Somebody’s Someone

 

 

Somebody’s Someone by Daphne Willis

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Right to Rest Act – HB 2215

img_2191
Jim Clymer died in 2015.  Here he is the summer before died, exercising his peaceful protest against being banned from Eagles Park for sleeping there.

 

There is a statewide effort to get Oregon House Bill 2215 passed in the legislature this session.   Passage of HB 2215 would create the Right to Rest Act.  The Right to Rest Act is also known as a Homeless Bill of Rights.

The main purpose of the bill is to stop what has become a draconian effort to address homelessness at our local city and county levels.  Instead of finding real solutions to homelessness, cities and counties throughout the state have enacted ordinances that make “acts of living” like sleeping in public against the law. This includes right here in Douglas County.

Both Douglas County and the City of Roseburg have such laws, as do other cities here.  Although these laws seem to apply to everyone and may seem okay on the face of them, they are used to discriminate against the homeless and criminalize homelessness.   Because it is not legal under the US Constitution to make it a crime to be homeless, these jurisdictions have found other ways to make criminals out of people who don’t have a home.

Even if people do not end up being charged with a crime, the homeless are unable to pay fines imposed for violations, and this establishes additional barriers that prevent an individual from being able to get housing.

jerrymeyer
 

Jerry, a homeless vet, is holding up just one of his many tickets for “prohibited camping”.

 

These local laws do nothing to solve the problem of homelessness but actually make matters worse with tremendous cost to the taxpayer.

HB 2215 will stop this by amending our state anti-discrimination statute ORS 659A.  It adds homelessness as a protected class and protects basic rights to eat, sleep & get out of the elements.

Here is a link to the full text of the current bill, which is before the House Judiciary Committee:  https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/HB2215/Introduced

Highlights of Oregon Right to Rest Act:

  • HB 2215 creates a broad definition of homelessness that reflects the true problem.
  • HB 2215 acknowledges that current practices of using law enforcement can be redirected to providing solutions to homelessness and poverty.
  • HB 2215 allows a person to rest without fear of being harassed or ticketed by local law enforcement.
  • HB 2215 allows homeless individuals to use public spaces like everyone else.
  • HB 2215 allows people to sleep and get out of the elements.
  • HB 2215 allows people to eat, share, accept and give food.
  • HB 2215 allows people to sleep in a legal vehicle on public property or private property with the owner’s permission.

Why State Law is Needed:

Here is just one example of why the Right to Rest Act is needed.   Although this is about the City of Roseburg in Douglas County, these types of local laws exist all of the state of Oregon.

The City of Roseburg has various “acts of living” laws that seem to apply to everyone, but really were mainly enacted to deal with homelessness.   The worst of these laws regarding the impact upon the homeless is the Roseburg Municipal Code (RMC) entitled “prohibited camping”.  This law makes it illegal for anyone to “camp” in city parks or other public property within the city limits.  However this law was never really for nor does it really apply to anyone but those who are homeless and/or appear to be homeless.

This RMC is so broad that just by laying a blanket down in a city owned park during the day can get one ticketed, or even banned from the park.  In addition, if one has three such incidents in the downtown area, one can be banned from being downtown at all.

Individuals can make an impact by pushing this out of the House Judiciary Committee and hopefully into law this legislative session.  Please contact the members of the Judiciary Committee and ask them to support the Right to Rest.   Here is a link to the committee info:  https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Committees/HJUD/Overview

Currently there are no committee meetings planned for the bill.  Hopefully with a push from us that can change.

If you would like to help or would like to get updated on this legislation, please check back here, fill out the form below or follow the Homeless Bill of Rights page on Facebook.

 

If you have any questions or would like more information, feel free to contact the local campaign.

Sunshine Week: March 13-19, 2016

Today starts the 11th year of Sunshine Week.  Sunshine Week is intended to help citizens access information about their government by bringing awareness to both the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as well as state laws that protect the people’s right to know what their government is doing.

The following link provides information about Sunshine Week , FOIA and Oregon Public Records and Meeting Act.

Sunshine Week

Homeless Have No Bill of Rights!

On the eve of the 224th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights,  more cities than ever have laws that violate them for the people in our country who are homeless.   Certain “acts of living” laws seem to violate rights that we were all guaranteed on December 15, 1791. Among them the 1st , 4th and 8th Amendments.

Here in Roseburg in Douglas County, Oregon, we have a couple of laws that fall into this category.  The most obvious problem is the one that prohibits camping within city limits.  It seems harmless enough, unless you are homeless.  This local law basically makes criminals out of the homeless here by making it illegal for them to camp or even sleep anywhere.

Our city council and mayor have been asked to put a moratorium into place,  but have not yet responded.

So Happy Bill of Rights Day, unless you are homeless.  You might have to wait until next year to celebrate.

 

 

 

Happy Bill of Rights Day!

Today is the anniversary of the passage of the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution.  The Bill of Rights were ratified on December 15, 1791.

A good place to find information about the Bill of Rights is The National Constitution Center:

Tune in the Bill of Rights

Although the information is oriented to teaching our kids about  Bill of Rights, it is simple enough for most adults to understand.

Play a game and see how much you know about your rights:

Do I Have a Right?

Stories from the Street!

The blog Stories from the Streets has the perspective of one Citizens Education & Advocacy volunteer.  She explains some of more recent things our volunteers have been doing.  Stories explains how easy it is to find people in need even in a small place like Roseburg, Oregon. She and other CEA volunteers try to find permanent solutions to the troubles we see and are working to end homelessness in our rural community.

Stories from the Street Blog

Enjoy Labor Day: Thank Unions!

According to the US Department of Labor, our Labor Day started in 1882 in New York City.  Although there is some debate about its origins, what seems to be the first Labor Day march and picnic was held on September 5, 1882 and was organized by the machinists union.  Below is the account of the events as told on the DOL website, however this does not really tell the story of Labor Day and why it is so important.

By the time Labor Day came around, many of our ancestors had fought long and hard to organize into trade unions. It was still many years away that industrial unions, , which focused on organizing many unskilled laborers that were ignored by the trade unions, would become a major force fighting for and getting many of the workers rights we all take for granted today.

If you are glad that you have a 40 hour work week instead of 60 – 80, thank unions.  If you get medical benefits, sick leave and vacation & holidays off from work, thank unions.  We no longer see children in factories, due in good part, to the efforts of unions.  Frankly most people in the middle-class are now there because of the work of unions not because of the kind heartiness of the corporations that they work for, even those with good paying government jobs have them because the efforts of organized labor (unions).  The rights you have to be protected from hazards in the workplace, as well as workers compensation came about because of unions.   So if you have a good paying job, benefits, or even a decent pension or Social Security benefits, THANK UNIONS.

Unfortunately over our more recent history, we have forgotten why we have the things we do.  Those who are at the top do not want people to remember or know the good things that happen when the workers are united and demand their fair share.  So if you love American and your life here, take some time and learn who is really responsible for the many good things we take for granted.  So while you take time off and enjoy Labor Day, take some time today to Thank  Unions!

 

 

 

 

 

“Labor Daze – Pride, Chaos and Kegs on Labor’s First ‘Day’

On the morning of September 5, 1882, a crowd of spectators filled the sidewalks of lower Manhattan near city hall and along Broadway. They had come early, well before the Labor Day Parade marchers, to claim the best vantage points from which to view the first Labor Day Parade. A newspaper account of the day described “…men on horseback, men wearing regalia, men with society aprons, and men with flags, musical instruments, badges, and all the other paraphernalia of a procession.”

The police, wary that a riot would break out, were out in force that morning as well. By 9 a.m., columns of police and club-wielding officers on horseback surrounded city hall.

By 10 a.m., the Grand Marshall of the parade, William McCabe, his aides and their police escort were all in place for the start of the parade. There was only one problem: none of the men had moved. The few marchers that had shown up had no music.

According to McCabe, the spectators began to suggest that he give up the idea of parading, but he was determined to start on time with the few marchers that had shown up. Suddenly, Mathew Maguire of the Central Labor Union of New York (and probably the father of Labor Day) ran across the lawn and told McCabe that two hundred marchers from the Jewelers Union of Newark Two had just crossed the ferry — and they had a band!

Just after 10 a.m., the marching jewelers turned onto lower Broadway — they were playing “When I First Put This Uniform On,” from Patience, an opera by Gilbert and Sullivan. The police escort then took its place in the street. When the jewelers marched past McCabe and his aides, they followed in behind. Then, spectators began to join the march. Eventually there were 700 men in line in the first of three divisions of Labor Day marchers. Final reports of the total number of marchers ranged from 10,000 to 20,000 men and women.

With all of the pieces in place, the parade marched through lower Manhattan. The New York Tribune reported that, “The windows and roofs and even the lamp posts and awning frames were occupied by persons anxious to get a good view of the first parade in New York of workingmen of all trades united in one organization.”

At noon, the marchers arrived at Reservoir Park, the termination point of the parade. While some returned to work, most continued on to the post-parade party at Wendel’s Elm Park at 92nd Street and Ninth Avenue; even some unions that had not participated in the parade showed up to join in the post-parade festivities that included speeches, a picnic, an abundance of cigars and, “Lager beer kegs… mounted in every conceivable place.”

From 1p.m. until 9 p.m. that night, nearly 25,000 union members and their families filled the park and celebrated the very first, and almost entirely disastrous, Labor Day.”

Private Probation Abuses!

To Prison for Poverty

The above link exposes a very troubling practice of government officials giving up citizens’ due process rights to private contractors for probation services. This link is to part one, but also watch part two. That segment exposes one of these private companies that is actually operating in Oregon, Sentinel*.
This story illustrates another problem with privatization, the bigger cost. Because we want to view things that government does in relation to just the financial expenditures, we look to privatization to save on government spending but at what real cost?
We do not want to even consider the public benefit or detriment of these practices. We are so short sighted that we think that getting rid of all government functions has only benefits. Our self-absorbed society only looks at how it might save them a few bucks on taxes. They only see the financial cost to run various programs and are blind to the social cost that saving a few bucks has. We all have more to lose than what little money any one of us would save in taxes.
Government just needs to be doing certain things in order to make sure our rights are honored and that reasonable public policy is not replaced by a profit margin. This is one of those things.
This can happen to you. How many out there could afford a $1000 fine without making payments? It is the need to make payments that put these folks in such a bind. In order to get a payment arrangement, they want to charge more money for the trouble and cost associated with their operation. This would not be required if this payment arrangement was just done by public employees. Yes it cost money to hire people and pay for other costs to do this service, but sometimes that is just the cost of doing the publics’ business.
The profit in public service is the benefit we get as a society, not the money we can save or make.

 

*Link to Sentinel: http://www.sentrak.com/faqs/
It does not seem to be in Douglas County, but it is providing these services up in Multnomah County.

 

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Georgia:
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
Massachusetts:
John Hancock
Maryland:
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Delaware:
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Massachusetts:
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

Page URL: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html

U.S. National Archives & Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD, 20740-6001, • 1-86-NARA-NARA • 1-866-272-6272

Economists Richard Wolff Discuss American Capitalism

Economists Richard Wolff Discuss American Capitalism

 

For some time now, I have been promoting, the works of economist Richard Wolff.   Richard Wolff is a Harvard educated economist, who has been teaching for the post forty years.   A few years ago, others, besides college students, wanted to hear his message.   When I came across his movie Capitalism Hits the Fan, I was hooked.

Wolff is not only knowledgeable; he makes a complicated subject simple and a potentially boring subject interesting.   His illustrations about the problems with capitalism might not be new to some, but his presentation, about why and what we can do about it, will hopefully invigorate most.

Here is a link to Richard Wolff’s website where you can find a lot of information about his work:

http://rdwolff.com/

You can access some of his lectures there or via Youtube, Link TV and a growing number of alternative media programs such as David Packman and Ring of Fire*.   As he states, he has only started speaking outside of the college arena a few years ago, but it seems it is time for his message to take hold.  We would serve our community by helping our family, friends and neighbors connect with his works.   We might even be able to change our world.

Here is the movie Capitalism Hits the Fan, and another one from January 2012.

Capitalism Hits the Fan

http://rdwolff.com/content/capitalism-hits-fan-movie

January 24, 2014 speech All Souls Church in New York

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-KqeU8nzn4

Another Type of Food Fascists!

Another Type of Food Fascists!

The folks that are shown here, expect Jon Stewart of course, are a special kind of fascists: Food Fascists!  Part of the problem with these folks is that they will claim too much government control of the rich, but want to do everything in their power to control the poor.  Like many Americans they are under the delusion that is the money used on social programs, such as food stamps, is what is taking their hard earned money.  They just go to demonstrate how ill informed they are.   

Although people with food stamps buy things that are not the most healthy sometimes, the comments exposed by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show a few days ago, make me shake my head.  For any organization to call itself a news program to wage a war on the poor with rumors and misinformation shows just how morally bankrupt some in the country have become.  These commentators are just plain evil and thank you to Jon Stewart for fighting back against them.  

Picking on people less fortunate than you is just plain bullying.  Maybe they would be better identified as the Bullies of FOX News.

 

Bad Landlord in Douglas County

The following was posted on the Roseburg Craigslist in response to a thread going on there about JLW properties that owns and operates rental housing in our community.   CEA is interested in getting rid of bad landlords who prey upon the vulnerable.  They do not benefit our community and are largely responsible for the slum housing that exists here, particularly in the downtown Roseburg area.

Unfortunately the problem is not just limited to JLW, but also include folks like the guy who runs the local Rodeway Inn on Stephens, which we will tell you about in another post, and others.

CEA would like to know about your landlord horror story to try to shed some light on what is happening in our community.

Craigslist post:

There are several reasons people like the guy who owns JLW properties are allowed to continue do business.  The most important of which is the belief that renters are second-class citizens.  The so called “property rights” of the owner trump almost any right the renter has.

Because of the second-class status, tenants have an uphill battle in getting anyone to believe them when there is a dispute with a landlord.  This includes the courts.  So the advice suggested by others about getting everything in writing is an absolute must to protect your interests, however that might not even be enough.

If you are going to rent, you also need to have a degree of understanding about the law and how it works.  So here is some info about how the issue of holding a unit works.

                1.  If you give a deposit to “hold” an apartment, even one on Section 8, the landlord can charge you for each day he holds it for you.  He can charge the daily rental amount and you will have to pay the full amount until you move in or the landlord does not have to agree to hold the unit for you.  Now most decent landlords will not do this but legally any of them can.

                If you back out of the deal, the landlord can charge you for the days that he held the unit for you.  However he would not be legally entitled to the full amount of the $1000 (in the story stated earlier), unless of course that is what the days it was held add up to.  On the other hand, if the landlord backs out of the deal, he is not entitled to keep any of it.

                Now this is also contingent upon the unit being ready for occupancy during this entire time.  Holding fees when a unit is not move-in ready are a no no.  Also if for any reason the landlord backs out of the deal to accept the Section 8 voucher, he should not be able to keep any such deposit.

Although a landlord tenant relationship is based in contract law, there are special state laws for this contractual relationship.  Some of these laws serve to protect the resident, but most of them still protect the landlord. Good news is if a landlord wants to participate in the Section 8 voucher program.  There are more protections for tenants when it comes to bad landlords because there are federal laws that apply to the Section 8 program that don’t apply to other agreements between private landlords and tenants.

If a landlord violates the law or rules and regulations regarding the Section 8 voucher program, the landlord can be barred from being able to participate in the program, not just with that particular tenant but with all.  So if you can prove that Mr. Walker actually did any of these, Citizens Education & Advocacy is more than willing to work to have him removed from being able to take Section 8 vouchers (certificates) at all.    You can contact CEA through www.citizensnews.wordpress.com, or via Facebook.

I would caution folks about taking some of the info presented by others on craigslist as fact.  Although some is being offered with good and helpful intentions, misinformation is not useful.

                Fact:  Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) (like HADCO here), have nothing to do with the enforcement of housing code violations (if there are any housing codes for rental housing in a local jurisdiction).  PHAs only deal with their own publicly owned housing units and the Section 8 voucher (certificate) program.  Their only influence on private landlords is when the landlord participates in the Section 8 program.  These landlords must follow certain housing quality standards and other federal laws that govern the program.   If a landlord does not comply with them, locally, HADCO must terminated assistance to the unit, and depending on the situation, terminate assistance to any of the units being subsided by them.  A landlord can be barred from ever participating in the Section 8 program if their behavior warrants it.

One of the most useful pieces of information presented on this site before was the suggestion that joining together can make a difference.  It is the only thing that will ever give tenants an equal status.   If folks are interested in joining together to try to address the abuses outlined regarding JLW (or other bad landlords), CEA would be more than willing help facilitate that.  It is kind of what our volunteers do.

Local News Rejects Letter to Editor Re Patient Dumping

It seems that recent efforts by a Warming Center volunteer to get information published in a local paper asserting that our local Mercy Medical Center is responsible for “patient dumping”  has been thwarted.   Patient dumping is a term used to describe a hospital’s practice of discharging homeless patients without appropriate provisions for their follow-up care: patient dumping is illegal.  Given this,  it is important to find out the truth, but our local News Review seems uninterested in finding out what that is.

 

One recent horror story about patient dumping involves a lawsuit by the state of California against a Nevada hospital for providing bus tickets for homeless discharged patients.  The suit alleges that the Nevada hospital does this to avoid any legal responsibility for insuring that there are services and care available for the patients needed aftercare.   Luckily the assertion against our local hospital does not claim this, however if the Warming Center volunteer’s story is accurate, his claims are bad enough.   Here is what the WC volunteer claims happened: 

 

 

“A volunteer’s letter to the NR regarding patient dumping: I find it ironic that this happened when our city council believes there are so many resources for our homeless – :
Gary Harris

 

They told me they would include the fact that it was security from the ER who called the WC but other than that, it is as follows:”*

 

Letter to Editor by above volunteer, Gary Harris:

 

“During the recent cold spell when temperatures dropped into the teens and people were advised to stay home, I was volunteering at the Homeless Coalition’s warmingcenter to help provide a safe, warm place out of the weather for those without a home. I frequently work the overnight shift and it is often fairly quiet; the only sound being the snoring.

But on one particular night there was an interruption. A phone call was received from Mercy Medical Center; they requested that one of our volunteers leave the warming center and pick up a patient who they were intent on releasing. When they were informed that there were not sufficient volunteers on site during those hours to pick up patients from Mercy, Mercy proceed to drop the person off at the center themselves.
It was at 4am on a dangerously cold night that Mercy Medical Center released a patient who could not eat, walk, or even use a bathroom without a significant level of assistance. The person in question arrived without pants and had only a urine soaked blanket with which to stay warm. Warming center volunteers are not trained or prepared to provide this level of care for people who should be in a hospital setting.
Leaving a dog out in this weather would be felony level cruelty yet Mercy is releasing severely impaired patients. The term for this is “patient dumping” and beyond being shockingly cruel, Mercy might be interested in knowing that it is a legal liability as other hospitals have only learned through legal action.”*
 

Now if this is true, everyone in our community should be concerned.  However our concern should not be limited to Mercy doing the right thing.  Our concern needs to focus on why we expect Mercy to house the homeless, clothe the naked, and feed the hungry when that is not their job. Although Mercy Medical Center is a Catholic charity, it is a medical facility, not a provider of social services to this extent.  Because of it being a non-profit charity, we might have higher expectations in cases like these, but we need to discuss why this facility may have had no other option but to just send this homeless man on his way even though he was not appropriately dressed or seeming to be able to care for himself.   As horrible as this might sound, Mercy may have had no legal obligation or right but to do what they did.

Now whether their actions meet the community standards we have for basic decency or the mission of their non-profit charity is still something that needs to be address regardless of the legality of their actions, if this side of the story is all there is to it.  However we owe Mercy the courtesy of the benefit of the doubt until we know everyone’s take on what happened in this particular case.

It seems that efforts by the volunteer, Gary Harris attempted to get his above letter to the editor published in the News Review are not going to be successful.  Just yesterday, he posted on the Occupy Roseburg Facebook page, the News Review’s Editor, Vicki Menard’s reject letter, set out here:

Occupy RoseburgGary,

It was good to talk to you earlier this week. Upon consulting with my publisher, I’m afraid we will not be able to publish your letter, as it’s written. Since you don’t know for certain what occurred at Mercy or the decisions they made, you can’t make assumptions about the situation. I know you saw a man who was unable to help himself in many ways, and something clearly went wrong that night. It’s fortunate he was helped by you and the caring volunteers at the warming center. But without knowing Mercy’s side of the story, we can’t publish the letter.
I’m sorry.

Kind regards,
Vicki

Vicki Menard
Editor
The News-Review
345 N.E. Winchester St.
Roseburg, OR 97470
541-957-4203
Email: vmenard@nrtoday.com
Website: www.nrtoday.com*

It is not too hard to understand the concerns that the News Review had with the actual content of the WC volunteer’s letter, but we should all be concerned about what appears to be their lack of willingness to investigate the allegation themselves. After all, is that not what the press is all about?

Sometimes it is challenging for zealous advocates, including those involved with CEA, to limit the assumptions and rhetoric and stick with the facts, but facts are critical to determining the truth.  Our community deserves to know the truth, but more importantly we deserve to know the policies and procedures that our local community hospital follows when dealing with the type of situation described by the volunteer.  It is the role of the 4th estate (the press) to find the truth for the rest of us; otherwise what value do they have in our community?  It is the role of all of us to find out what Mercy’s policies and procedures in such matters.  CEA challenges the WC volunteers, Occupy Roseburg and other concerned citizens to contact Mercy Medical Center about this issue.  CEA also challenges the News Review to find out the facts and report them to the rest of us.

 

*Each of these was taken from the Occupy Roseburg Facebook page.   We claim no accuracy or truthfulness regarding their content, but we have lifted out the information directly from the Occupy Roseburg Facebook page and surrounded those portions in quotations.

Housing the Homeless Means Providing Extensive Support Services for Some

Housing certain populations of homeless will require providing a new approach.  This includes implementing the “housing first” model, as well as providing extensive support services to those with significant mental health issues. 

A recent report from Oregon State University, found on the Lund Report website (http://www.thelundreport.org/resource/california%E2%80%99s_new_mental_health_system_helps_people_live_independently), showed how providing services based on individual need can help address one of the most challenging aspects of getting people off of the streets besides the supply of affordable housing: mental illness.

Although such services can require a lot of upfront money, the long-term savings can be significant.  As the issue of homelessness is now coming to a head in our community, particularly in Roseburg, due to increasing pressure by various interest groups, it is time to try to find systemic solutions locally.

