The fight over vehicle registration fees in Clackamas County has been going on for a very long time now, in some form or another. And throughout the last decade, I have consistently said people have a right to vote for new taxes or fees. sided with the people of this county in opposing it.
A previous board of commissioners had approved a vehicle registration fee in December 2010. The worst part of the proposal? The funds raised through it were going to be used to replace the Sellwood Bridge—which is located in Multnomah County. That’s right; Clackamas County voters were going to be paying more to register their cars to pay for a bridge in a county they don’t live in.
The fee was scheduled to start in 2012. But before that could happen, though, understandably outraged residents circulated a petition to force a vote on it. They obtained the required number of valid signatures to put it on the May 2011 ballot.
Clackamas County voters soundly rejected the vehicle registration fee 63 to 36 percent. Around 31,000 residents supported it, but over 53,000 opposed it. The voters had spoken loudly and clearly. Apparently, they weren’t interested in paying higher vehicle registration fees to fund a bridge located in another county.
I joined those residents in opposing that proposal from the very beginning. In fact, I think that issue was among those that helped get me elected to the board of commissioners in the November 2012 general election.
Flash forward four years from then, after the 2016 election. The board of commissioners and its chair position had changed, bringing with them a whole new set of priorities. And even though county voters had overwhelmingly stood against the vehicle registration fee, the board decided to bring it back. This time, it was done without any public involvement.
As was the case years before, I was against it. I also suspected that the majority of county voters who voted against it probably hadn’t changed their minds.
I was so unhappy with the high-tax, high-spending approach of that county board and its chair that I ran for the chairmanship position last year. Voters agreed with my positions and I won outright in the May 2020 primary election.
Part of my platform was my consistent opposition to the vehicle registration fee and a commitment to having it repealed.
I recently brought the fee before my fellow commissioners in the hopes that they would agree with me and the majority of the citizens they represent. Much to my disappointment, most of my fellow board members wanted to maintain the status quo of having the fee in place. I even gave them the chance to have it referred to voters again, just like it had been almost ten years ago to the day. They weren’t willing to do that.
To me, the most important function of a commissioner’s job is to listen to the people of the county. If the residents voted to keep the vehicle registration fee, I would support that stance.
It isn’t too late for us to bring this fee up for a vote. But I need your help convincing my fellow commissioners.
If you want my fellow commissioners to give you a vote on repealing the vehicle registration, email firstname.lastname@example.org. I will work to ensure that your voice is heard on this, and all other matters. Hopefully, the rest of the board will eventually agree.
24 February 2021
Have We Learned Our Lesson?
Forest management has been one of the most contentious issues in Oregon since the 1990s. The timber industry that helped build this state was maligned under the guise of protecting the endangered spotted owl. That industry became more and more restricted over time, with environmental groups claiming a series of victories along the way.
However, the reality of what has taken place in the decades since paints a completely different picture than what those groups were trying to portray. First, perhaps most obviously, was the economic devastation of our rural communities. The promises of “ecotourism” replacing the family wage mill jobs never panned out. Tax bases for the government agencies serving those areas never recovered or made up for the lost revenue.
Many of Oregon’s rural counties were funded for decades with timber revenue. They struggled to make up for it because much of their landscape is federal forest lands that are exempt from taxation. The band-aid solution that was offered was to give those counties federal payments to make up for the loss. Although that kept those counties afloat, it did nothing to stimulate the private sector or diversify their shattered economies.
So how about the spotted owl? Did their numbers magically recover, as was promised? Is that species now more vibrant and thriving than it was back then?
Sadly, no. It turned out that the spotted owl’s declining numbers were largely due to the barred owl and had less to do with logging and forest activities.
But in many respects, the damage had already been done by the time any of this became obvious. The well-being of that endangered species was used as an excuse to kick human beings out of the forests. Management practices that had sustained our forests for generations were abandoned in favor of a hands-off approach. How well has that worked? Well, I believe the results speak for themselves, and are utterly disastrous.
We now have a status quo in which thousands of acres are allowed to burn needlessly for largely political reasons. The smoke from those fires drifts into surrounding communities and causes hazardous air conditions, especially for our most elderly residents.
