The current system of county government isn’t working well, and adopting a Home Rule Charter might fix it, supporters of that charter told The News-Review Editorial Board on Tuesday.

The News-Review Editorial Board invited people representing both the “yes” and the “no” votes on Home Rule Charter to visit with them recently. Home Rule supporters Stacey McLaughlin of Myrtle Creek and Carol Whipple of Elkton spoke with the board Tuesday about why they think the county government needs to change. Opponent Doug Robertson spoke with the board last week.

Home Rule, slated for the ballot this November, would replace the three salaried commissioners with five unsalaried commissioners, each representing one of five geographic districts. It would also create a county manager to oversee the day-to-day operations.

Stacey McLaughlin spent 35 years in government service and now runs a consulting business. She has served as the city manager of Portola, California, as executive director of the Umpqua Regional Council of Governments and as Douglas County Museum director. Carol Whipple is a rancher and timberland owner whose grandparents opened a sawmill in the 1930s, and whose family started the Mildred Whipple Foundation, which awards grants to educational programs.

McLaughlin said the key to her support for Home Rule lies in the creation of a county manager position. She said the absence of such a position in county government has always been a “missing link.” She said a county manager is important for two reasons. First, it helps de-politicize department heads like the planning or public works director who, under the current system, might feel pressured to do things the wrong way because that’s what a commissioner wants, she said.

Second, the county manager has the expertise to know what department heads should be doing. An elected commissioner can make policy, but doesn’t necessarily have the expertise to know how things should be done, she said.

McLaughlin said government has been her life’s work.

“I love government. I love what its goodness and its purposeful intention is for the people, and so that’s why I want to see good structures,” she said.

The Home Rule Charter slated to appear on the ballot this November would change the way Doug…

She said she’s not concerned about switching to part-time commissioners who would receive only stipends rather than salaries. Home Rule opponents argue part-time commissioners would have less influence at the state and federal level, especially when it comes to pushing for increased harvests on federal timberlands. Money from those harvests historically made up most of the county’s general fund.

McLaughlin said an elected official will be taken seriously because of the position they hold, whether or not they have a salary. As for county influence on timber issues, she’s not buying it.

“When they start talking about it’s going to diminish the influence that Douglas County has at the state and federal level, hello, where is that influence and what has it gotten us, and what has it done for us?” she asked.

She said the county was talking about the importance of getting “back in the woods” when she moved here 20 years ago, and they’re still talking about it today.

Whipple said she can’t understand why timber companies have been major contributors to more than $100,000 in campaign funds Home Rule opponents have collected to fight the charter.

“I’m embarrassed,” she said. “It’s an overreaction from my perspective.”

Whipple said the charter isn’t about environmentalism, it’s about “how the county moves forward.”

McLaughlin addressed another hot-button issue from the campaign. She doesn’t see why some opponents are worried that the board might move to control the sheriff or limit Second Amendment rights.

“Do you really honestly see the board of commissioners telling the sheriff he’s got to go out into the county and take people’s guns? Now or in the future? They can’t do it. These are local government officials, they don’t get to break federal and state law,” McLaughlin said.

The charter is mostly copied from the Clatsop County charter, with about 10 changes. McLaughlin said she didn’t know why Clatsop was chosen, but she thought it was a pretty standard charter. She said she thinks Clatsop County is similar to Douglas County. When questioned about whether Josephine County, which also has a Home Rule charter, wouldn’t be more similar, she suggested the Clatsop charter might have been preferred because it provides for a county manager, and Josephine doesn’t.

Opponents have suggested a lack of transparency among Home Rule supporters, and asked who’s behind the charter. The News-Review has been unable to get an answer about who wrote the charter. McLaughlin said she doesn’t know if there was a specific author.

“I think it was a collective group. I think it was sort of an organic thing. Whose computer it might have ended up on? Good question,” she said. She said she thinks the charter addresses problems raised by people passionate about a variety of county issues: libraries, parks, mental health, cannabis and the proposed Pacific Connector natural gas pipeline among them. However, she said the concern over the county’s structure is larger than any one of those issues. She also said it’s not intended to be a referendum against any of the commissioners.

