Voters of Douglas County have wisely said “no” to proposed Home Rule Charters three times in the past. We hope they will make the same choice this year. The writers of this commentary include myself; Umitilla County Commissioner Larry Givens, immediate past president of AOC; and Polk County Commissioner Craig Pope, who will assume the AOC presidency in November.

While AOC as an organization has no position on the measure, as individual commissioners we are speaking up because we believe this measure will not provide a more accountable and effective county government at reduced cost. It will in fact diminish Douglas County’s standing, influence and efficiency.

As many of our colleagues like to say, “If you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu.” Only elected commissioners who have made a full-time commitment to the work of the people can be an effective voice for their interests in Salem and Washington, D.C., especially for a county the size of Douglas County. A non-elected county manager usually doesn’t have the political stature, or, frankly the time, to do that.

The savings envisioned by a county manager system have often proven to be illusory. In fact, creating another layer of bureaucracy between the elected officials and the public will most likely add costs, not reduce them. Counties were created to be the local service delivery mechanism for the state. In the beginning, no resident was supposed to be more than a day’s horseback ride away from the county seat. Times have changed, but the fundamental role of counties has not. A strong relationship between county and state government is in the people’s best interest, and that can be difficult to maintain with commissioners who serve part time and need to maintain a job to support their own families. This work takes a long-term commitment.

We’ve achieved some real victories in the past few years, such as working together to keeping the Coast Guard helicopters operational on the Oregon Coast, but there are a lot of ongoing battles, especially in the realm of natural resources. Our experience with Home Rule counties that use this model hasn’t generally proven to be successful. Some of the counties that have tried this model have seen truly disastrous results — multiple recall elections and a constant churn of managers and department heads. We like to wax poetic about citizen legislators, but the reality is that county government across Oregon today is a multimillion-dollar business that requires the full-time attention of a board of commissioners engaged in every facet of the peoples business.

Another question we hope the voters will ask themselves: If we do want to consider a charter again, shouldn’t its creation be the result of an open collaborative process, instead of the work of one interest group? Special interest and single-issue politics rarely accomplish much, if anything, for the public good. We appreciate your consideration and encourage you to vote “no.”

Bill Hall is Lincoln County commissioner and president of the Association of Oregon Counties.

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(11) comments


Givens seems to have gotten his slapped; maybe that will teach him to keep his nose where it belongs.


Unbelievable!!! I quote, "The writers of this commentary include myself; Umitilla County Commissioner Larry Givens, immediate past president of AOC; and Polk County Commissioner Craig Pope". Please mind your own business, and let the people of Douglas County take care of themselves. Why are all the people trying to defeat our Home Rule residing outside of our county? Doesn't pass the 'smell test'. And follow the money! Thousands of dollars coming in from outside our county to pay for huge 'vote no' signs, with lies and scare tactics, and stealing the signs paid for by the donations from the real people of Douglas County. Please vote Yes for Home Rule, which will be beneficial for the 'little guys' and not the timber barons living outside of Douglas County. Our commissioners took our safety net money and made videos from which the timber industry would benefit. Do you want more of this kind of misappropriation of your tax dollars and federal funds??? You can always go back to your old system, or tweek the Home Rule Charter. It is a liquid, living document easily changed without lawsuits or gathering of signatures. Be brave. Take a leap of faith. Vote YES! You just might find Home Rule works great for the citizens of Douglas County!


Clearly instigated by one of the Commissioner boys or could even have Susan Morgan's touch since she works for AOC now. It is most inappropriate for a Commissioner from another County to meddle in the politics of another community. Just goes to show that ignorance and idiocy isn't isolated to our little corner of the State. Comeuppance can be fun!


Hmmmm I'm thinking there might be one or three Douglas County Commissioner's behind this lovely little "sticking their nose where it doesn't belong," opinion piece from Commissioner's in other Counties. I'm wondering how they will like it when someone from our County sticks their nose in their business. We'll they won't have to wait long. Not a good idea boys because this one will come back to bite you.

This is highly inappropriate and out of line. Of course, it is on par with the ignorance and idiocy that is sitting behind the Douglas County Commissioner's Dais.


Looks like Bubbles from TPB. Coincidence?


ROFL Momos you are right. I didn't see that before and now that is all I can think of.


He saw a samsquanch.


What Mr Hall talks about regarding the running of a County is certainly not controversial. However if our County were being run that way I wouldn't have the issues with it that I do. I'm sure Mr Hall would agree that incompetence, corruption, and self-serving management of a County is totally anathema to his ideals. That tells me he knows absolutely nothing about Douglas County, rather he continues to offer his support to the good old boys club, and that unfortunately gives his opinion little if any credibility in my eyes.


Very well written article. This proposed Home Rule would be bad for Douglas County and Bad for business


Yeah this "opinion" piece seems ever more inappropriate considering that the League of Women Voters were trying to arrange someone from the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) to speak at that informative event on Home Rule and they asked the current commissioners and the commissioners refused to allow a representative of the AOC to speak. Sounds like we are living in a corporate dictatorship and all the people in power appear to be our overlords...


Appears to be written by someone whose job or friends jobs could be axed if this passes. Just another person trying to justify their bloated salary and that of their buddies.

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