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Bipartisan bill would bar Sen. Dallas Heard from leading Republican party

A newly proposed bill would bar state Sen. Dallas Heard, R-Myrtle Creek, from holding office in the Oregon Republican Party while simultaneously serving as a state elected official.

The bill’s sponsors argued there are potential conflicts of interest involved in holding both party and legislative positions, but Heard told The News-Review Thursday that the bill would take away the rights of the people to choose their leaders for both party and Legislature.

“Why should the people have the person they’ve chosen to serve them in either position ripped away from them through no choice of their own, but through the choice of a few elitists up in Salem from both parties?” Heard said.

Senate Bill 865 was introduced in the state Senate Wednesday by two of Heard’s fellow Republicans, Sens. Lynn Findley and Bill Hansell, and by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner.

The bill would also impact state Sen. Dennis Linthicum, R-Klamath Falls, who is the treasurer of the Republican Party. In addition to legislators, the bill would bar governors, Supreme Court justices and other elected state officials from becoming office holders of any political party.

Elected officials who violated the rule would be charged $250 per day.

Heard has been chairperson of the Oregon Republican Party, which is a separate entity from the Legislature, since February.

Responding to speculation that the bill’s introduction reflects a growing rift among Republican legislators, Heard likened it to family conflict.

“There’s always squabbles going on in every family. So there’s really nothing new about that. Doing a good job often creates opponents. It’s just the sad world we live in,” he said.

Heard has been at the center of controversy at the state Capitol more than once over the past year, especially over COVID-19 safety restrictions.

In March, he pledged to vote “no” on every bill until the Capitol building was reopened to the public.

In December, he removed his mask on the Senate floor, to protest COVID-19 safety rules.

During a protest at the state Capitol on Jan. 6, in which demonstrators called for the building to reopen to the public, Heard had this to say about state leaders as he gestured to the state Capitol.

“Don’t let any of these punks from that stone temple over there ever tell you they are better than any of you. Trust me, I work with these fools. None of them are half as good as any of you and you need to bring the power to them,” he said.

OPB reported Hansell and Findley said in a joint statement they had been contacted by constituents in and out of the Republican party who were concerned about mixing party politics with legislative policy.

“All of a sudden, certain votes are being seen as official positions of all Republicans in Oregon when they aren’t, and vice versa. There are potential conflicts of interest and ethical considerations, and we have a responsibility to ensure the integrity of the legislature is not in question,” the senators said.

There’s no guarantee SB 865 will ultimately pass, but if it does Heard said he would challenge it on principle.

“My goal is to represent my constituents to the best of my ability in fighting for their freedoms and their rights in the Senate, and then my goal as the chair and the party leader for the state for the Republican Party is to help the Republican Party move forward and be much the same, be a party of integrity, honesty, transparency and a group that represents freedom and liberty for all people,” he said.

Roseburg City Councilor Sheila Cox resigns for family reasons

Roseburg City Councilor Sheila Cox, who spent more than 30 years serving the city, first as city recorder and most recently as a member of the council, has tendered her resignation due to a family emergency.

“My grandson was in a near-fatal car accident and left with severe brain injuries and I need to be able to help take care of him,” Cox said in a brief interview Thursday. “I just can’t give the time and effort I need to serve the city. I hate to resign in the middle of a term like this, but my family comes first.”

Cox’s resignation will be immediate once the City Council formally accepts it at its meeting scheduled for Monday night. There will then be a recruitment process to find a successor to Cox, which is expected to close by June 8, said Koree Tate, a management assistant with the city. Interviews have tentatively been scheduled for June 14 to fill the position, Tate said.

Whomever is selected to take over the seat is scheduled to hold it through 2022.

Cox took her first position as a city recorder in 1984 for Othello, Washington, where she had moved from her native state of Missouri to help her mother with a restaurant.

However, Cox decided that the restaurant business was not for her, and she was working for the mayor’s business in an accounting role when the mayor and others encouraged her to take the city’s recorder position, and she signed on.

Being a self-described “country girl,” Cox said city hall, with its ordinances and resolutions, was an unfamiliar environment. A month into the job, Cox felt something that would be familiar to anyone who has taken a new job that was a step up.

