Local Citizen Involvement Wanted? Whatever!

This article first ran on US~Observer as an exclusive.

Jackson County, Ore. — It is an absolute and fundamental responsibility for citizens to be involved in their local government structure. In fact, the county documents in Jackson County, Ore., display an organizational chart depicting the head of the county to be the citizens themselves; next in the organizational hierarchy are the Commissioners, then the Administrator, and on down to every county department head. And yet, nothing could be further from the truth. As a citizen who has decided to be involved and attends the county commissioner meetings, and who dares to question the details or authority, I can testify to the fact that if I am one who stands “in charge,” the commissioners did not get the memo. Their televised meetings begin playing the regal music with verbal dialog to “come and experience the process” by attending the meetings. Apparently, experiencing the process means come in and shut up.

In addition to claiming tyrannical control by functioning as the executive, legislative and judicial branches, the Commissioners are in charge of keeping the citizen who might dare to question or express their opinion in an open forum of intimidation.

The Commissioners have sent a written formal request that I stop asking questions. They have written guest editorials in response to my opinion letter to the editor, calling me a liar or an idiot too stupid to understand. As a journalist, I have been asked to submit a weekly report of county activity and business to my small local paper. My articles have consistently been rebuked in person, by commissioner editorial and by relentless phone calls. Their defensive posture to purposefully discredit my involvement and intimidate me is unprofessional, unscrupulous and completely unproductive.

Commissioner Doug Breidenthal has certainly accepted the challenge to degrade any citizen with questions:

  • His verbal response to a question I asked, which addressed another Commissioner, was that it “rubbed him the wrong way” and in his opinion, was not appropriate.
  • A call to the editor of the local paper, complaining of my behavior.
  • An email that stated, “I also believe you owe Mr. Jordan (the Administrator) a THANK YOU for responding to your request without any of us giving him direction to do so.”

His arrogance and contempt for the people that he works for gives credit to Curt Chancler’s evaluation of Breidenthal in his article It’s The Constitution, Stupid – Administrative Rule Be Damned!.

The usurped power, contempt and arrogance of the Board of Commissioners in Jackson County will be stopped only by the demands of the people, either by the collaborative assertive and successful supervision by the people, or by removing these elected individuals from their posts. Then, perhaps, we will have won back a county government for the people, by the people and of the people.

–Colleen Roberts

Oregon City Is Every Bit As Politically Corrupt As Chicago

Grants Pass, Ore. — I’m a good citizen, work hard, own a house and property and pay my taxes. Why then, did FBI Special Agents visit my private shop Tuesday?

It was retribution, pure and simple — an attempt to intimidate me because I use my 1st Amendment right to free speech by writing letters to the local newspaper, illuminating the morally bankrupt local government.

Special Agent Jeffery Gray from the Medford, Ore., FBI office explained that the official reason for the visit was that the FBI received a tip that I had threatened Grants Pass city councilors. If they feel threatened, it’s because they know I may write the truth about their actions. They are threatened by the 1st Amendment.

I was elected to the City Council. But after seeing the corruption, I couldn’t stomach it and resigned.

To alert the public, anything I’ve said or written about Grants Pass city government officials since has been out in the open, in the public domain — usually in published letters to the local newspaper or letters to the official City Hall email.

Back in 2006 or 2007, I did go beyond that when I reported the Grants Pass city government to the Secretary of State for violating State laws. They routinely held their annual Grants Pass City Council planning session far outside city limits at a luxury lodge. That made it nearly impossible for local citizens to attend to listen or participate. State government officials immediately recognized the illegality and forced Grants Pass to cease and desist.

In 2010, the Grants Pass city manager, assistant manager and police chief were found guilty of violating State election laws for illegally influencing a public vote on a safety levy tax increase. When the three went to Salem to appeal, I wrote a letter to the City Council protesting the use of my tax dollars toward their defense. I documented a pattern of behavior that made me feel they weren’t worth defending.

Shortly thereafter, I received an email from Police Chief Joe Henner insisting that I: “cease and desist” speaking about him or the “next communication will be from my (his) lawyer.” I forwarded his benign threat to the Secretary of State.

When former Mayor Mike Murphy appointed city councilors in a secret backroom deal with no public input or media observers, I paid for a full-page newspaper ad exposing his brazen flaunt of the democratic process.

Last year, when a former strip club DJ, Mark Gatlin, allegedly turned Christian and ran for City Council, I dug onto my own pocket again and paid for a citywide postcard mailing warning voters of his background.

In several open letters published in local newspapers, I have been critical of the lack of real work and huge overcompensation that the city’s firefighters’ union has managed to extract from the citizens under the complicit eye of Henner.

Upon the recent announcement of Henner’s planned retirement, I wrote a letter criticizing his management style and lack of scruples.

On Tuesday, someone connected to the Grants Pass city government sent the FBI to rattle my cage. I don’t rattle. I grew up in Chicago, and the corruption and moral decay in Grants Pass government and politics is nothing I haven’t seen before.

–Bob Anderson

US~Observer Editor’s Note: Bob Anderson is an example of a citizen who stands against corruption on the local level by demanding accountability. We could all take a page out of his playbook and begin holding our own officials’ hands to the fire. Thank you, Bob, for not rattling.

Bob may be reached by emailing bob@usobserver.com.

‘New’ IRS Abuse Is The Same Old Story

Here we go again, or rather, it just keeps on going.

The Internal Revenue Service, the same agency that took lavish trips on the taxpayers’ dime and discriminated against conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status, is up to its old tricks of threatening criminal charges against people who for years have sought to work out their back tax issues.

“All too often the IRS  just isn’t interested in working out a tax debt, but rather want to criminalize people for their personal beliefs,” said Edward Snook, editor-in-chief of the US~Observer.

Tom Curry is a reasonable man who doesn’t push his beliefs on others. He simply works hard and wants to be left alone. He doesn’t believe in victimless crimes. He also doesn’t believe it is right for a government to continually fund other countries and waste our money on resort vacations while our citizens are put to the ever increasing task to pay for it.

When Curry was taken in by the works of Irwin Schiff, an anti-tax evangelist, he believed so wholeheartedly in what Schiff was selling that he stopped filing his personal income taxes, believing that it was a completely voluntary system of taxation.

After being contacted by the IRS and informed he did have to file and pay his personal income taxes, he decided not to fight them and he set about hiring several individuals to file his returns and also to run the administration of his Boston-based landscaping and snow-removal business.

The IRS kicked back his returns as fraudulent. They also set the tax debt to Curry’s gross income, ignoring any legitimate deductions for business costs and pricing it beyond any possibility of payment.

It didn’t stop Curry from trying. He hired tax-settlement negotiators.

Acting in good faith, however, didn’t stop the raids on Curry’s home, the confiscation of personal belongings or the threats of charges against his wife, who loosely worked for the business.

And it hasn’t stopped U.S. Prosecutor Victor Wild from seeking to imprison this man who reasonably has tried to work it all out.

It’s time to demand accountability – to act. Call Wild’s office at 617-748-3100 and demand he settle this situation rather than prosecute a man so willing to be reasonable and pay his taxes. And submit your phone call experience in the comments below.

The US~Observer has written up all of the details regarding Curry’s predicament. You can read it here.

US~Observer Staff