Catastrophic wildfires are ultimately bad for the environment and endanger animal habitats. They put lives at risk, and the costs of fighting them are growing exponentially over time.
Many of Oregon’s worst wildfires have taken place in the more rural, remote parts of the state. However, what we’ve seen in recent years is fires closer to its heavily populated metropolitan areas. The same kind of wildfire smoke that has adversely affected air quality in Southern Oregon for years made it to our backyard last summer. Fires got close enough that we had residents evacuated in Clackamas County and were at risk of losing some of our communities.
Enough is enough. It’s obvious that what we’ve been doing for the past few decades isn’t working, and it’s past time to start doing something else. Hopefully, we can learn some lessons from our recent history and start taking a different approach before it’s too late.
10 February 2021
Freefall from the Free-For-All
A simple drive on the freeway through Portland and the sight of all its homeless camps confirms what many have suspected for a long time—the tendency in this state towards the legalization of drugs has come with tremendous consequences for individuals, families and all of society.
My fear is that the passage of Measure 110 in last November’s general election will only further exacerbate the problem.
Dubbed by its sponsors as the “Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative,” Measure 110 passed with around 58 percent of the vote, with over 1.3 million Oregonians electing to support it. The measure’s supporters raised $6 million for their campaign, while opponents were only able to raise $167,000.
Prominent figures who came out against the measure included Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote and former Governor John Kitzhaber, who had worked for years as an emergency room physician in Roseburg. Kitzhaber said that Measure 110 “makes it more difficult to treat the underlying addiction that leads to drug use in the first place.” Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton predicted that its passage will “lead to increased crime and increased drug use.”
Under the measure, personal, non-commercial possession of a controlled substance will be no more than a Class E violation carrying a maximum fine of $100. It includes schedule I-IV substances like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Even worse, the changes to the law under the measure now allow for possession of one gram or less of heroin, two grams or less of cocaine and meth, less than one gram or five pills of MDMA, less than 12 grams of psilocybin, less than 40 units of methadone and less than 40 pills, tablets or capsules of oxycodone.
Possession of the same drugs had been a Class C misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a fine of up to $6250. Fortunately, manufacturing and distribution of those same drugs will remain a criminal penalty.
In lieu of paying a fine, offenders will have the option of completing a health assessment through the addiction recovery centers created by the measure’s passage. That assessment must include a substance use disorder screening conducted by a certified drug and alcohol counselor within 45 days of the violation.
The drug addiction treatment and recovery program will be funded in part by marijuana tax revenue and the projected savings from having fewer people in prison for drug-related crimes. All revenue to the state’s marijuana account over $11.25 million will be required to be transferred to the Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund (DTRSF) every quarter before being transferred to any other areas. This means that there will be a reduction of marijuana revenue distributed to cities and counties.
A minimum of $57 million in annual funding, adjusted for inflation, is now mandated to be provided by the Legislature to the DTRSF, although it’s estimated that the marijuana revenue diversion will be sufficient to fund it.
An Oversight Accountability Council will be established by the director of the Oregon Health Authority and will give grants from the DTRSF to government or community-run organizations to create addiction recovery centers. Those centers will then be required to provide medical or other treatment 24 hours a day, assessments, intervention plans, case management and peer support.
The recover centers in each Coordinated Care Organization service area are mandated to be established by October 1.
A legislative committee has been assigned to work on the measure’s implementation. My hope is that the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Ballot Measure 110 Implementation will consider the consequences of this measure over the next few months as it works on turning it into a functioning law.
Ultimately, there are direct connections between many of the same issues that are causing problems on the streets of Portland. Property crime, mental illness, homelessness and drug addiction are all related. Hopefully, our elected legislators will be able to implement this ill-advised ballot measure in such a way that it will not further erode the quality of life of all Oregonians.
13 November 2020
A Thanksgiving Reboot
By Tootie Smith
Growing up on a generational farm in south Clackamas County, our Thanksgivings were filled with food, family and football. My mother was a cook extraordinaire. Our small flock of relatives traveled to our farmhouse not so much for the delight of being with each other as it was for my mother’s cooking. That was always the hook.
My mother spread the love with her cooking and service to her extended family as each person would depart with leftovers. Behavior was always important to our parents and we kids were strictly forbidden from fighting or disagreeing on discussion topics or become lazy when it came time to wash the multiple sets of China and fancy silverware that mom insisted we use for these occasions.
