DEC 1998 ** VOL 98-12
DUES AND NEWSLETTER $5.00 PER YEAR, $10 PER FAMILY. GIFTS TAX DEDUCTIBLE.
JOHN TAFT President, 479-0645
RAY QUIRING Editor, 479-6741
News, commentary, opinion and satire. The opinions expressed in this newsletter have not necessarily been endorsed by the JCTA board-of-directors. Compiled and written by Investigative Reporter John Taft.
News and Viewpoint
LIGHTING STRIKES AGAIN AT JCTA DECEMBER OPEN PUBLIC MEETING. The dynamic duo are back with information that will rock the courthouse. Investigative Reporter Edward Snook will be there to discuss the December issue of the Oregon Observer and answer questions. Mr. Snook may have some startling new information regarding T.J. "Jack Burris" and other hot cases unfolding. Peter Sparacino has jolting facts regarding the land-use-code changes being proposed for Jo. Co. and their implications for residents. Every person in Jo Co should hear this story and how it could directly affect them. Is the county planning department rescheduling meetings waiting for a time when the public doesn't show up to question the land-use-code modifications? Don't miss this meeting even if you have to walk or call a taxi.
This major county event is scheduled for Thursday evening at 7 p.m. December 17, in room 156 in the Jo. Co. Courthouse.
RED HOT BARBECUE TICKETS NOW ON SALE FOR JCTA MEET AND GREET YOUR NEW COMMISSIONER AND SHERIFF. Mmmm good! Chicken or Rib barbecue by the Master Chef Jim Rossi. This is one barbecue you won't want to miss. The cost is only $10 a ticket and it's for members of JCTA only. The ticket includes the price of JCTA membership for one year and a 12 month subscription to the JCTA newsletter. Sheriff Dave Daniel will be there to say hello, and our new Commissioner Frank Iverson will be extending a friendly greeting to all.
This extravaganza is being held in the Flower Building at the Josephine County Fairgrounds on January 14, 1999. The time is set for 6 p.m. For more information contact Jack Harelson 479-2906, John Taft 479-0645, Jim Rossi 476-2698, or any JCTA board member. Selected stores including Friendly Motors, The Bargain Spot, and Frost Boats will have tickets for sale. No tickets will be sold at the door. Members Only Barbecue.
COUNTY JUDGE INCURS PUBLIC'S Wrath. During the T.J. Burris trial Judge J. Lloyd O'Neal appears to have violated the Oregon Code of Judicial Conduct. I cite the incident in which he threatened to jail some individuals in the audience during the sentencing of Mr. Burris. I'm told there was some whispering taking place by a couple hard-of-hearing loggers trying to make out what the judge was saying. The judge refuses to use his microphone and insists upon making it difficult for visitors in the courtroom to hear him. Instead of acting like a gentleman he raised his voice and threatened, "That's a good way to go to jail! Who wants to go to jail?" Apparently enjoying his intimidating tactics he then added, "Are there any volunteers?" I'm ashamed of you, judge, and that you're a judge representing the good people of Josephine County.
Judge O'Neal should take the time to read Oregon Code of Judicial Conduct and follow it. "Section JR 2-110(A) states A judge shall be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, court personnel and members of the public." It's time to make an apology to the community for your behavior, judge. Perhaps you weren't feeling well that day?
A TIP OF THE TAXPAYER'S CAP AND A WAG OF THE FINGER AT THE DAILY COURIER. I would like to commend Editor Dennis Roler for the controversial letters that he prints in the letters-to-the-editor section of the paper. The letters-to-the-editor are an open forum without censorship.
On December 3, 1998, Editor Dennis Roler's Opinion column had this headline, "Buyer, beware: "Internet peddles baloney as fact." In his second point to authenticate his headline, he chided a popular area website which included Commissioner Borngasser and toxic waste in the same arena. The Website editor did not claim this to be fact. This information was presented to the public for information purposes only. The Courier Editor also complained, "But the rumor made it into the newsletter of a group often critical of county government ..." Again the story made no accusations, but allowed the reader to come to his own conclusions. Can Editor Roler guarantee that no toxic waste plants will ever be established in Jo. Co.? The second part of the editor's statement reads, "A group often critical of county government." These words have a familiar ring to them, and they appeared in an editorial board endorsement for Commissioner Borngasser. The owner of the paper and some reporters appear to be overly sensitive to any type of activism, or criticism of county government, that could and has changed the status quo. Why? The editorial board of the Daily Courier appears to hold a grudge against Commissioner Frank Iverson because he defeated, by a wide margin, the candidate it endorsed. My guess is they will attempt to discredit him in print. But remember, while websites "peddle baloney," some newspapers push their owner's biased agenda.
JCTA OPPOSES ANY CHANGES TO PUBLIC MEETING ROOM 156 IN THE JO.CO. COURTHOUSE. Nonprofit organizations and other groups have used this public meeting place for many years. The Ann Basker Auditorium now is the fair haired child of the county commissioners. The microphones were recently removed from room 156 for use in the auditorium. Even the comfortable swivel chairs were removed. I understand next on the commissioners' agenda is taking part of room 156 for more office space.
Room 156 has been and should continue to be a meeting room for citizen groups that wish to meet there. After all, we all pay our property taxes and many of us get very little in return from county government. To have a public meeting room that holds at least 50 people in the courthouse is not out of the question. To reduce the size or eliminate the room is. The Ann Basker Auditorium has a hefty fee $50 attached to the rental of it and is too large for many organizations.