The new health care transformation going on in Oregon right now under the Medicaid expansion (Oregon Health Plan) may provide the resource to help reduce the population of those with serious mental illness who are homeless.  Coordinated Care Organizations (CCO) like our local Umpqua Health Alliance (UHA) are said to be able to solve social ills related to health care outcomes.  Let’s hope the discussion about providing mental and other health care services needed to reduce homelessness among this population is part of the dialogue going on right now among those involved with UHA regarding what we are going to do locally to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare). 

 

California’s New Mental Health System Helps People Live Independently

By:

Oregon State University

 

October 2, 2013 – A new analysis by Oregon State University researchers of California’s mental health system finds that comprehensive, community-based mental health programs are helping people with serious mental illness transition to independent living.

Published in the October issue of the American Journal of Public Health, this study has important implications for the way that states finance and deliver mental health programs, and speaks to the effectiveness of well-funded, comprehensive community programs.

In November of 2004, California voters passed the Mental Health Services Act, which allocated more than $3 billion for comprehensive community mental health programs, known as Full Service Partnerships (FSP). While community-based, these programs are different from usual mental health services programs in most states because they provides a more intensive level of care and a broader range of mental health services and supports, such as medication management, crisis intervention, case management and peer support.

It also provides services such as food, housing, respite care and treatment for co-occurring disorders, such as substance abuse.

“We found that these programs promoted independent living in the community among people who had serious mental illness but had not been served or underserved previously,” said Jangho Yoon, an assistant professor of health policy and health economist in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences and lead author of the study. “Overall, it reduced their chance of living on the street or being incarcerated in jails and prisons.”

The researchers looked at data from 43 of California’s 53 counties, resulting in a sample of 9,208 adults over the course of four years. They found that participants who stayed enrolled in the program continuously, without interruption, were 13.5 percent more likely to successfully transition to independent living.

However, they found that non-white patients were less likely to live independently, and more likely to end up in jail or homeless.

“Although FSPs represent the most well-funded comprehensive community-based programs in the country, they are still community programs and therefore program participation is voluntary,” Yoon said. “My guess is that minorities may not benefit fully from these programs in their communities possibly due to greater stigma, and less family/social supports. But it needs further investigation.”

Patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorders were also less likely to benefit from the community programs, because of the nature and severity of their mental health issues.

Yoon is an expert on health management policy, specifically policy around the area of mental health. He said other states haven’t followed California’s lead, in part because of the cost of such extensive programming. Yoon said some of the funding made possible by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which includes $460 million for community mental health services for states to use, may help other states to create similar programs.

“Nobody would disagree that the public mental health system has historically been under-funded in the U.S.,” he said. “The message for other states is clear: investment in well-funded, recovery-oriented, comprehensive community mental health programs clearly improves lives of people with serious mental illness, and may also save money from reduced dependency and incarcerations in this population.”

Tim Bruckner of the University of California, Irvine, and Timothy Brown of the University of California, Berkeley, contributed to this study, which was jointly funded by the California Department of Mental Health and the California Health Care Foundation.

 

Rep Tim Freeman Supports Corporate Personhood!

Oregon House Representative Tim Freeman is all about “corporations are people”, as his behavior regarding the recent passage of HJM 6, which he opposed, shows. 

During a hearing about House Joint Measure (HJM) 6, which has Oregon joining the efforts to overturn Citizens United, our local Representative Tim Freeman sprang to defend the honor of his fellow corporations during fellow Representative Jules Baily’s speech in support of the measure.   Somewhere in the middle of Rep Baily’s 90 second presentation, Freeman jumped from his seat demanding a point of privilege claiming that he was part of part of a LLC and a person and Rep. Jules Baily should watch himself when he claims that corporations are not people.   Freeman went on to cast one of the 11 No votes in the House.

 

Tim Freeman Defends Corporations as People

http://openstates.org/or/votes/ORV00003391/” title=”Freeman’s Vote” target=”_blank”>

Mercy’s CEO Compensation over 2/3 Million $ a Year!

From Oregon Patients Rights Assocation (OPRA) blog and facebook page:

According to The Lund Report, Mercy Medical Center CEO, Kelly Morgan was paid $696,946* in compensation for 2011 broken down as follows:

Base pay: $424,199;
Bonuses: $179,533,
Deferred Compensation: $58,064;
Nontaxable Benefits: $14,218; &
Other Compensation: $20,932.

During the same year, the percentage of charity given by this non-profit Catholic ministry was down by 23.7 percent, even though “profits” were up by 62.3%.

There seems to be something wrong with this, given Mercy Medical Centers’ whole point of being is to provide charity.

*Although Morgan is Mercy Medical Center’s CEO, his salary is not officially reported on their books because he is paid by Mercy’s parent organization Catholic Health Initiatives.

The Lund Report: http://www.thelundreport.org

Electronic Medical Records & Patients Rights

If you have ever been cajoled or threatened because you did not want to be part of DCIPA or other health care entities electronic medical records system, this may be why. Below is a notice sent by the state of Oregon to all Medicaid medical providers regarding the financial incentives offered for medical practices and clinics who get a significant number of their patients on electronic records. It may be why your doctor wants you on their system, even if HIPPA and other laws say you do not have to be part of any electronic system and have the right to opt out.
What we have seen happen is when a patient tries to decline being part of the system, which is his right, the medical practice indicates that it will no longer see you as a patient. So where is the right to decline if by exercising that right you are penalized, but that is another story? The story here is about the amount of money a doctor’s office can get to implement the electronic medical records system may be the very motive they have to illegally threaten or punish patients who do not want to be part of the system.
Now this not about whether one thinks electronic medical systems are a good thing or not; it is about the fact that laws say individual patients who do not want to be part of the system have a right not to be. A fundamental part of having any right it the ability to exercise it without threats or penalties. Without such protection, there is no right.
Unfortunately, this is just one more example of some members of our local medical community ignoring (even abusing) patients’ rights.
If you want to help stop these abusive practices, contact Oregon Patients Rights Association at (541) 236-3083 or opra4dc@gmail.com, or come to their next meeting:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013
4 – 6 p.m.
Rm 310, Douglas County Courthouse
1036 SE Douglas, Roseburg

Oregon Health Authority: notice to medical providers:

“Deadlines approaching for providers applying for the 2012 Medicaid Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Program
The Medicaid EHR Incentive program provides federal incentives, up to $63,750 paid over six years, to certain eligible professionals who adopt, implement, upgrade or achieve meaningful use of certified EHR technology. To apply, providers must first register through Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and then apply using the Provider Web Portal at https://www.or-medicaid.gov to access the online application. A list of the steps to apply can be found on our Web site.
If you are applying for the first time, please don’t delay! It may take 6-8 weeks for providers to gain access to the EHR Incentive Program application through the Provider Web Portal.
The deadline for submitting an application is dependent on the provider’s participation year:
• For providers that are participating for their first year, the deadline is March 1, 2013.
• For providers that are participating for a second year payment and are attesting to meaningful use, the deadline is March 31, 2013.
For more information, please visit the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program Web site or contact the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program team at 503-945-5898 with any questions.”

Heritage of Activism!

 

 

Today my father would be 100 years old if he was still alive and it just seemed appropriate to post this info about Walter Ruther because it exemplifies what I learned from my dad.  Luther (Duke) Cunningham was a union organizer and CIO member during the height of the American union movement.  Although he settled into a different life by the time I was born, union and political talk was pervasive in our house.  I learned about the struggles of Reuther’s United Auto Workers, the United Mine Workers, United Steel Workers, as well as the unionizing of the agricultural workers that my dad was a part of making happen.  Our family album included pictures of my dad and others in the Fruit Tobacco Agriculture & Allied Workers (FTA) union signing their union contract with growers after a long hard fought battle for union recognition for packing shed workers.   The experience made me honored to be among the working class. 

I am proud to say that my dad spent, even risked, his life helping the weak. Like Reuther, he got no greater satisfaction than doing so. However he was quick to point out that the real reward was the feeling of equality and empowerment that a successful union drive or political campaign created in him and the others who made it happen.  He was particularly keen on believing that you could only help or protect the weak by helping them realize that they were equals to whomever oppressed them, and that only through their own empowerment and collective risk could they ever actually be free from their oppression.  That is what unions are supposed to be about.  Both my dad and Walther Reuther knew that.

For those who don’t know about Walter Reuther, there is a lot of information about him on the web.  Reuther was a leader in the United Auto Workers, as well as head of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) when it merged with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) to create the AFLCIO that still exists today. 

If you don’t know about my dad, you won’t find information on the web about him or thousands of others like him who were instrument in organizing the American union movement.  Sometimes the focus on folks like Reuther who move through the ranks to prominent leadership roles, overshadows the vital contribution that the everyday man and woman makes.  I am lucky to have been raised by an average man who joined with other average men and women to make one heck of a difference in their corner of the world.     

My dad was part of the migrant workers who journeyed west during the Dustbowl Era.  Finding work as one of the “elite” of agriculture workers, my dad soon connected with the widespread efforts devoted to unionizing workers in order to get a fair share of what they produced.  He became the head of his local FTA in California and represented the packing shed workers against the intolerable conditions in the industry that feeds the world.   

If there is a heaven, I am sure my dad is still raising hell.

Public Meeting Regarding Health Care Reform

Tomorrow, Tuesday December 11, 2012, from 1 to 4:30 p.m., people in Douglas County can attend, via the internet, the Oregon Heatlh Policy Board meeting in room 310 of the Douglas County courthouse. The OHPB will take public comment starting at 3:45 p.m., that you can also participate during the live web broadcast.

Although the state set up a few public sites throughout Oregon, Douglas County was not one of them, so the newly formed Oregon Patients Rights Association (OPRA) decided to use personal computers and the county wifi to bring it to folks in our community who would like to participate with others. The group hopes to get the County to agree to do sponsor the future monthly meetings of this Board, however you don’t need to come to the meeting to participate.

Since the meeting is being broadcast live via the interent, anyone anywhere, can participate, even from your own home. The links below provide informatin about who to watch the meeting live, as well as how to participate in the public comments portion.

You may not know a lot about the Oreogn Health Policy Board or the Oregon Health Authority, but what they are setting up now will soon impact everyone in Oregon because they are responsible for developing health and heatlh care policy for our state. Although they are working on the development of Coordinated Care Organizations (CCO) that are reforming the way medical services are provided under the Oregon Health Plan, their actions will eventually target those on Medicare, as well as anyone on a state or local government paid for health plan. They are also responsible for overseeing the new health care exchanges that are provided for in the Affordable Care Act. So if you want to know what eventually be in store for you, even if you are not on the Oregon Health Plan or Medicaid, you might be interested in taking part with us.

The OHPB must be applauded for doing this to faciliate transparency and accountability in government. They have a good start on transparency, but we will have to ensure that they, and those providing health care services, particularly with government money, are held accountable.

For more info: opra4dc@gmail.com

New Patients Rights Group in Douglas County

A few weeks ago, Citizens Education & Advocacy meet with a small group of people with disabilities to discuss a growing problem in our community regarding the quality of health care and what we believe are some pretty outrageous violations of patients’ rights.   Since then, we have helped the folks develop into an more organized effort that is calling itself Oregon Patients Rights Association and will be holding some meetings to help people understand the various rights they have when seeking medical care.

Oregon Patients Rights Association will be meeting Tuesday, November 20th from 3:30 – 5:30 pm, & again Tuesday, December 11th from 6 – 8 pm in room 311 at the Douglas County Courthouse.  The meetings are free and open to the public. 

Each meeting will have a patients’ rights education program and provide time for individual help regarding problems, including filing complaints regarding their healthcare provider or writing letters to various oversight agencies and officials. 

A group of local patients and advocates have come together as Oregon Patients Rights Association to deal with the increase of patient abuse and abandonment by local healthcare providers, particularly regarding people with certain types of disabling medical conditions, including chronic pain. 

Nov 20th will cover laws that exist to make sure that patients receive appropriate diagnostic services and treatment, how to know if the laws are being followed in your case and what you can do if they are not.  These include Oregon’s Intractable Pain Act, Oregon Medical Practices Act, Nurse Practices Act, & the Social Security Act (covering Medicare & Medicaid (Oregon Health Plan) patients). People who want help filling out complaints about their doctors & nurse practitioners can get it from volunteer patient advocates. 

On December 11th, we will cover in more detail Oregon’s Intractable Pain Act, as well as discuss the role of the Oregon Pain Commission, the Oregon Medical Board and Board of Nursing in making sure that patients’ rights are not ignored.  We will also discuss how the various bodies should be working to ensure practitioners respect patients’ rights under the Oregon’s Medical Marijuana Act and other laws.  Volunteer patient advocates will be again be on hand to help those who want to file complaints or write letters to the various boards and commissions. 

For information about Oregon Patients Rights Association, please contact us at opra4dc@gmail.com or call (541) 236-3083.

Fun Free Stuff in Our Community

Some fun and free (or really cheap) things for kids in Douglas County:

Free Bowling: Youth 15 and under can get two free bowling games a day during the summer at Roseburg’s Ten Down Bowling alley.   The two games each day are free, but you will have to pay for the cost of bowling shoe rental at $2.50 per person.  Also if parents want to bowl, it will cost the regular game rate and shoes.

You can get more information and register at http://www.kidsbowlfree.com/ or contact Ten Down Bowling at (541) 672-3601.

Free Wilderness Camp-Out:

Get a scholarship to attend for free the upcoming Umpqua Watersheds annual Twin Lakes Youth Wilderness Camp-Out. The Camp-Out runs this coming weekend, July 27 to 29th.

Families are encouraged to attend together, but youth ages 11-18 can attend alone for this “fun-filled weekend planned with lots of opportunities for learning, adventure and outdoor recreation!”

For more info or to register, please contact Mike Rooney at 541-672-7065 (office), 412-400-4186 (mobile), email: mike@umpqua-watersheds.org, or 539 SE Main St. Roseburg, OR 97470.

Free End of Summer Recreation & Reading Program:

Starting next week and running every Tuesday & Thursday from 12:30 – 3:30 p.m., school age youth can have some fun and increase reading, writing & math skills before school starts at the Fair Oaks Community Grange Summer Recreation & Reading Program.   Running until August 16th, kids can just drop-in for open recreation, as well as participate in organized activities that will make learning fun.  Everyone can have fun learning about making giant bubbles, gardening, astronomy & wilderness survival.  Each week offers a different focus, but children can just come to play ping pong, variety of board games or get into a water balloon contest or two.

Activities are free, including a snack, but parents must register their children for the program.  To register or for more info contact the Fair Oaks Community Grange at (541) 375-0302, fairoaksgrange@gmail.com, message via Facebook or stop by the Grange at 1020 Fair Oaks Rd, Oakland (east of Sutherlin off Nonpareil).

Building Healthy Communities-Free Presentation Wed June 20th

I got the following information from our local health department.  If you have the time, it looks like a good opportunity for everyone to find out how we can help improve our community.

“Designing Healthy Communities (Jun 20): Don’t miss this opportunity to attend a presentation by Dr. Richard Jackson, host of the PBS television special, Designing Healthy Communities.  Wednesday, June 20, 11:30-1:00, Douglas County Library.  Free & Open to the Public.  Sponsored locally by the Roseburg Bike & Pedestrian Coalition, DCIPA-The Physicians of Douglas County, Mercy Medical Center, Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, and Douglas County Public Health.”

Hope to see a lot of folks, regular folks, there.    With one of the worst rankings of overall health, isn’t it time we all took some responsibility to be part of the dialogue? Otherwise it will be the “professionals” who decided these issues for us, or at least try to.   If we are really going to make a difference, it needs everyone to be involved and to demand some system changes.

Take care,

 

 

Annoying Peasant

I have posted this video clip a few times before in various places, but I cannot resist doing it again as we come up to May Day (the International Workers Day, not just the spring & flower celebation)  on May 1st.  Occupy has called for a General Strike that day, here is some inspiration.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAaWvVFERVA&feature=channel&list=UL

 

Occupy Roseburg Steps Up to Defend the Rights of Roseburg’s Homeless

For the past few weeks, the Roseburg Police Department and the homeless residents of that community have been in conflict.  Reports in the local media claim that the police have been contacted by residents claiming that their homeless neighbors are causing all kinds of problems, even driving away business in the dowtown area.   Reports by Occupy assert that instead of finding a humanitarian way to deal with the problem, the police have started rousting and hasseling our fellow citizens who find shelter under city bridges.

Some of the recent encounters have resulted in tickets being issued for “acts of living” violations such as the City of Roseburg’g “no camping” ordiance.   Although still a tactic of local governing bodies, these “acts of living” laws have been denounced by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.  After many years of trying to crimilize homelessness, this failed social policy is now being address.  Unfortunately, Roseburg is a bit behind the times.

Below is a copy of an email I sent on behalf of CEA to the Roseburg City Council, Mayor, Manager & Chief of Police.   It provides not only a quote from the Council on Homeless recently released report, it also provides a link where all can access the report and more information.  There are a lot of good ideas about how we can come together as a commnity to address the problems that we all encounter when some of us have to live on the streets.

Take care,

 

 

 

April 23, 2012

City of Roseburg info@cityofroseburg.org

Mayor Larry Rich lrich@cityofroseburg.org

Councilor Ken Averett kaverett@cityofroseburg.org

Councilor Melissa Smith msmith@cityofroseburg.org

Councilor Steve Tuchscherer stuchscherer@cityofrosburg.org

Councilor Tom Ryan tryan@cityofroseburg.org

Councilor Rick Coen rcoen@cityofroseburg.org

Councilor Bob Cotterell bcotterell@cityofroseburg.org

Councilor Michael Baker mbaker@cityofroseburg.org

Councilor Steve Kaser skaser@cityofroseburg.org

Police Chief Jim Burge jburge@cityofroseburg.org

Manager Eric Swanson  eswanson@cityofroseburg.org

 

Dear Roseburg City Council, Mayor, Manager and Police Chief Burge:

In recent years, the United States has seen the proliferation of local measures to criminalize “acts of living” laws that prohibit sleeping, eating, sitting, or panhandling in public spaces. City, town, and county officials are turning to criminalization measures in an effort to broadcast a zero-tolerance approach to street homelessness and to temporarily reduce the visibility of homelessness in their communities. Although individuals experiencing homelessness should be afforded the same dignity, compassion, and support provided to others, criminalization policies further marginalize men and women who are experiencing homelessness, fuel inflammatory attitudes, and may even unduly restrict constitutionally protected liberties. Moreover, there is ample evidence that alternatives to criminalization policies can adequately balance the needs of all parties. Community residents, government agencies, businesses, and men and women who are experiencing homelessness are better served by solutions that do not marginalize people experiencing homelessness, but rather strike at the core factors contributing to homelessness.

Criminalization policies are costly and consume substantial state and local resources. In today’s economic climate, it is important for state, county, and local entities to invest in programs that work rather than spend money on activities that are unlikely to achieve the desired result and which may, in some cases, open the jurisdiction to liability. In addition to the increase in public resources used to carry out these criminalization measures, Individuals who are arrested or fined for “act of living” crimes in public spaces now have a criminal record; resulting in barriers to work, and difficulty in receiving mainstream services and housing that often bar individuals with criminal histories. These policies are a temporary solution to street homelessness and create greater barriers for these individuals to exit homelessness successfully, providing neither a permanent or sustainable solution to homelessness.

The above are not my words.  In fact, they were lifted intact from the Executive Summary of the recently released Searching Out Solutions: Constructive Alternatives to Criminalizing of Homelessness by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.  This 2012 document goes on to illustrate the reasons enforcing laws that prohibit trespassing on public property or local no camping ordinances and other “acts of living” laws fly in the face of good public policy.  If the City of Roseburg is really trying to permanently address the problems that people living on the streets can cause the community, adopting some of the solutions proposed in the report would more likely result in accomplishing this goal than enforcing laws and policies that only tend to exacerbate the problem.

One of the solutions proffered by the Council on Homelesness is that law enforcement establish a true collaboration with service providers to develop specialized crisis intervention that can limit the number of arrests for non-violent  offenses, as well as help “link individuals experiencing street homelessness with supportive housing and services to help individuals move off the street permanently.”  I would also offer a suggestion that any partnerships include advocates for the homeless, not just those who provide social or human services to them.

If such a policy were in place now, the Roseburg Police Department, Occupy Roseburg and the homeless residents of Roseburg would be working with Social Service agencies to try to find temporary and permanent solutions to the concerns.  One might argue that the harassment and rousting of homeless campers under the bridge recently might have been avoided if efforts had been made to try to deal with the concerns with that your department had with all stakeholders.   Those objecting to your enforcement of “acts of living” rules may have been able to help you find alternatives, and, if not alternatives could be found, they may not be so critical of law enforcement efforts if they had been involved in the process all along.

Alternative justice system strategies are other recommendations of the Council on Homelessness.   I believe that this alternative justice starts at the street level, before the person is given a citation, before he/she becomes part of the court (even municipal court) system.  This is where individual police officers play a vital role.  What an individual officer does can make the difference in whether someone gets labeled a criminal and the resulting consequences that may further reduce the person’s chances of ending the cycle of homelessness.   What the driving philosophy of the Roseburg Police Department is on this issue can make a difference as well.  Certainly the policy of the Roseburg City Council has an impact.

I am aware of some of the challenges any police department faces when left to deal with the results of a failed social policy that they did not create, nor can they solve.   I can only imagine the stress that being stuck in the middle between demands of those who want the homeless gone and those who have no place to go creates among those who are hired to protect and serve all residents of the community.  In fact, the troubling issue of homeless being virtually ignored at all levels of government leaves residents and police with little choice but to demand and implement (respectively) the draconian actions of recent past.

Unfortunately I cannot be there this evening to lend support to those who are advocating for the rights of the homeless. However, as a housing & civil liberties advocate, I encourage the Roseburg City Council to listen to the concerns of all sides, but recognize that the policies the City has had to date do little to end the problem of homelessness in the community.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Betsy Cunningham

Citizens Education & Advocacy (CEA)

1464 E. Central Ave.

Sutherlin, OR 97479]

Telephone: (541) 459-3099

 

Link:  United States Interagency Council on Homelessness 2012 Report:  http://www.usich.gov/issue/alternatives_to_criminalization

Dolly Dumped! Alburquerque Housing Authority Board Does Right Thing!