“This was about fundamentally creating a new structure of government,” she said.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at 541-957-4213 or ccegavske@nrtoday.com.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4213 or by email at ccegavske@nrtoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(12) comments

Surfingranny35

Stacy McLaughlin is the lady who, Tues at the Winston Chamber of Commerce meeting, gave a very informative explanation of how the Home Rule Charter came about and made its way to our ballots through the democratic initiative process. She took question and answered them, until a commissioner (Chris) who was in attendance, began verbally attacking her to the point the President of the Chamber stood up and told him to stop or leave. This is the character of the people in opposition to the charter. They attack abusively, use scare tactics, even threatening the life of my granddaughter, Brandy Stone, for her attempts to promote yes votes on the charter. We have had our signs stolen. We don't have the thousands of dollars in donations coming in from outside the county, (that's how they afford those huge signs like the one with Sheriff Hanlin on it), only small donations from the people of the county, the small businesses, the farmers, the ranchers, so our signs are small, but still cost us money!!! Why do you think commissioner's attend and disrupt the meetings where we are trying to get out the FACTS? Why do you think there are thousands of dollars coming in from counties in Portland? What do they have to gain by defeating this Home Rule Charter? Don't be a 'mis-informed' voter. Get the FACTS! Read the actual charter here: http://www.co.douglas.or.us/charter.pdf Having noted the comments by exdep425, I suspect he is a troll funded by some of those outside opposition donors to belittle, insult, and attempt to degrade the veracity of those in support of the Home Rule. I find his comments offensive. Just my observation.

Mogie

"“Do you really honestly see the board of commissioners telling the sheriff he’s got to go out into the county and take people’s guns? Now or in the future? They can’t do it. These are local government officials, they don’t get to break federal and state law,” McLaughlin said." Excellent point!

exdep425

***Home Rule 'might' help. The supporters are not even sure if it will. Sounds like a used car salesperson saying, "Buy this car. It might be a good one." They say a county manager will have experience. How do they know ahead of time? What if only a bunch of fresh college grads apply, that have NO experience? Relist the job opening ad? Keep trying? OFFER more money? If Josephine County has Home Rule, does everyone know that their sheriff's dept was down to like 5% of its normal force for many years? No response to crimes, unless they were M-F, 8-5 and still no guarantee. I do not know if the Home Rule had a role in that, but the supporters made that comment. Jo county is just now hiring 20-30 new deputies, which will take a lot of time, then lots of training. I am yet to be convinced that Home Rule is a good choice.

OregonHusker

The problems in this county won't be fixed until we fix our attitude in regards to education and bring in employment from other fields. Companies aren't going to bring their jobs into a county where only 5% have a Bachelor's Degree or better and has a very large high school dropout rate. We continue to hope and pray that timber will make a comeback when it just can't. We needed to diversify three decades ago.

CannaKing

In my most humble of opinion.... FOR YEARS we have needed to take away the pay of these 3 commissioners PAST and PRESENT..... then hire them a babysitter to ensure they are doing the job they are suppose to be doing! 90K plus all they can steal (times 3) would have at least paid for 1 librarian and kept maybe 1 library open.... dont you think?

KnowsTheTruth

Well that's an aweful funny response coming from someone who unsuccessfully tried to run for one of those commissioner positions...and lost handily! I guess if you can't get one of those positions yourself, it's easier to criticize those that do. LOL, I think that pot continues to kill brain cells.

CannaKing

"Well that's an aweful funny response coming from someone who unsuccessfully tried to run for one of those commissioner positions...and lost handily". If you knew me or knew my position you would KNOW that I ran as an anti establishment guy THEN pledged to donate 100% of the commissioners salary BACK to the county. "I guess if you can't get one of those positions yourself, it's easier to criticize those that do." It was my disdain for the 3 commissioners views as well as how they were running this county as the SOLE reason I ran for commissioner. Know that I am on public record LONG BEFORE running for commissioner, going to commissioner meeting telling these fools TO THEIR FACE how corrupt and treasonous they are. "LOL, I think that pot continues to kill brain cells." I think cronyism and nepotism continues to plague as well as ruin this county! Thank you for playing!

CannaKing

We as a county NEED to get rid of the cronyism and nepotism that has plagued this county for YEARS..... and I think that this charter is a good FIRST STEP in shining light on the cockroaches that LOVE orchestrating the continued shady backroom deals that have absolute ruined this county as well as depleted/sold our precious natural resources to the highest bidder all the while stealing/dwindling our county coffers. Oy Vey.

KnowsTheTruth

Wow, 4 replies from you to one article! These comments must really have struck a truthful nerve with you to wire you up so much. Keep sling'in your backwoods pot driven drivel...LOL! You weren't voted for, by such a HUGE margin, because your opinions, like your pot business, are not wanted in our county.

