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DAILY COURIER TAKES "CHEAP SHOT" AT JO-CO COMMISSIONERS

 

 

 

By Investigative Reporter
John Taft

October 4, 2005

NewsWithViews.com

Reporter Shaun Hall Sheriff's Mouthpiece

Grants Pass, OR. -- When a reporter is opinionated and has an agenda, that bias has a tendency to leak all over his articles and soil his reputation. Reporter Shaun Hall wrote an article for the Daily Courier titled, “Sheriff loses supervisor, dog partner to pay cuts uncertainty.”[1] In his article Hall exploits the ongoing feud between the county commissioners and the sheriff, allowing Sheriff Daniel and Sgt. Stephen Clarke to pound on the Josephine County commissioners whose hands are tied behind their backs. This is commonly known as a rigged fight with a predetermined outcome. The sheriff has Hall’s ear, and his recent articles in the Courier are soft on the sheriff and tough on the commissioners in order to affect public opinion. For example: The sheriff is allowed to say that benefits cuts were brought on by the commissioners. Clarke blames the commissioners for his leaving. The commissioners are allowed no rebuttal outside of a few lines at the end of the article. Hall’s story is simplistic, inaccurate, and certainly biased as this article will demonstrate.

Commissioners Doing a Good Job

Tough times are ahead for Josephine County if O&C funds (money paid several Oregon counties in lieu of timber receipts) are not approved by congress for the coming years. This year the county received $16 million. Commissioners Raffenburg, Ellis, and Riddle, are doing what it takes to blunt the possible financial impact the removal of these funds will have on the county, they deserve full public support. Raffenburg and Ellis were elected in 2004 and took office in Jan. 2005. Their decisions on financial matters during the past few months have shown that the voters made the right decision by electing them. They have rolled up their sleeves and taken on the establishment, including the money demanding unions and the nebulous group called the “Good-old-boys.”

For example: Recently the commissioners slapped the hands of two county employees by turning down an anti-property ordinance at an open public meeting. This ordinance was proposed, written, and supported by the county’s Legal Counsel Steve Rich and the Treasurer/Tax Collector John Harelson. Both Harelson and Rich appear to have an anti-property mentality. Harelson is known to favor taxing districts and additional property taxes. You know the commissioners are doing their job when the public  employees, county managers, and the sheriff begin howling at their doorstep.

Clark Plays Ball

Stephen Clarke, a dog handler and a 24-year deputy, (who obviously knows how to play ball) is leaving for a job with the Brookings City Police Department. Brookings is a small town on the Oregon coast not noted for paying big city salaries. This is the kind of job those looking to retire take so they can go fishing and boating on weekends. It isn’t the kind of town a guy goes to that wants to make big bucks in law enforcement and have gobs of benefits. I’ve been told that Clarke’s wife’s family lives in the area where he is moving.

Clarke claims the following as his reason for leaving, “This resignation is solely based on the ongoing practices from the Josephine County commissioners and I regret that because of them, I feel it is time to move on.” [1]It appears that Sgt. Stephen Clarke is more self-serving than public serving. Clarke is obviously looking after Clarke and using the Josephine County commissioners as a punching bag to support Daniel with this parting smack.

Daniel twanged off key on the same sour note, “The Board of County Commissioners single-handedly demoralized the majority of employees in county government.”[1]. Daniels, Clarke, and Shaun Hall fail to realize the county commissioners didn’t create the O&C dilemma. This problem has been brewing in the teapot for a long time and now it’s serving time. Nobody wants to drink this stuff, and it has to be dealt with. Blaming the present commissioners isn’t going to work!

Can a Deputy be Truthful and Loyal to the Sheriff?

Daniel mentioned in the Courier article that a couple of deputies were going to work for the Grants Pass City Police Department at $1,000 a month more than their present salaries. This leaves one wondering why Sgt. Clarke didn’t go to work for the posh Grants Pass City Police Department. Maybe Sgt. Clarke couldn’t qualify? The fact is, many of the sheriff’s office employees can’t qualify for the city police department job openings. To get on the city police force you’ve got to be good. The qualifications for the city police are higher than for the sheriff’s office.

Daniel gushed over Clarke saying, “I can say a lot of nice things about him. He’s one good officer, highly qualified. …” [1]Interestingly, Daniel said similar things about Shawn Valdez [2]who allegedly backed into a neighbor’s home with his vehicle and told a city police officer that a friend did it.