“Probably a month after I started, I wondered what I got into,” Cox said in an earlier interview.

The person she replaced told her she should join a professional organization, the International Institute of Municipal Clerks. She attended an organization conference which instilled a sense of pride and determination in her, as well as motivation, she said.

She started studying for a Certified Municipal Clerk certification, then went on to study for a more advanced certification as Master Municipal Clerk.

Cox moved to Douglas County and joined the city of Roseburg as city recorder in 1988. In 2001, she became the first municipal clerk in Oregon to earn the Master Municipal Clerk designation, according to the International Institute of Municipal Clerks.

During her tenure as city recorder, Cox also served as interim city manager for two stints — one of them during a challenging time marked by controversy over expired airport hangar leases. The terms of the leases provided for improvements such as hangars to become city property.

Cox worked for the city until her retirement in 2018. At her send-off before the City Council in April of that year, Cox received a bouquet of flowers and got a standing ovation for her service to the city.

“Other than my daughters and four grandchildren, this job has made me more proud than anything in my life,” Cox said at the time.

But the retirement didn’t last. Cox stepped forward in February 2020 to apply for the Ward 2 Position 1 seat that was left vacant by the departure of Tom Ryan, who resigned two months prior after serving on the council for nearly 20 years.

During the interview process before the City Council, Cox said she hadn’t planned on being a public official after her retirement, but when Ryan resigned “that left a void in the city.” Cox realized she lived in the same ward as Ryan and began to think about applying for his seat.

“I decided to step up and give back to the community. City government is the core of the community,“ Cox said. “Being with the city for 30 years, that kind of gets in your system.”

Cox was appointed by the council in February 2020. She ran unopposed in November’s general election and was slated to serve through Dec. 31, 2022.

Mayor Larry Rich, who has held that position since 1998, said Cox was was indispensable as city recorder.

“She’s going to be missed tremendously,” Rich said. “She’s a top-quality person who always worked well with staff, the City Council and the public. She was always there willing to help.”

Richard and Donna Rawson honored as Tree Farmers of the Year

OAKLAND — Richard and Donna Rawson have made it their mission to be stewards of their 66-acre forested property and its natural resources.

They purchased the land in the Metz Hill area north of Oakland in 1981. Through the years, either by hiring out the work or doing it themselves, they have turned a poison oak and blackberry infested forest into a timbered park of Douglas fir, oak and madrone trees. Four natural springs on the property have also been developed into domestic water sources, wildlife habitat ponds and sources for fire protection.

Their efforts were recently honored with their selection as the Douglas County Small Woodlands Association’s 2020 Tree Farmers of the Year. Richard Rawson led a tour of his property on May 1 for members of the association.

“It’s an entirely different place than what it was 40 years ago,” Richard Rawson said. “I’ve gotten more than my money’s worth from the enjoyment of working on this land. It’s been worth it. It’s in better shape than when we bought it.”

The acreage had been heavily logged in 1949 with the logs milled on site into railroad ties. So sawdust was scattered around the property and because the land was left to regenerate on its own, poison oak and blackberries had a strong presence along with a mixture of young trees. The Rawsons, in their mid-30s at the time and the owners of Cabin Creek Fencing, were up to the challenge of improving the land.

They built a home on the property and slowly worked on renovating the surrounding acreage. Poison oak, blackberries, Scotch broom, hawthorn and thistle were cut down and sprayed, ponds were developed for wildlife and for use in case of wildfire, and roads were constructed around the property for both work and for access in case of fire. In their place, the land features 40 wildflowers that bloom annually.

Several piles of woody debris were left to provide habitat for smaller wildlife.

“Wildlife is an important occupant of the forest and we get a lot of enjoyment out of watching them here,” Richard Rawson said of deer, squirrels, coyotes, bobcats, turkeys and a variety of other birds.

In 1992 and 1994, some trees in the forest were thinned, but there was no major logging until an ice storm, drought and a major snowstorm in the past five years impacted the trees. Following those events, the Rawsons had professional help in making decisions since they had begun working with Barnes & Associates, a Roseburg-based forestry consulting business, in 2016 to develop a land management plan.