Albuquerque Housing Authority fired Dolly Newman yesterday!  The former Executive Director of the Housing Authority of Douglas County (HADCO) was caught misusing taxpayer money by giving her staff and herself perks in New Mexico after having the job only a little over a year.  Her behavior there was much like it was here during her two year tenure, yet the news media there was a lot more investigative than any of ours.  So she was caught before she could divert a quarter of a million plus from low-income housing programs to feed her own ego.

http://www.kob.com/article/stories/S2587045.shtml?cat=516

Douglas County Candidates Forum @ Fair Oaks Community Grange this Wednesday!

Who represents us at the local level can be as critical as who represents us on a state and national level.  If you have not already, come join folks at the Grange to learn more about those who are running in contested countywide races.

 

What:  Candidates Forum (Fair Oaks Community Grange)

When:   Wednesday, April 18th, 6 – 8 p.m.

Where:  Fair Oaks Community Grange, 1020 Fair Oaks Rd, Oakland (east of Sutherlin off Nonpareil)

Candidates for Douglas County Commissioner, Clerk, Treasurer and District Attorney will speak to members of the community at the upcoming Fair Oaks Community Grange Candidates Forum this Wednesday, April 18th from 6 – 8 p.m.  at the Grange.

The first part of the evening will profile candidates for Douglas County Commission position 1 & 3.  After a brief refreshment break, the forum will wrap-up with those seeking election to be our next Clerk, Treasurer, and District Attorney.   Each candidate will have the opportunity to give brief opening and closing statements, with the remainder of the time devoted to answering questions from the audience.  For more information contact that Fair Oaks Community Grange at (541) 459-4262, fairoaksgrange@gmail.com, or via Facebook.

Occupy the Courts Today at 1 pm!

Occupy the Courts March and Rally in Roseburg.  Starts at Riverside Park (Visitors Center by the S. Umpqua River) ends steps Douglas County Courthouse on Douglas.

Speakers to include reprentatives from Move to Amend, Douglas County Democratic Party, Liberators 11 and League of Women Voters.   Altough these groups do not agree on many issues, they all agree that we  must end corporate control of our political system and government.

Join the 99% and Occupy the Courts this afternoon.

Occupy the Courts Jan 20th–Local Action

Occupy the Courts is being promoted by Move to Amend and various Occupy movements throughout the country.  Calling for a day of action at federal courthouses on January 20th, Move to Amend hopes to bring attention to their campaign to change the U.S. Constitution in order make it clear that it, and it rights, do not apply to corporations but only real (natural) people.

On the 2nd anniversay of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in “Citizens United vs. FEC”, people will gather at federal & other courts to demand that the courts recognized that the Constitition protects only real (natural) people, and the must protect the individal rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights including free speech/press and habeas corpus.  Both are currently being threatened by the recent passage of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which imposes indefinite detention without tiral, and bills before the House and the Senate SOPA/PIPA, which deal with on-line web content censorship in the name of copyright protection.

Occupiers in Douglas County will meeting at Riverside Park (where the Roseburg Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center is located) at 12:30 p.m. to march to the Douglas County Courthouse on Douglas in Roseburg.   “Mouners” will travel as a funeral procession ending with at around 1 p.m..

Besides supporting the Move to Amend, Occupiers hope to bring attention to the on-going assault of our rights.  As set out in their press release:  ”

“Memorial of the Bill of Rights
The Public is invited to join members of the community in morning the death of the Bill of Rights and Habeas Corpus. On January 20th at 1 p.m.  Occupy Roseburg participants will be conducting a memorial procession starting at Rivers Park next to the Chamber of Commerce and proceeding to the Douglas County Courthouse lawn were a eulogy and mach burial will be conducted. Following the performance will be a discussion of the effects of corporate personhood and the political and judicial decisions which created it. Anyone wishing to be more involved please contact Occupy Roseburg at their new website occupyroseburg.com, facebook, occupyroseburg@riseup.net  or you can call Bill at 541-670-9851.
When: Friday January 20, 2015 @ 1 PM morners assemble at 12:30
Where: Start at Riverside Park, End at Douglas County Courthouse”

Douglas County Commissioners Once Again Set to Pick HADCO Commissioner

For the past few weeks, since the closing of the applications to fill the vacant position on the Housing Authority of Douglas County Board of Commissioners (HADCO), CEA has been waiting to see which of the two people the Douglas County Commissioners will chose.   CEA has been relatively quiet about the matter.  It is our more recent experience that the DC Commissioners have little use for what we say regarding these critical appointments to the body that oversees millions of tax dollars spent in our community on public housing.

In spite of the fact that it was CEA who pressed for and got an audit of our local public housing agency from HUD that revealed that the former Executive Director of HADCO mismanaged $300,000 in tax dollars, the Douglas County Commissioners have little interest in our opinion or in making sure all of those they appoint to HADCO’s board are up for the job.   The arrogant attitude that they know better than the citizens of this communitywho have actually attended HADCO Commission meeting, learned the laws that govern them, and have done their homework, resulted in the $300,000 loss of public housing dollars.  The $300,000 loss was because the majority of the folks (with the exceptionof HADCO Commissioner Jamie Sanchez) on the HADCO Commission failed to oversee HADCO and its ED.  This includes at least one current HADCO Commissioner and a long list of those citizens who stepped forward to take an appointment to act important but had little clue that they were public officials sitting on a public commission.

So who will be the next incompentent public offical that the Douglas County Commissioners will appoint?  Maybe it is time we got rid of the DC Commissioners given they are not even compentent enough pick housing authority commissioners—two are up for reelection.

Occupy DC Courthouse to Defend Civil Liberties

Folks associated with Occupy Roseburg have organized a demonstration for tomorrow night, Tuesday, December 20th at 6:00 p.m. at the Douglas County Courthouse.    Some will be setting up tents and staying for a while to protest the passage of the National Defense Appropriations Act (NDAA), most particularly Section 1031.  Others can come to show support and stay only as long as they like. 

As you are probably aware, civil libertarians are concerned that Section 1031 of the Act will provide for unlimited military detention of anyone, including citizens, even on U.S. soil, who may be suspected of supporting terrorism.  One of the problems in this post 9/11 era is who can be determined a terrorist or terrorist group.  

As I write this it is not clear whether President Obama has yet signed to bill or not, but info indicates that if he has not already done so, we plans on doing so shortly.

Even if passage of the bill happens, things can be turned around if enough people demand that their elected representatives in the House and Senate repeal it.   Although those of us in Douglas County already have a Congressman and two U.S. Senators who defended our rights and voted against their various body’s version of the bill,  we still need to build opposition in our community against these and other laws that intend to change the U.S. Constitution illegally.  We need to reach out to those here that support the Tea Party; Americans for Prosperity and others that we know have made claims that they too support our freedoms.   Now is the time for all of us to stand up together. 

After the passage of the U.S.A. Patriot Act a number of folks in our community from the left and right, environmentalists and timber, as well as others with differing views joined together to protest it.  We got some concessions, but we did not continue until it was pealed; now we have this.   What will be next if we don’t do something now?

Stay engaged on Facebook with Occupy Roseburg and Occupy Douglas County.  Also see CEA’s blog here at wordpress regarding Occupy Douglas County.

Happy Bill of Rights Day!

Today is the 220th anniversay of the U.S. Bill of Rights.   The first ten amendments are intended to enumerate, as illustrations, of those unalienable rights set out in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.   They are examples of these rights, not an exclusive list, yet they are important.  This may be particularly true in this time of social unrest.  These rights are intended to protect us in times like these.

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
 www.archives.gov December 15, 2011 

 

The Bill of Rights: A TranscriptionThe Preamble to The Bill of Rights

Congress of the United States
begun and held at the City of New-York, on
Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

Note: The following text is a transcription of the first ten amendments to the Constitution in their original form. These amendments were ratified December 15, 1791, and form what is known as the “Bill of Rights.”


Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.


Amendment III

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.


Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.


Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.


Amendment VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.


Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.


Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Celebrate the 220th Anniversary of the Bill of Rights this Thursday, Dec 15th!

Come celebrate the 220th anniversary to the Bill of Rights on Thursday, December 15 at 6:30 p.m., Douglas County Courthouse room 216 (County Commission chambers), Roseburg. A showing of the DVD Know Your Rights – Occupy training conducted by Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC) founder and attorney, Lauren Regan.  A discussion about the status of our rights and what we can do to protect them will follow with an Occupy Roseburg General Assembly.

https://www.facebook.com/#!/OccupyRoseburg

Occupy Roseburg: Occupy Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving)

Occupy Roseburg’s Occupy Black Friday is happening tomorrow starting at 10 a.m. at the Bureau of Land Management office on Garden Valley in Roseburg.  It will include a Feed the Burg pot luck (free food and you don’t have to bring any to participate) and a Free Store (good recycled items that you can just have for free).

The message is simple, Quit Feeding Wall Street, boycott corporate black Friday.   To do this, simply do not shop on Friday.   Instead find other ways to demonstrate the spirit of the holiday season.

If you want to buy gifts, think local small independent businesses and shop on Saturday.  Although some of these, maybe even most, sell goods that come from corporate sources, the majority of the profit of the store receives in sales stay here in our community unlike companies like WalMart K-Mart, Sears, JC Penny, Macy’s, Rite Aid, Wal-Greens, Fred Meyers, etc.

What you buy and where you buy it has power.  It is one of the few things that each of us can take responsibilty for doing to reduce the greed that is destroying not only our country, but the world.

Occupy Wall Street Occupies Roseburg

A group of folks have been periodically occupying the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office on Garden Valley in support of the Occupy movements spreading throughout the world.  Occupy Roseburg will again take up residence again this weekend from

Friday (Nov 4) afternoon 4:30 p.m. to Sunday (Nov 6).

A General Assembly will convene & march to bring attention to  Bank Transfer Day on

 Saturday (Nov 5) 12:00 p.m.  (high noon) 

Here are two flyers that express what the Occupy movement is about:

Flyer Occpuy Roseburg Bank Transfer Day

Flyer Occupy Roseburg Bank Transfer Day Piggy

HUD Report In, HADCO’s former ED Mismanaged $300,000 in Federal Funds!

Here is the link so you can read it all yourself: HUD Management Review 2011. This Management Review was brought about by the pressure put on HUD by HADCO Commissioner Jamie Sanchez, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley’s office, as well as HADCO residents and others brought together by the work of CEA. It covers a variety of areas of concern that CEA will be trying to address with the HADCO Board of Commissioners as well as the Douglas County Commissioners who appointed those who are responsible for this happening.

Happy Independence Day 2011!

Happy 4th of July

                Today marks the 235th birthday of the Declaration of Independence.  On July 4, 1776, the delegates the Continental Congress decided it was no longer possible to consider remaining English citizens and the goal of the Revolutionary War was going to be total independence. 

                If you are interested, there are a lot of resources on the internet where you can find out more about the history of the Declaration of Independence.  If you want to read the full texts transcript, you can find one with the signors names at our federal government archives website:  http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html

                You can also find out more historical information about the declaration on the same website by starting at the Declarations of Independence homepage: 

Declaration of Independence archives         htt://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration.html

                If you want to have some fun with it, here are some places to check out:

Schoolhouse Rock presentation related to the 4th on YouTube are fun for kids of all ages:

 “Fireworks” 

This is the 4th of July segment.

watch?v=Ym2Ny1Te3LA&feature=related

No More Kings

We learn why we fought for independence.

watch?v=p0LmYEjXNIg&feature=related

 

Shot Heard Round the World:

We learn what this means and how it became identified as the start of the Revolutionary War.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhdmDDBjco0&feature=related

How about Elmo Sings Happy Birthday to America:

http://video.pbs.org/video/2013883526

For the lover of rap music check this out:

Revolutionary Rap

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL4KhwCMSwg&feature=related

Now a bit More Serious:

 

A short piece about the Declaration of Independence from the HBO Special John Adams can be seen here:    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrvpZxMfKaU

If you have Netflix, you can stream the first and second episodes of the History Channel series America: The Story of Us to get a serious patriotic fix.  About 20 minutes into the Ep 1: Rebels through Ep 2:  Revolution is a good place to start to get an overview of the history of our fight for independence. 

For more details about this time in history, you can say with Netflix to stream the History Channel 13 episodes about various aspects of the struggle starting with Boston Bloody Boston (about the Boston Massacre).   Episode 3 focuses on the Declaration of Independence.

Finally here are some words from the author of the Declaration of Independence to think about today,
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”   Thomas Jefferson.

DC Commissoners Reappoint Chris Spens, Drives Anger!

After yesterday’s Douglas County Commission reappointment of Chris Spens to the Housing Authority of Douglas County Commissioners, I came home and wrote a bitting commentary about the experience.  However, I decided to give it a day or two before I decide whether to post it in its entirity or to modifiy the angry scarcism.  In the meantime, I will just post the link to the event from local radio station KQEN.

Although this does not cover anywhere the entire circus, it illustrates that I have been driven to the type of anger and disrepect I have for the ineptitude of our DC Commissioners that Ihave for select HADCO Commissioners.   I guess I am a bit tired of dealing with the arrogance of the Big Fish in a Little Pond that small communities seem to breed.

KQEN Radio 1240 HADCO Appointment

Three People Vie for Two Seats on HADCO Board

Only three people applied for the two seats available on the HADCO Board of Commissioners.  One was Jeff Cooley who is a local CPA.  Another is former HADCO Commissioner, Joy Mayorga.  The last is current HADCO Commissioner, Chris Spens.

CEA encourages everyone to call the Douglas County Commissioners, or send emails, even write letters to say:  ANYONE BUT SPENS!

Contact for Douglas County Commissioners:

  •  Susan Morgan, (HADCO liaison)                Email: Susan Morgan <morgan@co.douglas.or.us>;
  •  Doug Robertson,                                            Email is care of assistant, Deb Mendenhall: deb@co.douglas.or.us
  • Joe Laurance                                                                      Email: Joe Laurance <laurance@co.douglas.or.us>;

Also send one to Board Assistant, who is in charge of county boards and committees,

Tina Roy  <tina@co.douglas.or.us>;

Phone number is the same for everyone.   (541) 440-4201

HADCO Commissioner Chris Spens Meets Behind Closed Doors with HUD and DC Commissioner Morgan!

Without the knowledge or consent of the HADCO Board of Commissioners, HADCO Commissioner Chris Spens apparently attended a meeting a few weeks ago with at least one representative from HUD’s field office in Portland, as well as Douglas County Commissioner Susan Morgan.   It seems that HADCO’s Interim Director Jamie Ambrosini was also there, yet no one bothered to tell the rest of the HADCO Board of Commissioners.

Although we had received information that HUD intended to meet with former HADCO Chair Ernie Luna, we had no idea that HADCO or HUD staff would arrange for Chris to replace him at the meeting.  Heck maybe it was Commissioner Morgan who asked Chris to attend, but I won’t know until I receive some answers from either her, HUD or HADCO.   All have been asked.

It is true that when Ernie Luna was still on the Board of Commissioners, a majority of the board elected Chris to Vice-Chair but understanding context is important here.   Chris was only elected Vice-Chair because there was a voting block of Ernie Luna, Shannon Gammie and him.  However, once Erie resigned from the HADCO Board of Commissioners, Chris would not have had majority support to represent HADCO.  Given the HADCO Bylaws, he did not have authority to represent the Board without their expressed authority to do so.  So how did he get to be the only HADCO Board representative at this special meeting with HUD and Commissioner Morgan?

Now what did they discuss?  I have some idea given third hand information from a few sources.  However it is not really clear what they discussed and any resolutions.   From the information I have received, it seems that there were concerns about the fact that HADCO has no process for dealing with complaints to make sure that they are addressed.   Someone I spoke to about this seemed to think that this was something that can be solved with appropriate policies and procedures being adopted, however it is a bit more than that.  There needs to be people on HADCO’s Board and working for them that have a different  philosophy than what has driven the agency for the past several years.  People on the Board need to want to deal with complaints, which a majority of the HADCO Board has not.   In the past year alone, there have been three complaints about former Executive Director Dolly Newman’s behavior that a majority of the HADCO Board, including Spens did nothing about–Oh yeah he did something, he voted to give her a 10% raise.  One of these complaints was from a former resident who caught Ms. Newman calling the resident inappropriate names when Ms. Newman was talking to another staff person about the resident in the office one day after a HADCO Board meeting.

Apparently HUD confirmed to Commissioner Morgan that they were investigating Dolly Newman and her handling of HADCO finances when she was here.   However, what does this mean?  Are they also investigating why HADCO’s Commission let her do this?  If you follow this blog, you know that we–including HADCO Commissioner Jamie Sanchez— have been raising questions about Ms. Newman’s spending for well over a year, yet neither Chris Spens, HUD or Commissioner Morgan did anything about it even though they had been told of the red flags that HADCO’s own budget documents clearly showed.

So now we are going to trust a behind closed-doors meeting to fix the problems that is being held by the people who either directly caused the problems or ignored them for so long that it has gone this far?   I don’t think so.  We all deserve better than this from HUD, HADCO and Commissioner Morgan.

Take care,

Douglas County Commissioners Taking Application for Two HADCO Commission Seats!

A Press Release went out yesterday (3/23/11) from the office of the Douglas County Commissioners announcing that they are taking applications to fill two seats on the Housing Authority of Douglas County Commission.  One position is to fill the unexpired term of Ernie Luna who resigned a month or so ago.  The other position is to fill the expired term of the Chris Spens.

Although we don’t know who will apply, let’s hope that the Douglas County Commissioners have enough sense to not reappoint Chris Spens if he reapplies for his seat.   In the next few weeks, we will tell you most of the reasons why.   However we can start with just a few words:  former Executive Director Dolly Newman.

Chris spearheaded giving her a 10% raise when she was stealing money from the taxpayer to travel around the country.   So this alone is reason he needs to be replaced.  Maybe if the Douglas County Commissioners don’t get it, so do they.

If you want an application, you can contact Tina Roy at the DC Commission office:  tina@co.douglas.or.us or (541) 440-4201.

Take care,

HADCO Update!

Well it has been a while since posting anything about our favorite subject.  A lot has happened since our local public housing authority’s (PHA) former Executive Director, Dolly Newman quit without prior notice on November 30, 2010, just as all of her mismanagement began to catch up to her.

Good News! Given all they have blundered on, the HADCO Board of Commissioners make an excellent decision when they voted unanimously in December 2010 to name HADCO’s Section 8 Director as their Interim Executive Director.  This is the second time Ms. Ambrosini has had to take the helm temporarily after an unqualified Executive Director mismanaged our local public housing agency.   (For those who don’t remember Dolly Newman replaced Tonja Eli who was allowed to resign under threat of termination for problems she caused, which included using the company credit card to make personal purchases. *Note Chris Spens has been their to oversee both these EDs)  However this time the mess she has to clean up is a lot worse than the one left by Ms. Newman’s predecessor.   The good news here is Ms. Ambrosini’s appointment.

Good news!  One of the first things she did was overturn HADCO’s hearing officer’s decision regarding Amber Powell whom we discussed in our last blog post.  Ms. Ambrosini not only stopped the pending eviction back in December, she reviewed Ms. Powell’s whole file and found that HADCO had overcharged Ms. Powell for rent.  HADCO ended up owing Ms. Powell about $3,000.   So not only was their grounds for evicting her not valid, one of the things that started her problems with HADCO was found to be the public housing manager and her boss’ mistake, not the resident’s.  Keep in mind that this case had already been appealed to Dolly Newman when she was still the Executive Director, and even HADCO Board of Commissioners who refused to set the decision aside because three of them refused to even look at the resident’s claim.   (Some help with this must also go to U.S. Senator Merkely’s office who has helped us get some accountability through HUD as well as HADCO).  However Ms. Ambrosini did not stop there, she has also taken the leadership to review the management practices of the public housing program where a lot of the problems arose.

Good news! Since being appointed to the Interim ED position, Jamie Ambrosini has been working diligently to unravel a big financial mess created by Ms. Newman.

Bad news! One of the things that she discovered what that Ms. Newman misallocated public housing money that HADCO receives from HUD, to cover the losses that exist in another program (Multi-housing).  Our public housing agency gets money from a few different sources to provide low-income housing in our community.     The rules of the traditional HUD Section 8 and public housing programs do not allow commingling of funds or employee positions.   However, Ms. Newman took money from the public housing program to create positions to serve the Multi-family housing projects, which violates federal law.

Bad news! At the last HADCO Board of Commission meeting the HADCO Board voted to approve refinancing of one their housing projects in order to repay the public housing fund $57,000 misappropriated from it by Ms. Newman.   This is a matter of public record.   You just need to listen to the January 2011 HADCO Board Meeting.   I will be writing more about the financial dealings of HADCO’s former ED in future postings.   However, I did meet with the Interim Executive Director last week to get a better understanding of the extent of Ms. Newman’s misuse of public funds.   Suffice to say for now, that the taxpayer will not be happy.

Good news!   Ms. Ambrosini has shown she understands the concepts of government accountability and transparency and has done a great job in trying to find and solve the problems left by Ms. Newman.

Good news!  Some of the folks who supported Ms. Newman and her actions are no longer working at HADCO either.   This includes positions that were illegal created such as the Maintence Supervisor position that was claimed to be for public housing but spent most time, when working at all, on the multi-family projects.    It also includes an unneeded supervisor for the public housing managers, who was responsible for making and carrying out many of the policies we objected to on behalf of residents.   So no matter the reason, these folks will not be using our tax dollars to abuse our low-income residents.

Good news:  Ms. Ambrosini meet with our group of residents and others recently to try to resolve some of the 0n-going conflict perpetuated by Ms. Newman.  Everyone was satisfied with the outcome of the meeting and we are now a lot more positive about the direction of our public housing agency.   Most important is Ms. Ambrosini’s willingness to try to find common ground with us, so we can all start working in a positive direction.

Bad news!  Three of the HADCO Commissioners who allowed Ms. Newman to run HADCO as she pleased have not yet been held accountable.   They do not have to replace the $57,000, we the taxpayer’s do.

Good news!  We have evidence that Ms. Newman lied in her 11th hour resignation letter about having a new job.   We suspected that she made that up to reduce the problems she might have folks who seemed to have an undying loyalty to her, or more importantly to try to hide from them and others the real reason she left so abruptly.

Bad News!  The evidence is that she was not employed until January 29, 2011 when she accepted a job as the housing director for the  housing authority of the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico.   Someone gave us a heads up about this by posting a question to our blog post about Ms. Newman’s resignation letter.   I have since confirmed that she is there and started the first of the month.

