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Sunday, June 2, 2013

John Joseph Golden

John Joseph Golden


Former resident John Joseph Golden died on May 28, 2013, at Baptist South Hospital in Jacksonville, Fla., at the age of 91. Born in Minneapolis, Minn., on Feb. 28, 1922, John was later raised in Northfield, Minn. 
He joined the U.S. Navy in 1940, serving until 1946. John retired from Honeywell Inc., after 32 years. 
John was a lifetime member of the VFW and served as Post Commander of Brookings VFW Post 966 during the mid-1990s. He was a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus as well as an avid sportsman. 
He is survived by his wife of 67 years Audrey L.; his four daughters Constance L., (husband LeRoy Ellingson), Jeanette M. (husband Gerald Cameron), Maureen E. Rex, and Patricia A. (husband J. Fred Roberson); 12 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren. 
John precedes in death his grandson Richard Grannis; his foster parents Jules and Elizabeth Fink; and other Fink family members. 
Arrangements are under the care and direction of Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home of Mandarin, 11801 San Jose Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32223; www.hgmandarin.com; 904-288-0025.
Submitted by Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home.

Citizens willing to help fight crime

Tom Cutting doesn’t need to be told crime is on the rise since sheriff’s deputy jobs have been slashed and the uncertainty of the results of the failed public safety levy have yet to be hashed out.
Despite what many have called “scare tactics” to get voters to approve a public safety levy, he said he was not surprised it failed. He’s seen sheriff’s deputies leave for new jobs in Tillamook, Grants Pass and Brookings — where pay is higher and jobs are more secure.
“Here we are,” said Cutting, owner of Harbor-based IPH Security Systems and a former police officer from Toronto, Canada. 
“It became evident about 2007 that this was coming. That’s the advantage of being an outsider; a lot of people couldn’t see it — ‘Oh, they’re crying wolf; they’ve been crying wolf for years.’ I’ve seen it coming.”
Cutting also volunteers with Sheriff John Bishop’s reserve forces and, because of his experience in law enforcement, is allowed to monitor and — if needed — communicate using the county’s radio bandwidth frequency to respond to calls.
“We got into a stolen vehicle situation in Harbor years ago, and a sergeant we were working with said, ‘You need to be on our radio frequency; we could’ve caught this guy,’” Cutting said. He told the sergeant to talk with Bishop, who agreed to the idea.
Cutting’s not the only one willing to help combat crime since Bishop is so short-staffed.
Bob Pieper of Brookings, who owns Hearth & Home, said he knows people willing to patrol unincorporated areas of the county to ensure civil order. That’s what happened in Cave Junction when Josephine County voters defeated a tax levy last year that would have funded public safety.
“I’ll take Harbor,” Pieper said. “I know of five other guys who are willing to do this. I’m serious.”
Bishop said it’s not that easy.
For starters, state law prohibits it.
“This isn’t just driving around and looking at things,” Bishop said. “If they want to do that, they can do that now. But they can’t take any enforcement action, or they’d open themselves up to liability. And do you truly want citizens doing patrol when we should have professional law enforcement? The notion that volunteers can do all this is totally ridiculous.”
Bishop has a cadre of eight reserves who go through training and help in the jail, dispatch or on patrol depending on their time schedules and interests. They’re mostly utilized in the transport of prisoners. And regardless, they must be accompanied by a deputy while volunteering.
“Liability with a reserve is just as much, if not a little bit more, than a regular (deputy),” Bishop said. “And they’re supplanting the force, not replacing it. Sometimes it works really well. It gives us more boots on the ground. It’s not a lot, but it helps.”
The city of Brookings also has about 10 citizens in a supplemental patrol division, said Lt. Donny Dotson. They carry weapons and drive vehicles with lights and sirens.
“There certainly is a liability,” Dotson said. “That’s why there’s a lengthy process to ‘Hey, I want to be a volunteer’ to where they’re wearing a uniform and driving a car.”
The city also has its “VIP” reserve force of about 10 that conducts less confrontational duties such as checking on homes when people are on vacation and helping with large events.
It’s come in more than handy for potential crime victims.
Cutting was there to back up a sheriff’s officer after a burglary, giving the officer time to pursue a suspect. That person was let go, but shortly after, another 911 call resulted in an arrest of someone allegedly breaking into a house.
“The guy ran,” Cutting said. “And we caught him. Ends up he lived there and locked himself out. Why he ran? Well, he had a bunch of dope in his pocket.”
Cutting was the officer who extinguished the arson fire recently behind Barron’s Furniture Warehouse on Benham Lane. His firm has responded to fights, disturbances, burglaries, car thefts and trespassing incidents. He can’t respond to incidents to properties that have no contract with him, as it opens up a slew of liability issues.
“Tom works well; he’s our eyes and ears,” Bishop said. “But even when he finds something criminal, he’s calling in for us to get there.”
Residents in the far reaches of Curry County know all too well the challenges law enforcement faces in responding to an emergency. Social media comments have been noting for months the time it takes for a sheriff’s deputy to get to Harbor — if anyone can arrive at all.
“That’s where we come in,” Cutting said. “Because we’ve got a patroller on the street, we can just about guarantee a response within five minutes anywhere in Harbor.”
The Sheriff’s Office can’t contract with IPH to provide law enforcement in far-flung areas of the county, he said.
“But this is an alternative,” Cutting said. “You can’t replace the Sheriff’s Office with a private security agency; to think that would be visions of grandeur. But we can provide something — some reprieve and peace of mind.”
He said he’s seen crime increase in the nine years he’s lived here — and anticipates it to ratchet up since the levy failed.
“There’s no doubt about it,” Cutting said. “We’re nowhere near Josephine County, but we’re going to get there real quick once the crime element figures that out.”
He has nothing but high praise for local law enforcement and the district attorney, noting that they more often than not catch and prosecute.
“Those deputies on patrol are looking around, gathering information, seeing what’s going on,” Cutting said. “We no longer have those deputies out there at night. John (Bishop) has to phone someone at home, at 10:30 at night or 3 a.m., they have to get into uniform — that’s 20 minutes. You can have some serious physical injury in 20 minutes.
Not even 24 hours after the polls closed, he felt a shift in the general mood of the community, Cutting said.
“I see a lot of disbelief,” he said. “We’re a society that thinks, ‘It’ll never happen to me.’ A lot of people out there are scared, and I hope they do something to protect themselves. If the community can draw together instead of pulling apart, I think we’ll be OK.” 