“They’re good at maintaining what they have,” said Ben Christiansen, the forestry consultant who has worked with the Rawsons since 2016. “They have a healthy forest that is aesthetically pleasing to look at.

“They’ve done a lot of fire risk management, cleaning up the undergrowth, having roads to get around and developing the springs for water,” Christiansen added.

“I’ve never regretted investing in consulting foresters,” Richard Rawson said. “I wish I had earlier.”

Roy Brogden, president of the Douglas County Small Woodlands Association, explained that in selecting a Tree Farmer of the Year, such factors as harvesting, thinning, vegetation control and fire prevention management are considered. He complimented the Rawsons on how they have dealt with those factors on their property.

“They’ve done what is best for the land and the forest,” Brogden said.

Richard Rawson has been a board member for the small woodlands association for the past three years and has helped the association organize Fire Season Preparedness workshops and other field tours. The mission of the association, which has 200 members, is to assist small landowners in managing their resources.

Rawson completed the Oregon State University Extension Master Woodland Manager volunteer program training in 2019. His forest is also certified by the American Tree Farm System.

Rawson said his property has produced approximately 260,000 board feet of timber, 125 cords of firewood of both Douglas fir and oak, and many family Christmas trees.

“The work out here helps keep me healthy,” he said. Both Richard and Donna are now 75. “It has satisfied my inner need for nature. I’m pleased with what I see now.”

Citizens Against Tyranny movement, backed by Sen. Heard, seeks to expose people who make OSHA complaints

Citizens Against Tyranny movement, backed by Sen. Heard, seeks to expose people who make OSHA complaints

{child_byline}CARISA CEGAVSKE

Senior Staff Writer

The News-Review


Two local women have been targeted by a group calling itself Citizens Against Tyranny, and more are likely to be targeted in the future.

State Sen. Dallas Heard, R-Myrtle Creek, is backing the movement. The tyranny, according to the group’s website, involves COVID-19 safety mandates the group says have harmed local businesses.

But this group has gone far beyond criticizing the governor.

In late December, it also began publishing names of people it alleged have turned in businesses to the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration for violating COVID-19 safety rules. And it demands that all elected officials sign the group’s declaration or face recall.

Two women, both senior citizens and Douglas County residents, were recently fingered by this organization. Their names were published on a website called citizensagainsttyranny.net as part of “The LIST,” and they were labeled “Filthy Traitors.” The words were spattered in red, as if to indicate blood.

The website encourages businesses to sign on to “86”-ing, or banning, anyone on “The LIST,” which as of early Friday afternoon had just the two women on it.

The names were removed after an inquiry from a News-Review reporter.

Heard encouraged businesses to file public records requests to obtain names of people who have filed OSHA complaints at a Dec. 13 Sunday service at Garden Valley Church. Heard was featured as a guest speaker for the service and spoke about the group’s plans.

“There’s going to be stuff in it that might make you pause for a second, like when we discover that someone has betrayed their community, betrayed their own freedom and turned in their neighbor for nothing but going to work and earning a living the most basic of rights, we’re going to expose them. We’re not going to return evil for evil though. But their faces and their names and what they did must be known,” Heard told them.

The News-Review spoke to the women targeted on the Citizens Against Tyranny website. Because of concerns over the potential for harassment, both agreed to speak on condition of anonymity.

One said she was shocked by it.

“I’m not a filthy traitor, I’m a good American,” she said.

She said she had reported the Reedsport Safeway back in May for allegedly having workers not wearing masks.

The other told us she’s never reported anyone for a COVID-19 violation.

“I don’t even have any numbers to OSHA. I don’t even know what they’re talking about,” she said.

She said she sent a message to the email address listed on the site, and asked them to take her name off the list. She told them she had nothing to do with any of this.

Next, she called the police and filed a police report.

“The police told me to notify them immediately if anybody tried to make contact with me,” she said.

The woman said she didn’t want anything to do with the people behind Citizens Against Tyranny.

“They’re just a bunch of bullies, that’s who they are. They’re just a bunch of bullies,” she said.

She was surprised to learn of Heard’s involvement.

“I really think he is not representing me, I don’t want anything to do with him. He is not representing the people, he is not representing me or anybody else,” she said.