So how did Douglas County’s problem become Albuquerque’s problem?   We are trying to find out.   It seems highly unlikely that Albuquerque would hire her without a reference from someone at HADCO.  We know it was not the Interim ED.  We also know that the HADCO Board of Commissioners never decided to give her a reference.   We know it was not Commissioner Jamie Sanchez.  We are now asking the other HADCO Board members and requesting public records to find out if anyone did.  Let’s hope that we do not find out that one or more of our current public officials did so even as individuals.   So the bad news is for Albuquerque.  However, they have now been informed about who they hired.  Let’s hope a majority of their new housing authority board takes their oversight a bit more responsiblity than a majority of our’s has.

Good News!   Without Dolly Newman, HADCO has a chance to become a public housing authority we can all be proud of.

Bad News!  It might not happen even then if we don’t get a majority of HADCO Commissioners who understand what their job is and take appropriate oversight responsibilities.

Good News!  One more simple step is needed to make a dramatic positive change at HADCO.   Chris Spens’ seat on the HADCO Commission is up for appointment, so we have a real chance to make a different future for HADCO.   We now have the opportunity to change the composition of the HADCO Board.   Get Spens out and replace him with someone who will exercise due diligence in overseeing the program and who cares about the people who the program is there to serve.  It is just that simple.

This is not all that has been going on, but it is enough updates for now.  More to come in the near future.

Take care,

HADCO Commission Denies Single Mother a Hearing

Although Amber Powell was on the agenda for the special meeting of the HADCO Board of Commissioners last Thursday (12/09 /10), Commissioner Shannon Gammie was quick to stop her from getting a hearing before the body.   Commissioner Gammie claimed she talked with HUD staff in Portland who told her the HADCO Board of Commissioners had not authority to overturn a HADCO Hearing Officer’s decision.   Unfortunately, the HUD staff person she was quoting was not available to address whether or not she told Commissioner Gammie this or not.   Regardless the information is wrong.

Public Housing Authorities (PHA) are governed by both state and federal law.  Most of the federal law jurisdiction comes form the money the PHA gets to operate the Section 8 and public housing program through HUD (federal Housing and Urban Development).  The rules or regulations that HADCO and other PHA must operate under are set out in the Code of Federal Regulations.   Here is the code that acknowledges the authority of a PHA ie HADCO’s Board of Commissioners to overturn a Hearing Officer’s decision.

24 CFR

“§ 966.57   Decision of the hearing officer or hearing panel.

(a) The hearing officer or hearing panel shall prepare a written decision, together with the reasons therefor, within a reasonable time after the hearing. A copy of the decision shall be sent to the complainant and the PHA. The PHA shall retain a copy of the decision in the tenant’s folder. A copy of such decision, with all names and identifying references deleted, shall also be maintained on file by the PHA and made available for inspection by a prospective complainant, his representative, or the hearing panel or hearing officer.

(b) The decision of the hearing officer or hearing panel shall be binding on the PHA which shall take all actions, or refrain from any actions, necessary to carry out the decision unless the PHA Board of Commissioners determines within a reasonable time, and promptly notifies the complainant of its determination, that

(1) The grievance does not concern PHA action or failure to act in accordance with or involving the complainant’s lease on PHA regulations, which adversely affect the complainant’s rights, duties, welfare or status;

(2) The decision of the hearing officer or hearing panel is contrary to applicable Federal, State or local law, HUD regulations or requirements of the annual contributions contract between HUD and the PHA.

(c) A decision by the hearing officer, hearing panel, or Board of Commissioners in favor of the PHA or which denies the relief requested by the complainant in whole or in part shall not constitute a waiver of, nor affect in any manner whatever, any rights the complainant may have to a trial de novo or judicial review in any judicial proceedings, which may thereafter be brought in the matter.”

Emphasis is added, but the above is a direct quote from the Code of Federal Regulation.

I sent an email to the person Ms. Gammie claims told her the HADCO Board had no authority to do this, but the HUD representative is out of the office until the 17th.

It is a matter that Ms. Gammie does not want to overturn the decision, not matter the reason.  Maybe the folks that she is representing on the HADCO Commission (meaning everyone in Douglas County) should ask her why?

Now Ms. Gammie was not alone in this effort to derail the resident’s effort to get a fair hearing from the HADCO Commission, but joined by Commissioners Chris Spens and Ernie Luna.   Spens second  Ms. Gammie’s motion to take the request off the agenda, citing that he had no idea what this was about because he had no information about the case, yet he failed to tell folks in the public meeting that Ms. Powell’s efforts to reach him as a public servant were ignored.  According to the resident, she tried contacting all five HADCO Commissioners and the only ones who would talk to her were Commissioners Jamie Sanchez and Stuart Leibowitz.

So instead of listening to this resident, a majority of the HADCO Commissioners decided to use taxpayer’s money and let the court decide.

What you don’t know as a taxpayer can hurt you!

HADCO’s Ex Director’s Resignation Letter

It is no wonder that the News Review did not publish the full content of HADCO’s Executive Director’s resignation letter.  But in the spirit of transparency, here it is for everyone to see.

It is most likely the News Review, or any media, would not want to risk the possible libel and defamation claim that might follow by printing or even quoting such clearly outrageous claims she has made not only about HADCO Commissioner Jamie Sanchez,  but yours truly “her family”.   So other media might have a concern about publishing it but our citizens news blog does not.  No matter how crazy some of the stuff I talk about is, I am not going to be suing myself.   Now if Commissioner Sanchez sues me for printing the libelous and defamatory letter about her, I won’t invite her to Christmas dinner.

Since my initial read of this brought the “sue” to mind, I have gained some perspective.  After I looked at it for a while now, I realize that Ms. Newman is a sad pathetic human being who needs help.  I hope she gets it.  In all honesty as a person to another person, get some help and stay away from public service.

This may sound a bit sarcastic, and it is a little, but in all honesty some people are able to handle the heat of the public kitchen and some are not.  Not everything in politics is nice, and what has been going on here is politics.  Simply, a small group of people in our community saw something that was not right with our local public housing authority and got together to do something about it.  Local grassroots politics at its finest.   Obviously something Ms. Newman is not cut out for.

If you want to be a public official, you need to be able to deal with all of us in the public.   You do not get to pick and chose who you have to be accountable to, or decide not to be accountable at all, which is what Ms. Newman tried.

Her wild accusations demonstrate questionable mental stability and I hope that if she was abused by her former husband, as she seems to be saying, then it might explain the erratic inappropriate behavior that she demonstrated numerous times, particularly with those who challenged what she did.  Yet even those claims seem to be a bit too self-serving given our history with her.  Since I am not aware of any documentation that it is a fact either, her claims seem to coming from someone who might be going over the edge, but sorry the only one who put her there is Dolly Newman.

Even an objective observer can see that the only one who was an embarrassment to HADCO was Ms. Newman (oh, no that is not true, there are at least three HADCO Commissioners & at least another employee or two).  Well you know what I mean.   I watched her do exactly what she claims Commissioner Sanchez does, “intimidate disabled residents.”  Let us not forget there are three housing disability discrimination claims because of Ms. Newman’s actions.   A review of the record will show, Commissioner Sanchez has tried address disability rights issues with Ms. Newman blocking it all the way.  Maybe in her mental state, Ms. Newman forgets the HADCO Board meetings are recorded.

By now the HADCO Board of Commissioners has received enough documentation about Ms. Newman’s conduct with residents and employees to know that she was a big part of the problem, which the majority ignored.  So the problem here is having someone in such a position that is either so unstable or immature to write such a letter in the first place.

Speaking of “embarrassing and appalling.”  We all should remember that HADCO Commissioner Spens hired this woman in the first place.  If is not gone soon, he will be there to hire the next ED and he is likely to pick the worst candidate just to spite us.   Hard to believe?

Although he is not alone, he has two equally unqualified folks who might join in repeating this horrible mistake that has and could still cost us countless tax dollars, unless of course, they are gone by the time the decision is made.

Take care,

Resignation Letter

HADCO Executive Director Resigns Without Notice!

While pressure was mounting against her mismanagement of the Housing Authority of Douglas County (HADCO), Executive Director Dolly Newman jumped ship Tuesday.   although no formal written notice has been received by the HADCO Board of Commissioners, two of the members were aware of her resignation when they arrived to a meeting that was supposed to be a public hearing on the housing authority’s annual plan required by HUD yesterday afternoon.

Although staff claims she only told them yesterday afternoon that she had taken another position, Ms. Newman gave no indication before now that she was looking elsewhere for employment.  In fact, she used her final hours refusing to give one Board of commission member a copy of an audit that was a year and a half overdue, and fighting with yours truly about making an afternoon appointment so I could look at their Annual Plan.

Her departure was on the heels of getting notified by HUD (the federal agency that gives them our tax dollars) that they appointed a special investigator who was coming here to met with us regarding our complaints of her mismanagement.   This was after we contacted Senator Merkley office, who sits on the Senate Committee that oversees HUD, and provided his office with documentation supporting our claims, including excessive spending on her out-of-town travel and training.

It was also after our local tv station KPIC started to take an interest in what HADCO doing after learning about a single mother of four that they were trying to evict for having too frequent a guest after she complained about HADCO trying to charge her rent she did not owe.   She asserts that she had little problems for the past five years there until the property manager for the project she lives in on Stanton in Roseburg, which was shortly after the now former Executive Director was hired.

It is also after residents protested to HUD and elected representatives that Ms. Newman was violating the federal law that requires staff to work cooperatively with residents, particularly the legally required Residents Advisory Board (RAB).  Their protest included complaints that she failed to provide them the information they requested to do their job and failing to list its members in HADCO annual plan that is required to go out for a 45-day comment period prior to a required public hearing.

It was after a series of lies that were catching up to her.   She openly lied in a public meeting claiming that government officials like the Assistant Secretary of HUD over public housing Sandra Enriquez, Senator’s aide and state Ethics Commission employee contacted her claiming that HADCO Commissioner Jamie Sanchez had contacted them misrepresenting that she was doing so on behalf of the HADCO Commission when  it did not happen.  Although each of these folks may have spoken to Ms. Newman after inquires were made by HADCO Commissioner Sanchez, none of these people believed that Commissioner Sanchez was acting in any other capacity but as an individual.   Lying about residents is a lot easier to get away with than lying about public officials and Senator’s aides.

After the her predecessor was fired, we did not believe we could have anyone worse, but we were wrong.  Ms. Newman in her two short years did far more damage to our public housing agency than even the one before her.   Unfortunately her legacy is still there in the way of staff (not all, just some) and at least two board members who were her former colleagues at Umpqua Community Development Corporation (UCDC), Ernie Luna and Shannon Gammie (who also do not work for UCDC anymore and have infested HADCO)  and the only person still left on the HADCO Commission who voted to hire Ms. Newman, Chris Spens.

So although the folks in the community have won a great victory in ridding ourselves of at least one type of vermin at HADCO, our job is not yet done.

Congratulations to all the residents who overcame their fear of retaliation and stood up,  sometimes the little guy does win.

Take care,

What HADCO Staff Thinks of Us!

Below is a letter written by the Housing Authority of Douglas County’s (HADCO) maintenance manager, Bill Hagedorn.  This letter was written in response to why the project on Stanton is infested with cockroaches and residents gave up complaining because nothing is ever done.  Well that is not actually true, the resident that warranted this response did say Mr. Hagedorn himself showed up one day to give her a $12 can of bug spray.

You decide.  Is this what our public employees should be saying about those who want accountability for what they are doing with our tax dollars?

Bill Hagedorn HADCO Maint ltr responding to allegations staff not getting rid of roaches

Housing Accountability Meeting Oct 27

Citizens group for Housing Accountability with hold another meeting this coming Wednesday, October 27 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Douglas County Courthouse, Room 310, on Douglas in Roseburg.

The meeting is open to the public.  We will discuss what is happening with your housing dollars in our community and how citizens can get accountability and transparency in our local public housing authority HADCO.

For more info contact CEA at cea2day@yahoo.com or (541) 459-4077

Meeting About Public Housing Tuesday!

This Tuesday, October 19, 2010, CEA will hold a public meeting for those interested in what is happing at our local public housing agency, HADCO.

The meeting will be from 11 am until 1 pm in Room 310, Douglas County Courthouse (on Douglas in Roseburg).

Find out what is happening with your money.   Get updates on issues including the recent raises given to the Executive Director Dolly Newman while she reduces public office hours to only 15 hours a week.

HADCO Board Agenda for September: How many claims can we pay for?

Note the Executive Session:

The #1 Item is a complaint I filed with the HADCO Board in March of this year about the Executive Director Dolly Newman and her behavior toward me.  I filed this letter of complaint with them before they were to evaluate her and decide whether she had earned a raise.   Although my complaint has not been dealt with until now (and I have little hope of it being dealt with appropriately now), the HADCO Board has given her a 10% raise.

I took this route in hopes of avoiding having to take the drastic steps I did regarding HADCO Commission member Chris Spens. Which leads to the agenda item Cunningham vs. Spens.

In June of this year I filed a lawsuit in federal court naming Chris Spens a defendant for his actions toward me that exceeds his authority as an appointed public official.  This stems from a history of inappropriate behavior of Mr. Spens toward me.  In another post, I will provide a copy of my suit, as well as Spens’ response.

I made an offer through his (and HADCO’s) attorney that was rejected.   I can only assume the client in this case is HADCO Commissioner Spens and not the entire HADCO Commission because I offered to drop not only any monetary claim I might have against Spens personally but any claim for liability that I might have against HADCO on two conditions:  Chris Spens resign from the HADCO Commission and write me a letter of apology.

Pretty simple way to eliminate the financial liabilityof this taxpayer funded public agency.  So would it not be in HADCO’s best interest if Spens resigns?   So does this not create a direct and actual conflict of interest between HADCO Commissioner Spens and HADCO as a whole?  Seems it does.

Now there might be another conflict of interest from CEA member and HADCO Commissioner Jamie Sanchez because, as many people know, she is my daughter.   As a public official in Oregon, Commissioner Sanchez should remove herself from and discussion or decision on anything in my case against Spens that I might benefit or suffer a detriment from.   Commissioner Sanchez has already contacted the Oregon Ethics Commission to confirm what she must do under the law to make sure that she is not doing anything wrong regarding this case.   However, you don’t need to be my daughter to see that my offer to Spens is fair, if you really know what has been going on with this guy and his failure as a HADCO Commissioner.

That brings me to the second category of Executive Session items.  Besides my lawsuit against Chris Spens, there are four other cases against HADCO.  Although they have not reached the court stage, each of these items is before an adminstrative agency reviewing HADCO housing discrimination practices.  Each also has the potential to become a federal or state court case and have already costs HADCO pretty spendy lawyer time.

Can anyone guess the common denominators here?

There are two.

HADCO Commissioner Chris Spens

and

HADCO Executive Director, Dolly Newman

Although Ms. Newman is not directly involved with the issues of the lawsuit against Chris Spens, she is a player.   However, she played a prominent role in each of the housing discrimination claims and Spens has been the only person on the current HADCO Board who has overseen it all.

Stay tuned.

Take care,

Betsy Cunningham

HADCO News!

HADCO Executive Director Dolly Newman is still traveling on our dime without HADCO Board oversight:

Rumor has it that she was in Washington DC last week attending the professional associaton of Housing Authority Directors conference.

 

Here is the purpose and some of the costs we had to foot the bill for:

“This is an exciting and busy time in Washington as Congress moves closer to enactment of the FY 2011 HUD budget and considers major authorizing legislation (“PETRA”) that could very well change the direction of the public housing program. There are a lot of possibilities and opportunities available for public housing which is why executive directors need to continue to send a strong message to Congress. PHADA continually urges its membership to contact their elected officials to discuss ways to help ensure adequate funding for public housing. And what better way to contact your elected representatives than by a face-to-face meeting? The 2010 Legislative Forum, which will be held just steps away from HUD headquarters, will focus on helping housing professionals visit Capitol Hill and HUD to meet with key housing policymakers. While the Board of Trustees and committee members are strongly encouraged to attend, PHADA invites all executive directors to participate in this timely two-day meeting.
PHADA/Rutgers Executive Director Education Program (EDEP) classes will be offered September 9-11 (see course schedule below).
PHADA committee members and trustees should plan on arriving in time for meetings that start Sunday morning, September 12.

Agenda

Click here for conference agenda. Please note that the agenda is tentative and subject to change.

Registration

You can now register online through PHADA’s secure server. If you prefer, you can print out the PDF registration form and mail or fax it to the PHADA office at (202) 546-2280.

Hotel Information

L’Enfant Plaza Hotel
480 L’Enfant Plaza, SE
Washington, DC 20024

For reservations, call (800) 635-5065. Mention that you are attending the PHADA meeting when making your room reservation.

Room Rate: $209.00 single/double per night, plus applicable taxes.

***Important Hotel Information***

At this time PHADA’s room block at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel is sold out. Please check with Stephanie White closer to the Legislative Forum as rooms will probably become available. If you have a reservation that you will not use, please contact Stephanie White BEFORE you cancel your reservation.

In the meantime you may make reservations at the Holiday Inn Capitol, which is close to the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel, Capitol Hill and HUD.

Holiday Inn Capitol 
550 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024
www.hicapitoldc.com

PHADA has secured a rate of $259 a night. To make a reservation, please call 1800-HOLIDAY and ask for group ID P9A. The cutoff date is August 12.

Other hotels in the area include:

Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Avenue, NW,
Washington, D.C., USA 20001
202-737-1234
www.hyattregencywashington.com

The Liaison Capitol Hill
415 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
202-638-1616
www.affinia.com

Rates will vary from $250 – $360 a night.

If you would like to add your name to the waitlist or have any questions, email Stephanie White at swhite@phada.org. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

HADCO Board Consider Raise for ED

This coming Thursday, June 24, 2010, the Housing Authority of Douglas County will be conducting an evaluation of the Executive Director, Dolly Newman at 12:30 p.m. during their regularly scheduled meeting.  Intending to convene in Exeuctive Session at the start of the meeting, HADCO Commissioners have already been asked by the ED to increase her salary.  

At last months meeting, you can hear the ED’s tear stressed voice whine about how it is not fair that she has had to go so long without a raise and she needs the money.   Although her salary is over $63,000 a year plus good benefits, Ms. Newman told the small audience that she cannot make ends meet without an increase in her salary, yet she commands a salary that far exceeds the avearge income of anyone in our community, let alone what is is in comparison to the people who benefit from HADCO’s program.  

The raise is not a given because the HADCO Board must deliberate about this in public as well as take a public vote.   However, if there is not sufficient outcry from the community regading this, we anticipate that at least a couple of the HADCO Commissioners are already ready to give her a raise although she had done little to deserve more money.   In fact, CEA believes HADCO Commissioners should be considering firing her not giving her more money due to the long list of problems with her administration of our local public housing authority, which include her out of town travel budget was as much as 700% over budget during the past fical year primarily due to her travel expenses to such places as Las Vegas and Florida (before the oil spill).  

If you belive that the HADCO Board should refuse to give Ms. Newman a raise, let them know.  As public officials, each of them has an obligation to listen to you and give consideration to your concerns.  So give it a try.  You can reach each of them as follows:  

Housing Authority of Douglas County (HADCO)

Board of Commissioners

3/19/10

 

Commissioners Name                   Contact Information                                                                                                      

Shannon Gammie                            7634 North Bank Rd, Roseburg 97470

                                                              Phone:  (541) 673-1152 home

                                                                                (805) 444-3289 mobile

                                                                Email:  sgammie@gotsky.com

Stuart Liebowitz                               143 SE Lane, Roseburg, OR 97470

                                                                Phone:  (541) 672-9819 home

Ernie Luna                                           1038 N. Myrtle Rd, Myrtle Creek, OR 97457

                                                                Phone:  (541) 643-4031 

Jamie Sanchez                                   P.O. Box 77, Winston, OR 97496

                                                                Phone: (541) 784-2095 home

                                                                Email:  jamie4hadco@gmail.com

Chris Spens                                         1065 W. Winter Ridge Dr, Roseburg OR 97470     

                                                                Phone:  (541) 229-3211 home

                                                                               (541) 679-6237 ext 12 work

                                                                Email:  chris@drtf.org

HADCO May Board Appointment

The Douglas County Commissioners will shortly being appointing someone to fill a four-year term on the Housing Authority of Douglas County Board of Commissioners.   CEA sent two emails to our DC Commissioners regarding this appointment and here they are:

Here is the an email setting out our support for Joy Mayorga and our request they reject Ernie Luna’s application for reappointment.   The second email sets out more reasons, they should not appoint Mr. Luna.  

May 14, 2010

Dear Douglas County Commissioners:

This letter is to put our two cents into the upcoming HADCO Board appointment.  Citizens Education & Advocacy (CEA) has two recommendations that are being made based on our direct knowledge of two of the candidates.  One we believe should be the next HADCO Commissioner and the other we believe should not.  

CEA believes that Ernie Luna should not be reappointed to the HADCO Board of Commissioners based on his actions in the past two or so months serving in that capacity.  Although Mr. Luna is pleasant enough in his interactions, he has demonstrated a lack of independent leadership skills regarding the position that indicates to us that he might better serve as a volunteer for HADCO in some other way and allow others who are better skilled serve as a volunteer Board member.     

 Although there are a few issues that we  believe demonstrate Mr. Luna should not be a HADCO Commissioner, one of the most glaring is the decision Mr. Luna made to attend a meeting that even HADCO’s attorney recommend the board postpone because it did not comply with the agency’s bylaws. This was the first meeting he attended, the date of which had been changed by the Executive Director in violation of HADCO’s bylaws and the first part of the meeting discussed the lawyer’s recommendation that they not have the meeting but instead reconvene in accordance with their bylaws.   However, Mr. Luna voted with the other two who were there to go ahead with the meeting because they were there anyway although members of the public who normally attend HADCO meetings did not go to this meeting because of the issue of it being held illegally.  If you want more details of the issue, after you have reviewed the audio recording of the HADCO meeting that can be accessed at the following link, please contact me. (Here is a link on the HADCO website to listen to this meeting:  http://www.hadcor.org/default/index.cfm/resources/public-meetings-audio-recordings/

Then click the appropriate link for the February 25, 2010 Public Meeting Audio.  If you have difficulty with this audio, please let me know and I can provide a copy on a CD to you Monday.   Given the main responsibility for a HADCO Commissioner is to insure the agency is in compliance with the law, willingness to go ahead with an illegal meeting just because he showed up should be sufficient reason for Mr. Luna to be rejected. 