Nancy Lea Thompson

Nancy Lea Thompson

Nancy Lea Thompson passed away May 25, 2013, surrounded by her family at her home in Brookings, after a courageous battle with cancer. She was 72.
Nancy was born Sept. 22, 1940, in Iowa City, Iowa, to Clarence and Betty (Townsend) Stritt. 
The family moved to Oregon in the early 1950s and lived in Langlois. Nancy married John Yost in 1956, and eventually moved to Brookings. She moved to Hawaii in 1979 and ran the accounting department of a large company while attending college night classes for five years, earning three degrees in the accounting and management field. While in Hawaii she enjoyed many adventures such as kayaking in exotic places, hiking, traveling to the other islands and living in her home with an incredible island view. 
After retiring in 2006, she moved to Brookings to care for her mother Elizabeth Kee until she passed away in 2008. Nancy enjoyed weekly walks on the beach, attending local theater performances and spending time with her furry, devoted companion Kitty Cat. She loved the scent of the wild azaleas on her strolls while visiting friends John and Zee Yost, (former husband and her daughter’s loving stepmother). Additionally she deeply appreciated the beauty of the numerous mature rhododendrons surrounding her home and the tall palm tree out front that reminded her of her Hawaiian paradise, making it one of the most beautiful places on earth in her opinion. 
Nancy was very grateful to have her brother David and sister-in-law Nancy so close and always lovingly supportive. She cherished her visits, daily emails, and phone calls from her daughters, and frequent communication from family and friends near and far. Nancy will be forever missed and in their hearts, and her generosity and love remembered by all.  
Survivors include her daughters Tammy Sue Yost of Beaverton and Joni Lynn Yost of Brookings; grandchildren Nicole, Jamie, Branden, Jessica, and Ashley;  great-grandson Kyle; brother and sister-in-law David and Nancy Brown of Brookings; sister Delores Spencer of San Leandro, Calif. Nancy was preceded in death by her sisters Mary and Marjorie; brother  Richard, and her parents.
 At her request, no public ceremony will be held.
 Condolences may be expressed online at www.redwoodmemorial.net.
 Submitted by Redwood Memorial Chapel