“I think really, to be very honest with you, I think people should just report him and get him out of office,” she said.

She said she’s a big supporter of local businesses and has been eating a lot of takeout meals.

“Why would they ban me from trying to support them and trying to order from them? That doesn’t even make sense,” she said. If that’s Heard’s plan, she said, “he’s one brick short of a full load.”

Her fiance had just one thing to say about it all.

“Don’t worry about us. I’ve got a 12-gauge shotgun that will take care of us just fine,” he said.

The other woman, the one who did make an OSHA report, said she wanted to help an elderly friend of a friend in her 80s who has access to no other grocery store. At the time, she said, there was no plexiglass up and store employees weren’t wearing masks.

“I was very concerned and I just really felt for that poor woman who walks with a little wheeled cart. That was the only place she can shop. You can’t live off the groceries at the Dollar Tree. This is small town stuff, it’s heartbreaking,” she said.

The risk of dying from COVID-19 increases with age, with the death rate for those over 80 being 17% in Oregon.

The woman said she doesn’t believe any harm came to Safeway because she reported them.

“I honestly wouldn’t have if I had thought that I was reporting to OSHA and they would shut Safeway down in Reedsport. That would be a terrible thing. I knew they wouldn’t. I reported them so that they would hopefully be told that really people, you should wear a mask,” she said.

Reedsport Safeway Manager Mike Overton said he had no idea what the Citizens Against Tyranny group is, but would not comment further. When asked if Safeway had made an effort to discover who turned them in to OSHA or made changes in response to a complaint, he referred questions to a public affairs officer in Portland.

On Monday, Safeway responded that complaints they receive are confidential with regard to the complainants’ information.

“The Reedsport Safeway was following all COVID-19 regulations between March and May, and has been since,” said Safeway spokesperson Jill McGinnis.

She said Safeway is not aware of any employee involvement with Citizens Against Tyranny.

The Citizens Against Tyranny website encourages businesses to “86” or ban the women and others who file complaints. It also contains sign-up sheets, a sign to post at businesses and detailed instructions about how to file information requests to Oregon OSHA to try to uncover the names of those who have made reports.

The person who wrote the instructions used the term “constituents” to describe those who would be filing the information requests, a term generally used by elected officials.

Heard told The News-Review he’s not in control of the Citizens Against Tyranny group, which he said was formed by a group of 20 or 30 small businesses such as restaurants and gyms.

After being questioned by a reporter about the women on the list, Heard said he did not know that any individual names had been posted on the website, of which he said he is not the administrator.

He also said he would contact the administrator and ask that the names be removed. The names were promptly removed following the interview, and so was the “Filthy Traitors” label.

Heard said names shouldn’t go up unless the group has gone through a process to confirm they have made OSHA complaints.

“We are not the pitchforks and torches crowd,” he said.

But Heard stands by the plan to put those who the group decides have made complaints on the list.

“I’m not sympathetic to people who are actually calling the government to turn in their neighbors for simply earning a living,” he said.

If there’s concrete proof, he said, their names should be on the list.

“If that’s the case then I support those people being known for what they did,” he said.

In his December speech, Heard said the movement would demand that every elected official in Douglas County — from mayors to county commissioners to legislators — sign on to a declaration endorsing Citizens Against Tyranny. Anyone who doesn’t should be “purged” from office, he said.

There are approximately 500 elected officials serving all or parts of Douglas County.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin, an elected official, said what Heard’s doing is inappropriate and he doesn’t plan to sign on to his declaration.

“I don’t feel that sharing the names of individuals who think or may believe that they are reporting appropriate violations of law or violations of the governor’s orders, I don’t believe it’s appropriate to shame them or publish their names for doing what they believe may be the right thing,” Hanlin said.

“As an elected official, certainly as a sheriff, I’ve already taken a couple of oaths that I take very seriously and so to just jump on board and sign this declaration of the Citizens Against Tyranny, I’m not sure that that’s an appropriate thing for me to do at this point. I’m trying to be fair and impartial and serve everyone and I don’t feel that this necessarily does that,” he said.

“Certainly we don’t publish the names of individuals who report drunk drivers or who report a domestic disturbance going on or those sorts of things,” Hanlin said.