The other glaring issue is Mr. Luna’s unwillingness to be accessible to members of the public.   I personally contacted him when he was first appointed to set up a meeting to discuss our views about HADCO.  Although he initially agreed, he later backed out of it citing that he wanted to get to know his fellow commissioners first.  He said he would get back to me after he had to meet them all.  That has been a few months now and he never has.  I have also been told by other constituents about attempts they made to call Mr. Luna regarding HADCO but according to them, he did not return calls.  This is coupled with a few public statements he has made about following the direction of staff.   Mr. Luna lacks the leadership skills to deal independently with HADCO’s constituency on a fair and equal manner.

There are a few other issues, which I will provide to you over the weekend.  These along with the above are more than enough evidence to put into question Mr. Luna’s continued position on the HADCO Board.   Just as there is evidence that Mr. Luna may not be the best choice, there is evidence that Joy Mayorga is. 

 As you are aware, Ms. Mayorga served on the board before and has proven she is able to provide the oversight of the agency that it needs.  Unfortunately in her prior tenure on the HADCO Commission her ability to affect change was greatly hampered due to those she served with, which will not be the same this time around.  She will provide the stability to the organization by providing appropriate leadership on the Board and she knows what needs to be done.  However, one of the most important things that makes her the front runner in our opinion is the support she has from those who probably know HADCO best, the residents. 

 It is my understanding that an informal petition in support of her appointment has been circulating among residents of HADCO and will be presented to you by Monday.   Although others who have applied may bring skills and experience to the HADCO Board that it could use, none have the knowledge of the agency, particularly the legal requirements of a Board member of a public housing authority, that Ms. Mayorga has.  This combined with the support of her fellow residents makes Citizens Education & Advocacy’s endorsement of her easy.   Since we have provided details of our reasons supporting her when she has applied before that still apply, I will not go into anything more.

Thank you for your time and consideration of input.

Sincerely,

Betsy Cunningham

Citizens Education & Advocacy (CEA)

cea2day@yahoo.com

(541) 459-4077

 _____________________

Dear Douglas County Commissioners:

             In the prior email, I set out two reasons Ernie Luna should not be reappointed to the HADCO Board of Commissioners.  Here are some additional issues regarding his short tenure that we believe are important for you to consider regarding his reappointment.

             Given there are a few other viable candidates that would better serve the interest of all in the community, these reasons should convince you that looking elsewhere for a person to fill the vacant seat might better serve to move the organization forward and reconcile issues with residents and other community members, which Mr. Luna had not demonstrated an ability to do and has only made matters worse. 

 1. Besides attending and participating in the Feb. 26, 2010 board meeting for HADCO against the advice of HADCO’s legal counsel, Mr. Luna stated his unwillingness and/or inability to provide independent oversight of HADCO when he stated in the audio recording from that meeting that he would differ to staff when he had questions.

2.  At hearing for the Annual Plan on March 8th 2010, was told that by voting in favor of approving HADCO Annual Plan without listening to all public comment and not recognizing what the previous board had approved just 2 months earlier that the Plan was not legal- voted to approve an illegal plan. Also he stated that he had not read the plan although he had it for more than a week.  Given the sole purpose of the meeting was a legally required public hearing on the Plan, it is part of his job as a member of the Board of Commissioners to read and understand this before voting on issues related to it.

3. March 2010 board meeting- when people tried to speak during the public comment at the end of the agenda, asked people if they only planned on talking about things that had no yet been discussed.

4. Called for the cancellation of April’s board meeting because one commissioner and Dolly were not going to be there. The board did not have their April meeting because Ernie did not want to have the meeting short one commissioner. However, he participated in the illegal February meeting with only 3 of the 5 commissioners present.

5. Resigned before he even was sworn in, then was talked into keeping the position so changed his mind again.   This should have been a harbinger of issues

6.  He still seems to be unaware that he is a public official who has responsibility and accountability to more than just some of his fellow commissioners and HADCO staff.

            Besides the above, I also want to emphasize again, Mr. Luna’s failure and, as we see it, his refusal to meet and seriously consider any opinion or position other than that presented by staff or certain other board members truly indicates that Mr. Luna is not cut out to be a public official and his continued service in the position will only be a disservice to HADCO and the people of this community. 

            Thank you again for your time and consideration.

Betsy Cunningham

Citizens Education & Advocacy (CEA)

(541) 459-4077

More HADCO: Tenants Meetings, Travel Receipts +

Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 16 at 2:30 p.m. there will be a meeting for HADCO residents and supporters to discuss what just happened with the Annual Plan process, establishing the Residents Advisory Board (for next years plan) and ways to address concerns regarding the property actually owned and managed by HADCO, which includes the establishment of Residents Councils (RC) and other ways residents can solve their housing problems.  All Section 8 and public housing residents are invited and encouraged to attend.  This meeting will not involve HADCO staff.  So people can come and feel free to speak about what concerns them.  Form more info call CEA at: (541) 459-4077 or email: cea2day@yahoo.com.

Continue reading “More HADCO: Tenants Meetings, Travel Receipts +”

HADCO Executive Director Puts Agency 700% Over Travel Budget!

Check out CEA’s website www.cea4justice.org to see the income and expense statements for HADCO from September 2009 and January 2010.  They show HADCO is 700% and 688% (respectively) over budget on travel and training.   HADCO Commissioners should put in their Annual Plan that they will limit the amount the ED can authorize on such things.  

The HADCO Commissioners can do this on Monday, March 8 at 10 a.m. , which is the day and time three of the picked to reconvene the public hearing on their Annual Plan.   The public hearing will be held in the Meyer Center down the street from HADCO’s office.   You can also check out our website for info about the Plan and CEA’s input into it.

Take care,

HADCO Public Hearing Resumes March 8th

The public hearing regarding HADCO’s annual plan will resume on Monday, March 8 at 10 a.m. at the Meyer Center building off of Stanton Street in Roseburg.  

A public hearing is just that.  It is there for members of the public to comment about how our public housing authority is operated.  It is a time to ask for changes in policy to help the residents as well as increase affordable housing in our community.  It is time for our local PHA’s Board of Commissioners to listen to the community about how we want our public housing run. 

If you cannot attend, but have any recommendations and comments, send them to HADCO before Monday. 

If you want more information about the plan and our recommdations, contact us. 

Take care,

How Dumb Can One Bureaucrat Be?

Below is a series of emails between HADCO Commissioner Jamie Sanchez and HADCO’s Executive Director Dolly Newman.  The last email is listed first and it was not responded to by HADCO’s Executive Director. 
Go to the bottom to find the first in the series–sort of. 
It starts with Commissioner Sanchez explaining why she believes HADCO cannot change the regular HADCO meeting from the 4th Thursday to Friday to accommodate the schedule of the newly apponted Shannon Gammie.  Commissoner Sanchez cites the bylaws to the ED. 
The ED then responds that Shannon Gammie voted with chris Spens to change it so it was okay to change it. 
Then Commissoner responds they can’t vote via email, plus Gammie is not a Commissioner until she is sworn in, which is suppose to happen at the meeting. 
The ED says she does not have to be sworn in.
Commissioener, yes she does it is in the Oregon Constitution.
ED the constitution says office, a HADCO Bd member is not in an office.
Commissioner Sanchez, yes they are in an office, here is the ORS that calls it a term of office over and over again, where is your information coming from.
HADCO ED no response!!!!    Holds illegal meeting anyway.
From: Jamie Sanchez <jamie4hadco@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 1:06 PM
Subject: clarification the term “office” per ORS
To: Dolly Newman <dnewman@hadcor.org>
Cc: “Christian G. Spens” <chris@drtf.org>

Dolly,   Below is the ORS about housing authorities. As you can see, it uses the word “office” several times to discuss the role of the commissioner. If you have legal authority that states commissioner are not considered public officials holding office, please share that with me.   Jamie                456.095 Appointment and qualification of commissioners of housing authorities. (1) When the governing body of a city or county adopts a resolution pursuant to ORS 456.085, the governing body may then elect to have the powers of a housing authority under this chapter, ORS chapter 455 and ORS 446.515 to 446.547 exercised in any of the following ways:      (a) Appointing by resolution, a commission composed of five, seven or nine persons.

      (b) Declaring, by resolution, that the governing body, itself, shall exercise the powers of a housing authority under this chapter, ORS chapter 455 and ORS 446.515 to 446.547. A governing body that exercises the powers of a housing authority may appoint at least one but not more than two additional commissioners for the housing authority. An appointed commissioner has the same authority as other housing authority commissioners, but may not exercise any powers of the governing body. At least one appointed commissioner must be a resident who receives direct assistance from the housing authority. The second appointed commissioner, if any, at a minimum must live within the jurisdiction of the authority. An appointed commissioner serves a term of office equal in length to the terms of office for governing body members, but not more than four years. An appointed commissioner may be removed only for cause as described in ORS 456.110 or if the commissioner ceases to meet the requirements for being an appointed commissioner. In the event that a housing authority commission consisting of the governing body of a city and one or more appointed commissioners has an even number of members, the mayor shall be included as a member of the commission for the housing authority. An act of a governing body exercising the powers of a housing authority is an act of the commission for the housing authority only and not of the governing body.

      (2) When the governing bodies of two or more authorities join and cooperate with one another and create a regional authority to exercise all the powers conferred by the Housing Authorities Law, as authorized by ORS 456.140, the governing bodies of the cooperating cities and counties shall by resolution appoint a commission for the regional authority consisting of nine persons. The cooperating cities and counties shall each appoint an equal number of the nine commissioners. If nine divided by the number of joining or cooperating cities and counties produces a fraction, then the commissioners appointed by such cities and counties shall appoint one commissioner so that nine commissioners in all are appointed. The nine commissioners appointed by or on behalf of cities or counties may appoint at least one but not more than two additional commissioners for the housing authority. At least one additional commissioner must be a resident who receives direct assistance from the housing authority. The second additional commissioner, if any, at a minimum must live within the jurisdiction of the authority. The term of office for an additional commissioner is equal to the term of office for a commissioner appointed by or on behalf of cities or counties. An additional commissioner may be removed only for cause as described under ORS 456.110 or if the person ceases to meet the requirements for being an additional commissioner.

      (3) A commissioner of an authority may not be an officer or employee of any city or county for which the authority is created, unless the commissioner is a member of the governing body or one of the governing bodies.

      (4) Persons appointed to the commission shall include a variety of occupations. At least one commissioner, but not more than two commissioners, appointed under subsection (1)(a) of this section must be a resident who receives direct assistance from the housing authority.

      (5) A governing body shall adopt a resolution for the appointment or reappointment of a commissioner. A governing body resolution is conclusive evidence that the commissioner was properly appointed. [Amended by 1969 c.630 §3; 1971 c.592 §1; 1973 c.672 §6; 1975 c.335 §1; 2001 c.547 §3; 2007 c.606 §7]

      456.100 Terms and compensation of commissioners. (1) The commissioners of a five-member authority who are first appointed shall serve terms as follows:

      (a) One commissioner shall be appointed for a term of one year.

      (b) One commissioner shall be appointed for a term of two years.

      (c) One commissioner shall be appointed for a term of three years.

      (d) Two commissioners shall be appointed for terms of four years.

      (2) The commissioners of a seven-member authority who are first appointed shall serve terms as follows:

      (a) One commissioner shall be appointed for a term of one year.

      (b) Two commissioners shall be appointed for terms of two years.

      (c) Two commissioners shall be appointed for terms of three years.

      (d) Two commissioners shall be appointed for terms of four years.

      (3) The commissioners of a nine-member authority who are first appointed shall serve terms as follows:

      (a) Two commissioners shall be appointed for terms of one year.

      (b) Two commissioners shall be appointed for terms of two years.

      (c) Two commissioners shall be appointed for terms of three years.

      (d) Three commissioners shall be appointed for terms of four years.

      (4) Thereafter, commissioners shall be appointed by resolution in the same manner as their original appointment for a term of office of four years except that all vacancies shall be filled for the unexpired term. A commissioner shall hold office until a successor has been appointed and qualified.

      (5) A commissioner shall receive no compensation for services, but shall be entitled to the necessary expenses, including traveling expenses, incurred in the discharge of the duties of the commissioner. [Amended by 1973 c.672 §7; 2001 c.547 §4]

From: Dolly Newman <Dnewman@hadcor.org>
Date: Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 12:22 PM
Subject: RE: Board Meeting
To: Jamie Sanchez <jamie4hadco@gmail.com>, “Christian G. Spens” <chris@drtf.org>, sgammie@gotsky.com
Cc: Mark AMBERG <mark.amberg@harrang.com>

The appointment of a Board member is not an appointment of an “office”.

Dolly Newman

Executive Director

Housing Authority of Douglas County Oregon

541-673-6548   ext. 28

541-673-8230    fax

From: Jamie Sanchez [mailto:jamie4hadco@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 12:02 PM
To: Dolly Newman; Christian G. Spens; sgammie@gotsky.com
Cc: Mark AMBERG
Subject: Fwd: Board Meeting

This is from the State of Oregon’s Constitution. As you can all see, people are not considered to be public officials, elected or appointed, until they take the oath of office. Even if ORS 456 does not require it, the Oregon Constitution does; therefore, neither Shannon Gammie nor Ernie Luna is yet a HADCO Commissioner.

 Jamie

ARTICLE XV

MISCELLANEOUS

      Sec. 1.       Officers to hold office until successors elected; exceptions; effect on defeated incumbent

              2.        Tenure of office; how fixed; maximum tenure

              3.        Oaths of office

              4.        Regulation of lotteries; state lottery; use of net proceeds from state lottery

              4a.      Use of net proceeds from state lottery for parks and recreation areas

              4b.      Use of net proceeds from state lottery for salmon restoration and watershed and wildlife habitat protection

              4c.      Audit of agency receiving certain net proceeds from state lottery

              4d.     Subsequent vote for reaffirmation of sections 4a, 4b and 4c and amendment to section 4

              5.        Property of married women not subject to debts of husband; registration of separate property

              5a.      Policy regarding marriage

              6.        Minimum area and population of counties

              7.        Officers not to receive fees from or represent claimants against state

              8.        Persons eligible to serve in legislature

              9.        When elective office becomes vacant

              10.      The Oregon Property Protection Act of 2000

              11.      Home Care Commission

      Section 1. Officers to hold office until successors elected; exceptions; effect on defeated incumbent. (1) All officers, except members of the Legislative Assembly and incumbents who seek reelection and are defeated, shall hold their offices until their successors are elected, and qualified.

      (2) If an incumbent seeks reelection and is defeated, he shall hold office only until the end of his term; and if an election contest is pending in the courts regarding that office when the term of such an incumbent ends and a successor to the office has not been elected or if elected, has not qualified because of such election contest, the person appointed to fill the vacancy thus created shall serve only until the contest and any appeal is finally determined notwithstanding any other provision of this constitution. [Constitution of 1859; Amendment proposed by H.J.R. 51, 1969, and adopted by the people Nov. 3, 1970]

      Section 2. Tenure of office; how fixed; maximum tenure. When the duration of any office is not provided for by this Constitution, it may be declared by law; and if not so declared, such office shall be held during the pleasure of the authority making the appointment. But the Legislative Assembly shall not create any office, the tenure of which shall be longer than four years.

      Section 3. Oaths of office. Every person elected or appointed to any office under this Constitution, shall, before entering on the duties thereof, take an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution of the United States, and of this State, and also an oath of office.–

http://www.leg.state.or.us/orcons/orcons.html

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Jamie Sanchez <jamie4hadco@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 11:38 AM
Subject: Re: Board Meeting
To: Dolly Newman <Dnewman@hadcor.org>
Cc: cea2day@yahoo.com, “Christian G. Spens” <chris@drtf.org>, shannon.gammie@gres.com

Dolly,

Please see the bylaws. The bylaws do not allow us to move the meeting date. A special meeting can be called as there is a procedure for that in the bylaws; however, since we do not have chair, there is no one to call a special meeting. To hold a meeting in violation of our bylaws is not legal from what I understand. There is no ability for the board to even vote on this issue and a vote via email is clearly in violation of the public meetings law, however, it seems that Ms. Gammie said that she could meet on Thursday so what’s the problem with ensuring we follow the law?

Jamie  

On Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 10:44 AM, Dolly Newman <Dnewman@hadcor.org> wrote:

Hello Commissioners

I am responding to the email sent by Commissioner Sanchez regarding rescheduling of the February meeting and also attached is the County Commissioners Certificate of Appointment.

Though on February 19th, Ernie Luna turned in the documents he received on February 18th and let HADCO know that he was resigning, he did not officially notify the County Commissioners.  Therefore, he remains appointed to the HADCO Board.  He is not copied on this email because he does not have access to the internet.

In response to the email below.  Commissioner Sanchez did not mention who the “one individual” is that changed the meeting date.  To clarify – Commissioner Gammie notified me that she thought the meetings were on Fridays and had arranged her schedule to accommodate the meeting for a Friday.  On February 17th I sent an email to Commissioners Chris Spens and Jamie Sanchez requesting moving the meeting to Friday, February 26.  I spoke to Chris Spens on the telephone and he said he did not have a problem with holding February’s meeting on Friday, February 26th.  Commissioner Sanchez sent an email stating that she preferred the meeting be held on Thursday.  There was no communication with Ernie Luna since I did not know that he had rescinded his resignation.  Based upon the responses Commissioner Gammie and Commissioner Spens were okay with moving the meeting one day.  Commissioner Sanchez preferred Thursday and did not say she would not be available for Friday. 

I would be interested in knowing what law was violated and what liability does the Board or HADCO have in moving the meeting one day. 

Dolly Newman

Executive Director

Housing Authority of Douglas County Oregon

541-673-6548   ext. 28

541-673-8230    fax

From: Jamie Sanchez [mailto:jamie4hadco@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, February 22, 2010 3:36 PM
To: Dolly Newman
Cc: Christian G. Spens; cea2day@yahoo.com
Subject: Board Meeting

Dolly,

I see that the meeting is noticed out for Friday. It needs to be changed back to Thursday as that is the legal date the board meets and I do not see anywhere in our bylaws where any one individual has the legal authority to change the meeting date. If the meeting is held on Friday, in violation of our bylaws, I believe that the meeting is not legal. Since I am sure none of us wants to violate the law, could you please contact the News Review and correct this error?

I will be responding to Betsy Cunningham’s inquiry regarding this by sending her this email as well as the series of emails we have had regarding this issue.

Jamie

From: Dolly Newman <Dnewman@hadcor.org>
Date: Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 12:22 PM
Subject: RE: Board Meeting
To: Jamie Sanchez <jamie4hadco@gmail.com>, “Christian G. Spens” <chris@drtf.org>, sgammie@gotsky.com
Cc: Mark AMBERG <mark.amberg@harrang.com>

The appointment of a Board member is not an appointment of an “office”.

Dolly Newman

Executive Director

Housing Authority of Douglas County Oregon

541-673-6548   ext. 28

541-673-8230    fax

From: Jamie Sanchez [mailto:jamie4hadco@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 12:02 PM
To: Dolly Newman; Christian G. Spens; sgammie@gotsky.com
Cc: Mark AMBERG
Subject: Fwd: Board Meeting

This is from the State of Oregon’s Constitution. As you can all see, people are not considered to be public officials, elected or appointed, until they take the oath of office. Even if ORS 456 does not require it, the Oregon Constitution does; therefore, neither Shannon Gammie nor Ernie Luna is yet a HADCO Commissioner.

 Jamie

ARTICLE XV

MISCELLANEOUS

      Sec. 1.       Officers to hold office until successors elected; exceptions; effect on defeated incumbent

              2.        Tenure of office; how fixed; maximum tenure

              3.        Oaths of office

              4.        Regulation of lotteries; state lottery; use of net proceeds from state lottery

              4a.      Use of net proceeds from state lottery for parks and recreation areas

              4b.      Use of net proceeds from state lottery for salmon restoration and watershed and wildlife habitat protection

              4c.      Audit of agency receiving certain net proceeds from state lottery

              4d.     Subsequent vote for reaffirmation of sections 4a, 4b and 4c and amendment to section 4

              5.        Property of married women not subject to debts of husband; registration of separate property

              5a.      Policy regarding marriage

              6.        Minimum area and population of counties

              7.        Officers not to receive fees from or represent claimants against state

              8.        Persons eligible to serve in legislature

              9.        When elective office becomes vacant

              10.      The Oregon Property Protection Act of 2000

              11.      Home Care Commission

      Section 1. Officers to hold office until successors elected; exceptions; effect on defeated incumbent. (1) All officers, except members of the Legislative Assembly and incumbents who seek reelection and are defeated, shall hold their offices until their successors are elected, and qualified.

      (2) If an incumbent seeks reelection and is defeated, he shall hold office only until the end of his term; and if an election contest is pending in the courts regarding that office when the term of such an incumbent ends and a successor to the office has not been elected or if elected, has not qualified because of such election contest, the person appointed to fill the vacancy thus created shall serve only until the contest and any appeal is finally determined notwithstanding any other provision of this constitution. [Constitution of 1859; Amendment proposed by H.J.R. 51, 1969, and adopted by the people Nov. 3, 1970]

      Section 2. Tenure of office; how fixed; maximum tenure. When the duration of any office is not provided for by this Constitution, it may be declared by law; and if not so declared, such office shall be held during the pleasure of the authority making the appointment. But the Legislative Assembly shall not create any office, the tenure of which shall be longer than four years.

      Section 3. Oaths of office. Every person elected or appointed to any office under this Constitution, shall, before entering on the duties thereof, take an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution of the United States, and of this State, and also an oath of office.–

http://www.leg.state.or.us/orcons/orcons.html

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Jamie Sanchez <jamie4hadco@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 11:38 AM
Subject: Re: Board Meeting
To: Dolly Newman <Dnewman@hadcor.org>
Cc: cea2day@yahoo.com, “Christian G. Spens” <chris@drtf.org>, shannon.gammie@gres.com

Dolly,

Please see the bylaws. The bylaws do not allow us to move the meeting date. A special meeting can be called as there is a procedure for that in the bylaws; however, since we do not have chair, there is no one to call a special meeting. To hold a meeting in violation of our bylaws is not legal from what I understand. There is no ability for the board to even vote on this issue and a vote via email is clearly in violation of the public meetings law, however, it seems that Ms. Gammie said that she could meet on Thursday so what’s the problem with ensuring we follow the law?

