County Commissioners Business Meeting JULY 28, 2021
Two tax levies were approved for the November ballot by Josephine County Commissioners. The jail and juvenile detention levy is a renewal while the County Animal Shelter levy, raised from 8 to 11 cents,is considered a new levy. Sheriff Dave Daniel made a brief appeal for the 93 cent per $1,000 of assessed value, saying he hopes voters will support the renewal because it’s made a big difference in law enforcement here. Commissioner Dan DeYoung is clearly in support of the levy but Commissioners Darin Fowler and Herman Baertschiger approved the levy for the ballot so voters could decide. Fowler obviously supported the Animal Shelter levy with it’s 3 cent increase, however. He said he’s confident it will pass, even with the increase because “we’re animal people here in Josephine County.” Representatives from the shelter told the board they had to ask for the increase in order to maintain the current level of staffing and training needed to provide for stray and unwanted animals in the county. Shelter spokesperson Nancy Lindquist said they take in 2000 animals a year and unlike a private non-profit shelter they can’t turn any away. “We’ve taken in everything from hamsters to llamas,” she said. The levy helps spay and neuter, chip and vaccinate them and pay for animal control officers who investigate cases of animal abuse, neglect and hoarding.
In other business the board approved the addition of safety barriers to increase the number of shooting facilities at the Sportsman’s Park. The county, which owns the park, has to approve alterations to it but the improvements are paid for by the Josephine County Sportsman’s Association.
Commissioners also approved a new van for the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program run through the County Public Health Department. The van, to be used as a mobile clinic, will be paid for by a grant from the Walmart Foundation. Baertschiger took the opportunity to harangue Public Health Director Mike Weber over the use of “equity” in place of “equality” in state documents. Weber said since this became “political” he gets asked a lot about this although “equity” has been around a while in social services.
“When we say ‘equality’ traditionally what we have been referring to equity”, Weber explained, “for instance, when we have a food supplement program, when I was in school, a few decades ago, there was a food program that offered free lunches to low-income families; that is an equity program. It was called equality, but it was equity. What it’s saying is we are providing a service to those who need it, and not to everybody.”
He continued, “In District 7, there’s a program that offers free lunches to all kids…that would be an equity based program, no sorry, an equality-based program. An equity-based program is simply one that targets specific individuals with a greater need. So we use those terms depending on whether or not we are offering a service everybody equally, or whether we are parsing the service out to those who have a greater need vs others who do not.”
Bartschiger said he didn’t like the term “equity” saying he thought it implied that some people are inherently less capable than others so they have to be given a boost that other people don’t get.
The board was scheduled to approve $30,000 for it’s share of start-up costs for a joint project with the City of Grants Pass but postponed it because they couldn’t figure out whether it was $30,000, as the resolution said or $50,000 which was the total pledged. Commissioners agreed to partner with the City to beef up tourism marketing for the area. They handed the matter over to County Attorney Wally Hicks to figure out.
During Public Comments, where Commissioners allow anyone to expound on anything they want, the regulars appeared to inform the board that Grants Pass is a hotbed of Critical Race Theory and people vaccinated against COVID have a “cyclonic storm” going on in their veins. Judy Arhens, who now calls herself an educational activist, said CRT is making parents angry because their kids are taught being white is evil. She provided no evidence to indicate that students are being taught this, however. She urged everyone to attend that afternoon’s Three Rivers School District board meeting to get this straightened out.
The usual contingent of anti-COVID vaxxers were present, with Judy Hinkle asking the board to hurry up with a resolution that will protect Josephine County against federal vaccine mandates followed by Greg Hinkle who stumbled through a litany of vaccine ingredients creating the cyclonic storm in your veins that has something to do with Microsoft cryptocurrency. He warned against nano particles that monitor body functions, how a euthanasia drug is part of COVID vaccines and that some doctors are injecting saline solution while telling their patients they are vaccinated as part of some secret test. He provided no sources for his information nor did he show anyone a nano particle. Another woman read something from a law book she related to mask-wearing and said she was very excited the board is working on a resolution although no one present said what the resolution was about.
Commissioners reacted to these comments by thanking the speakers for enlightening them, assured the anti-vaxxers they will produce a resolution for them but it takes time, then engaged in a semantics discussion regarding the words “equity” and “equality. Oregon has substituted “equity” for “equality” in some government documents. They all told stories about how they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and became successful businessmen. DeYoung said his experience with diversity was when he was in the U.S. Navy and worked with Black sailors. He said there’s no place for racism anywhere but it can go both ways. Fowler said while he was growing up in the 1970s he was taught America is the land of opportunity but you had to get up off your butt to seize the day and agreed with Baertschiger everyone should begin the race to achievement at the same starting point without a boost. Baertschiger said when he was in the Oregon State Legislature he attended a white privilege workshop but got up and walked out when someone said if he weren’t white he couldn’t have achieved some of the things he did. Fowler’s comments took an angry turn as he blamed government for getting “way out over its skis” with programs and concepts that people don’t trust. ‘In Josephine County we do things differently, we don’t have a bunch of bureaucrats here, we are your neighbors. I’ve lived here a long time. I don’t want to move. I see Oregon heading in the wrong direction and I’m willing to fight it,” he said.