COMMISSIONER CHERRYL WALKER FEELS THREATENED
by Margaret Goodwin
May 24, 2014
The following is a verbatim transcript of part of the Josephine County Board of Commissioners’ General Discussion meeting on May 20, 2014. The discussion is in response to Chairwoman Cherryl Walker removing the public comment period from the Weekly Business Session agenda following an incident described in the article Oath Keepers Stand Up to Commissioner Cherryl Walker.
WALKER is BCC Chairwoman Cherryl Walker. HARE is Commissioner Simon Hare. HECK is Commissioner Keith Heck.
HARE: I won't be voting on administrative actions unless I've got an opportunity for public comment before taking action.
WALKER: So you're threatening me?
HARE: No, I'm telling you that's exactly what I'm going to do.
WALKER: You're supposed to be conducting the people's business.
HARE: I'm not going to debate it with you, Commissioner Walker.
WALKER: Commissioner Hare, I don't appreciate you saying you're not going to vote on an issue. That is a breach of the confidence that people have in you.
HARE: No, no. – Well, so be it then. That's with the people, that's not with you, and so I’ll debate it with them.—The previous agenda's organization was agreed upon by this board and the previous board. You have the authority to change it, unless objected upon by the majority of the board, and that's all I'm doing. So that's — that's my right. Your right to do what you want to do, and—
WALKER: Let me tell you something, Commissioner Hare.
HARE: You want to tell me something?
WALKER: I was going to tell you that I was going to agree with you, but when you threaten that you're not going to vote on an issue because you don't like the order of the agenda, that is very immature. Very immature. Because I was willing to say fine. But I don't like you threatening not voting on something.
HARE: I'm not threatening.
WALKER: Yes you are. You're saying you're not going to vote.
HARE: I'm just not comfortable voting on administrative items until I have an opportunity to hear from the public.
WALKER: I think, when you negotiate with people — You had already won your case, and then when you say you're not going to vote on something, that is very immature.
HARE: I'm not trying to win a case, Commissioner Walker; I'm not—
WALKER: You were. You were arguing a point, and I understand your point, and I was going to agree with you. But when you sit there and threaten that you're not going to vote on an agenda item, that is very, very immature. I just don't like that at all.
HARE: I disagree, but...(inaudible)
HECK: So now where are we at?
WALKER: Well, where we're at right now is that I'm going to talk to legal counsel, and I'm going to consider how we can do any — What I was going to do tomorrow is, I was going to ask if anybody had a specific comment on that agenda item, that they would be allowed to make that comment. That's what I was going to do.
HARE: I'm not sure what—
WALKER: Now, whether I can change that agenda at that time or not, I don't know. But, when you throw that threat in that you're not going to vote on an agenda item, so then you will be the obstructionist to getting business done, it's not the right thing to do.
HARE: I would like an opportunity to talk about the structure, and we had an admin meeting that I was in attendance to last week—
WALKER: To bring us back to the point that we're talking about right now, what we're talking about right now is that we are going to have to look at the structure of the agenda. And the fact that you're sitting there and saying you're not going to vote, so if we go through with tomorrow and you say "I'm not voting on this agenda item because I don't like the way the structure of the agenda is," — You know what? When you were chair, there were a lot of things I didn't like, and I never complained. I never said a word to you.
HARE: You don't work — You don't work—
WALKER: No, you were the Chair. And things were functioning. And things were functioning just fine, even though I didn't like the way it was done. When a Chair is a Chair — I didn't challenge you in that. That's OK. And I don't mind being challenged. And, like I said, I was listening to what you had to say. I was listening to the arguments. And that's fine. But don't throw a threat not to vote because if I can't—
HARE: So, if I waited till tomorrow or Wednesday to say “You know what, I'm not voting on these things—“
HARE: I'm not threatening you, Commissioner Walker. I'm just not comfortable. So I felt it was really mature and responsible to have that conversation today, instead of—
WALKER: (talking over him) It is. It is. It was the right thing to do.
HARE: —doing it tomorrow, and telling you that this is where I feel uncomfortable.
WALKER: But to tell me that you're not going to—
HARE: If you felt it was a threat, I apologize. That's not the way—
WALKER: No. What you're doing is— because the agenda — if I cannot legally change the agenda because we're within—
HARE: We can change the agenda tomorrow, Commissioner Walker.
WALKER: Yes. I know. But I want to make sure we do it in accordance with how we're supposed to do it. And I'm willing to do that. But then, at the last eleventh hour, you throw in the threat "I'm not going to vote on those." That's the wrong approach.
HARE: This is the first opportunity I've had to review the agenda with you guys. If we had done this on Thursday, you'd have had the same conversation then. This is not the eleventh hour; this is my first opportunity. I would have really loved to discuss this on Thursday, if you'd have brought it up. But maybe you didn't even think about it—
WALKER: I hadn't thought about it then.
HARE: That's fine.
WALKER: At that time.
HARE: That's fine.
WALKER: I hadn't thought about it then.
HARE: We could have gone another week, and maybe the same agenda as scheduled. It's not that big a deal. But I want you to know where I sit on this thing—
WALKER: I know where you sit! You're — You're throwing out a situation there where we have an agenda and, just because you don't like the agenda, you're not going to vote on an agenda item. That is wrong!
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HARE: No, that's up to you to de- That's up to me to decide, Commissioner Walker. I really want you to — you live in your role and I'm going to live in mine. I was, I was — I'm responsible to the people; I'm not responsible to—
WALKER: And you're responsible to vote when an issue comes up. And if an issue's on an agenda, just because you don't like the agenda—
HARE: I'm not going any further with you.
Note: The next day, the public comment period was restored to the Weekly Business Session agenda.