JCTA finds that reducing the size of the room is not acceptable. The commissioners took the microphones, swivel chairs, the American flag, and the waste baskets. Fortunately the florescent light fixtures, the doors, a table and some folding chairs are still there.
If anything else disappears from room 156, it will be considered an act of war.
COUNTY PLANNING DEPARTMENT TURNS INTO SNEAKY SNAKE? Singer Tom T. Hall had a hit novelty song, some years ago, called Sneaky Snake. The song said that when you weren't looking Sneaky Snake would drink all your Root Beer. The County Planning Department wants to make some changes to the land use code that leaves the door open for "Sneaky Snake" to change some key wording and interpret what is written in the land-use-code. This leaves the door wide open to interpretation of what the code means. Different people looking at the same code could interpret it differently. This is one reason it is extremely important that concerned citizens attend all the land-use-meetings scheduled by the county planning department. The complexion of the land-use-issue will change in the months to come with the most likely coalition of Commissioner's Brock and Iverson following a new path. Commissioner's Haugen and Borngasser's coalition is now dead! But, their legacy will continue to exist into the future.
Soil remediation is just one of the many sneaky snakes Medusa had for hair. If you looked into her eyes you would be turned to stone. No doubt, now you would be considered an aggregate resource.
Now is the time to ask a few questions: What does the planning department really have in mind for soil remediation in Josephine County? Are they working towards satisfying the desires of certain large companies that wish to process contaminated soils in Jo.Co.? How far are they willing to take soil remediation? What kind of remediation? Biological? Nuclear? Which chemicals? The planning department already has a reputation with some county residents as being skilled in the art of directing attention away from what is actually taking place. Is Sneaky Snake going to come through the door and drink all our root beer?
Check Commissioner Iverson's webpage for more information on this subject. http://www.cpros.com/~hifi/
JCTA ELECTS BOARD MEMBERS. John Taft was reelected to another year as president of the organization. Three new board members were also elected, Melanie Gonzales, Nancy Garrison, and Jake Garrison. Congratulations and welcome aboard. There will be lots of work to do in the year before the millennium. We also acknowledge all our new members and invite you to attend our open public meetings.
AX POISED TO FALL ON SHERIFF ELECT'S 1999 BUDGET. The arrival of the 1999 funds to operate the sheriff's department may arrive on crutches, or at worst be delivered on a stretcher, if present rumors are correct. O&C funds have dropped again and budget cuts could reach a million dollars. Also a number of employees in the sheriff's department haven't had a raise in five years. During this time deputies have forgone a raise in trade for more deputies on the payroll. The cost of the raises would appear to amount to $200 to $400 thousand dollars. Union policy may change this time around, and they will go for the pay hike. If the funds are not supplemented, this would reduce the number of deputies by perhaps 10-12. That's the same number of deputies to be added to the department because of the grant Sheriff Calvert obtained.
The people of Josephine County didn't elect Dave Daniel to be handcuffed by the Budget Committee or the County Commissioners. If cuts are made, they need to look elsewhere for the money. Possibly there should be across the board cuts in budgets for all county departments. The people have repeatedly told the commissioners good law enforcement is their number one priority for Josephine County. Mental Health fares far better than county police protection.
THE DECEMBER OREGON OBSERVER'S FRONT PAGE STORY ON T. J. "JACK" BURRIS HAMMERS CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IN JO. CO. Investigative Reporter Edward Snook conducts an indepth investigation into the local district attorney's prosecution of T. J. Burris. Mr. Snook singles out each of the following individuals: Oregon State Police Investigator John Anderson, Deputy Prosecutor Jody Vaughn, and Judge J. Lloyd O'Neal. He discusses the role each one played in the prosecution of an "Innocent grandfather."
Mr. Snook builds a case showing that T. J. Burris didn't have a fair trial and is not guilty as charged. The District Attorney's Office needs to reply with answers that either acknowledge Mr. Snook is right or make a rebuttal to the allegations. The public is very interested and concerned that anyone might be charged with unfounded accusations.
JCTA OPEN PUBLIC MEETING A SMASHING SUCCESS IN NOVEMBER. Every chair was occupied and a number of individuals were out in the hall listening to dynamic speakers Peter Sparacino and Edward Snook. Mr Snook, an Investigative Reporter for the Oregon Observer, discussed the T.J. "Jack" Burris case. Mr. Snook's investigative report can be found as the lead story in the December issue of the Oregon Observer. Mr. Sparacino, an Editor and Webpage Master http://budget.net/~primrose/catalog.htm discussed jury contamination that he believed occurred during the Burris trial.
HAVE YOUR EVER WONDERED IF YOUR PHONE LINE IS TAPPED? Would any of our sitting county judges sign an order to do this? Last week on December 1, I sent an e-mail to District Attorney Tim Thompson asking him the following questions: Have you ever used evidence obtained by a phone tap in Josephine County? Mr. Thompson replied, "In my experience with the DA's Office since 1981, we have never applied for a wiretap." Another knowledgeable prosecutor said that, He is unaware of any such activities by Josephine County law enforcement agencies. Mr. Thompson said, "I don't know about any federal wiretap activities, or the frequency of usage by federal agencies."
If you think your phone has a wiretap on it, apparently it's not local law enforcement. It might be somebody from the FBI or BATF? Maybe big brother is keeping a watchful eye on you?
"Do your investigators use phone taps to acquire evidence?" The District Attorney replied, "I don't have any investigators and rely on personnel from law enforcement agencies." I understand that the DA's Office doesn't have investigators, but uses investigators from other police agencies. I used the term meaning the prosecutors work with the investigator and possibly direct them in obtaining the type of evidence the prosecutor is seeking.