One issue that gives him heartburn over this, Hanlin said, is the demand that elected officials sign the declaration or have a recall effort started against them.

“So there’s coercion. They’re threatening elected officials into signing it and that doesn’t settle well with me,” Hanlin said.

State Rep. Gary Leif, R-Roseburg, said on Facebook Saturday he was distressed about Heard’s connection to Citizens Against Tyranny. He said he supports the position expressed by Hanlin.

“(W)e have a duty to represent all the citizens in our elected area, and we have a duty to uphold the constitution. I have experienced threats from members of these extreme groups and experienced pressure to sign letters and documents that after investigation proved to be less than forthright,” Leif said.

The singling out and publishing of the women’s names is similar to a practice called doxing, in which identifying information is divulged to supporters of a particular cause to encourage harassment. It’s popular with some extremist movements.

Doxing is not currently illegal in Oregon, though Willamette Week reported last year that a proposal to outlaw it was expected to come before the Joint Committee on Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform — a committee on which Heard sits.

It could be taken up by the 2021 legislature. The proposal would make doxing a misdemeanor and a second offense a Class C felony.

A spokesperson for Oregon OSHA said there are laws protecting employees from retaliation for reporting potential COVID-19 and other safety violations. However, he said he’s not aware of any that would apply to non-employees.

He said people making reports about COVID-19 or other safety issues can ask for confidentiality. If they do, no identifying information will be released.

This is an incredibly difficult and stressful time, he said, but decency remains important.

“That’s what I have on my mind. Where is the decency?” he said.

In his speech at Garden Valley Church, Heard referenced the demonstration that would occur at the Capitol building in Salem a week after his sermon, and insisted that parishioners participate.

“I’m going to force that door open. When the time comes you better be standing outside that door to push your way in and establish your, you gotta establish your rights as the people. Do not let your servant take all of God’s blessing and glory for you. Take it for yourself. So your children have an inheritance worth having,” he told the parishioners.

On Dec. 21, he removed his mask on the state Senate floor as protesters attempted to push their way into the Oregon Capitol, and later he went out to speak to the protesters.

Heard believes his cause is just. He said businesses are hurting because of Brown’s mandates, and he believes those mandates are illegal.

“I’m just gonna stand with the people I know are being trampled. It doesn’t matter if it’s a lemonade stand, a nail hair salon, a grocery store, a lumber mill, a diner, they have the right to open for business and earn a living to feed their selves their children their employees to be able to do the same for that community to be able to feed itself by going there and being patrons,” he said.

He said the movement isn’t going to be perfect and he’s not a dictator who can control everything that members of it do.

“I’m doing my absolute best to make sure all of you know that you are still free people,” he said.



Sen. Dallas Heard plans to vote no on every bill until Capitol opens

Sen. Dallas Heard plans to vote no on every bill until Capitol opens

{child_byline}CARISA CEGAVSKE

Senior Staff Writer

The News-Review


Every bill that comes before the state Senate this session will receive a “no” vote from Sen. Dallas Heard unless members of the public are allowed back into the building.

Currently, the Capitol is closed to the public for COVID-19 safety reasons.

But Heard, who in December pulled off his mask on the Senate floor in protest of safety rules, thinks the building should be reopened.

Heard said the Oregon Constitution requires all legislative deliberations be open.

“That means open, unimpeded, and fair opportunities for the people to engage their Legislature. Legislatures across the country are finding ways of allowing the people in, yet the Democrat supermajority and its leadership have taken the liberty upon themselves to ban ‘we the people’ from the Capitol building,” Heard said in a press release.

He also said virtual committee meetings have been discriminatory, blocking people who can’t afford the internet from participating.

He said it’s been heartbreaking to watch people trying to navigate an unfamiliar virtual environment.

“I have seen older Oregonians frantically trying to get their mic to work, and have seen the pain in their eyes as the Chairs move on,” he said.

He also objected to virtual committee meetings being resumed while people in many parts of the state still were without power due to last month’s ice storms.

He called the virtual sessions “twisted and perverted.”

“I will continue to be a ‘no’ vote on every bill until the people are allowed back into their building and we can move forward with an honest and open process,” he said.