By John Taft
A county commissioner abruptly reversed the direction of his broom and swept a beaten public employee union back into the courthouse. He then applied mouth to mouth resuscitation, breathing the breath of life back into this wobbly union.
Many voters were shocked when Commissioner Dwight Ellis allowed the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) to resume business as usual. Ellis purposely blocked a checkmate on the union by Commissioner Jim Raffenburg. Ellis allowed the union back into the courthouse with minor injuries to its demands and none to its strategic local and national political goals. These were discussed in another article titled Unions Are Dangerous to Business and Taxpayers (view at www.usobserver.com). The union had made a strategic mistake in striking, and they knew it, as did Commissioner Jim Raffenburg. The question is, why did Ellis reverse his original position of standing up to the union, then do an about face? Some of the answers to this question are contained in the following statements made by Ellis on a local radio station.
In this article we will take a look at the man Dwight Ellis and find out in his own words what makes him tick and what the taxpayers can expect from him in the future in the way of aiding and abetting new property taxes and his outrageous affair with the county unions.
Radio station KAJO in Grants Pass invites the county commissioners to a monthly hour long talk show with listener call-ins. On January 31st, moderator Carl Wilson along with the three county commissioners Dwight Ellis, Jim Riddle, and Jim Raffenburg discussed the recent AFSCME contract along with other hot political subjects in a revealing show.
The following dialog will show why Ellis is putting the taxpayers at risk financially and why he gave in to the AFSCME when it could have been taken to the mat.
Here is what one caller had to say in regards to Ellis’ stance on the union issue. During Ellis’ response to the caller he appeared humbled and apologetic as we shall read. But more likely this was a phony response and put out for PR purposes.
“I Appreciate Her Comments”
Caller, “How can we believe you any more about even the O & C crisis? (O&C funds have been paid to timber counties by the Feds in lieu of timber sale receipts and are being rapidly reduced and withdrawn) Your actions betray … your commitment to fiscal responsibility. You have voted to increase the debt of us the taxpayers … have absolutely ruined it for us the taxpayers.”
Ellis’ response to her was, “I just want to say that I appreciate her comments and if I have let her and any other voters out there down I apologize for that. I’m doing the best job that I know how to do to try to keep this county together. To try to save this county from falling apart and in my mind going to bankruptcy … If you feel that I have let you down I apologize for that.”
Ellis Refuses to Acknowledge
US~Observer Reporter’s Calls
Ellis has chosen to ignore three messages this reporter has left on his courthouse voice mail. These messages were in regards to the union contract Ellis signed. An editor with newswithviews.com recently asked Ellis why he didn’t return these calls. Ellis reportedly replied that he didn’t like the comments made. I can assure the reader that the comments were straightforward and critical of Ellis’ giveaway of public funds and concessions to the AFSCME. Comparing Ellis’ comment of appreciating the KAJO caller and then telling the newswithviews.com editor he didn’t like the comments this reporter left on his voice mail makes a strong statement that Ellis’ comment on the radio was quite disingenuous. After all, Ellis did run on the platform of, “Maintains open door for all citizens,” in a campaign brochure. That is unless the citizen fails to stroke Ellis’ ego. It seems that Ellis does have a pride problem and woe to those who injure this delicate appendage.
Ellis Fearful Strike Could Explode into Violence
During his radio interview Ellis cites some reasons why he agreed to the AFSCME contract.
Comm. Ellis, “I want to tell you that there were several factors that came into play on that fourth day of that strike. The longer the strike went the more it had a chance to explode into something that I didn’t want to see happen. And so in my mind after praying a lot and stuff (what stuff?), I was asking myself, we can hold this a lot longer but at what cost? When the people do come back to work what cost is it going to be in the work place? How are they going to feel about coming back to work, you know, for a county they feel has betrayed them, basically, you know, and all these factors came into light? Then there were a couple of incidents like bomb threats and one physical incident that happened, you know, I thought this can really get out of hand fast.”
Ellis’ comments clearly show that since he was willing to end a strike that was winnable for the taxpayers, he can be and was intimidated by the threat of potential violence which he appeared to believe was coming from the AFSCME. Ellis failed to stand up for the taxpayers, and he let the AFSCME off the hook. When an individual doesn’t stand for principle he stands for nothing and becomes a puppet manipulated by the puppeteer. Ellis also appeared to be very concerned about how the AFSCME employees would, “feel coming back to work for a county they feel betrayed them.” He made no reference to how the taxpayers would feel about his betraying them. It seems that the puppeteer (AFSCME) has their man in place in the commissioner’s office. Many county residents are very disappointed in Comm. Dwight Ellis.
Sheriff Daniel to Union: Commissioners Bullies and Thugs, Take the County Back
Moderator Carl Wilson asks the panel this question, “You had the sheriff in civilian clothes on a vacation day and this is according to the paper calling you guys (Commissioners) bullies and thugs and according to the quote in the paper (Daily Courier), It’s time to take this county back from the bullies and the thugs (The sheriff was addressing the AFSCME strikers on the first day of the picketing). Let me ask you the panel, was that helpful or not?” Commissioner Riddle can be heard laughing in the back ground.