Louis Leslie Vieira

Louis Leslie Vieira

Former Brookings resident Louis Vieira, 97, of Vancouver, Wash., died May 22, 2013, in Vancouver. 
He was born July 9, 1915, in Ceres, Calif. 
He married Patricia Baptista in 1939, in Turlock, Calif. 
The couple raised three children. Louis was an insurance executive. The family lived in California and moved to different cities as Louis was promoted.  
In 1972 Louis retired from United Pacific Insurance Company in Los Angeles. Then, he and Patricia relocated to Grants Pass. 
They moved to Brookings in 1974 where Louis was owner of Vieira Adjustment Services of Brookings. He was a member of Sydney Croft Masonic Lodge 206, and was past supreme president of UPEC, a Portuguese fraternal society. Louis was also a 30-year member of the Elks Lodge.  
After Patricia’s death in 1981, Louis moved back to California. 
He married Daphna Fernandez in 1982. After her death in 1999, Louis remained in California to care for his ill sister. 
In  2001, Louis moved to Vancouver, Wash., to be near his daughter and her family.
Survivors include his sons Tony Vieira of Gardena, Calif., Louis L. Vieira Jr. (Sue) of Apple Valley, Calif.; and daughter Kathleen Honeycutt (Theron) of Vancouver, Wash. Also surviving are three stepchildren, five grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and three great-great- grandchildren.    
A private service will be at  W.J. Ward Cemetery in Brookings where Louis will be laid to rest beside his wife Patricia. 
Dad’s last wish was to be able to dance with Mom again. He is celebrating Father’s Day with her and his heavenly Father. 
Submitted by the family. 