CannaKing

"Wow, 4 replies from you to one article!" I am sorry if I insulted you in a previous comment eluding to you possibly being a commissioner, for it is quite apparent to me that you couldnt possibly be one of them, for you seem to be one of those quick captain obvious types that knows basic math. My bad. You should consider changing your handle to KnowsMath. smh

"These comments must really have struck a truthful nerve with you to wire you up so much." Got me, I have a really hard time dealing with greedy morons who want to maintain the status quo for their OWN personal benefit....STEALING from middle america all to justify paying THEIR (and probably your) tax payer funded 6 figures salaries and pensions... while watching our county services and coffers dwindle to near nothing! Nothing makes me MORE UPSET then someone (especially government) taking advantage of the hard working little guy like I have seen time and time again coming from these commissioners. HENCE why I am voting yes on this charter.

"Keep sling'in your backwoods pot driven drivel...LOL!" I will... and doing so, made over 2.1 MILLION dollars so far YTD doing it... IN THIS COUNTY... Doing my part to help keep this county afloat by pulling 100's of people off the freeway daily, who would never in a million years stop or even to come to this county EVER, because we put ALL of our eggs in one basket, the timber basket, and become nothing but a dried up NO NAMED truck stop,1 pony (must cut ONC, must cut ONC must cut ONC) has been timber county.... adding almost $500,000 to our state and local tax coffers. Question, How many people a day do YOU bring into this little town and how much taxes do you pay helping our county/city/state bottom line? EXACTLY!

"You weren't voted for, by such a HUGE margin, because your opinions, like your pot business, are not wanted in our county." There was a NUMBER of factors that contributed with me coming in 3rd place out of 9 candidates in the last election... but you and I both digress... but just like my 3 HUGE billboards in this county would suggest IDGAF what you or anyone else thinks about me, my opinions or my business BUT KNOW if I have something I want to say, it's going to be said on as many different platforms AS I SEE FIT! Deal with it cupcake! The way I see things, this county needs EVERY DOLLAR it can muster...From every LEGAL business. Who are YOU to say my business is not wanted? I can count 2.1 million different reasons you are wrong... and counting. Did you know that I have paid almost 500k to our state and local tax coffers as well as hired 11 people, paying an above average wage in this county... so far, this year? How many people have you hired? Any other county would clammer tout and endorse ANY BUSINESS that brought in those stats... What is sad is that because we had 3 commissioners make a tone deaf decision, very few people in douglas county can participate in this multi BILLION dollar per year business. SMFH. To add insult to injury, I couldnt open up a farm here in douglas county and instead bought 20 acres in Lane county (Lane county will now receive my property taxes, not douglas county) as well as I intend to hire more than 25 people, paying them $20 per hour starting wage IN LANE COUNTY. Lane county will now get to collect the taxes from a farm that is slated to bring in more than 11 million dollars it's first year.... and you are telling me that Douglas county couldnt use those jobs or those taxes? .....and I am the stoner? smfh. Good job diverting and deflecting away from the actual intended purpose of my original comment.... that was so 2015 and I am over it!

Bottom line: WE NEED TO GE T RID OF PEOPLE LIKE YOU and your ilk in our county government (pegged you from a mile away) AND VOTE YES ON THE HOME RULE CHARTER!

KnowsTheTruth

Unfortunately, those in the know, know that Stacey was behind the drafting of this, and this is just a mechanism for her to shoot for one of the volunteer board positions, or lobby for the administrator job. One of her agendas is to blackball the Jordon Cove pipeline, and this is her mechanism to to it. She states "department heads might feel pressured by Commissioners to do the wrong thing", implying a County Administrator would fix that. What, are you serious??? You don't think a County Administrator can pressure a department head more, being the SOLE entity controlling their employment?? I'm sure if you were the Administrator and were not in favor of a department head, they'd be on their way out! Be very wary of her coy support of this measure!

CannaKing

Tim(ber) Freeman.... is that you? Worried about losing that 85K PLUS all you can steal as well as that lucrative county contract to sell our county government vehicles overpriced fuel averaging more than a $1 more than the person across the street? lol.... Tim, if this it not you, this sure as heck sounds like a life long P.E.R.S recipient in the making or someone that also sucks from the teet of the fleeced taxpayers in this county....judging from your response. BTW, Good luck with all those future pension payouts. from what I hear, you are going to need it.

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