One of my favorite stories about Thanksgiving came from my father. He grew up on a turkey farm during the depression where his family ate turkey all the time. He hated turkey. My mother loved turkey and considered it a treat. Each Thanksgiving, my father would dutifully eat his turkey after he meticulously carved the perfectly prepared bird. He did this because it gave my mother great joy. For him it meant more to see my mom happy than it did to adhere to his own dislike of turkey. It wasn’t until I became an adult, did I realize this. The lesson of love was not lost on me as I marveled at how my dad could stomach a food he found distasteful.
Moving forward to this year of 2020 with so many firsts and divisions among family, friends, and social media folks, I see a lot of behaviors that my family would not tolerate. The lesson my father taught me was you can accomplish whatever you want to with enough determination. He taught me that just because you have a certain belief system, that it does not mean it is always absolute especially if it hurts another person. He ate the turkey he disliked.
Today, my observation is many people are tightly adhering to their belief systems as if life itself depended on it. We are living in troubled times of Covid-19, shutdowns and raging wildfires that destroyed homes and life. Couple that with our politicians acting like spoiled brats where us kids would have been taken to the woodshed for such behavior. (Oh by the way, we did have a woodshed.) I yearn for a return to the values I learned growing up. Today’s political divisions are so vast that I wonder if we can ever come together again and remember what is important.
If this sounds like a sentiment from a love child growing up in the 1960’s, so be it. Love and unity can fill hearts just as easily as hate and disagreement. Behavior is always a choice. My dad showed me how that works. It starts with the little things. It always starts small. He knew this and always ate the turkey. It was a small concession borne out of love for his wife and family. Peace was more important to my dad than whether he ate turkey, besides mom fixed about 20 dishes so he had a lot to eat.
Many factors have led up to the great divide of 2020 — the year people want to end and forget. But we must never forget because we must learn and evolve. The difficulties of 2020 offer us many lessons and experiences that can make or break us. The choice is ours. Let’s take a step back and breath. Love, kindness and compassion leads to understanding. Understanding will accomplish much more than a well-placed verbal barb, Molotov cocktail hurled during a protest, or even victory for your favorite political candidate.
Rising above what divides us will be a challenge. We must and will learn to adapt. I know this sounds quaint but, for 57 years of my life I didn’t think our Thanksgivings would ever end. For my family, the traditional yearly event came to a screeching halt on October 8, 2015, the day my mother died. I sunk. I lost my biggest fan, and my heart broke into pieces. What I wouldn’t give to relive just one more Thanksgiving with her.
Moving forward, my family adapted and changed in ways I never thought possible. Initially, there was a big divide among family members after her death. I grew to understand that it was my mother’s presence to calm the clan, to instill respect in our family unit and not my father’s. Mom’s love was missing, and the gap widened as our family fumed and fought. Dad remained silent on the sidelines just as he always did. Would our family ever learn to rise above, to instill those same values within ourselves and the future generations? It didn’t seem so. There was much at stake. Regretfully, some of those divisions still exist today. What I learned from the split in our tight knit family is that the only behavior one can control is our own. The expression “I am not my brother’s (or sister’s) keeper” comes to mind as I watched fights and disagreements arise that should have been extinguished. For some people, there was no returning, no going back to the way things were, and that is sad for me. I have observed a stubbornness to tightly held belief systems that I didn’t fully understand. I now see how that parallels society today. When a belief system does not include love or respect for other family members, it hurts all of us. That hurt often echoes out. I learned that each person, regardless of their position has a responsibility to give love. It’s not about what we get in return, it’s about what we give.
The great political divide in American today rivals many families as we all struggle for our own identities. America is now forming a new identity again as it did over 200 years ago when the founders formed our great union. Divisions seem to be the speak for the day as Covid keeps a grip on behavior and people highly relate with politics like never before.
