October 16, 2012
The critics of the Home Rule Charter have been working overtime to discredit this document with wild
speculations and half-truths, so I wanted to set the record straight by adding my own counterpoints.
POINT: The creation of the Charter was in the dark with NO public involvement or input.
My Counter: Yes, and so was the US Constitution, but unlike the constitution the voters of Coos County will get to decide the fate of this document, and that is why we named the charter “The Voice of the Voters.” Written by several concerned citizens, some county department heads and a very well
qualified constitutional lawyer, this document is specific to Coos County and no other charter is like this one.
POINT: According to the charter, the voters must approve all purchases, leases, or sales of personal property over $50,000!
Voters must approve all real property transfers over $100,000!
Voters must approve all County contracts except those under $100,000!
Voters must approve all County debt exceeding only $5,000!
These votes will require multiple elections at an annual cost up to $60,000 EACH!
My Counter: Yes and the Commissioners will have to be diligent about scheduling these items for a vote. There are four regularly scheduled votes every year and the county has to pay for the ballot either way. The ballots cost the same whether there are one or one hundred measures. The charter would force the commissioners to be more responsible with our tax dollars. They will have to make their argument to the people and over time, this will eliminate wasteful spending.
POINT: The Charter creates 18 decisions where the public must vote. Why do we elect representatives anyway?
My Counter: Today, county government is doing everything---from healthcare, managing forests to making cheese in Bandon, so it is time the people put some checks and balances on the politicians. We used to elect citizen representatives to office, but lobbyists, special interest groups, and administrators have led them astray. There is too much money going to government development and political pet projects, while they neglect the roads and basic services dwindle.
POINT: Public officials can face a personal lawsuit up to $25,000 for violating the Charter, and are
required to pay their own attorney fees,even if vindicated.
My Counter: Yes, and it is about time politicians are held accountable for their decisions. However, no they do not pay if they win. The county will pay for the legal fees of any commissioner vindicated in a court of law.
POINT: Who will run for office?
My Counter: Honest people will run for office and follow the charter or they will have to pay the fine.
POINT: The Charter adds two commissioners at a cost of $200,000 per year!
My Counter: Yes, and that is more representation. The money for the two new commissioners will come from eliminating traveling expenses, and by cutting the salary of the Human Resources Director.
Over time there will be huge savings coming from the scheduling of proper maintenance to care for equipment to prevent malfunctions and deterioration.
POINT: Eighty percent or 4 out of the 5 commissioners must be present for a meeting to take place.
My Counter: The supermajority is unique, but it is a measure that will prevent a quorum of two and cause commissioners to take important issues seriously. Currently, it takes only 2 of the 3 commissioners to make decisions that affect everyone in the county. The Board of Commissioners should reflect a larger segment of the population to ensure a balance of power and it will eliminate nonsensical items from the agenda.
POINT: Time and place of commissioner business meetings set by Charter - Coquille, 9:30 AM
My Counter: Good, now everyone will know exactly when and where the meeting will be held and Coquille is the county seat, instead of obfuscation and varying meeting times.
POINT: With The Charter, the county can never hire an Administrator.
My Counter: Hogwash, the Charter can be changed by the people. The people can amend the charter to have an administrator and/or they can eliminate the charter.
POINT: The charter does not allow a special assessment for Limited Improvement Districts making it minority rule.
My Counter: This is also false. The Charter allows a vote, but it will take 80% of the voters to approve an LID with any special assessment.
POINT: In the Charter, there is no land use or zoning ordinance changes without voter approval!
My Counter: Good, land-use, and zoning laws work against property rights in Oregon and property owners need to take control.
POINT: In the Charter, it forces county employees into the competitive bidding process by advertising fourteen days in advance.
My Counter: Private business has learned to use bulk buying to save money and this would force Department Managers to pay attention to scheduling and budgeting. This is a common practice for most companies to combine the purchasing power of the individual departments.
POINT: If adopted, the Charter would cost the county over $1 million per year and would cause virtual gridlock in providing services to its citizens!
My Counter: Nonsense, this tactic is more fear mongering by the same people who want to put an administrator between you and your representatives. They know this document puts needed restrictions on the spending of our politicians. The Charter is superior to a General Law county, because it reinforces protections of private property owners. Since 1958, nine of Oregon’s 36 counties have adopted charters with varying success.
Hopefully these counterpoints were helpful and it is good to have several choices. The choices here are clear. The voter can choose a representative form of government and vote for Measure 1-143(The Charter.) Or the voter can choose Measure 1-144 a socialist bureaucratic form of government by voting for an Administrator. Or the voter could reject both measures and leave the county with its current form
The ballots will be sent out on October 19th, so remember to get involved and make your voice heard by voting. Next week I will give my opinion on the measures up for vote and release my choices for the General Election.
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