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Hope and change in Josephine County, Salem and Washington, D.C.

In the political world it’s so much easier to simply “go along to get along.”

Now and then a small group of politicians just say no to the status quo.

The establishment is not happy and criticizes the minority to “stop being so political and let us get the work of the people done.”

A few years ago, then Oregon Senate Minority leader Herman Baertschiger literally left Oregon to stifle the Democrat supermajority from passing Cap and Trade legislation. Then Oregon House Minority leader Christine Drazen did the same thing in the Oregon House.

That was then. This is now:

Gov. Tina Kotek was inaugurated as Oregon’s governor today. She has immediate opportunities to improve Oregon government with her appointments to the head up the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Dept. of Education. Both have resigned.

I hope she eliminates Common Core mathematics.

In her inaugural address, Gov. Kotek said she seeks an “urgent” $130,000,000 to help get 1,200 Oregonians off the street in 2023. That works out to $108,000 per homeless person. Is this a one-time expense or a recurring obligation? Either way it seems way too high.

She will sign an executive order tomorrow to set a goal of building 36,000 new homes per year. The state now averages 20,000 new homes per year.

This sounds more like a New Year’s resolution. Better yet would be signing a bill repealing SB100 signed back on May 29, 1973. This would simplify state zoning and eliminate “Urban Area Growth Boundaries” which no other states have.

State Senator Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego) became the Oregon State Senate President. In a speech today he said, “Let us lead with kindness and charity and goodwill.” We’ll see about that.

Sen. Art Robinson is back in Salem with the rest of the senators. I’m glad that the Democrats no longer have a Supermajority. Of 16 senators elected in November, six are new to the job.

Speaker Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) was elected House Speaker on a 35-25 party line vote and then by unanimous vote. In his acceptance speech he said the House must make sure it “delivers for the people and we give Oregonians what they need to thrive.”

Of course, the problem with this thinking is that some Oregonians thrive with bigger government and other Oregonians would thrive with smaller government.


In Washington, D.C. 20 Republicans decided to “just say no” to electing Rep. Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House. He got elected after a very public battle. It took 15 ballots. That’s the most ballots since 1859 which was the Congress immediately preceding the War Between the States, i.e. Civil War.

That’s why last week’s Speaker vote was so interesting. The votes were in public and everyone was present. Republicans were there to vote in the new Speaker. Democrats were there to make it harder for Rep. Kevin McCarthy to get a majority of the votes.

Why did as many as 20 Republicans vote against Speaker-designate Kevin McCarthy? What did they want and what did they get?

3 members of the Freedom Caucus will be on the rules committee. Speaker Kevin McCarthy only wanted to give them 2. These three votes give them effective veto power on every bill. Nothing makes it to the floor of Congress to get voted on unless it passes out of the Rules Committee.

One unnamed Democrat on Twitter commented, “I’m sorry, but giving 3 seats in the Rules Committee to the Freedom Caucus is madness. It’s letting the patients run the asylum. He’s giving the clowns ownership of the circus. McCarthy will be literally powerless.”

The “Jefferson Motion” allows a single representative to make a motion to vacate the Speaker chair if he goes back on his word. McCarthy wanted it to be 5.

There are several others. You can read about them here:

Here Are The Concessions McCarthy Had To Make For Speakership

What about Josephine County?

Changing the status quo is never easy. That’s especially true when it comes to funding the Sheriff’s Office.

Before the Spotted Owl flew into Josephine County, federal timber receipts covered most of county government expenses including the Sherriff’s Office. The status quo was great and lasted for decades.

Then the federal money has dropped to $4 million this fiscal year. That’s not nearly enough. Unfortunately, getting more federal dollars is out of local control.

The people gave a loud “No” to a new sales tax. Previously, the people said “No” to a higher property tax on numerous occasions.

Now what? The discussion is shifting to reallocating existing Josephine County government spending and finding new sources of funding.

If we agree that funding the Sheriff’s Office is the #1 budget priority, everything else should be on the table.

That means questioning the status quo of county government.

Our Josephine County Board of Commissioners has 3 members. Two members cannot be in the same room discussing county business without that being a quorum and violating open meeting laws.

This makes it tough to discuss matters in private. They simply cannot do that. For our benefit these discussions will happen in public.

That’s why it’s so important to watch the BCC weekly business sessions. That’s when they get down to business. And you get a chance to speak up and be heard.