CEO: Sutter Coast Hospital losing money

CRESCENT CITY — The interim CEO of Sutter Coast Hospital updated Del Norte County supervisors Tuesday regarding what might be expected for the future of the hospital that serves Curry and Del Norte county residents.
The new top executive, Linda Horn, explained the impact Sutter Coast can expect from planned cuts to Medicare over the next 10 years because of health-care reform, using figures provided to Sutter Coast by the California Hospital Association.
“The impact from the Affordable Care Act is $16.5 million over the next 10 years,” Horn said, adding that, in terms of operating income, the hospital lost $3.1 million in 2011 and $3.8 million in 2012. Looking at the first quarter of 2013, the hospital is poised to have an even higher loss this year, Horn said.
“Given a $16.5 million hit from the federal government and our already existing deficits, how do we do long-term planning?” said Horn.
One way to start long-term planning is to hire a consultant to conduct a “strategic options study” that will analyze the advantages and disadvantages of all possible options for Crescent City’s hospital, which is exactly what Sutter Coast is doing. The Camden Group was chosen last week to conduct that study, and Horn invited the supervisors to participate in a 15- to 18-member community group that will participate in the study.
“This is our hospital and it’s our time to plan for the future. And it’s really important that we get involvement,” Horn said.
 She added, “We have a sincere desire to get objective data. We all know we can only make good decisions if we have objective data.”
Some supervisors thanked Horn for providing hospital data prior to Tuesday’s meeting, including a list of “historical facts” of Sutter’s involvement in Del Norte County and hospital census data from the past four years showing a steady drop in business at the hospital for most services offered.
Some supervisors asked that financial information and hospital Board of Directors meeting minutes be released to the public for more transparency and to bury any suspicion.
Supervisor Martha McClure pointed out that the hospital is not required to share its meeting minutes but that the release of such data could be negotiated through the study’s community group, saying that’s one reason the Board of Supervisors should be at the table. McClure was recently poised to be on a panel of community members choosing the study consultant, but other supervisors pressured her not to take the position out of concerns that the study will be biased since Sutter Health will fund it.
Gitlin reiterated that concern Tuesday saying, “a blind man could see the results are almost predictable.”
Horn acknowledged the two alternatives for the future that have caused fear in the community: “regionalization,” a shift away from local ownership and governance of the hospital, and downsizing to a Critical Access hospital, a federal designation for small hospitals that provides higher Medicare reimbursement.
“Regionalization has indefinitely been postponed; Critical Access is not being discussed,” Horn said.
Sutter Coast Chief of Medical Staff Greg Duncan noted during the public comment part of the meeting that these options will still be evaluated by the study and the hospital Board has not rescinded its vote to regionalize despite the medical staff’s request it do so. In the court of appeals, Sutter Coast also continues to fight an injunction preventing the hospital from regionalization or critical access, Duncan said.
He said that several Sutter executives made “false or misleading statements regarding regionalization to the Board of Sutter Coast Hospital.”
“Given what we know of Sutter Health, can we trust them to coordinate the study?” Duncan said.
Other county supervisors also reminded Horn of the community response to the regionalization effort, “community blowback,” as Supervisor Roger Gitlin put it.
“I don’t think the past CEO did a great job of communicating with the public. I think there’s a trust factor right now and the community feels burned,” said Supervisor Mike Sullivan.
McClure lamented the community division that has been fostered by the regionalization issue and encouraged citizens to “go with a voice of discussion rather than a fight.”  
“I know it’s a giant corporation and sometimes giant corporations stumble,” McClure said. “I think that maybe Sutter did a little bit of stumble in their discussion and was not quite as public as they needed to be, but I really believe we are on the precipice of being able to reopen this discussion within our community and let the anger be pushed aside; let’s sit down and talk about our true options.”
In regards to Critical Access downsizing, Horn said, “We’ve taken a big step back. We now want to do the honest, complete due diligence to see what’s absolutely best. I’ll take us back to part of why we’re here to begin with, the federal government is going to radically change how it reimburses health care. That will have a profound impact on rural health care.”
McClure said that the county could be working with Sutter to develop legislation for rural hospitals under the Affordable Care Act, but “as long as it’s a cross-chest refusal to be at the table it will not assist us in finding a solution.”
During public comment, Horn received shining praise from several hospital employees who said she had made a great impact after only being here one month. The employees also urged the supervisors to be involved on the study’s steering committee.
The employees’ support for Horn and the study was a shift from the usual public tone regarding hospital issues as the vocal opposition cultivated by the hospital’s medical staff, including Duncan, usually dominates public hospital-related events. Several people still voiced concerns over regionalization, and more applause was always given in the county chambers for anti-Sutter sentiment.
“I have one goal and that’s to help this community decide what its future should be,” Horn said.  “I have no hidden agenda.” 

