HADCO Commissioner Herman Oberholzer writes a periodic guest opinion column for the Roseburg Beacon. He does not do this as a HADCO Commissioner: he does so on his own time. He, like the rest of us, enjoys the right to free speech, which means he is free to do and speak about what he wants on his own time. We applaud his willingness to speak his mind, but by doing so, he puts himself into a position where members of the public have more opportunities to understand who he is and whether his actions follow his words.
The true test of one’s political beliefs is whether they apply all the time. Commissioner Oberholzer provides us with a good opportunity to compare his word and his actions as a public official on the HADCO Board of Commissioners.
The following provides some additional information for you so that you can better weigh the credibility of the comments Commissioner Oberholzer made in the June 24, 2009, edition of the Roseburg Beacon.
In his column, he periodically shares his views about our country. Although he claimed at a HADCO board meeting that he has no association with the Roseburg Beacon and that he just knew the people running it, this might be seen as a skewed truth because writing a semi- regular column is a little more than just having some indirect knowledge about your friends’ business. It is really nothing more then a game of semantics when use the words “guest contributor”, yet you have column that regularly appears in the Roseburg Beacon. The inconsistency between his words and actions just continue from there.
In this Roseburg Beacon Column, Commissioner Oberholzer spoke of the belief that 40 plus years ago people were more attuned to issues of importance than they are today. He believes those discussions were much more civil as people rarely got combative. According to Commissioner Oberholzer, at one extreme, “we observe those who spew so much hatred and venom that it borders on childish behavior”. I find this comment interesting as I have observed Commissioner Oberholzer act in the above-described manner on several occasions at HADCO board meetings. If you disagree with him or try to provide information that runs contrary to his opinion, his actions indicate to those in the audience that he has quit listening. At times, he has gotten down right hostile with both residents and other members of the public. There is no real, meaningful dialogue- it is his opinion or he does not like you. He actually seems to take personal offensive to legitimate concerns. It is as if he cannot set aside his personal feelings when the public questions his actions as a HADCO Commissioner.
In the context of protesting higher TAXES, he reminds people that we still have freedom of speech. There is some irony in this statement as he has tried to use his position on HADCO’s board to deny this right to residents and other members of the public. In fact, he wanted to know if there was any way that he could keep people like Betsy Cunningham from participating in public comment because he did not like what she was saying. However, that is not the only inconsistency between this statement and his actions.
Commissioner Oberholzer goes on to claim, “I, for one, am livid over the outrageous spending going on in our local, State, and Federal Governments especially given how tenuous the future of our financial markets has become.” This comment is interesting in light of the fact of the source of his picture in the Roseburg Beacon. If you have ever been in the conference room at HADCO, the picture might seem familiar because it is the same one that is hanging up at HADCO’s office. If HADCO Commissioner Oberholzer’s picture in the Roseburg Beacon and the picture in HADCO’s conference room are the same, this picture was taken at Lief Studios at a cost to taxpayer of $49 to $89 depending on what touch-ups they did to the picture. Commissioners are given the option to purchase additional pictures at the per sheet price; however, even if Commissioner Oberholzer did this, he still used our taxpayers dollars to receive a benefit for himself. When it comes to the picture, at best he used taxpayers dollars to receive a benefit for himself in the way of a discount. At worse, he is using the taxpayers publicly funded picture for his own private use without the permission of the taxpayers to do so, unless of course, he paid for all of this himself.
Another red flag about whether Oberholzer’s actions are consistent with his words is the free lunch he enjoys on our tax dollar. Once a month, Commissioner Oberholzer also allows HADCO to pay for his lunch, which by the way, the public is not allowed to attend. He participates in Christmas parties and receives gifts from HADCO at Christmas time. Although the state law does say that a commissioner is not allowed receive compensation for their service (ORS 456.100 part 5), he is more then willing to take these and other compensations for himself at the expense of the taxpayers. At the same time, he is generally supportive policy of HADCO’s that are not legally required and create additional bureaucracy that once again is paid for by taxpayers.
Although there were several other interesting things that Commissioner Oberholzer said in this edition of the Roseburg Beacon, we will only examine one more. According to Commissioner Oberholzer, “Government has never operated any entity prudently and never will because it is all about taxation and redistribution of wealth; take from those who worked hard and give to those who choose not to work at all.” This statement in particularly is hard to comprehend in light of the fact that he is on HADCO’s board and is the current chairman of the board. Never mind the fact that most low-income people are not sitting home waiting for a handout from the government.
How can he think these types of things about the underprivileged in this society and serve on the board of a government agency that only serves low-income people? No wonder residents of HADCO cannot get him to listen to their concerns- he does not even seem to like them or the program that serves them! Kind of has to make you wonder what he is doing on the board instead of protesting HADCO’s very existence. It seems clear that with an attitude like that he will not, can not do what is the best interest of HADCO and its residents because he sees them as a drain on society. With an attitude like that, one might wonder- does HADCO Commissioner Oberholzer use any taxpayer funded programs in his retirement?