The same year of mom’s death, delight came for me in a big way as I was rescued from trying to copy my mother’s superb cooking. Her grandchildren who spanned in ages from 20 to 30 years of age decided to take over the preparation of Thanksgiving dinner from the “adults.” The kids didn’t say why they wanted to cook, but I suspect they observed myself and my sibling’s grief as they decided to take over the leadership mantle. My sister offered up her brand-new kitchen and large dining room for the event as she did not like to cook. I was taken aback by the insistence from the grandkids to cook since I didn’t have high regard their abilities to prepare such a large meal, or any meal for that matter. But I remembered a lesson from my Aunt. She always accepted my wild ideas as a youth although I secretly knew she questioned them. She always supported me, for which I remain grateful. And I took that lesson from my Aunt and applied it to our new upcoming family Thanksgiving tradition.
As my family has now spent five Thanksgivings without the matriarch who made them great, I reflect upon our own Reboot. The third generation has taken on the responsibility and joy of preparing our Thanksgivings filled with food, family and football. Is the experience different? You bet it is. We use paper plates as mom’s China sits in the cupboard. Is the food the same as my mom’s? Of course not. But it’s still delicious with new recipes and a new style of doing what was old. My dad is still eating the turkey he dislikes because he always has.
What I gained in return is quite the lesson. What I learned from them was when you give love, it returns tenfold because people see it and they subconsciously need it. Our human conditions require it.
Looking outward, it’s hard to see a connectedness of minds or spirits in our socio/economic/political culture today. My parents shared love, but they also shared their dislike, or like of turkey, while keeping the family unit together. They never took their eyes off the ball or the bird of what was important in life.
It is indeed possible to make the world a better place and it starts and ends within our own hearts.
Tootie Smith has spent several decades serving in Oregon politics as a volunteer and elected official. Is a business owner, and author. She is the newly elected Chair of Clackamas County Commission.
21 May 2020
My Vision for Clackamas County and Its Future
The last few weeks that I’ve spent campaigning in person and online have given me the chance to think about what kind of future I would like to see for Clackamas County and its residents.
It’s important for leaders to have a road map in mind so they can set the right priorities and determine if progress is being made. Goals and benchmarks help guide the path forward.
My top priority right now would be to make sure that the county, and all of its businesses, are re-opened as quickly as safely as possible. The coronavirus crisis has shown how important it is for the county to be prepared for an emergency and have adequate reserve funds. I will help the county plan for those eventualities through my Federal Emergency Management Agency training.
Under my chairmanship, the county will be planning better for tomorrow’s challenges. That way, the next time a recession hits, the county government won’t have to make cuts or sacrifice services.
The county budget should be balanced without the need for additional tax burdens on our property owners, businesses, families and workers. I helped balance the state budget as a member of the Legislature’s Ways and Means Committee as we recovered from recession. This was done by prioritizing programs instead of raising taxes.
Ideally, the county should have a budget surplus. It did the last time I was county commissioner, and I will work to make sure that it does again.
I envision county residents being able to commute to work safely on well-maintained roads with adequate traffic capacity. I see the sheriff’s office funded responsibly enough to be well-staffed so that deputies are able to respond quickly to calls for service.
My vision includes courthouse facilities that the county leases with parking, elevators and Americans with Disabilities Act access already in place and that is easy for public transportation and vehicle traffic to get to.
I see strong, healthy, vibrant, diverse communities throughout Clackamas County that are independent of Portland and maintain their unique characters. They include everything from suburbs like West Linn, Happy Valley and Lake Oswego to smaller, more rural towns like Molalla, Sandy and Estacada.
I picture thriving main streets where merchants and neighbors know each other. I see small businesses that are locally owned and operated open their doors for tourists, visitors and residents alike. I envision people coming from all over the world to enjoy outdoor recreation in our majestic mountains and on our rivers.
I dream of seeing those same business owners feeling well-served by their county government, instead of constantly being asked to fund its bureaucracy and those of Metro. I see a county government that takes a responsive, proactive, customer service-based approach and puts its residents’ needs before those of itself, Metro and Portland.
This is what I have in mind and why I am running for chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners. I’m asking for your vote and for you to turn in your ballot by May 19.
20 May 2020
Tootie Smith takes Clackamas County Chair
MOLLALA, Ore. – Tootie Smith, former Clackamas County Commissioner, state legislator, and government accountability advocate, won Tuesday night’s Clackamas County Chair race against Jim Bernard.
