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Commissioner Cherryl Walker, kangaroo Court and Big Fines










By Attorney Jack Swift, JD
September 12
, 2013

Grants Pass, Oregon: -The one thing guaranteed when dealing with a government bureaucrat is that he or she will be damn certain she knows best what is best for you. Government bureaucrats exist to protect those whom they deem incompetent to protect themselves. Whatever idiocy they come up with, it is always in the interest of protecting someone who will not take care of himself. Nowhere is this truism better illustrated than by the package of bureaucratic control ordinances introduced by our new Josephine County Commissioners.

Commissioner Cherryl Walker tells us that there is a crisis in the county arising from a blight of unsightly and ugly public nuisances and the bureaucracy is overwhelmed and frustrated by the legal system for dealing with them. She moans her own inability to deal with an unsightly neighbor. Commissioner Walker simply lies. The system is not overwhelmed with a blight of nuisance complaints. In all of 2012 there were only 14 reports of solid waste or public nuisances. Not one of those qualified as a genuine complaint presented by qualified neighbors and visible from a public road. As of April of this year, there were only three cases in the legal system. Two of those were under order of dismissal for lack of prosecution. The one that survived was against a restaurant that was operating without paying its permit fee.

So, if the problem is not what the commissioners say it is, what are we to suppose is the real purpose behind the ordinances submitted to the voters on November 5?

The restaurant case involving Angela’s Hacienda should tell us all we need to know. The case was effectively brought under the existing law. It clearly worked. Angela’s is now out of business and her employees have been added to the rolls of the unemployed. So much for the Daily Courier opinion that the current law lacks teeth.

The Board of Commissioners decided on February 17 that the offense at issue - failure to pay the $600 permit fee - should be prosecuted. On April 21, Steve Rich County Legal filed the action in the Circuit Court. By August 16, judgment issued. Angela was ordered to close down and a $10,000 fine was imposed. So much for Cheryll Walker’s opinion that the current law is too cumbersome and lengthy.

Walker, herself a government bureaucracy hearings officer in a former life, tells us that the proposed new hearings officer ordinance would be an improvement. She does not tell us that the current law allows for trial by a hearings officer which may be the Board of Commissioners itself. These cases do not have to go through the Circuit Court. (See Section 8.020 of the existing Ordinance No. 90-16.) So, if the Angela case did not have to go to Circuit Court, why did it?

Although Ordinance 90-16 violations may legally be tried before a hearings officer, State statute violations may not. Those must be tried in a Circuit Court. By taking Angela to Circuit Court, the County was able to prosecute under the State law also.

The difference is that under 90-16, the fine for failing to pay the $600 permit fee is a mere $500. On balance, this seems proportionate and reasonable. But under the State statute, a fine may be levied in the amount of $50 per day up to a maximum of $10,000. In either system, costs and attorney fees are recovered. It was a simple alternative of the County gaining $10,000 or $500. We see the commissioners’ true objective. This is not a matter of righting a wrong. This is about the money - and consequential harm to the community and the citizens, be damned.

So how will the enforcement officer/hearings officer ordinances fit in with that objective? Very nicely indeed. The big difference between operating under the current ordinance and state statutes versus the proposed ordinances is that the proposed fine under the ordinances alone will be at the rate of $200 per day, not $50. Moreover, the opportunity to fine the citizenry will be greatly enhanced because the scope will be expanded to apply to any violations the enforcers can find to any County plan, regulation, or rule, particularly with regard to planning and public safety rules.

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And just to make sure the compliance cops are out there digging up offenses, the ordinances provide an excellent incentive plan. All fines imposed are to be paid to the department issuing the citations. To make sure of the fines, all cases will be heard before the County’s hearings officer.

These ordinances are all about the money and the expansion of bureaucratic control. They do not give the individual or the bureaucracy any legal remedy they do not presently enjoy. These measures simply establish a bureaucracy of compliance cops with a wonderful incentive plan to get out there and protect us poor incompetents. And the whole thing will cost the County nothing - only us poor incompetents.

Related Articles:

1. The Daily Courier Gets it Wrong Again, 9-6-13
Angela's Hacienda: A Tale of Deceit, 8-26-13

1- Commissioner Cherryl Walker, Kangaroo Court and Big Fines
2- Josephine County, Oregon: Sad Failure of Central Planning
3- Commissioners Cherryl Walker and Keith Heck Misinformed
4- Bureaucrat Cherry Walker - The Bully in Josephine County Government
5- What the Grants Pass Daily Courier Failed to Report
6- County Government vs. Citizens, Part 1
7- County Government vs. Citizens, Part 2
8- County Government vs. Citizens, Part 3
9- County Government vs. Citizens, Part 4

© 2013 Jack Swift - All Rights Reserved

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Jack Swift is an retired attorney. Actively involved in the Republican Party and local politics, Jack would love to see honest Constitution following representatives in local Josephine County government. Jack believes if we are to save America from the grip of evil, people must get involved on the local level and expose wrongdoers at every opportunity. He is putting that belief in practice.

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Walker, herself a government bureaucracy hearings officer in a former life, tells us that the proposed new hearings officer ordinance would be an improvement.