Jamie  

On Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 10:44 AM, Dolly Newman <Dnewman@hadcor.org> wrote:

Hello Commissioners

I am responding to the email sent by Commissioner Sanchez regarding rescheduling of the February meeting and also attached is the County Commissioners Certificate of Appointment.

Though on February 19th, Ernie Luna turned in the documents he received on February 18th and let HADCO know that he was resigning, he did not officially notify the County Commissioners.  Therefore, he remains appointed to the HADCO Board.  He is not copied on this email because he does not have access to the internet.

In response to the email below.  Commissioner Sanchez did not mention who the “one individual” is that changed the meeting date.  To clarify – Commissioner Gammie notified me that she thought the meetings were on Fridays and had arranged her schedule to accommodate the meeting for a Friday.  On February 17th I sent an email to Commissioners Chris Spens and Jamie Sanchez requesting moving the meeting to Friday, February 26.  I spoke to Chris Spens on the telephone and he said he did not have a problem with holding February’s meeting on Friday, February 26th.  Commissioner Sanchez sent an email stating that she preferred the meeting be held on Thursday.  There was no communication with Ernie Luna since I did not know that he had rescinded his resignation.  Based upon the responses Commissioner Gammie and Commissioner Spens were okay with moving the meeting one day.  Commissioner Sanchez preferred Thursday and did not say she would not be available for Friday. 

I would be interested in knowing what law was violated and what liability does the Board or HADCO have in moving the meeting one day. 

Dolly Newman

Executive Director

Housing Authority of Douglas County Oregon

541-673-6548   ext. 28

541-673-8230    fax

From: Jamie Sanchez [mailto:jamie4hadco@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, February 22, 2010 3:36 PM
To: Dolly Newman
Cc: Christian G. Spens; cea2day@yahoo.com
Subject: Board Meeting

Dolly,

I see that the meeting is noticed out for Friday. It needs to be changed back to Thursday as that is the legal date the board meets and I do not see anywhere in our bylaws where any one individual has the legal authority to change the meeting date. If the meeting is held on Friday, in violation of our bylaws, I believe that the meeting is not legal. Since I am sure none of us wants to violate the law, could you please contact the News Review and correct this error?

I will be responding to Betsy Cunningham’s inquiry regarding this by sending her this email as well as the series of emails we have had regarding this issue.

Jamie

HADCO Board to Hold Illegal Meeting?

It seems that two of the new members to HADCO’s Board of Commissioners might be off to a good start because they will be attending a meeting that was called by the Executive Director in violation of HADCO’s Bylaws.  

This was done to accommodate one of the newly appointed HADCO Commissioner and the ED’s friend Shannon Gammie.  To her credit, when this became an issue Ms. Gammie said she could attend the meeting according to the bylaws on the 4th Thursday, which is today, but the ED refused to change the meeting date back to the date set out in the bylaws although asked to do so by HADCO Commissioner Jamie Sanchez.   

We will be posting a series of emails between various folks regarding this issue shortly.  After reading them, you may shake your head and wonder how smart one has to be to be a HADCO Executive Director.

Last we heard the meeting is still planned for Friday, February 26 at 12:30 pm. at the Meyer building off of Stanton in Roseburg (down the road to the left of the HADCO office).  HADCO Commissioner Jamie Sanchez is not going to attend because she believes the meeting is not lawful because it violates their bylaws given the Executive Director has no authority to change the day of the meeting of the Board.  Stuart Liebowitz (who was appointed yesterday) cannot attend Friday meetings anyway and has a prior commitment.  That leaves the other three: Chris Spens, and two new appointees Shannon Gammie and Ernie Luna.  

If they are all willing to meet, then there is a quorum and the illegal meeting with go ahead.  If only one is willing to do the right thing and not attend, there sill be no meeting.  Unfortunately, it seems doubtful whether the any one of the three remaining one’s have the ingrity to do the right thing. 

It seems that Chris agreed to the change-even though it violates the bylaws he has been operating HADCO under for about 7-8 years now.  Given he has not responded to our requests about whehter he was going to attend or not, we can assume he will. 

Shannon Gammie has been privy to the emails regarding the meeting and why it is not legal.  However, she has not responded and we have not been told there will be no meeting.  Also she is friends of HADCO’s ED and she might want to support her in this fight with the community, which is why we suspect she joined the HADCO Commission to begin with, given she had no interest in attending HADCO meetings before. 

Ernie Luna is being contacted by one of our group as I write this to find out if he is willing to skip the meeting tomorrow because it is in violation of the bylaws.  he has not been privy to the emails regarding this because he does not have email.  I believe that if he refuses to go to the meeting, it will demonstrate that he does not have close ties to HADCO’s ED that some are concerned about.  If he goes ahead with the meeting, it should be grounds for DC Commissioners to appoint someone else when his term is up in a few months.  (he was only filling a two-month position)

I believe that anyone who goes ahead with the meeting tomorrow should be removed from the HADCO Commission.  We might not get that, but we might get to add it to the bad behavior of Chris Spens and take our move to get the DC Commissioners to rid HADCO of this infection once and for all. 

Take care,

DC Commissioners Get Another Chance to Do the Right Thing!

Here is the email sent to Douglas County Commissioners regarding the appointment to the HADCO Commission tomorrow.

February 23, 2010

Good afternoon Douglas County Commissioners,

Tomorrow morning, you will have another opportunity to appoint someone to the Housing Authority of Douglas County Board of Commissioners.  CEA hopes you appoint Stuart Liebowitz. 

Although we recommended you appoint former HADCO Commissioner Joy Mayorga the last time an appointment was considered, Mr. Liebowitz was not in the pool of applicants at the time.  Had he been, I am confident that we would have supported his application, either along with that of Ms. Mayorga’s or even instead of hers. 

It is true that Ms. Mayorga has direct experience as a HADCO Commissioners, but Mr. Liebowitz has had direct experience on several public bodies (both state and local level) and has demonstrated that he understands the requirement of the laws that govern such entities.  He has had the opportunity to demonstrate that he understands HUD laws and regulations, as well as those that govern housing development with state resources.   These alone make him a great candidate, but what makes him superior is his knowledge and experience with affordable housing development in our community.

Stuart Liebowitz has been an affordable housing developer for many years in Douglas County.  He currently works for the non-profit Umpqua Community Development Corporation (UCDC) after having worked for many years developing affordable housing for our local Community Action Agency UCAN.  Stuart has also served on the statewide Oregon Housing Council (?).  So he will bring a level of experience regarding housing that no other candidate has.  His connections to these other groups will provide community connections that currently do not exist at HADCO.  However, that is not all.

Mr. Liebowitz knows and has worked with all other members on HADCO’s Board.  He worked at UCDC while Shannon Gammie was still there.  He has worked with Ernie Luna in several capacities.  Maybe most importantly, he has actually already served on a City of Roseburg board or commission along with Chris Spens.   Given we find him a suitable candidate and he has already proven his ability to work with the others appointed to the HADCO Commission, it seems he is really the best candidate for all concerned. 

We do not believe there is a better candidate for HADCO Commissioner than Stuart Liebowitz.  I have talked to a majority of the remaining applicants and even they agree that Stuart would be a good choice.   We trust, you will agree that he is the best candidate for the position and chose him to be our next HADCO Commissioner. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Betsy Cunningham

Citizens Education & Advocacy (CEA)

1464 E. Central Ave.

Sutherlin, OR 97479

Telephone: (541) 459-4077

Email:  cea2day@yahoo.com

Citizens Meeting Friday!

This coming Friday (Feb 19) at noon in Room 311 in the Douglas County Courthouse building, Citizens Education & Advocacy (CEA) is hosting a meeting to discuss how appointments to various county boards, committees and commissions are done.  Although CEA will be discussing this in the context of the our experiences with appointments to the Housing Authority (HADCO) Commission, the information is relevant to appointment process for all of the 50 – 60 county board, commissions etc.

This meeting is open to the public and will focus on upcoming appointments, as well as a long term approach to making sure we have a more transparent and fair process.    

For more info:   cea2day@yahoo.com, or (541) 459-4077

Take care,

Gammie Tells CEA What Kind of Public Representative she will be Even Before She Starts the Job!

 

Yesterday, I called the newly appointed HADCO Commission member Shannon Gammie at the number listed on her application for public office. 

Given our objections to her appointment, I was not even going to bother to do so.  However, I did contact the other person who was appointed with Ms. Gammie, Ernie Luna.  It was based on Mr. Luna’s suggestion and encouragement that I decided to go ahead and give it a try. 

I contacted her to set up a time for her to meet with a small group of her constiutients, but she might not know this because she did not call back.  Instead she sent me the followng email–although Ionly left my phone number. 

You will note, she sent a cc to the HADCO Ex Director, whom Gammie is personal friend with, and DC Commissioner Susan Morgan.  

 

From: Shannon Gammie <sgammie@gotsky.com>
To: cea2day@yahoo.com; dnewman@hadco.org; morgan@co.douglas.or.us
Sent: Thu, February 11, 2010 11:52:03 AM
Subject: Home Phone Number

Ms. Cunningham-

I understand you have called my unlisted home phone number to speak with me about concerns you have in regard to Hadco, and my appointment.

I look forward to meeting you in person; but, I request you do not contact me at home on my unlisted number again nor during my office hours.  The appointment to the Hadco board is a volunteer position. I take this appointment extremely seriously, and will honor my obligations according to the board rules.

As I can see from your comments to NR Today, and your blog- you obviously have items you wish addresseed  about HADCO. I understand your a concerned public citizen and I respect this, and will be happy to listen to all your concerns in the public forum on record during the board meetings.  However, I will not have private discussions with you now or at anytime in the future about HADCO, HADCO’s ED or my private life. I am sure you can respect that I feel all business in relation to HADCO should be discussed in a public forum on record so there are no misunderstandings or miscommunications.

Thank you for your understanding, and I look forward to meeting you in person.

Sincerely,

-Shannon Gammie

HADCO Commission Appointments Once Again Demonstrates Flaws in the Process

Today Douglas County Commissioners Joe Laurance and Doug Robertson blindly supported Susan Morgan’s appointment of two former work associates of HADCO’s Executive Director’s to the HADCO Board.  Although Susan Morgan cited two basic things she looked at in making her recommendations: public housing experience and public meeting experiences, she did not pick the only person who was in the pool of applicants who had this direct experience, former HADCO Commissioner Joy Mayorga. 

Instead she supported and Doug and Joe just went along, Shannon Gammie —yes the one who lied on doucments submitted to the Douglas County Circuit Court, and Ernie Luna.   We have no concerns about Ernie Luna and we believe his former work experience with affordable housing  should prove to be an invaluable addition to the HADCO board.  However their total disregard of information that should be considered for someone in the public position is a real problem.

Part of the problem was the fact that two of our elected County Commissioners let the other one make the decision for them.   Another part is that they let the decision be made by someone who herself stated what she was considering and did not follow it.  Still another part is the fact there is not a clear object formal process for our county government officials to pick who serves on board and commissions in Douglas County. 

Although each of them needs to be addressed, correcting the last one can fix the problem once and for all. 

A small group of us did address our concerns with Commissioner Laurance today after the meeting.  He gave a commitment to make sure he did an individual analysis of who will be placed on the HADCO Board in the future.  We hope we can also convince him in his reelection year to change current practices and get some formal policy in place or even a county oridance if that is what is needed to fix the mess.

Take care,

Don’t Give Us Gammie!

Tomorrow morning, shortly after 9 a.m. the Douglas County Commissioners will deliberate about and decide at least two of the open seats for HADCO Board of Commissioners.   CEA has already endorsed Joy Mayorga to fill one of the seats.  We have also set out why we do not want Jim Smalley to be appointed.  This post is dealing with why we do not want Shannon Gammie on the HADCO Board of Commissioners.

Instead of going into a story here, we just posted the email and some attachments CEA sent to the DC Commissioners. 

——————————————————————————————————————————————

February 9, 2010

Douglas County Commissioners,

In a prior email, I mentioned what CEA has some information about an application for HADCO Commission, Shannon Gammie that we believe should be considered regarding her candidacy.  This email contains a few points regarding Ms. Gammie that we believe are important, but we are particularly concerned about a recent court case she was involved in when she was working as a property manager for Umpqua Community Development Corporation (UCDC). 

Attached to this email are two documents that provide information CEA believes puts into doubt whether Shannon Gammie should be appointed to the HADCO Board of Commissioners.  They show that Ms. Gammie misrepresented information to a judge, which resulted in a judgment for eviction against a young mother and her children. 

 This was done when Ms. Gammie worked for her prior employer Umpqua Community Development Corporation (UCDC) as a property manager.   According to Douglas County Circuit Court records, the tenant went through a court eviction case with UCDC that got settled in court.  The settlement was based upon the tenant/defendant making payment to UCDC/landlord/plaintiff by a specific date.  The defendant dropped off a check to cover the required payment, which was accepted by the landlord UCDC.  A copy of the check is attached.

A couple of days later, on November 20, 2009, Ms. Gammie wrote and signed the attached declaration claiming that the check given to UCDC from the tenant/defendant  was returned from the bank NSF.  As you can see from the attached documents, this was not true because on that very same day the check was paid by the defendant/tenants bank.  So it seems that although there was no check returned NSF, Ms. Gammie claimed in a court document that there was. 

CEA learned about his a case a couple of months ago, when the young mother came to us for help.  Except referring her to an attorney, there was not much we could do to help her, but she wanted you to know about this situation because Ms. Gammie had applied to serve on the public housing authority board.   Although CEA believes that this information , which is supported by written documentation, is sufficient to reject Shannon Gammie’s application, there is some additional information that you might want to consider. 

It is our understanding that Ms. Gammie no longer works for UCDC.  So any benefit she would provide because she was employed with UCDC at the time she applied to be on the HADCO board no longer exists because she no longer works for them.     

Lastly, CEA has information that Ms. Gammie and HADCO’s current executive director are personal friends.  Also attached to this email is information from Ms. Newman’s internet social networking site Facebook.  It shows Ms. Gammie on Ms. Newman’s friends list.  Given the issues going on with HADCO, it might be very unwise to put someone in the position of HADCO Commissioner who has a personal friendship with the ED.  Even though this alone might not be a reason to reject Ms. Gammie, it is something that should be carefully scrutinized. 

Given the totally of the circumstances CEA believes that Ms. Gammie should be rejected as a candidate for HADCO Commissioners.  We hope you agree.   

Thank you for your attention and consideration. 

Betsy Cunningham

Citizens Education & Advocacy

(541) 459-4077

One of the attachments to this email is a copy of what we copied and pasted from Dolly Newman’s Facebook page showing Shannon Gammie is on her friends list.  You can access this information my doing a search for Dolly Newman on facebook. 

Two of the other documents were scanned by me from a document the tenant gave me and from one I got a copy of at the Douglas County Circuit Court Clerk’s office. 

Dolly Newman Facebook Friends you can check this out by going to facebook.com and looking for Dolly Newman.

Dolly Newman

Friends

Showing:Message|View Friends

 

Add as Friend

Shannon Gammie

 

 

Note:  We have temporarily removed the full copy of he check and the bank information showing the check cashed by the bank not returned NSF.   We did this to redact some of the information due to a comment we received that made us rethink posting the whole thing even though the entire document is a matter of public record anyway. 

Also to the person concerned about CEA posting the information, please be aware that this was done with the person’s full understanding of potential consequences and written consent.   A bank account can be changed a bit more easily than what has been done to her family.   However, we do not need it here to really prove the point, so we decided to remove that information and will repost it after we do. 

Thanks and take care,

CEA Asks County to Take Over HADCO!

1/27/10

Today I appeared at the Douglas County Commission meeting regarding HADCO and offered a solution to the on-going problems.  Below is the written presentation.  A bit more was actually said.  The whole thing can be listened to at the Douglas County Commission website. 

Dear Douglas County Commissioners,

I am here today on behalf of Citizens Education & Advocacy (CEA) regarding the Housing Authority of Douglas County (HADCO).  CEA knows that you are in the process of reviewing  applications for two of the three vacant seats on the HADCO Board of Commissioners.  However I am not here today to ask you to appoint a particular person or slate of people to the HADCO Board nor am I here to give CEA’s two-cents about having an open process with public interviews of the candidates.   I am here to offer a different solution to the problem of establishing a governing board that is able to exercise appropriately oversight of our local public housing authority. 

I am here to ask you to take on the obligation to ensure that this government funded program has appropriate oversight by a body that is accountable to the taxpayer in our community.   Given all that has transpired, the only way that this may be able to happen is for you to pass a resolution to transfer the housing authority to the DC Commissioners and declaring that you will exercise the powers of the housing authority under ORS 455.  This will eliminate HADCO as we know it along with its current two-member board while continuing to provide its vital service in our community.  

This may be the best way to get a fresh start for our public housing agency.  It certainly is the best way to ensure that our public housing authority’s governing body is accountable to the people in our community.  As elected officials, you give us the most accountability possible, and much more than under the current system.  

It is clear that Oregon law allows the Douglas County Commission to act as the public housing authority. Oregon Revised Statute 456.095 provides the language that allows the DC Commissioners to serve as the governing body.  ORS 456.233 allows you to take that responsibility back from HADCO.   Case law interpreting ORS 456.233 confirms that you have the legal authority to do so now.  (Housing Authority of Lane County v. Board of Commissioners, 35 Or App 785, 582 P2d 844 (1978), Sup Ct review denied).

Although this might seem an extreme measure, it is not without justification or precedent.  Attached to this is a copy of the pertinent sections of the Oregon Revised Statute as well as an excerpt from the case cited above so there is no question about whether you can do it.  The question is will you? 

Thank you for considering our request. 

Betsy Cunningham

Citizens Education & Advocacy

1464 E. Central Ave.

Sutherlin, OR 97479

Telephone: (541) 459-4077

Email: cea2day@yahoo.com

Oregon Revised Statute

“456.095 Appointment and qualification of commissioners of housing authorities. (1) When the governing body of a city or county adopts a resolution pursuant to ORS 456.085, the governing body may then elect to have the powers of a housing authority under this chapter, ORS chapter 455 and ORS 446.515 to 446.547 exercised in any of the following ways:

(a) Appointing by resolution, a commission composed of five, seven or nine persons.

(b) Declaring, by resolution, that the governing body, itself, shall exercise the powers of a housing authority under this chapter, ORS chapter 455 and ORS 446.515 to 446.547. A governing body that exercises the powers of a housing authority may appoint at least one but not more than two additional commissioners for the housing authority. An appointed commissioner has the same authority as other housing authority commissioners, but may not exercise any powers of the governing body. At least one appointed commissioner must be a resident who receives direct assistance from the housing authority. The second appointed commissioner, if any, at a minimum must live within the jurisdiction of the authority. An appointed commissioner serves a term of office equal in length to the terms of office for governing body members, but not more than four years. An appointed commissioner may be removed only for cause as described in ORS 456.110 or if the commissioner ceases to meet the requirements for being an appointed commissioner. In the event that a housing authority commission consisting of the governing body of a city and one or more appointed commissioners has an even number of members, the mayor shall be included as a member of the commission for the housing authority. An act of a governing body exercising the powers of a housing authority is an act of the commission for the housing authority only and not of the governing body.”

“456.233 Transfer of housing authority from governing body to separate board. If, pursuant to this chapter, ORS chapter 455 and ORS 446.515 to 446.547, the governing body in a city or a county has declared, by resolution, that the governing body itself shall exercise the powers of a housing authority under this chapter, ORS chapter 455 and ORS 446.515 to 446.547, the governing body may thereafter, by resolution, elect to transfer such powers and the authority to act as the housing authority to any other body which may be designated by this chapter, ORS chapter 455 and ORS 446.515 to 446.547 to exercise such powers. The governing body of the city or county may, by resolution, transfer the powers and authority to act as the housing authority to itself. All duties and obligations of the governing body as the housing authority of the municipality shall thereafter be assumed and performed by the body to which such powers and authority are transferred. [1969 c.630 §1; 1975 c.322 §2; 1979 c.621 §17]”

ORS Annotations

“456.233  NOTES OF DECISIONS

                “Return” of powers pursuant to this section reflects fact that assignment of municipal powers to independent body is delegation of powers, and thus county board of commissioners was authorized to reassign housing authority functions to itself regardless of whether those functions were initially retained by county board or were initially delegated to separately created county board. Housing Authority of Lane County v. Board of Commissioners, 35 Or App 785, 582 P2d 844 (1978), Sup Ct review denied”

In the above case, the court stated:

“The authority of a municipal governing body to reassume these powers is regulated by the second sentence of each statute:

“* * * The governing body of the city may, by resolution, return the powers and authority to act as the housing authority [or urban renewal agency] to itself. * * *”

Plaintiff contends that this sentence is operative only if the events of the first sentences have occurred, i.e., that the commission has initially elected to retain the power and thereafter delegated it. The logic of  [**847]  that construction rests upon the word “return” in the second sentences from which plaintiff perceives the implication [***8]  that power cannot be returned to the commission unless it was initially there. Thus, under plaintiff’s approach, if Lane County’s Board of Commissioners had originally elected to perform the housing authority and urban renewal functions in itself, and subsequently created a separate body to assume those functions, it could thereafter “return” the transferred functions to itself. However, because Lane County initially created a separate housing authority board and delegated the powers to it, plaintiff argues it may never reallocate either of the functions.

Although plaintiff’s construction has some logical force, a contrary construction is more reasonable both in terms of the composition of the statutes and the legislative purpose they appear designed to advance.

Compositionally, the sentences of the two statutes read as if they are meant to cover alternative situations  [*791]  rather than serial events. The use of the word “return” more likely reflects the fact that an assignment of municipal powers to an independent body is a delegation of powers which may be returned to the delegating body in which they initially resided.

Such a construction is more consistent with the [***9]  apparent legislative purpose. The basic thrust of the statutes is to promote rather than to inhibit organizational flexibility. We cannot assume, as plaintiff’s construction would require, that the legislature intended that once a municipal governing body has delegated these powers, the delegatee agency should be permanently insulated from direct political responsibility and forever immune to changes in prevailing political philosophy.