She released the following statement:
“Thank you to the people of Clackamas County for their support and placing their trust in me. They sent a strong message tonight that they want a county government that is accountable to them.
We knew from the outset that this campaign would be an uphill battle. But we put in the work we needed to. We educated voters about the need for new leadership at the county level, and they listened.
But, this election was about the people of Clackamas County. In the coming months and years, we will be confronted with very difficult challenges on the public health and economic front from COVID-19, and I am glad I passed the voters test to tackle those with them. Homelessness, transportation, and affordability are all things we must also come together to solve. I am looking forward to getting to work for the people of Clackamas County and standing up for our communities.”
Every election is about choices, and the upcoming May 19 primary voters will never see a bigger contrast in two candidates.
Citizens decide every two or four years if they’re happy with their political leadership. If are, they stay the course and incumbents are re-elected. But if they aren’t, they decide it’s time for a change and new leaders take office.
Elections are never without consequences.
In 2016, voters took a chance on electing Jim Bernard as chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners. They gave him the benefit of the doubt and believed his campaign promises. So, what do we have to show for almost four years of Bernard’s chairmanship?
When Bernard took over as chair, the county’s budget was not only balanced, but it had a surplus. That was the result of my own personal efforts, and it was achieved without raising taxes on county residents.
As chair, Bernard also had the benefit of record revenues coming into county coffers. Instead of prudently managing those limited resources, Bernard decided the county government should rely more on consultants and pay them for all kinds of “special projects” that don’t benefit the average citizen.
The results of this approach have been predictably disastrous. They’ve led to the county’s budget being $20 million in deficit the last couple of years. Officials have called for a “rightsizing,” which is an acknowledgement that county government has grown beyond the means of properly funding it.
When I was on the Board of County Commissioners, Clackamas County residents were being asked to pay higher vehicle registration fees to pay for a bridge in Multnomah County. Our taxpayers were being put on the hook for bailing out a neighboring county because of its inability and unwillingness to maintain its own infrastructure. I took up the efforts to fight back, and we were successful. The people of Clackamas County stood up, said “no,” and were heard.
Under the chairmanship of Jim Bernard, county residents will see an increase in their vehicle registration fees. But it wasn’t due to a vote of the people. Rather, it’s due to a decision that was made behind closed doors without public input.
As county commissioner, I fought to make sure Clackamas County had its own unique identity that was independent of Portland and Metro. Jim Bernard has spent the last few years catering to interests representing those entities. In fact, he personally contributed money to the political action committee that is promoting Metro’s new income tax measure. Metro also billed the county $5,000 for campaign measures, essentially using your tax dollars to campaign for more tax dollars.
Not only is Jim Bernard personally contributing to this campaign—you are, too, through your tax dollars.
One of the reasons Bernard is able to contribute to campaigns to raise taxes is because his own personal property taxes have been reduced by almost one-third. Last year, Bernard, as chairman of the board of commissioners, successfully petitioned the county assessor’s office for the reduction. That office obliged. It’s surprising that he would need any tax relief, as he and his wife, a county department head, bring home over a quarter of a million dollars in taxpayer-funded salaries every year.
Over the years, Bernard has also been fined $12,000 for failing to report a campaign contribution and found guilty of abusing his position by the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. After he was found guilty, he fully intended to have county taxpayers pick up the tab for $20,000 in legal bills he incurred fighting the proven charge. Political pressure prompted his fellow commissioners to make Bernard pay his own attorney fees.
They say that that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. If that’s the case, then Clackamas County residents know what to expect from another four years of Jim Bernard as chair of the board of commissioners. It involves higher taxes for you, lower taxes for him, more consultants, more special projects, more billion-dollar boondoggles and questionable ethics on display. The big question is, have you had enough?
I’m running for chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners to give voters a clear choice. There is an alternative to the high tax, high spending policies that continue to undermine the prosperity of businesses, individuals and families in Clackamas County. I proudly stand behind my over two decades of public service as I ask for your support and your vote.
14 May 2020
My Closing Arguments
The May 19 primary election is just around the corner. Voter pamphlet statements have gone out, and people have received their ballots. Many have even turned them in by now. Yard signs are up, and so are field signs. Campaign websites are filled with content, candidate social media pages are active and voters’ mailboxes are flooded with election-related materials.