CEO: Sutter Coast Hospital losing money

CRESCENT CITY — The interim CEO of Sutter Coast Hospital updated Del Norte County supervisors Tuesday regarding what might be expected for the future of the hospital that serves Curry and Del Norte county residents.
The new top executive, Linda Horn, explained the impact Sutter Coast can expect from planned cuts to Medicare over the next 10 years because of health-care reform, using figures provided to Sutter Coast by the California Hospital Association.
“The impact from the Affordable Care Act is $16.5 million over the next 10 years,” Horn said, adding that, in terms of operating income, the hospital lost $3.1 million in 2011 and $3.8 million in 2012. Looking at the first quarter of 2013, the hospital is poised to have an even higher loss this year, Horn said.
“Given a $16.5 million hit from the federal government and our already existing deficits, how do we do long-term planning?” said Horn.
One way to start long-term planning is to hire a consultant to conduct a “strategic options study” that will analyze the advantages and disadvantages of all possible options for Crescent City’s hospital, which is exactly what Sutter Coast is doing. The Camden Group was chosen last week to conduct that study, and Horn invited the supervisors to participate in a 15- to 18-member community group that will participate in the study.
“This is our hospital and it’s our time to plan for the future. And it’s really important that we get involvement,” Horn said.
 She added, “We have a sincere desire to get objective data. We all know we can only make good decisions if we have objective data.”
Some supervisors thanked Horn for providing hospital data prior to Tuesday’s meeting, including a list of “historical facts” of Sutter’s involvement in Del Norte County and hospital census data from the past four years showing a steady drop in business at the hospital for most services offered.
Some supervisors asked that financial information and hospital Board of Directors meeting minutes be released to the public for more transparency and to bury any suspicion.
Supervisor Martha McClure pointed out that the hospital is not required to share its meeting minutes but that the release of such data could be negotiated through the study’s community group, saying that’s one reason the Board of Supervisors should be at the table. McClure was recently poised to be on a panel of community members choosing the study consultant, but other supervisors pressured her not to take the position out of concerns that the study will be biased since Sutter Health will fund it.
Gitlin reiterated that concern Tuesday saying, “a blind man could see the results are almost predictable.”
Horn acknowledged the two alternatives for the future that have caused fear in the community: “regionalization,” a shift away from local ownership and governance of the hospital, and downsizing to a Critical Access hospital, a federal designation for small hospitals that provides higher Medicare reimbursement.
“Regionalization has indefinitely been postponed; Critical Access is not being discussed,” Horn said.
Sutter Coast Chief of Medical Staff Greg Duncan noted during the public comment part of the meeting that these options will still be evaluated by the study and the hospital Board has not rescinded its vote to regionalize despite the medical staff’s request it do so. In the court of appeals, Sutter Coast also continues to fight an injunction preventing the hospital from regionalization or critical access, Duncan said.
He said that several Sutter executives made “false or misleading statements regarding regionalization to the Board of Sutter Coast Hospital.”
“Given what we know of Sutter Health, can we trust them to coordinate the study?” Duncan said.
Other county supervisors also reminded Horn of the community response to the regionalization effort, “community blowback,” as Supervisor Roger Gitlin put it.
“I don’t think the past CEO did a great job of communicating with the public. I think there’s a trust factor right now and the community feels burned,” said Supervisor Mike Sullivan.
McClure lamented the community division that has been fostered by the regionalization issue and encouraged citizens to “go with a voice of discussion rather than a fight.”  
“I know it’s a giant corporation and sometimes giant corporations stumble,” McClure said. “I think that maybe Sutter did a little bit of stumble in their discussion and was not quite as public as they needed to be, but I really believe we are on the precipice of being able to reopen this discussion within our community and let the anger be pushed aside; let’s sit down and talk about our true options.”
In regards to Critical Access downsizing, Horn said, “We’ve taken a big step back. We now want to do the honest, complete due diligence to see what’s absolutely best. I’ll take us back to part of why we’re here to begin with, the federal government is going to radically change how it reimburses health care. That will have a profound impact on rural health care.”
McClure said that the county could be working with Sutter to develop legislation for rural hospitals under the Affordable Care Act, but “as long as it’s a cross-chest refusal to be at the table it will not assist us in finding a solution.”
During public comment, Horn received shining praise from several hospital employees who said she had made a great impact after only being here one month. The employees also urged the supervisors to be involved on the study’s steering committee.
The employees’ support for Horn and the study was a shift from the usual public tone regarding hospital issues as the vocal opposition cultivated by the hospital’s medical staff, including Duncan, usually dominates public hospital-related events. Several people still voiced concerns over regionalization, and more applause was always given in the county chambers for anti-Sutter sentiment.
“I have one goal and that’s to help this community decide what its future should be,” Horn said.  “I have no hidden agenda.” 