Accordingly, we construe both ORS 456.233 and 457.145 as authorizing a governing body to reassign housing and urban renewal functions regardless of whether those functions were initially retained by the governing body. “

Doing the Right Thing is Just Too Hard for Some

Here is one of the last two emails HADCO Commissioners were sent before Commissioner Jody Ahlstedt resigned.   The last one was a one liner asking when the public hearing regarding the Annual PHA Plan was going to be reconvened because it was abruptly terminated by Commissioner Ahlstedt two weeks ago when she became confused about what the purpose of the public hearing was.  
Residents and CEA were demanding that all comments about the Plan be considered, which is consistent with the federal law that governs it,  while HADCO staff (minus the ED because she was in Florida) and HADCO Commissioner Chris Spens were telling her that they did not.  Ahlstedt terminated the hearing and promised to investigate what was really suppose to happen. 
Since then CEA sent her and the other HADCO Commissoners Chris Spens and Jamie Sanchez copies of the United States Code (the actual law)  that says they have to consider all public comments at a public hearing.  Imagine that.  Unfortunately, Ms. Ahlstedt decided to resign instead of dealing with the difficult task of holding others at HADCO accountable.  What a shame. 
However, it just goes to show that people don’t understand what their responsibility is and what they are getting  into when they put their name forward for HADCO’s Board. 
Take care,
Fw: He Said She Said
From:
Citizens Education and Access <cea2day@yahoo.com> 

View Contact

To: Jody Ahlstedt <jody.ahlstedt@ucancap.org>; Jamie Sanchez <jamie4hadco@gmail.com>; Chris Spens <chris@drtf.org>  
   
 
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email dol to Chris 9 09 forward email she sent to Dan J.jpg (130KB); email dol to Chris 9 09 critical of BC and JS.jpg (136KB); email chris to dolly after email to him from BC nov 2009.jpg (118KB)

//
Hello all,
 
To limit concerns about things not being done in the open, I am sending you this email that I sent to the DC Commissioners regarding a matter of great concern to me as a citizen.  I find it very inappropriate for public officials, whether paid or not, to have the type of communication about others that they reflect. 
 
So what to do?  Chris’ behavior is up to the Douglas County Commissioners.  However, what about Dolly’s? 
 
Betsy Cunningham
 
—– Forwarded Message —-
From: Citizens Education and Access <cea2day@yahoo.com>
To: Susan Morgan <morgan@co.douglas.or.us>; Joe Laurance <laurance@co.douglas.or.us>; Deb Mendenhall <deb@co.douglas.or.us>
Sent: Mon, January 18, 2010 3:08:40 PM
Subject: Fw: He Said She Said
Sorry I did not attach the emails for you to review to the last email
—– Forwarded Message —-
From: Citizens Education and Access <cea2day@yahoo.com>
To: Doug Robertson <robertson@co.douglas.or.us>; Joe Laurance <laurance@co.douglas.or.us>; Susan Morgan <morgan@co.douglas.or.us>
Sent: Mon, January 18, 2010 3:05:26 PM
Subject: He Said She Said
Hello,
 
I want to apologize for the amount of information you may be inundated with regarding HADCO within the next few days and weeks.  Contrary to what you might believe, CEA has attempted to avoid bringing the vast amounts of things wrong with HADCO directly to you.  Primarily because we understand that you have limited authority to do anything about something happening at the time, we have tried to limit what we have provided to you.  In retrospect, this may have been wrong because you may not fully appreciate the signficance of your appointment authority and the obligation to exercise that authority to ensure that many of the things that have happened at HADCO do not. 
 
Given some of the things that have happened late, CEA started to make public records request about various HADCO dealings.  I recently reviewed some emails between HADCO’s executive Director and HADCO Commissioner Chris Spens that is inappropriate to say the least.  Because I have heard the phrase “he said she said” attributed to this dispute, I thought an actual look at emails sent on our public dime might disspell the nothing that both sides are doing something inappropriate.  I think that these make it pretty clear who is wrong and there is not he siad she said to hid behind. 
 
I am sure you appreciate that this not all.  However, a little at the time might make it easier for you to digest. 
 
Thank you for your time,
Betsy Cunningham
(541) 459-4077
 
 
 
 

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Another HADCO Commissioner Bites the Dust.

It seems that what is going on at HADCO is too much for another HADCO Commissioner.   Unforunately it wasn’t Chris Spens who resigned from the HADCO Commission.  The problems at HADCO are too much for some.  The commitment and responsibility is a bit more than most who put their name forward recognize beforehand.     

I am concerned they see this as a more cushy non-proft board gig instead of the public governing body that it is.  This alone can be overwhelming.  What is required of a private non-profit  board is far less than what is required of a governing body like the HADCO Commission who must ensure all aspects of the agency follow the various laws and rules that govern it. 

Hopefully, we can get people who can face the responsibility and stick with it unit the hard work is done.  It may be unpleasant for a while, but with the right people on the HADCO Commission there is a real opportunity to change things around in a very positive way for everyone.  However, we will have to wait for a while for that to happen now.   

Take care,

CEA Objects to HADCO Applicant Smalley

Here is an email just sent to the Douglas County Commissioners regarding why we object to Jim Smalley being considered for a position on the Housing Authority of Douglas County (HADCO) Board of Commissioners.   There may be other reasons not to support his appointment.  However, the public records we have accessed indicate sufficient reason for him to be rejected regardless of anything else. 

Dear Douglas County Commissioners,

Although it is not clear to us about all the criterion that you will be using to decide who will fill the two vacant seats on the Housing Authority of Douglas County Board of Commissioners, CEA assumes that one is the person has to be able follow the law.    

With applicants to fill volunteer Board seats like the HADCO Commissioners, information may not always be available to one beforehand except the applicants or his friends and colleagues glowing impressions.  So one is left with accepting the person (or in this case) the people at face value.   However, it is not always these relationships that tell us what we might want to know about someone who is offering to take on such a responsibility on behalf of all of us. 

With two of the current applicants we do have some information that may be more objective in determining their ability and/or willingness to follow the law.  I will be sending the information to you in two separate emails.  One will be about Jim Smalley the other Shannon Gammie.

CEA believes that this information is relevant to whether either of the candidates is suited to be in a position of public trust, which clearly HADCO Commissioner is.  CEA sees this no differently than if this information were available about any of you while you are running for public office.   Although these folks are not running for elected office, CEA sees them as running for this very important appointed public office.   Unfortunately, the voter does not get to directly have their say about who will be representing us on the HADCO Commission: that responsibility has been delegated to each one of you.

This is why the decision you make is extremely important.  It may be more critical than ever before.  Having people able to follow the law is paramount.  Given HADCO’s history, this may be the most important criteria there is. 

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

Betsy Cunningham

Citizens Education & Advocacy

1464 E. Central Ave.

Sutherlin, OR 97479

Telephone: (541) 459-4077

Attachment:  Copy  US DOT screen re Smalley Trucking

PDF_20101316444670555 info Smalley Truckin US DOT

Communication with DC Commissioners Re HADCO Commission Appointments

Information about two applicants to the HADCO Commission puts into great doubt about whether either one of them has what we should require of someone who is going to be in this position of public trust.  CEA is sending a few emails to the Douglas County Commissioners who are responsible for appointing the HADCO Commissioners information regarding this.  Each of our emails and any response from the DC Commissioners will be posted on the citizen news blog.

Here is the first email to the DC Commissioners: (sent 1/25/10)

Dear Douglas County Commissioners,

Although it is not clear to us about all the criterion that you will be using to decide who will fill the two vacant seats on the Housing Authority of Douglas County Board of Commissioners, CEA assumes that one is the person has to be able follow the law.    

With applicants to fill volunteer Board seats like the HADCO Commissioners, information may not always be available to one beforehand except the applicants or his friends and colleagues glowing impressions.  So one is left with accepting the person (or in this case) the people at face value.   However, it is not always these relationships that tell us what we might want to know about someone who is offering to take on such a responsibility on behalf of all of us. 

With two of the current applicants we do have some information that may be more objective in determining their ability and/or willingness to follow the law.  I will be sending the information to you in two separate emails.  One will be about Jim Smalley the other Shannon Gammie.

CEA believes that this information is relevant to whether either of the candidates is suited to be in a position of public trust, which clearly HADCO Commissioner is.  CEA sees this no differently than if this information were available about any of you while you are running for public office.   Although these folks are not running for elected office, CEA sees them as running for this very important appointed public office.   Unfortunately, the voter does not get to directly have their say about who will be representing us on the HADCO Commission: that responsibility has been delegated to each one of you.

This is why the decision you make is extremely important.  It may be more critical than ever before.  Having people able to follow the law is paramount.  Given HADCO’s history, this may be the most important criteria there is. 

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

Betsy Cunningham

Citizens Education & Advocacy

1464 E. Central Ave.

Sutherlin, OR 97479

Telephone: (541) 459-4077

Possible Delay In HADCO Commission Appointments

As I reported a week or so ago, DC Commissioners decided to add another application to those being considered for the Housing Authority of Douglas County (HADCO) Commission.  Their reasons to do this was to try to rectify a wrong and be fair to the applicant.  However, to just add an application to the pile that was submitted outside the posted opening for the position creates another set of problems.  So we asked that the DC Commissioners reopen the process so anyone else will have the same opportunities and there is no appearance of something going on that is not quite right.

One More Added to the Pool of HADCO Contenders!

The Douglas County Commissioners added another candidate to the pool of people vying to be our representatives to the Housing Authority of Douglas County (HADCO) Board of Commissioners.   The inclusion of Rory Mayberry’s application to be on HADCO’s Commission brings the number of people willing to serve their community on our local public housing authority’s (PHA) governing body to seven.  

It seems that Mr. Mayberry’s application was taken before the opening date of the filing of applications for the two open positions, so did not get included in the original bunch.  Although CEA has no objections to Mr. Mayberry being considered for the position, we are not comfortable about allowing his application to be added to the list if others are not allowed to do so who were also unavailable during the filing period. 

CEA will be asking the Douglas County Commissioners to reopen the filing period for applications so there is no question about everyone having the same opportunity to file as everyone else. 

However, even if the DC Commission reopens the application process, CEA will continue to support Joy Mayorga for one seat and oppose Jim Smalley and Shannon Gammie for either.   We have already shared with you why CEA supports Joy Mayorga and there is no one else who could apply and change that.  Reasons for not supporting Gammie and Smalley will be posted within a few days. (really this time)

*Note:  Unfortunately, the HADCO Commission appointments are not the only thing going on right now with them.  The Public Housing Authority (PHA) Annual Plan process is heating up as public input has caused significant resistence from HADCO Commissioner Chris Spens as well as HADCO staff.  

Also, there are other issues coming to light now due to some investigation into travel and communications of HADCO’s Executive Director. 

Some of the info regarding these issues can be found at Citizens Education & Advocacy website:  www.cea4justice.org as well as some dialogue happening on the News Review website.

Where Are Our Tax Dollars Being Spent Today?

 https://www.phada.org/conferences/2010tampa/index.php

The above links to information about the second conference/training in Florida the Executive Director, Dolly Newman of the Housing Authority of Douglas County (HADCO) has been to recently. However, this is not the extent of her out of town travel that even the HADCO Board of Commissioners do not know about before she goes.

In reviewing public records, CEA has uncovered that it appears we have spent close to $20,000 since she was hired in fall of 2008 on training and traveling the person the former HADCO Commission hired to run the day-to-day operation of the program on our behalf. She has been to Washington DC, as well as Las Vegas on our dime.

 Attempts by HADCO Commissioner and CEA member Jamie Sanchez’ to get answers about these travels has not been totally successful. Citizens need to put pressure on to get accountability of this public agency. Not only is the spending of our money a concern, so is her frequent absenses from the office. She does not seem to be there enough to have appropriate oversight of her staff. It seems they have been using company time trying to discredit those of us trying to make changes instead of focusing on staying neutral, as public servants should be, and ways to work with residents, citizens and all board members.

All In The HADCO Commission Pot!

It is interesting how some controversy can bring out more interest in a County appointed volunteer position than it has ever seen before.   I am not complaining mind you, I just find it interesting each time names show a keen interest in being on the HADCO Commission, yet are not known to those of us  citizens who have been following this public agency for some years now.  We do not see them at HADCO meetings, never heard them speak up about the things that HADCO was doing illegally, never a peep, but now they have enough skills and knowledge to take their seat at the helm. 

Anyway, all the candidates have put themselves forward, and now it is up to the Douglas County Commissioners to decide who will fill two HADCO Commission vacancies.  However, this does not mean we cannot have some influence about who is going to sit on this public body and represent us.  We need to let the Douglas County Commissioners know who we want on that Board. 

According to the DC Commission office, it seems that there are six people vying for the privilege:     

Shannon Gammie            Property Manager Umpqua Community Development Corporation

Richard Hunt                      UCC Nursing Student.  Has served on HADCO’s Resident Advisory Board (RAB)

Ernie Luna                           Former, Planner and Housing Developer for Umpqua Community Development Corporation.  From Myrtle Creek

Joy Mayorga                      Former HADCO Board Member

Jesse Morrow                   Umpqua Community College Public Safety Director

Jim Smalley                         Smalley Trucking in Sutherlin

I have uploaded a copy of the Applications from all of the above, which is at the bottom of these comments.  It is in one pdf document.   

Of the above candidates, we know Joy Mayorga and recommend her appointment for several reasons that I will go into a little bit below.  We also know Richard Hunt and the work he had done to improve HADCO specifically over the past few years and recommend him as well, but if the Douglas County Commissioners will only chose one of them because they are both residents of HADCO, we recommend former HADCO Commissioner Joy Mayorga above everyone else. 

The reasons are pretty compelling from our point of view:

  1.  Mayorga has served on the board for several years until spring of this year.
  2. She has a level of knowledge about the operation HADCO that no other candidate has bar none.
  3. There are several issues and concerns about HADCO going on right now that needs someone with this experience to help HADCO through some troubled times now and possibly in the near future.
  4. She has demonstrated the leadership to try to move HADCO the right, meaning lawful, direction. 
    1. An example was her efforts to help get a Resident Advisory Board set up after CEA showed her that HADCO was violating federal law by not having one. 

                                                                           i.      She did not just take our word, but she was open to what we were saying

                                                                          ii.      She then investigated on her own

                                                                        iii.      When she found out from HUD that we were correct, she took action to get the RAB established.

She did this all while being chastised for it by some of her fellow board members at the time. 

       5.  She has continued to be involved with HADCO by attending Commission meetings although she is no longer on the Board.  She continues to work with other residents to improve the quality of life of residents and HADCO’s public housing program.

Although, we have not always agreed with Mayorga when she was on the HADCO board before, and will probably have disagreements in the future, she has demonstrated that she can work with those with whom she disagrees and treat them appropriately.   This has been a challenge for some who have served on the HADCO Commission including current HADCO Commissoner Chris Spens.  These more mature interpersonal/public official skills plus her extensive background and knowledge about HADCO makes Mayorga the number one candidate bar none.   If nothing else, it is critical that Joy be put back on the HADCO Board if even for four short months.

As mentioned above, CEA also endorses Richard Hunt, but if there has to be a choice of either or, CEA must support Joy for all the reasons above, but that does not mean there are not good reasons to support Hunt.  However, all of the reasons will have to be for a later time when we make all of our recommendations. 

Yet, based on what we know about them right now, we will not be supporting the applications of Jim Smalley or Shannon Gammie.  However we would like to more about Jesse Morrow and Ernie Lund.  If anyone knows anything that would help us decide who should be appointed to the public position, please let us know. 

Ernie Luna seems a good match for HADCO’s needs although we have not seen him or any of the other candidates except Mayorga and Hunt at any Board meetings.  A concern may be that he and HADCO’s current Executive Director worked for Umpqua Community Development Corporation at the same time.  This alone would not be a reason to reject him unless this would prevent him from being able to view her and her actions objectively.   We need more info before we decide.

Jesse Morrow is program director for public safety at UCC.  People associated with CEA have had Jesse as an instructor for computer classes.  They liked him in this capacity.  However, we do not know his interest in being on the HADCO Board or what he can contribute so we rely upon folks like you to help us out here, as well as answers some questions that we have that we hope he and the other candidates will provide.    

If you are interested in why no Smalley or Gammie, we will have information on CEA’s blog by Saturday, which you can go to directly at www.citizensnews.wordpress.com or through our website at www.cea4justice.org.  We will also have our recommendations and why by then as well. 

One of the reasons why has to do with the fact that HADCO is not just some non-profit board without legal authority to do much of anything.  HADCO is a public entity that has no direct oversight of what it does except through the HADCO Board of Commissioners. 

HADCO is a lot more powerful than a private non-profit like UCAN or UCDC.  It has the same power as many other public entities in the state.  Who controls that power is extremely important not just for the residents of HADCO but all of us. 

Stay tuned for more about HADCO and the Appointment.

Take care,

Completed Applications for HADCO Commission

HADCO Commission Deadline

Tomorrow, Monday December 28, 2009 is the deadline for anyone interested in applying to be on the HADCO Board of Commissioners.  These appointments are to fill to interim vacancies.  One is to fill a two + year unexpired term and another is to fill a four month vacancy. 

Anyone who is interested can get an application from the Douglas County Commission office.  You can get the application from Tina Roy in person or by email.  But it needs to be completed and returned by the close of business tomorrow.

Spens Suspends All HADCO Business

I just sent an email to the Douglas County Commissioners asking them to remove Chris Spens from the HADCO Board of Commissioners because he is refusing to meet with his fellow HADCO Commissioners.  The email I sent to the DC Commissioners regarding this is below, which includes two emails between HADCO Commissioners. 

Dear Douglas County Commissioners,

Here is just one more reason that your decision to reappoint Chris Spens to the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners earlier this year was a mistake.  This should demonstrate to you that Mr. Spens is not interested in the well being of HADCO.  He has failed over and over again to fulfill his fiduciary duty, yet he is now in the position to control all business of the organization because he is refusing to conduct business with his fellow commissioners.

 As you should be able to extrapolate from the emails, there is a legal matter pending before the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) that may have adverse consequences for HADCO.  Chris was the only current HADCO Board who was there when the complaint with BOLI was filed.   

 Chris’ refusal to meet with his fellow HADCO Commissioners is on the heels of him stalking out of the HADCO Board meeting last week.  This eliminated the quorum so business had to stop.  He left because he was not getting his way after trying to stop me from commenting on an agenda item when he had allowed other members of the audience comment agenda items previously. 

This should be grounds for removing him from the HADCO Board of Commissioners. 

 Full View

Fwd: meeting about the BOLI complaint

From: Jamie Sanchez <jamie4hadco@gmail.com>

View Contact

To: cea2day@yahoo.com  

 

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Christian G. Spens <chris@drtf.org>
Date: Mon, Dec 7, 2009 at 2:21 PM
Subject: RE: meeting about the BOLI complaint
To: Jamie Sanchez <jamie4hadco@gmail.com>
Cc: Dolly Newman <Dnewman@hadcor.org>

Jamie-

 I have no intention of attending another HADCO meeting until such time that two additional commissioners are appointed by the County Commissioners and a Chair and Vice Chair are elected. If those appointments are not made by Jan 5th I will meet for the sole purpose of fulfilling the annual plan requirements, nothing else.   

 Chris

From: Jamie Sanchez [mailto:jamie4hadco@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, December 07, 2009 9:03 AM
To: Jody Ahlstedt; Christian G. Spens
Cc: Dolly Newman

Subject: meeting about the BOLI complaint

Dear Fellow Commissioners,

 As you are well aware, we did not discuss the pending BOLI complaint at our meeting this past Thursday. After the meeting, I had asked Dolly to contact Chris to see about setting up a meeting, even if it is just an executive session, to deal with this issue. Since I have not heard back from her, I am writing to both of you to try to set up a time to have a meeting. Since we are under a time constraint here and I am not interested in the state taking adverse action against us due to our failure to act, I would like us to meet this week if possible. If both of you are available in a few days from now, could you meet to deal with this? Please remember that we have to give Dolly a few days notice so that she can notice it out to the public. If we are going to make a decision, that too has to be noticed out to the public. I look forward to hearing from both of you.

Thanks,

Jamie

Spens Suspends HADCO Commission Meeting!

With a deadline regarding a fair housing complaint pending with the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) looming over their heads, HADCO Commissioner Chris Spens stalked out of the HADCO Commission meeting and it came to abrupt halt. 

Responding to a challenge from CEA and a fellow Commissioner, Spens picked up his things and left the meeting in a huff.  In describing Spens interaction with the public and his subsequent departure, one observer said, “It was just like a 10 year old kid.”  

All of us at the meeting appeared dumbfounded when Spens left the meeting and did not return.  The remaining two HADCO Commissioners looked shocked as he walked out the door, with Commissioner Jamie Sanchez calling to him to remind him that they had an executive session scheduled to deal with the pending “BOLI complaint”.  However, Spens seemed unconcerned about leaving his fellow board members and the organization in a lurch.   

With Spens gone, there was no longer a quorum and the public business meeting had to come to an end by law.  Normally, this might not be a problem but HADCO has a pending legal matter that needs to be addressed in a public meeting, which cannot be done without all three of the current HADCO Commission members being present.  Spens knew all of this when he made the decision to depart.

It would not be surprising to discover that Spens had planned all along to end the meeting before having to go into executive session to discuss the complaint pending against HADCO for discriminating against a 5-year old disabled girl and her service animal.  After all, he is the only one on the current HADCO Commission who was there when the complaint was filed.  Historically Spens has a problem taking responsibility for his own bad behavior regarding problems at HADCO, avoiding taking responsibility for this would fit his MO.   

He already canceled one meeting schedule regarding this complaint, and seemed to drag his feet when at least one of his fellow commissioners tried to schedule the meeting that was finally held today.  Hopefully the sleazy political tactic of this novice politician will bite him in the ass when it comes to election time. 

 We must not forget that this same Chris Spens is a city councilman in Roseburg, which, by the way, is extremely puzzling to me.  I know he ran unopposed, but did the voters know this guy?  Couldn’t the city find someone better? 

 Given how he has behaved as a HADCO Commissioner over the past few years we have observed him, I cannot believe that the voters in his district are aware of his attitudes and actions then voted him in as their city councilman anyway.  Maybe he saves his bad behavior for HADCO. 

After all he has implied on more than one occasion that HADCO residents should be grateful for what they have.  Maybe he does not see the people served by the program as equal citizens deserving his respect.  He certainly does not have the sense to set aside his personal feelings long enough to take care of the public’s business.

Take care,

CEA Meeting to Discuss HADCO

CEA is meeting today, Thursday November 4 at 1 pm in the D.C. courthouse room 310 to discuss the future of HADCO and how our public housing policy is made.  Anyone in the vacinity today that is interested in HADCO’s Annual Housing Plan for our community, or about filling the two vacant board seats, is welcome.  

