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By Jaye Bell
October 22, 2014

Coos County, OR. - Just what is 'Home Rule' here in Oregon? It is, simply stated, a written contract (constitution) between the people and their county government. That said, all Charters (Constitutions) are individual and can include generally almost any structure and requirement as long as they do not go against the state constitution or specific Oregon Statutes

Looking back at our nation's history we find our forbears' families had lived for generations under tyrannical Kings and Lords making all decisions controlling their lives. These forbears risked their futures and their lives to become free people. To this end they created for us a Constitutional Republic form of government. Under this Constitutional Republic form of government we became the greatest country on earth for both individual freedom and individual potential for wealth.

What is this Constitutional Republic form of government we were given? This means we were given a government where we ELECT our REPRESENTATIVES and they have CHECKS and BALANCES in our Constitution.

Our federal and state governments both have three governmental parts to provide representation and checks and balances: a House and Senate, a President or Governor, plus a Judiciary branch.

Additionally we have federal and state Constitutions which give rather specific guide lines and limits to the power of the government to dominate and control the citizens. Also there is generally national and/or state coverage on TV, radio, in multiple newspapers, on talk shows, the net, etc. to help oversee our government and keep it more transparent.

Now then, what is a 'General Law' County? Counties such as Coos County, which is a 'General Law County', usually have no checks and balances either in review by other branches of county government or in rules requiring citizen review or approval. Primarily the only 'checks and balances' occur if an individual issue runs against a specific ORS (Oregon Revised Statute).

Representatives (commissioners) in General Law counties make the rules and can also change the rules as they please at any time they please. It is almost impossible to have citizen or media oversight because there is no time lag for enacting legislation. This can create a real challenge for citizens to have any control over their representatives. Citizens can attempt a 'Recall' which will be expensive, and very time consuming taking months. Recalls often fail.

How can you have any representation or control over your life and/or assets when your representatives seek no knowledge of what the citizens want and the citizens have no knowledge and real input regarding what their representatives are doing?

Depending on how it is written, a Home Rule Charter can solve the majority of your problems. We here in Coos County call our Charter (Measure 6-149) the “Voice Of The Voters" Home Rule Charter. This is because we set out to solve, and have solved, the biggest problem citizens have in taking control of their county government. That major problem is the citizens having very little knowledge of what their elected officials are doing and often it is most difficult to find out as their representatives' votes are taken in obscure meetings at obscure times.

With our Coos County representatives declaring our county was near bankrupt and these same officials continuing to act without any proper citizen knowledge, or input, a fluid group of citizens decided it was time the citizens take control and demand to be informed AND asked what they, the citizens, wanted. They wanted to be informed before their elected officials enacted programs/legislation/land use changes/major asset transfers/indebtedness/special considerations to special interest groups/financial benefits to some businesses but not to others/.....the list goes on.

How can citizens control their elected officials so they are informed before action is taken? The solution in our “Voice of the Voters” Charter is to: a) Require a citizen vote on all major issues. With this requirement the elected representatives must convince the citizens it is the right thing to do; b) Disallow the elected representatives delegating their authority and/or responsibilities to anyone else.

The Coos County November ballot measure 6-149 is called the “Voice of the Voters" Home Rule Charter because it features an informed citizenry with a voice in their future.

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If you want to have a voice in your county AND your country's future take control, take responsibility, and create your own Home Rule Charter.

How do you start? I will give you the same excellent advice our great attorney gave us...... 'read several existing Home Rule Charters'. There are nine in Oregon and soon, I hope, there will be a tenth. They are all available on the net.

I, of course, hope you will look at ours closely because it takes you back to an informed people with true representation. You will not have all the same situations we have, but it should give you some very good ideas. Our Home Rule Charter can be read/downloaded at

Read this Charter and join us in “Putting the Rights of the Voters ahead of the Privileges of the Few...”

I hope you join us in taking Oregon back to its roots...the People.

© 2014 Jaye Bell – All Rights Reserved

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Jaye Bell has been a Constitutional activist for the past 23 years, starting with NAFTA in 1991 prior even to Ross Perot picking up on the problems with that trade agreement. She was very active in the formation of the Reform Party in California. She moved to southwestern Oregon in 1997 and began studying county politics. She has belonged to the Democrat, Republican, Reform, and Constitution Parties, and is currently unaffiliated having chosen to not identify with any of them.

This “Voice of the Voters” Home Rule Charter is founded in keen observations by many over the years. It started to take form the day the commissioners laughed at Jaye when she asked about Local Improvement Districts, a road improvement policy. Only 60% of the district owners had to approve of the district. Jaye's question was, “What about the other 40%? What if they can't afford it?” The smug and smiling commissioner answer was, “Oh, don't worry, Jaye. We'll just put a lien on their property.” This Home Rule Charter started there.

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The Coos County November ballot measure 6-149 is called the “Voice of the Voters" Home Rule Charter because it features an informed citizenry with a voice in their future.