with your points, but nothing about being a mechanic, salesman, or photographer have anything to do with the point, and intimating that such professions render someone unfit to serve in local government makes you no better than the country club geese that we would like to replace. It's insulting to the working class. My fellows of the working class are going to be pretty hard to win over when people keep talking down to them and acting as if someone else knows better than they do, That's seems kind of like how we got here in the first place.

S

Oh, but being a mechanic, salesman or photographer has everything to do wth running a multi-million dollar government organization tasked with your health, safety and well-being. It is as if you would ask a podiatrist to perform an operation on your brain. We deserve better. We deserve better than mediocre.

bbgurrl

@bounder86 so wrong on every one of your "points", so voicebox for the lying opposition.

S

Excuse me; the Roseburg Chamber of Commerce is not informed nor an expert on government or Home Rule and is a huge part of the problem in this county; except that would be giving them more credit then they are actually due. The July newsletter is as idiotic as it is wrong. There were absolutely no facts; however, there were opinions presented as such. Moving on. . .

RE: The Roseburg Chamber of Commerce: have you actually seen anything creative or innovative out of that old hat in oh, let's say 15 years or more? And, whoever you are writing in their favor . . . you may want to read the actual Charter before you start spouting off opinions. The Roseburg Chamber of Commerce is part of the problem in this county. It's as close to life support as you want to be without the actual funeral taking place. And, seriously, recognized experts. . . oh good gawd . . "recognized leaders and experts around the country!" Let reality sink in: one owns a tire store and has never seen a day in public service until the geezer Republican party said, "Yep that's our guy," the other one used to take pictures and the third one is making a career out of getting elected since the gas station business fell out of favor. Bad for business is the status quo. Why do people keep voting against their own self-interests? It's not because they're smoking anything because we sent those revenues south. One thing is for sure in Douglas County we do not seek nor desire WISDOM. We get what we deserve and that comes from how we vote.

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