Citizens willing to help fight crime

Tom Cutting doesn’t need to be told crime is on the rise since sheriff’s deputy jobs have been slashed and the uncertainty of the results of the failed public safety levy have yet to be hashed out.
Despite what many have called “scare tactics” to get voters to approve a public safety levy, he said he was not surprised it failed. He’s seen sheriff’s deputies leave for new jobs in Tillamook, Grants Pass and Brookings — where pay is higher and jobs are more secure.
“Here we are,” said Cutting, owner of Harbor-based IPH Security Systems and a former police officer from Toronto, Canada. 
“It became evident about 2007 that this was coming. That’s the advantage of being an outsider; a lot of people couldn’t see it — ‘Oh, they’re crying wolf; they’ve been crying wolf for years.’ I’ve seen it coming.”
Cutting also volunteers with Sheriff John Bishop’s reserve forces and, because of his experience in law enforcement, is allowed to monitor and — if needed — communicate using the county’s radio bandwidth frequency to respond to calls.
“We got into a stolen vehicle situation in Harbor years ago, and a sergeant we were working with said, ‘You need to be on our radio frequency; we could’ve caught this guy,’” Cutting said. He told the sergeant to talk with Bishop, who agreed to the idea.
Cutting’s not the only one willing to help combat crime since Bishop is so short-staffed.
Bob Pieper of Brookings, who owns Hearth & Home, said he knows people willing to patrol unincorporated areas of the county to ensure civil order. That’s what happened in Cave Junction when Josephine County voters defeated a tax levy last year that would have funded public safety.
“I’ll take Harbor,” Pieper said. “I know of five other guys who are willing to do this. I’m serious.”
Bishop said it’s not that easy.
For starters, state law prohibits it.
“This isn’t just driving around and looking at things,” Bishop said. “If they want to do that, they can do that now. But they can’t take any enforcement action, or they’d open themselves up to liability. And do you truly want citizens doing patrol when we should have professional law enforcement? The notion that volunteers can do all this is totally ridiculous.”
Bishop has a cadre of eight reserves who go through training and help in the jail, dispatch or on patrol depending on their time schedules and interests. They’re mostly utilized in the transport of prisoners. And regardless, they must be accompanied by a deputy while volunteering.
“Liability with a reserve is just as much, if not a little bit more, than a regular (deputy),” Bishop said. “And they’re supplanting the force, not replacing it. Sometimes it works really well. It gives us more boots on the ground. It’s not a lot, but it helps.”
The city of Brookings also has about 10 citizens in a supplemental patrol division, said Lt. Donny Dotson. They carry weapons and drive vehicles with lights and sirens.
“There certainly is a liability,” Dotson said. “That’s why there’s a lengthy process to ‘Hey, I want to be a volunteer’ to where they’re wearing a uniform and driving a car.”
The city also has its “VIP” reserve force of about 10 that conducts less confrontational duties such as checking on homes when people are on vacation and helping with large events.
It’s come in more than handy for potential crime victims.
Cutting was there to back up a sheriff’s officer after a burglary, giving the officer time to pursue a suspect. That person was let go, but shortly after, another 911 call resulted in an arrest of someone allegedly breaking into a house.
“The guy ran,” Cutting said. “And we caught him. Ends up he lived there and locked himself out. Why he ran? Well, he had a bunch of dope in his pocket.”
Cutting was the officer who extinguished the arson fire recently behind Barron’s Furniture Warehouse on Benham Lane. His firm has responded to fights, disturbances, burglaries, car thefts and trespassing incidents. He can’t respond to incidents to properties that have no contract with him, as it opens up a slew of liability issues.
“Tom works well; he’s our eyes and ears,” Bishop said. “But even when he finds something criminal, he’s calling in for us to get there.”
Residents in the far reaches of Curry County know all too well the challenges law enforcement faces in responding to an emergency. Social media comments have been noting for months the time it takes for a sheriff’s deputy to get to Harbor — if anyone can arrive at all.
“That’s where we come in,” Cutting said. “Because we’ve got a patroller on the street, we can just about guarantee a response within five minutes anywhere in Harbor.”
The Sheriff’s Office can’t contract with IPH to provide law enforcement in far-flung areas of the county, he said.
“But this is an alternative,” Cutting said. “You can’t replace the Sheriff’s Office with a private security agency; to think that would be visions of grandeur. But we can provide something — some reprieve and peace of mind.”
He said he’s seen crime increase in the nine years he’s lived here — and anticipates it to ratchet up since the levy failed.
“There’s no doubt about it,” Cutting said. “We’re nowhere near Josephine County, but we’re going to get there real quick once the crime element figures that out.”
He has nothing but high praise for local law enforcement and the district attorney, noting that they more often than not catch and prosecute.
“Those deputies on patrol are looking around, gathering information, seeing what’s going on,” Cutting said. “We no longer have those deputies out there at night. John (Bishop) has to phone someone at home, at 10:30 at night or 3 a.m., they have to get into uniform — that’s 20 minutes. You can have some serious physical injury in 20 minutes.
Not even 24 hours after the polls closed, he felt a shift in the general mood of the community, Cutting said.
“I see a lot of disbelief,” he said. “We’re a society that thinks, ‘It’ll never happen to me.’ A lot of people out there are scared, and I hope they do something to protect themselves. If the community can draw together instead of pulling apart, I think we’ll be OK.” 

