By Colleen Roberts
Jackson County, Oregon - 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 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 branch, 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 Breidenthal has certainly accepted the challenge to degrade any citizen with questions:
a) 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.
b) A call to the editor of the local paper, complaining of my behavior.
c) 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 Mr. Chancler’s evaluation of Mr. Breidenthal in his most recent US~Observer article, “It’s the Constitution, Stupid”.
The usurped power, contempt, and arrogance of the Board of Commissioners in Jackson County will only be stopped 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.