The coronavirus crisis is unprecedented in our elections, which means that we have to do things differently. It has limited the amount of grassroots, retail politicking that candidates can do. Gone are the handshakes, parades and town hall meetings. Instead, they’re replaced by virtual meetings broadcast over the internet.
These next few days are especially critical in my race for chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners. Since there are only two candidates, there will be no runoff in the November general election. It will all be decided on May 19.
I’ve been using all the available means over the past couple of months to make the case as to why I should replace Jim Bernard as the chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners. The biggest reason is that I feel the county is heading in the wrong direction under his “leadership” and I think I can do a better job.
As a former small business owner, two-term member of the Oregon House of Representatives and commissioner, I have the right experience. I was on the legislature’s Ways and Means Committee and helped balance budgets, even in difficult times. Under my leadership, Clackamas County’s budget had a surplus. It has been squandered in the years since and replaced with growing deficits.
Our residents are spending more time stuck in traffic on roads that haven’t been maintained, while billion-dollar, fixed route light rail boondoggles continue to be forced on them. Homelessness from Portland is making its way to our communities, due to decades of public policies that make housing less affordable for working people. But instead of focusing on these problems, Bernard has called for higher taxes to pay more consultants for “special projects” that do not benefit county residents.
These problems have been perpetuated and made worse over time, and no amount of tax dollars going to the county, or Metro, is going to make them better. It’s been a matter of misplaced priorities and reckless spending that I intend to put a stop to.
Instead of incurring debt and raising taxes to construct a new courthouse, I will lead efforts to lease and renovate existing commercial space for a fraction of the cost. I will put Clackamas County residents first, not county government, and certainly not Metro.
My emphasis will be on customer service and being responsive to what county residents want and don’t want. County government will work to prioritize key services that aren’t already provided at the city, state or federal levels.
Lastly, I will advocate for loggers, ranchers, farmers and truckers and stand with business owners to create a more prosperous county. I will work to create an environment where the entrepreneurial spirit can thrive, instead of treating businesses and their owners as revenue sources to continue growing county government.
But I need your help to do all this. I need you to turn in your ballots by May 19 so they can be counted and our voices can be heard. And together, we can, and will, get Clackamas County back on the right track.
12 May 2020
Public Service Should Be a Sacrifice
I still fondly remember the two terms that I served in the Oregon Legislature. Because I was on the budget-writing Ways and Means Committee, each legislative session meant getting to the capitol early each morning and staying well into the evening for meetings. I would leave my family farm as the sun was rising and make the commute to Salem, perform my legislative duties, drive home, go to bed and repeat that routine until the session was adjourned.
What most people don’t know is that individual legislators have very little power. I was in the Oregon House of Representatives, which meant that mine was only one out of 60 votes in that body. Back then, legislators were paid very little in the way of a salary. Many members were retired or independently wealthy because the body was thought of as a part-time citizen legislature.
So why did I do it? It’s simple: I wanted to serve the public and represent my constituents.
I took a similar approach in the four years I served on the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners from 2013 to 2017. That whole time, I never lost sight of the people I was working for.
One of the biggest reasons I’m running for chair of the Board of Commissioners is I don’t feel that is the approach being taken by Jim Bernard. All indications are that he is putting his own interests before those of the county’s citizens.
Last year, the Oregon Government Ethics Commission (OGEC) found him guilty of ethics violations.
The violation stemmed from the fact that Bernard’s wife worked as the head of a county department. He voted to approve her hiring one year after they got married, instead of recusing himself. In the years since, Bernard has failed to recuse himself from votes to approve pay raises for her.
Bernard got himself in trouble with the OGEC when he used his position as chair of the Board of Commissioners to attempt to obtain documents that his wife could possibly have used in a lawsuit against the county. Her request for information was discussed at a commissioner meeting, and he did not declare a conflict of interest. An executive session was held to discuss the records request. Bernard attended part of that meeting.
What public interest was Bernard serving through all of this? How did his actions benefit the residents of Clackamas County? Well, they didn’t. Situations like this are why the OGEC exists in the first place.
The OGEC launched an investigation and found him to be guilty of ethics violations. State law prohibits public officials from using their positions to benefit themselves, and the OGEC found that Bernard was using his position as chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners to directly benefit he and his wife.