When a local Christian school had a bomb threat, Stephen Clarke [3]was dispatched to the school. He was slow in arriving. When he got there he appeared disinterested, told the teachers to go and look for the possible bomb, was there for 37 minutes, and then left. If anyone was to get blown up, it wasn’t going to be Sgt. Stephen Clarke. Apparently the sheriff’s office motto is “Don’t take any risks; let women and children do it.” I repeat what Daniel said, “He’s one good officer, highly qualified.”

Starting on July 1, 2002, a different set of commissioners cut the sheriff’s budget. Somebody had to go. The sheriff demoted three sergeants. One was Stephen Clarke [4]and the other two were Jeff Michael and Carroll Huffman. Clarke was demoted to allow him to bump another deputy who had less seniority than he. At least Clarke still had a job but with less pay. This was over three years ago, and Clarke didn’t quit his job. He later got his Sergeant stripes back. The three deputies that were terminated at that time were Deputies Hobart, Adcock and Meyer.

What the Commissioners had to Say

Commissioner Ellis said the article by Hall was a “cheap shot” at the commissioners. He also stated that a District Attorney Prosecutor Wells Ashby as well as Clarke had blamed the commissioners for his leaving. It seems these guys are reading off the same script.

Commissioner Jim Raffenburg told me reporter Shaun Hall never contacted him before this article was printed in the Courier. Hall allowed the sheriff to publicly bash the commissioners without giving them the opportunity to defend their positions.

Hall reported that deputies will get a 5.5 percent raise over the next three years.

Commissioner Riddle told this reporter that Hall’s statement was incorrect; the raise was actually 5.5 percent a year or 16.5 percent at the end of three years.

What are John Voorhies and Dennis Mack up to?

The Daily Courier does a good job reporting human interest stories, financial updates, and business activities. Editor Dennis Roler’s editorial commentary often provides an insightful perspective into current issues reaching across the board. The problem in reporting occasionally crops up in the articles printed on local politics. The story mentioned with Shaun Hall’s byline is a good example of this type of reporting. Hall presents a one-sided viewpoint including misinformation. The writer uses the technique allowing Sheriff Daniel and Stephen Clarke to criticize the county commissioners with no rebuttal following their comments.

At the end of the article a blurb by Commissioner Riddle is included to give the appearance of fair play. This ruse is very obvious to an informed reader. On top of that Hall botches the information Riddle gave him. However biased, Hall is paid to write this type of article. Someone has to approve and say put Hall’s story on the front page; it suits our purpose. This leads us to the Courier’s President John Voorhies and the paper’s publisher Dennis Mack who set the paper’s policies. These men must be awfully smug and arrogant to believe that this type of biased reporting is fooling all their readers.

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The Courier has a responsibility to its readers, who pay for their information, and its advertisers to supply fair and unbiased information to the community and to help the citizens understand local issues. Shaun Hall would do well to be like Sergeant Joe Friday who said, “Just give us the facts, Ma’am, nothing but the facts.” Until the Courier corrects this type of biased reporting, the reader would do well to be skeptical of articles authored by Shaun Hall and perhaps all political articles written by the Courier staff.

E-Mail Shaun Hall shall@thedailycourier.com

John Taft can be contacted at: joconewsline@hotmail.com

Footnotes:

1, Grants Pass Daily Courier, Sept. 27, 05, "Sheriff has had enough", front page
2, Ex Deputy Sheriff Crashes Into Home, Blames Friend
3, Sheriff Lax With Bomb Threat - Sschool Takes Matter Into Own Hands, Steven Clarke handles a bomb threat.
4, Lawmemo, Arbitration article Stephen Clarke November 7, 2002

© 2005 John Taft - All Rights Reserved

E-Mails are used strictly for NWVs alerts, not for sale



John Taft former president of Josephine County, OR. Taxpayers Association is presently an investigative reporter for the US-Observer and NewsWithViews.com. He has had many years of broadcasting, news writing and reporting experience. He also has written a popular conservative newsletter for a taxpayers organization to inform the public on taxing issues.

E-Mail: joconewsline@hotmail.com

Web site: www.Strobezone.homestead.com


 

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Commissioner Jim Raffenburg told me reporter Shaun Hall never contacted him before this article was printed in the Courier. Hall allowed the sheriff to publicly bash the commissioners without giving them the opportunity to defend their positions.