Contrary to Todd Vaughn’s accusations, we are an independent 501c3 organization and have no connection to the Umpqua Watersheds.
Community Rights Douglas County, of which John Hunter is the president, would like to use the strange Letter to the Editor published in The News-Review Feb. 11 as an opportunity to state clearly that our purpose is to demand from our county government the same rights the public exercises everywhere: meaningful democratic communication between the public and the county government at the commissioners’ meetings. Allowing the public to ask questions and make comments at the beginning of the meeting before the agenda items are brought up, does not count as “meaningful” anything. The commissioners’ meetings constitute a mock public engagement intended to foster a false sense of public/government communication and subvert the democratic process. Since the commissioners work so hard to discourage public engagement, I ask: what are they hiding from the public? They organize their meetings to force public “talking into the wind,” then they vote “their-way-or-the-highway,” because they have subversion down pat. And they do all this in a room which has an inadequate sound system enabling their undemocratic endeavors. Who needs to hear them?
In addition, commissioners have never provided documentation for any agenda item to be voted on. We are entitled to this documentation: it is a matter of transparency. The public wants to be better informed about what the commissioners are reviewing and then finally vote to approve. For example, on Feb. 10 the commissioners voted to approve $116,486.80 worth of herbicides (we assume to spray along county roadways). The purchase of these herbicides should never have been approved without providing the documentation of the names of each herbicide and their application on county lands.
Discouraging public comments is an infringement on both the rights of individuals and the community.
Kimberli S. Holmquist