Bernard then had the audacity to ask that the county pay the legal fees he incurred throughout the process. Although his fellow commissioners initially agreed to it, they later changed their minds due to public outcry.
Again, how does having the public pay his personal legal bills serve the public?
Although Bernard has no problem asking county taxpayers to pony up more in property taxes to fund the county and Metro, he isn’t willing to make the same sacrifice. He successfully petitioned the county assessor’s office to reduce his own property taxes by nearly one-third last year.
What’s obvious here is that Jim Bernard is more interested in serving his own needs that he is in serving yours. It is a matter of public record that he has been found guilty of abusing his official elected position for personal gain.
I’ve always viewed public service as exactly that—service to the public. The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners exists to make sure that county residents receive quality services that aren’t already provided by the federal, state or their city governments. It should never be an outlet for any individual commissioner’s individual gain. But that’s exactly what it’s become over the past few years.
Clackamas County residents deserve better than this. They deserve to have their priorities come first, and I intend to honor that commitment, just like I did in the Legislature and during my time on the Board of Commissioners.
Combatting CoVid-19 in its tracks and returning society to normal is as important as caring for the people who have contracted the disease.
Realizing that government assistance programs will soon extinguish, and a functional economy is integral to survival, it is vital that Oregon and Clackamas County specifically attempt to re-open its businesses, governments, schools, recreation and sporting events, outdoor activities and all medical facilities in a responsible manner. This plan includes guidelines to keep people healthy while recognizing individual responsibility for people’s own health and welfare and people’s own behavior upon the health and welfare of others.
The most current data used from the Oregon Health Authority is evaluated which leads to the conclusion that Clackamas County can begin to reopen. Oregon’s current mortality rate is 0.04 which is close to the 0.03 mortality rate of the Hong Kong Flu (H3N2) and the Swine Flu (H1N1). Supporting data is shown on page 1 in figure 1. Statistics for Clackamas County show a decline in growth rate similar to statewide collection.
Criteria for opening as established by health authorities and Gov. Brown has been met and is proved by scientific established procedures, data collection coupled with people’s willingness to change their behavior by minimizing the spread of the disease through isolation, hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes is also integral. Personal responsibility in all areas is key and should be noted.
Demographics are important to note since an overwhelming majority of deaths occurred in ages 60 to 90 with 95% suffering from underlying health conditions. Ages 0 to 49 have a total of 1,330 infections and no deaths ending May 3, 2020. Oregon’s total population is 4.2 million. It could be concluded that CoVid-19 is on par with other diseases and the threat of higher infection and mortality rate assumed by university models did not meet expectations. Page 1, figure 1.
Decline in growth rate. The peak occurred on April 4, 2020 for all of Oregon, and Clackamas County is well past the peak according to Figure 4 on page 4, OHA positive total cases is 2,680 for all Oregon ending May 3. This criterion has been met.
Sufficient personal protective equipment, PPE. Figure 6 on page 6 shows the PPE inventory for May 3, 2020, which supports OHA’s statement that we have sufficient PPE for an increase when Oregon returns to work. This criterion has been met.
Hospital surge capacity. Data shows ample hospital beds are available in Figure 7 on page 7. The criterion has been met.
Robust testing and tracking along with strategies for caring for the hardest hit, vulnerable and homeless are discussed on page 8. Tests are available. The criterion has been met.
Ultimately, Guidelines and Goals are identified which includes acknowledging the fact that learning to ward off potential known and unknown viruses for a future outbreak is essential. Strategies for combating and defeating most all viruses are presented with scientific data and proven techniques on pages 9 and 10. Main sectors in American life is listed with an outline for how to reopen successfully.
Two important examples are cited as preventative measures for stopping viruses before they become a pandemic. The use of UV lighting in HVAC systems in schools, hospitals and care facilities should be recommended as it kills viruses. Wastewater treatment facilities can begin robust testing to include identification of virus where the population sector lives.
It cannot be stressed enough that a functional healthy economy is as vital to the human condition as is their physical and mental health. Both economic health and physical bodily health can be attained at the same time and should become our goal as we learn to live and prosper in a world where disease is present.