Ellis Appears to Support Provocative Words Spewed by County Sheriff
Dwight Ellis, “You know, as far as I’m concerned, you know, he’s a citizen of these free United States, he can get out there and say anything he wants to, in my mind, you know, he was making a political statement, and he’s running for county commissioner. You know, he’s got an audience out there, you know, in my mind it didn’t bother me personally that he said those things. I think he hurt himself by saying those things.”
The threat of violence is what appears to have caused Ellis to fold. This is when he should have stood firm instead of cowering against the tyrannical threats and events he mentions. These include the bomb threat at the courthouse, a physical occurrence, white knuckle time, and things getting out of control. These seem to be the things that caused Ellis to buckle. Then he supports the sheriff in his name calling against the county commissioners. On the one hand Ellis appears to give in to the threat of violence and on the other he supports the sheriff encouraging the AFSCME union members to possible violence. Both Commissioner Riddle and Raffenburg understand that the sheriff used angry words that could ignite the flame of violence.
Riddle Blasts Sheriff Takes on Ellis
Jim Riddle, “Sorry for laughing, Carl, I wasn’t quite sure of the curve of your question if it helped or not? I disagree with Dwight in the sense that I believe the sheriff is the sheriff 24/7, as are the commissioners. And when you’re out in front of a crowd that is already agitated, and you’re agitating them further and making statements like they are thugs and bullies you should take over the courthouse basically, that’s not right. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care if it’s your day off or you’re wearing a purple shirt, it’s not right because they know you as the sheriff they don’t know him as Dave Daniel, it’s hard to separate the two.”
Commissioner Raffenburg, “It was Behavior that was Totally Unacceptable.”
Commissioner Raffenburg, “I have to agree with Jim Riddle the chief law enforcement officer (Sheriff Dave Daniel) of the county out there agitating a group of citizens, in this case county employees, who are already very emotionally agitated was just beyond anything that I think anybody should anticipate their law enforcement should do. It was behavior that was totally unacceptable.”
Carl Wilson says, “This was a Significant Event.”
Moderator Carl Wilson, “Well, the only reason I bring that up is Dwight (Ellis) brought up the issue it was getting to be white knuckle time and Jim Riddle as you’re mentioning incidents were beginning to happen that always tend to happen around job actions, like this, but this was a significant event.”
Jim Raffenburg, “Carl, this was the first day and the first few hours of the strike. So you have to ask yourself, did the actions of the sheriff contribute to anything that happened later on? I don’t think you can separate out anything that happened after that speech of his (Dave Daniel) and say he didn’t have some type of impact on it.”
Sheriff Dave Daniel is running for the office of county commissioner along with several other individuals. Daniel has made a lousy showing as sheriff for the past eight years and would be an even worse commissioner judging by his past record. Daniel has supported several property tax measures since he was sheriff and cost the county hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra expenses that should not have been. Daniel’s track record indicates that as a county commissioner he would continue to push for more property taxes. And this is reason enough without considering his other baggage for the voters to deny him the position of commissioner. Neither is Commissioner Dwight Ellis a paragon of virtue in regards to property taxes. In the last election he supported an unpopular library property tax that was defeated, but he was nonetheless elected commissioner.
What Ellis Had to Say About Property Taxes
Prior to being elected a county commissioner here is what Ellis had to say about property taxes that he is helping force to the forefront by failing to deal appropriately with the AFSCME when he had the opportunity.
Carl Wilson, talk show host on KAJO asked Dwight Ellis prior to his being elected commissioner, “We have a number of people in our community on fixed incomes and so they are very, very sensitive about having their property taxes increased. Knowing that, how do you approach the future as a county commissioner?”
Ellis, “Well, the property tax issue is ah is ah a huge issue on fixed income and ah it is not my desire to ah tax ah people who own property, tax people on fixed income, tax them so that they lose their homes ah that is ah absolutely a last resort if we are going down the tubes and we have to declare bankruptcy and the state has to ah send troops in here and stuff you know then ah then that’s a last resort that we will have to turn to and ask the voters you know if they would be able to pony up some more, some more money.” Talk show host Carl Wilson mercifully took him to another subject at this point in time.
Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
If Dwight Ellis has not formed a negative opinion of an individual, he appears to be intelligent and of pleasant Christian demeanor. However, if anyone injures his fragile ego, another personality appears that is angry and with ready profanity. This darker side of Ellis is never or seldom seen by his friends who obviously don’t annoy him by criticizing his decisions as a commissioner. Thus Mr. Hyde stays hidden from them.
Ellis received thousands of dollars in campaign contribution funds from the local courthouse union. This doesn’t mean the union necessarily owns Ellis, but in this case that money appears to have been an excellent investment. Ellis was AFSCME’s savior. Ellis failed the homeowner, renter, and businessman throughout this county whom he didn’t represent when he chose to let the AFSCME back into the courthouse. A public employee cannot have two masters. Ellis has chosen the county unions as his master at this time. An old joke aptly applies here. Ellis gave the taxpayers the shaft, and the AFSCME got the mine. Commissioner Dwight Ellis is quickly learning to be a “bad politician.”