Is This Your Representative?

In past few months since Herm Oberholzer was elected to the Chair of the Board of the Housing Authority of Douglas County, he has chosen to escalate problems with at least one new board member instead of demonstrating the required leadership this board needs and try to learn to work with all on the HADCO board as well as all citizens who may come before them.  The behavior he has exhibited in the past few weeks regarding CEA member and HADCO Commissioner, Jamie Sanchez, demonstrates that he is unqualified to be on a public commission, let alone serve as its Board Chair. 

 Although CEA was originally concerned that Oberholzer’s actions were just his dislike of anyone associated with CEA and HADCO Commissioner Jamie Sanchez in particular, we were reminded of the type of interaction Oberholzer has had with the prior resident commission member, Joy Mayorga. 

 So we decided to give a clearer picture about what this man who represents all of us is like when people do not agree with him. 

 You might recall a story last fall about a public housing resident whose home caught on fire from candles being used because there was no electricity in his unit.  It was later determined that HADCO had violated the federal regulations that governed the program which played a major role in why the family did not have electricity and was using candles for light.  (KPIC did a story about it.)

 After getting no help from the HADCO staff, this resident’s family intervened to help make sure their son and grandchildren were not without a home because of this fire.  One of things that the family did was contact the HADCO Board of Directors at a Board meeting; they also contacted individual HADCO Board members including former Commissioner Joy Mayorga. 

 Now we must understand or appreciate that HADCO Commissioners are no different than say our Douglas County Commissioners or our U.S. Congressmen.  Each of us has a right to go to the appropriate public official to make complaints and get help when the agency is not doing its job.  Many of us have contacted our elected representatives with the expectation that they would find out if things were not being done right and correct it.  CEA believes this is a reasonable expectation we should have of those who represent us.

 After Joy Mayorga was contacted regarding this family, she contacted the Executive Director to find out what was going on.  Because she was aware of some of the rules regarding public housing residents, former HADCO Commissioner Mayorga was concerned that HADCO staff might not be following federal regulations in this situation. Federal regulations require the local public housing authority to find residents a place to live temporarily when there is a fire or other issue that displaces them from their home and Commissioner Mayorga got very concerned when she learned that HADCO had not done this for this family, which would put HADCO in a liability situation. 

 Below is a series of emails regarding the matter.

 The first email is from HADCO Commissioner Mayorga to HADCO Executive Director Dolly Newman asking about the situation.  It is followed by an email Commissioner Mayorga received from her fellow HADCO Commissioner Herm Oberholzer criticizing her for intervening, 

Commissioner Joy Mayorga’s Inquiry:

Subject: Housing for Marcus Meyer & family
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2008 13:11:30 -0800


 Mr. Mayberry contacted me today regarding his son’s housing situation.  He stated that his son, Marcus and family, need to find housing ASAP — waiting weeks for a HA unit to be available is not a practical option for them.

 He also stated that he had requested (from Janeal) a disk copy of the hearing.  Janeal called and told him it would be ready by 1 p.m. yesterday and she would call him.  He stated she did not call them.  He feels he cannot trust her to follow through on what she says to him.

 My questions are:

 Doesn’t HADCO have the responsibility to house this family immediately, even if that means putting them up at a local motel? 

 Does HADCO have the responsibility to reimburse this family for living expenses incurred since the time of their wrongful eviction on Sep 2?

May I have a disk copy of the hearing?

 What is the timetable with regard to the possible availability of a unit in Winston you referred to in your last email?



 In response to the above email, former HADCO Commissioner Mayorga got the following email from her fellow HADCO Commissioner Herm Oberholzer, before he was even HADCO Commission Chair.

 “—– Original Message —–

From: Herm Oberholzer


Cc: Dolly Newman ; Chris Spens ; Dan Jones ; Sharon Blodgett

Sent: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 10:15 AM

Subject: RE: Housing for Marcus Meyer & family

 Joy. . . .
I have some serious concerns regarding the demands you have directed to the staff of HADCO!  The staff has been put into place by the full Board of Commissioners and certainly will have a hard time operating properly when one (1) board member is constantly intervening as follows:
1)  You are attempting to micro-manage the staff.
2)  You have given each Board members personal E-mail address to a resident and I resent that in my particular case.  I have never given you permission to do so. 
3)  So far as I know, you do not have written authorized permission to represent any individual resident and in particular not the Marcus Meyer family.
4)  Your intervention violates the HADCO Board of Commissioners “Code of Ethics.”
5)  You have a “Confilict of Interest” by being on both Board of Commissioners and the RAB council.

{Note:  The Code of Ethics that Mr. Oberholzer speaks of above is nothing more than a professional association list of recommendations.  It has no legal effect, is not legally binding on the commissioners and when it might violate their oath of office, a HADCO Commissioner is legally required to ignore them.  The Commissioners oath of office is very simple it says that each commissioner must uphold the Constitutions of the United States and Oregon that is all.  That is each HADCO Commissioners duty as a public official, not some guidelines made up by a group of public housing executive directors and board members. }


Next up Commissioner Mayorga:

Subject: Re: Housing for Marcus Meyer & family
Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2008 13:11:18 -0800

I have made suggestions, I have asked questions but I do not believe I have made demands on the staff.  Please be more specific with regard to your comments.  Commissioner’s addresses, phone numbers and email addresses are public record.