C-3 group pursues home rule charter

A group of citizens has written a draft county home rule charter and started the process to get on the ballot an initiative asking voters to change the form of government in Curry County.
The group, the Citizens Charter Committee, or “C-3,” is an offshoot of Commissioner Susan Brown’s Curry County Fiscal Independence Committee that is trying to figure out how the county can fix its financial plight while creating a law enforcement district and a permanent means by which to fund it.
“It’s important for the people in Salem to know it’s coming,” said Carl King of Nesika Beach, who’s heading up C-3. “They need to know there is a group of citizens in Curry County who are taking action to address our problem.”
Brookings city officials were among the first to suggest the idea, and City Manager Gary Milliman had the city attorney draft a petition to change the form of government at the county level. The petition was then made available for anyone who wanted to collect signatures to get it on an upcoming ballot.
All three Curry County cities operate under home rule.
Home Rule
The discussion has reared its head in light of suggestions made throughout the area that the current general law form of government is ineffective.
“It’s primarily the form of government,” said King, a retired land use lawyer originally from Massachusetts. “We have a three-member board of commissioners who can’t talk to each other outside a public meeting. And I can’t imagine ever working for three bosses that have equal say in what I do, and that seems to be what happens.”
Home rule charters typically involve the creation of a board of county commissioners — often part-time and/or volunteer — who oversee the direction of the county; and an administrator who takes care of issues that crop up on a daily basis.
C-3’s proposal would involve replacing the three full-time, salaried commissioners with a board of five, part-time commissioners who receive annual stipends. Those stipends could not increase by a percentage greater than that received by Social Security beneficiaries.
Five commissioners would allow any two to meet to discuss ideas pertinent to the county without creating a quorum and violating state meeting laws. New ideas could then be presented in a public forum.
The proposed charter would also involve hiring a county administrator and allowing that person to appoint all county officials with the exception of the sheriff and district attorney. The sheriff and DA would then be independent of the county commissioners, with the exception of their departmental budgets.
And voters would no longer vote for other elected officials, including the assessor, surveyor, treasurer and clerk.
An administrator or manager, in most county home rule charters, deals with the day-to-day issues, freeing up commissioners to address the overall direction of the county.
The goal of the draft charter is to “reorganize county government to provide professional administration of departments that in turn provide services for the residents of the county, to enable those departments to provide the services effectively and efficiently (all the) while making no changes in the residents’ control over the ways the county can raise revenue,” King wrote in an email.
“A professional county administrator would free up department heads to provide the services they need to,” King said. “They (department heads) shouldn’t be tied down with administrative details that aren’t the real purpose of their being there.”
He noted that the proposal is not a reflection of the current board.
“This is in no way passing judgment on their performance,” King said. “It’s in reaction to the nature of their jobs. I’m not saying they ought not to be reappointed. It seems to the committee that it makes more sense to have a professional administrator be the person to whom they (department heads) look for approval. It is the most effective and efficient way to deliver services to the people.”
The district attorney and sheriff would remain elected positions and have discretion over how their departments are operated, with the exception of their budget, which would remain in the hands of the county commissioners.
“The treasurer has a job that requires certain skills,” King said. “The clerk has a job — the assessor, the surveyor — that requires certain skills. We think you can get that better in a process where you search for applicants, not by a popularity vote. The people should still choose how they wish law enforcement to behave.”
Crafting a draft
The draft charter is the result of meetings over the past six weeks that included citizens from throughout the area, as well as the county’s three city mayors, managers and their council members.
The group reviewed the state’s nine existing charters and various other resources to create it.
A ballot measure to change the form of government in Curry County failed in 2008. That measure, which was soundly defeated on a 75-25 margin, was deemed to have overly addressed departmental operations that, under most home rule charters is left to department heads.
Many elements of the current form of government would remain the same under the draft charter, although could be changed in the future.
Commissioners would still need to put any new tax or tax increase on the ballot for residents’ approval, and any ordinance establishing fees would still be subject to initiative and referendum by the residents.
Some citizens in the community have indicated their frustration that county commissioners aren’t willing to take pay cuts, even as others have had their departments slashed, spun off to nonprofit agencies or eliminated entirely.
“They could — immediately — adopt a budget that limits their compensation to that appropriate for a government of part-time, citizen volunteers and hire a professional county administrator,” King said. “It is clear to those who attend their meetings, however, that they are unlikely to do either and that an initiative petition charter is our only recourse if we wish to move forward.”
All involved in the issue are unsure upon which ballot the question would be placed, as there are still questions at the state level regarding Curry County’s fiscal stability and how the governor’s office might intervene.
King said there isn’t enough time to get C-3’s proposal on a September ballot, and that it is unknown if a county issue will be on the November ballot that the question could join. And a May 2014 ballot question, while far in the future, might get the best turnout as there are state seats up for election then.
“We’re just trying to react as quickly to circumstances as there are changes, and at the same time not let circumstances push us to where we make a mistake,” King said. 