HADCO’s Annual Plan is currently out for public comment.  The written comment period ends November 14.  Anyone wanting to make comments can write to HADCO by then.  After this the HADCO Commission will hold a public hearing.  At which time, they will also consider public comment about changes.  The Board will have to vote to approve the Plan, after which it will be submitted to HUD for their approval.  Once approved, the Plan becomes the basis for how the program is going to operate for the next year. 

 

 

HADCO Taints DC Commission Appointments!

CEA hoped that with Herm Oberholzer’s resignation from the Housing Authority of Douglas County Board of Commissioners our stress and strife was over, but not so.

It seems that the appointment process to replace him leaves all kinds of questions about what is still going on at HADCO. 

 There is a controversy that has arisen regarding the recent appointment of Ronald Weir to the Housing Authority of Douglas County Board of Commissioners by Douglas County Commissioners to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Herm Oberholzer.   The DC Commissioners appointed Mr. Weir after two pieces of information were given to them by HADCO staff.  Unfortunately, in one instance, which is a big one, the information was wrong.  In the other, the information provided to the DC Commissioners made them believe something that was not true.

This matter is going to be on the agenda for the HADCO Board of Commissioners meeting that is being held this Thursday, October 22nd,  12:30 p.m. in the Meyer’s Building down the street from HADCO’s main office.      

 Here the problem:

 The first one:  HADCO staff told County staff that there could only be one “resident” commissioner.  This is not true.  In fact, federal law prohibits denying anyone from being considered for a board seat just because he or she is a resident.

 The second one:  HADCO’s Executive Director Dolly Newman seems to have taken it upon herself to recommend Mr. Weir without consulting with the current HADCO Board.  Further her letter to the DC Commissioners regarding the recommendation seemed to imply that the current Board of HADCO also recommended Mr. Weir when it had not–at least that is my understanding about how the DC Commissioners took it.  It was two former board members who had recommended Mr. Weir back in April. 

Below are copies of emails sent to the DC Commissioners from CEA regarding this as well as the letter of recommendation regarding Mr. Weir that HADCO Executive Director, Dolly Newman sent to the DC Commissioners.  Ms. Newman’s letter sets out the other problem regarding this appointment. 

 Over the past several weeks we have tried to work with the DC Commissioners to get them to rescind Mr. Weir’s appointment upon the discrimination against the residents.  However, we have had little luck in convincing them to do so.

 One of the residents who feels his rights were violated has contacted HUD to make a formal complaint.

 This issue has also created more stress on the HADCO board which may have resulted in the resignation of Dan Jones from the HADCO board this week.

I strongly believe that the last two events would have been avoided if the Douglas County Commissioners had acted to rectify the situation, which only they can do under the law.

CEA member and HADCO Commissioner Jamie Sanchez has expressed her concerns about this appointment process to the Douglas County Commissioners and intends to pursue resolving the problems that lead to the miscommunications set out  above.  However, neither she nor any other HADCO Commission member can do anything about the appointment because that is one of the only things about the housing authority that he DC Commissioners  have a say about.

If you want to help make sure that there is a fair process for selecting HADCO, as well as other Douglas County Board and Commission members contact the Douglas County Commissioners. 

Take care,

————————————————————————————————————————————————

Copy original CEA email to Douglas County Commissioners:

Dear Douglas County Commissioners:

While waiting for the process of the interim appointment to the HADCO board to unfold, I found out that at last week’s Douglas County Commissioner’s meeting you appointed Ron Weir to fill the unexpired term of Herm Oberholzer. I was quite surprised that this happened so I listened to the audio recording of the meeting. This only created more surprised after hearing the reasons you appointed Mr. Weir.

The first reason was that you could not consider three of the five applicants for the position because they were residents who receive a benefit from the program. The second reason was that the HADCO Board of Commissioners recommended him. Both of these reasons are not based in fact. Law does not limit the number of HADCO residents on the commission to one. The HADCO Board of Commissioners did not recommend Mr. Weir over Mr. Dean Beyers or the three HADCO residents. They made no recommendation at all.

Number of Residents on Board:

 Three of the five applicants for the open position were summarily removed from consideration because it was asserted that the “law” would not allow more than one HADCO resident to be on their board. Although it is not quite clear to me where this information came from, it is clear it is not consistent with current state or federal law. Oregon Revised Statute 456.095 sets out the appointment of housing authority commissioners and subsection (4) states:

“Persons appointed to the commission shall include a variety of occupations. At least one commissioner, but not more than two commissioners, appointed under subsection (1)(a) of this section must be a resident who receives direct assistance from the housing authority.” (emphasis added)

 It is clear under Oregon law that two people on HADCO’s Board can be residents. Although local Public Housing Authority (PHA) boards may be made up of either five, seven or nine commissioners, nothing in the state law supports the contention that a five member PHA board can only have one resident. However, this is not all.

It is possible that Oregon law may be in conflict with federal code and regulation on this matter, but not because they are allowing two resident members instead of one, but because Oregon limits the number of residents at all. The non-discrimination provisions of 42 United States Code section dealing with this issue as well as the implementing regulations set out in Title 24 of the Code of Federal Regulation Section 964.430 specficially prohibit governing bodies from limiting the number of resident members who serve on the PHA board. Here is the language of the CFR:

24 CFR 964.430  Nondiscrimination.

    “(b) Residence status. A governing board may not prohibit any person from serving on the governing board because that person is a resident of a public housing project or is assisted under section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C. 1437f). (emphasis added)

 Federal law and regulation are unambiguous about this issue and  limiting the number of residents who serve on HADCO’s Commission is not allowed. Yet that is what has happened in this recent appointment.  None of the three residents who applied or reapplied were even considered for the position in direct violation of federal law.

 HADCO Board Recommendation:

 Next is the issue of the assertion that the HADCO Board of Commissioners recommended Ron Weir. This is blatantly and unequivocally a misrepresentation of the truth, at least regarding the current HADCO Board. 

The current HADCO Board was never given any opportunity to consider the current applicants.  I have confirmed that at least one HADCO Commission member was never informed that the Douglas County Commissioners had contacted HADCO regarding their input.  I would hazard to guess that neither were any of the other three. 

It is my understanding that communication between DC Commission staff and HADCO staff led the Douglas County Commissioners to believe that the current HADCO Commission had recommended Ron Weir fill the vacant seat.  

To be clear, not only did the current board of HADCO not consider the current pool of applicants to fill Mr. Oberholzer’s seat, no one on the current HADCO Commission had anything to do with the appointment process or making any recommendations in the prior selection process in April.  So not one person on the HADCO Board made any recommendation regarding this appointment at any time, nor were they involved in the recommendation process now or in April. 

 Further, the recommendation of Mr. Weir in April came from only two former HADCO Commissioners, Sharon Blodgett and Herm Oberholzer. During the process last time, only three HADCO Commissioners participated in interviewing and making recommendations.  Besides Blodgett and Oberholzer, former HADCO Commissioner Joy Mayorga participated. However, even she did not agree with the recommendations made by the other two.  It is my understanding that she sent a letter to you at the time expressing that she did not concur with Blodgett & Oberholzer’s recommendation of Mr. Weir and why. 

Although the issue that you appointed Mr. Weir even if he was not recommended or even considered by the current HADCO Board is a problem and should be a serious enough error that you reconsider his appointment to the HADCO Commission, the issue that may require you to do so is the fact that your actions rejected residents from even being considered for the position in direct violation of federal law. CEA encourages you to act immediately to correct this grievous error. Tomorrow’s DC commission meeting is not too soon.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

 Sincerely,

 Betsy Cunningham

Citizens Education & Advocacy

1464 E. Central Ave.

Sutherlin, OR 97479

Telephone: (541) 459-4077

 

Copy follow up CEA email to Douglas County Commissioners 10/7/09

October 7, 2009 

Dear Douglas County Commissioners:

This is a follow up to an email I sent you September 15, 2009 regarding your most recent appointment to the HADCO Board of Commissioners.  I was wondering if you are going to do something to address the fact that your body summarily rejected residents from consideration residents in direct violation of federal law thereby discriminating against them.  I had some hope that I would have heard that you move to rescind Mr. Weir’s appointment in order to appropriately consider the three residents who applied by now, but since I have not heard that this has happened, I will assume it has not.

Although I understand that you might believe that you were not the cause of this happening because you relied upon your staff who communicated with HADCO staff regarding this, but I cannot totally accept this.   From my perspective there is some inherent responsibility to understand the rules that govern who you can appoint to any body and the rules regarding this are readily available.  Reliance upon HADCO staff given the history of this organization is questionable. 

It is my understanding that because the last monthly meeting of the HADCO Board of Commissioners was cancelled, Mr. Weir has not yet been sworn into his position.  This might make this the prime time for you to act.  After all, you are the only ones who can.

Thank you for your assistance.

Betsy Cunningham

Citizens Education & Advocacy

(541) 459-4077

Copy letter recommendation from HADCO Executive Director Dolly Newman to DC Commissioners 

Sorry, there were problems uploading or copy the letter, which is in pdf format.  When we resolve the issue it will be posted here.  If you want a copy now, please email us at: cea2day@yahoo.com.

thank you!

Healthcare Access Debate

It seems as though everyone has an opinion when comes to what many deem the health care debate. This terminology seems to be a bit of a misnomer because what we are really discussing is access to health care. We are talking about is how to pay for health care and how we ensure that all Americans have financial access to our system. One of the things that really needs to be a bigger part of the discussion is the role that insurance companies play in denying people access to the system. We need to look at whether they provide any valuable service or are just part of the problem because they add another level of expense to health care access yet give little, if anything, in return.

 

If you click on the link below, you will see that the CEO of WellPoint, one of the largest insurance companies in the country, makes over nine million dollars a year. When we see this kind of compensation, we should be asking ourselves how companies could afford to pay that much money to their CEO’s. Sadly, the answer is simply that they do so because they are not giving people the care they are promised when they pay their premiums. By taking care of their CEO and other high paid staff, they are almost ensuring there is not enough money to take care of you.

 

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKXWP2HuxGE

What Has Happened to Our Constitutional Rights?

While doing some research regarding internet resources about the Constitution, I came accross this Democracy Now broadcast from 2008 regarding how our rights are under threat from those in power. 

http://www.livevideo.com/video/walkinturtle2u/920E328187934BFEAAC1E697DAD66BBC/rand-corporation-penned-the-ho.aspx

Constitution Day

Thursday September 17 is Consitution Day and Citizenship Day.  We are celebrating the 222nd anniversay of the adoption of the U.S. Constitution by the Contential Congress in 1987.  It took adoption by 9 states for the Constitution to become law, which happened by June of 1988.  

Check out our website for some fun videos about the Constitution, as well as links to other resources: CEA webiste

Check out this link to the U.S. Department of Defense website that explains the law passed by Congress earlier this decade requiring federal agencies and federally funded schools to teach about the Constitution this time of year.  From the DoD website you can access a video of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor explaining the meaning of the Constitution. http://constitutionday.cpms.osd.mil/

Happy Labor Day!

On this Labor Day take some time to remember that the reason we have as high a standard of living as we do is because of those who joined together, fought for and won workers’ rights to better wages and working conditions through collective bargaining.   Dispelling the long touted myth that each of us has a independent freedom that will get us what each of us is worth in the workplace, unions have demonstrated the reality that those who joined together to negotiate wages and working conditions are directly responsible for what we all have today.   It may not seem to be much at times, but it has always been better than the alternative.

 A good way to observe Labor Day, while enjoying the BBQ or last picnic of the summer, is to listen to some labor songs.  You can get them free from the internet right now.  Just go to American Labor Studies Center Website then link and listen to Pete Seeger’s and the Weavers perform Solidarity for Ever on Utube.  You can also enjoy such labor songs as Joe Hill, John Henry,  Which Side Are You On and one of my favorites  No Irish Need Apply, plus others by downloading them and saving to your computer.  http://www.labor-studies.org/laborsongs.php .  You can also get song lyrics to these and other labor songs well as a lot of other good information about labor history.  Listen to Judy Collins sing the classic labor rendition of Bread and Roses at http://music.aol.com/song/bread-and-roses/2988086.

 Want to learn more about what labor has done to improve our lives?  Check out the Labor Heritage Foundation at www.laborheritage.org .  You can find an Inventory of American Labor Landmarks and other interesting information here.   Also take a look at the History Channel’s website site about labor history: http://www.history.com/content/laborday/labor-history/labor-day-history.

 After the BBQ is over and you want to relax with a good movie, here are some good Labor Day picks that you can see tonight if you are lucky enough to subscribe to Netflix and have high speed internet.  Who does not love the Grapes of Wrath?  This movie was based on the classic John Steinbeck novel about the poverty during the depression and it demonstrates what life was like for many before the growth of the American labor movement.  Norma Rae is a great move that will make everyone proud to be a factory worker.  How Green Is My Valley is a classic movie from 1941 about the life of Welch coal miners.  F.I.S.T stars Sylvester Stallone in this union drama set in a 1930’s factory.   Other movies available with a labor or union theme from Netflix on DVD are:  A Day Without Mexican’s, 10,000 Black Men Named George, Fired, Bread and Roses, North Country, The Molly Mcguires, On the Waterfront, Hoffa, Silkwood and Bound for Glory. 

 So enjoy the rest of Labor Day but don’t forget why we have it so good in the country even in tough economic times.

 
Take care,

Reason Herm Obholzer Claims He Resigned from HADCO Board of Commissioners

Herm Letter of Resignation

 

 

The above is a copy of the letter of resignation that former HADCO Commissioner Herm Oberholzer submitted to the Douglas County Commissioners. 

As usual Herm’s interpretation of facts is different than others.  He seems to have a tendancy to either misunderstand information presented to him or he chooses to outright lie.  He also has a gift for leaving out information that is harmful to him. 

Here is an example:  The meeting he claims was out of control was.  However, he takes no responsiblity for it being so.  It was a direct result of him taking control of the chairmanship by molopizing the discussion with accusations aimed at his fellow board member of wrong doing that did not even exist.  He continued in this vein until two of his fellow board members had to leave.  Then started again on making inaccurate claims about another’s conduct until HADCO Commissioner Jamie Sanchez also left the meeting depriving him of a quorum, target or audience. 

It was after his fellow commissioners refused to support his attack on HADCO Commissioner Sanchez that Oberholzer decided to resign.  There is an audio recording of the meeting that is public record.  Review of this is more likely to support our recollection of what happened than his.

Given the problems caused by his presence on the HADCO Board, resigning is the best thing Herm could ever do for his community besides stay home and enjoy his retirement.

HADCO and the People of Douglas County Have Something to Celebrate!

Although I do not have all the details, it is my understanding that Herm Oberholzer tendered his resignation from the Housing Authority of Douglas County Oregon Board of Commissioners to Douglas County Commissioner Susan Morgan yesterday. 

Now maybe HADCO can move on from all the termoil that has been too much a part of this government entity for too long and focus on improving and increasing our affordable housing stock.

Take care,

HADCO HARPIE HARRANGS! Yes It is about Herm Again.

Yesterday at the monthly meeting of the Housing Authority of Douglas County Board of Commissioners, their Chair Herm Oberholzer revealed that he and the Executive Director have been working behind the scenes to get a legal opinion from their attorney at Harrang and Long (a law firm in Portland) supporting their desire to remove HADCO Commissioner Jamie Sanchez from her short stint on the Commission.

Although the lawyer clearly said NO!, Oberholzer spent a good majority of the meeting harraning his fellow Commissioner Sanchez anyway. 

The reason is Commissioner Sanchez declined to sign a pledge to her fellow commissioners that is a creature of some association, but has nothing to do with a Commissioners legal obligations.  Although Commissioner Sanchez believes that many of the things outlined in the HADCO Commissioners Pledge can give guidance to how board members might interact with each other, She and CEA have seen former HADCO Commissioner Sharon Blodgett and current HADCO Chair Herm Oberholzer attempt to use it to try to intimidate their former fellow commissioner Joy Mayorga into waiving her rights as a resident.   Also, the bottom line is that the only thing a public housing authority commissioner in Oregon must do is pledge to uphold the Oregon and U.S. Constitutions, which Commissioner Sanchez did at her first board meeting when she took her oath of office. 

It was clear at the meeting that the legal opinion they got from their attorney at Harrang and Long was that Commissioner Sanchez had no legal obligation or duty to sign anything, including the Pledge that Commissioner Oberholzer so badly wants her to do. 

It was also perfectly clear that Herm ordered an investigation into getting rid of his fellow Commissioner without having told any of his fellow Commissioners that he was doing this.  Oberholzer apparently instructed the Executive Director to contact HADCO attorney to see what they could do about Ms. Sanchez and if they could get her off the Commissioner if she did not sign.  Although Oberholzer knew the attorney told him and Dolly Newman that HADCO could not remove a fellow commissioner or ask the appointing body to do so, he spent so much time at yesterdays meeting discussing the matter that two of the Commissioners had to leave. 

HADCO Commissioners Chris Spens inquired about what event caused the HADCO Chair to go after this issue and go to the Board’s attorney.  The response given by Oberholzer is was that Commissioner Sanchez had shared some public business with a member of CEA, a “activist group”.    However Oberholzer was not even aware of this before he had the Executive Director contact HADCO’s attorney.   It was clear from the communication that Commissioner Oberholzer was using taxpayer money to create a witch hunt to go after a peer he disagrees with. 

HADCO’s other new Commissioner Jody Ahlstedt read into the record the attorney opinion that fellow Commissioner Sanchez had not violated any law and there was no grounds to remove her from office.   She also got confirmation from Dolly Newman that was the legal opinion of the lawyers. 

Commissioner Sanchez asked under what authority Oberholzer contacted HADCO’s legal council about the issue without full board approval.  Herm responded that he was the chair and could do it on his own authority or some such misconception of his authority.  Unfortunately, the matter of Chair Oberholzer using his position as HADCO Board of Commissioners Chair to contact their attorney for a legal opinion that the board had never discussed did not get dealt with because two of the Commissioners had to leave.  

With only a quorum left, Commissioner Sanchez asked for clear directive and understanding that the Excutive Director is not to take directions from the Chair without board approval, and that the Chair is not to act on his own to ask for an attorney opinion or she was going to leave because not going to allow the harangue from Herm to continue.  

At that point, Herm tabled the item without anyone’s consent–the meeting was over.

Should this guy be HADCO chair?  Should this guy be on the HADCO Commission at all?

Luckily for the public, this meeting was audio recorded, so we will post the portions dealing with this issue after we get a copy.

Enough for now.

 Take care,

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:

 “From: granny509@msn.com
To: dnewman@hadcor.org
CC: Chris@drtf.org; djones@romtec.com; hermoberholzer@hotmail.com; info@umpquarivers.com
Subject: Housing for Marcus Meyer & family
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2008 13:11:30 -0800

Dolly,

 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?

 Joy”

 _____________________

 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

To: J MAYORGA

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.
 
Respectfully,
 
Herm”

{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:

 “From: granny509@msn.com
To: hermoberholzer@hotmail.com
CC: dnewman@hadcor.org; chris@drtf.org; djones@romtec.com; info@umpquarivers.com
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

To: J MAYORGA

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.
 
Respectfully,
 
Herm”

 Here is Commissioner Mayorga’s final reply:

 “From: J MAYORGA

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

Where Public Officials Loyalty Should Be

When a member of the community puts themselves forward to volunteer to serve on a committee or board, what responsibilities and loyalties do they really have? Although I readily admit to a limited amount of knowledge on how all other boards work, even before I was appointed to HADCO’s board, I had a fairly good handle on how they operated from my years of appearing before the body as a resident and a citizen. However, I was not prepared for the question of where a commissioner’s loyalty lies. It seems as though some of my fellow commissioners think I owe more, or as much, loyalty to them as I do to the taxpayers who fund the program and the citizens of our community that benefit from the opportunity to have safe, affordable housing.

I firmly believe that this attitude is not the right one. When you are appointed or elected to serve your government, your loyalty should be to the public at large, not the government body you are serving on. I do not believe that the job of a public official is to show unquestioned loyalty to the government or any agency of the government. It is the job of a public official to provide the accountability for and to the public. If you are serving the public, then it is your job to question what you are being told, seek out additional sources of information, and go against the agency and your fellow public officials, and if necessary,  be able to stand-alone when ensuring you are fulfilling your fiduciary responsibility.

As a HADCO Commisssioner, I am interested in hearing from the public and residents about any questions, concerns, or comments you have about HADCO. Please feel free to contact me at – jamie4hadco@gmail.com .

Jamie

Thoughts from and on HADCO Commissioner Herm Oberholzer part one

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?

Video Recordings of County Commissioner Meetings

Open, transparent government should be something that we the people and them, meaning our elected or appointed officials, work towards. Although we often see issues polarized to the left or the right, ensuring our government works for us knows no political or ideological side. One of the ways our county commissioners have done this in the last few years is to have video feed of their weekly meetings. Lately, the value of this video has come into question. We have heard that it cost too much money and that the main people watching it are our county employees on county time. While we will admit that the latter fact does raise some issues, we are also concerned that the county might also be too hasty in taking away a valuable service for us the people. We believe that the cameras have provided valuable insight and much needed transparency. Sure audio recordings will allow people to still hear the meetings; however, we loose something of the communication when we can not see the facial expressions and body language of the commissioners. If money is an issue, why doesn’t the county look at other cost cutting measures associated with the cost of the video cameras?  We have a community college that has students that are studying to work in computer and other related digital fields. Have we asked these students if they would like to earn their cooperative work experience credits by running these video feeds for the county? Additionally, we have recently been informed that students at Roseburg High School have the option to take video classes. Why don’t we ask these students if they would be interested in helping with the video feed? Have we have asked the community at large if they would like to volunteer to help the county run the cameras? Before we turn the cameras off and cut off this resource, we should take a long, hard look at what we are really loosing and work towards solutions that allow us to keep the cameras on during these hard economic times.    

 

 

Jamie

Welcome to Citizens News

Citizens News is a creation of a group of residents (Citizens Education & Advocacy or CEA) of Douglas County, Oregon.  CEA’s Citizens News blog hopes to bring issues about local civic life including issues that deal with defense of civil liberties and open accountable government.  CEA believes that government must provide for the common good of all people not just a few.  CEA believes that the best place to get and keep accountable government is to start at the local level.  This blog will deal with issues citizens encounter while fulfilling our civic duty by being an informed public citizen.

We welcome any comments about civic life here in Douglas County Oregon and elsewhere.  We welcome civil civic discourse and dialogue about issues.

Take care,