I am not representing any one individual but I am asking questions regarding a major incident that appears to have been mishandled from the beginning.  I have full confidence that Dolly will be able to manage the situation; but that does not mean I cannot I cannot ask questions?  I am not in violation of any of the “Code of Ethics”.  Nor, according to HUD is there any conflict of interest with me being on the RAB and being a Commissioner.  Joy”

 Here is Herm’s retort:

 —– Original Message —–

“From: Herm Oberholzer


Cc: Chris Spens ; Dan Jones ; Dolly Newman ; Sharon Blodgett

Sent: Friday, October 31, 2008 2:08 PM

Subject: RE: Housing for Marcus Meyer & family

 Joy. . . .
In your response to my E-mail of 10-28-08, you state you have not “made demands” on the staff.  In your E-mail to Dolly dated 10-28-08 you told her that “waiting weeks for a HA unit to be available is not a practical option for them.”  If that doesn’t smack of a demand, then I don’t know what it is!  You are not the Executive Director of Hadco.
Next you are condemning Janeal for her perceived miss handling of a disc copy and you are doing so to Janeal’s superior.  Again, you are not the Executive Director and you are attempting to micro-manage the agency. 
You state that “Commissioner’s addresses, phone numbers and E-mail addresses are public record.  I did not allude to my residence address or my phone number as being private.  I am speaking of my E-mail address.  I have never found a E-mail address book anywhere.  As a Hadco Commissioner you are entrusted with your fellow commissioner’s personal information and it should occur to you that is for your personal use only.  Here, you are trying to micro-manage the Board of Commissioner’s, and I resent that!
You say you have the right to “ask questions” and I agree with that.  What I disagree with is your timing and when you are asking these questions.  Why should the staff have to stop what they are doing (with a overloaded workload) to answer your questions in writing.  Especially when you ask questions that really are the responsibility of the staff and governed by the various Codes.  Again, may I remind you that you are not the ED. 
I still say you have a “conflict of interest” because I don’t know if you are attacking the staff as a member of the Board of Commissioners of HADCO or as a officer to the RAB.  It seems that since I came on board some 2 1/2 years ago, all I hear from you is how bad the management is, or how bad the Authority is.  Why you have so much dislike for HADCO is beyond me, especially when so many families are provided affordable housing that is safe, decent, sanitary. and free from discrimination. 
Joy, it would be really nice if you would please give the management (which we hired them to do) the opportunity to get their work done and not disrupt them at every turn.

 Here is Commissioner Mayorga’s final reply:


To: Herm Oberholzer

Cc: Chris Spens ; Dan Jones ; Dolly Newman ; Sharon Blodgett

Sent: Friday, October 31, 2008 6:13 PM

Subject: Re: Housing for Marcus Meyer & family

 1.    The quote you chose to use as an example of my “demands” was not wording used by me but by Mr. Mayberry and passed on by me to Dolly.

2.    The information regarding Janeal and the disk, etc. was also part of Mr. Mayberry’s statement- not mine.

3.    The public is allowed to request and receive your email address from HADCO.  This information has been included in our packets which are also available to the public.  These emails we share with our fellow Commissioners are also public record. 

4.    You are perfectly within in your rights to disagree with the timing of my questions as well as whether or not I should even be asking them.  It is also my right to disagree with you and ask those questions when I think it is appropriate to do so. 

5.    I have not accused nor attack any staff member of anything.  Yes, I have I called attention (complained if you will) to the Board the problems I have been aware of with HADCO.  That is part of my job as a Commissioner.  Given what we learned this time last year, I seemed to have had just cause for the things I was saying.

I have no bad feelings for HADCO. 

 One last thing — you do not have to remind me I am not the ED.  I am well aware of that and thank God I do not have to carry that responsibility.  Nor am I trying to micro-manage the staff or anyone else.  If you might note in my email to Mr. Mayberry, I directed him to deal with Dolly and the other staff members and spoke of my confidence in her ability to handle this matter effectively.  You have a right to your opinions but please get your information right before you make your accusations.  Joy


By reading the above, accusations is a very good to describe how HADCO Commissioner Herm Oberholzer interacts with people he does not seem to like or do not agree with him or his way of doing things.  Is this the type of person who should have been elevated to the Chair position of the public entity?

Unfortunately for all of us, Oberholzer does not understand that no micro-managing does not mean no oversight.  Failure to exercise proper oversight of HADCO has created the problems it has today, not people who complain about them violating the law or regulation.

 Oberholzer would better serve the interest of the people of our community if he focused on making sure that HADCO did follow the law, not trying to control other commissioners’ behavior. 

 Take care,

 Betsy Cunningham


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