Swinging at the Park

The American Music Festival’s series of summer concerts at Brookings’ Azalea Park begin at 1 p.m. Sunday with the 1940s big band sounds of Tsunami Swing.
The opening act will be the Del Norte High School Stage Band, featuring more than a dozen student musicians.
Sunday’s concert is one of seven planned through September on the stage in the park’s natural amphitheater. The concerts usually attract 400-plus music lovers who bring lawn chairs, blankets and sunscreen. For more information and a complete summer concert 

Police catch suspected burglars

It took police about two hours and the help of a witness on Wednesday to locate and arrest a man and woman suspected of burglarizing a Brookings home earlier that day.
“It was a case of good detective work on the part of the officers,” said Brookings. Lt. Donny Dotson.
The suspects, Melissa Jaramillo, 36, of Brookings, and Leon Luck, 27, of Coos Bay, are facing charges of first degree burglary, theft and being felons in possession of firearms. Jaramillo will likely be charged with the additional charges of possessing methamphetamine and probation violation.
At about 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, Brookings Police officers responded to the call of a residential burglary that happened earlier that morning on Lilac Lane off Memory Lane.
The victim reported that thousands of dollars in property was stolen.
The items stolen included guns, precious metals, jewelry, electronics and other personal property, Dotson said.
Within an hour of receiving the 911 call, officers had interviewed neighbors and an individual who witnessed the suspects leaving the victims’ house with possible loot, Dotson said.
At 2 p.m., Brookings police officers and several Curry County Sheriff’s deputies descended on a house on Hall Way off Highway 101 in Harbor, he said. Officers found Jaramillo and Luck, as well as some of the stolen property inside the house. The pair were arrested without incident.
Later that evening, authorities searched Jaramillo’s Brookings residence and found the rest of the stolen property. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

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