By US~Observer Staff
Grants Pass, Oregon – What in the world is going on in Grants Pass and Josephine County, Oregon?
Not much? Really? Don’t kid yourself. There are times in history when major forces are at work, changing much, if not everything, that you thought you knew to be true. This is one of those times. Hanging in the balance is your future financial health.
The November, 2008 election changed how our national government is managed. It changed how the government of the City of Grants Pass is managed as well.
That local change has brought a long standing problem in local government to everyone’s attention and those who opposed those changes have blamed the current turmoil surrounding the departure of the fired city manager on the newly elected City Council.
This situation is shaping-up as a show-down between the Will of the People and the will of the special interests who think they control this town. At stake is whether you will continue to have any say in how your city is run or how your wealth will be transferred from your bank account.
For the first time in this writers memory, the majority of the Grants Pass City Council is made up of people representing a true cross-section of our actual community. They were elected to their positions because they promised to cut government spending, which also means reducing the size of the city government bureaucracy.
That last part however, is a real problem for the shadowy, special interests mentioned earlier. Why do I say that? Once you understand who these shadowy, special interests are, it will become clear.
First and foremost, if you work for government and it becomes smaller, you could lose your job, or worse, you might not get your automatic raise. Those two things alone are enough to mobilize this faction of the “shadow” special interests.
Second, there are those people in our community who benefit financially when the local government votes to increase government spending. From construction and real estate speculation to the various contracts government grants to pay for the everyday cost of government, the more government there is, the more contracts there are to spread around…to a few lucky recipients.
Lastly, there are those who love to influence local leaders, to promote their own political agendas.
When government power gets together with select business interests and also works hand-in-hand with specific political activists, you have a ripe environment for corruption.
The story is the same across the nation. Government is running out of money. Taxpayers are tapped-out financially and cannot afford any new taxes or higher fees. The low-level corruption we all know exists as a daily part of modern politics becomes uglier and takes on a more malignant nature when money is tight. Having no money brings out the worst in people, causing extreme behavior from those who are negatively impacted. In the case of what is happening in Grants Pass, that means the shadowy interests identified above who depend on government for income or power.
We have been witnessing these people act out their extreme behavior ever since the new City Council took office in January.
This new City Council majority, made up of average people, actually tried to cut the cost of government and demanded that the hired help answer their questions about spending, to make government decisions more accountable to the people. When their questions were rebuffed by city employees, they acted well within their discretion to make changes in the top management personnel.
That raised the ire of the shadow power-brokers of this city and county, who don’t like having their goals for your tax money questioned. This has mobilized a small number of dedicated political activists who have decided to attempt a recall of the five Councilors who dared to believe they actually had any “real” authority to do their jobs.
The resulting personal attacks against individual Councilors and all the negative news stories so eagerly printed in their friendly, cooperative, daily newspaper are all calculated to drive public opinion against the Council majority. After an exhaustive investigation, US~Observer staff investigators have concluded without question that the current recall is without warrant and that those The Grants Pass City Council are 100% volunteers and the Councilors facing recall have gone above and beyond their official responsibilities to properly represent the citizens of Grants Pass, Oregon.
The biggest lie these angry special interests have tried to convince you all to believe is that these five new Councilors can not get along with the hired help. Think about that. Put it into context. They want you to accept a false premise that there is any need for the Council to “get along” with an out-of-control bureaucracy. The bureaucracy’s leader, the fired city manager, refused to answer the questions of the Council and actively worked to undermine the Council’s ability to do the job all of you elected them to do! When that happens, the only thing any rational employer could do is fire that person.
So much for the background review. Let’s get on with why this is happening.
When the money runs out, government has only two choices, cut costs and shrink in size or raise new revenue. That is a simple enough concept for any business person and every household to understand since they have to live within their financial realities.
But today’s version of “government” refuses to accept the concept of containing, let alone reducing, costs. No, today, no matter where you look, government understands only one thing, it’s own growth. That refusal to accept fiscal reality has caused government bureaucracy to become the single most menacing special interest group in this country.
This local, shadowy group of co-conspirators has now succeeded in collecting enough signatures to force a recall election against the five Councilors they hate so much. If the five Councilors are actually recalled, what happens then?
As bad as everything already mentioned above may be, the real motivating factor for these shadowy, special interests is lurking, appropriately enough, “in the shadows”.
It seems that in Oregon, everyone knows that government must ask voters to pass tax levies before they can raise taxes, right?
Wrong! Since January 19, 2007, that is no longer the case. In a little known decision (outside of government anyway) the Oregon Supreme Court upheld an Oregon Tax Court decision that turned the concept of voter approval on its head.
Known in government circles as “the Jacksonville Decision”, the case of Knapp vs. the City of Jacksonville, Tax Court Case Number 4641; SC S52624, dated September 24, 2004, the Oregon Tax Court “found” a new right of local government jurisdictions to apportion their general costs of government through new surcharges (fees) among everyone who already receive a monthly bill for some other government service. This ruling is clearly unconstitutional, however it is current law.
The key for any governing body that wants to use this new Tax Court created revenue mechanism, is having a pre-existing capability to bill people on a monthly basis. In the Jacksonville Decision, that “other billing mechanism” was the city sewer and water bill.
Instead of putting tax measures on the ballot and risking a majority no vote, local governments can now add a new government service fee to existing monthly bills. They can do this without your consent. If you can’t or won’t pay this new “fee/tax” they can turn your water off. If you still can’t or won’t pay, they can lien your property and eventually take it.
Who has the authority to impose these new fees on you? The Grants Pass City Council.
The fired city manager and the prior City Council were considering doing this very thing last year instead of putting the Public Safety levy on the ballot.
Is this the real reason the shadowy, special interests in this city hate this new Council majority? They know this Council would never go along with such a contemptible plan to impose new fees in lieu of asking you to approve new taxes.
Is the picture starting to become a little clearer?
The only way these shadowy, special interests can make this new fee-based revenue scheme happen is to discredit these good people and replace them with more “compliant” councilors.
Now, as Paul Harvey was famous for saying, you know the rest of the story.
For those of you who live outside of the city limits of Grants Pass, who think you don’t have a dog in this fight, ask Commissioner Dave Toler why he has been talking so much about how much your County property taxes cost per month? The only thing keeping Josephine County from direct billing you for the costs of County government (and that includes those of you who live in the City of Grants Pass as well) is the lack of any monthly billing apparatus. Is Toler trying to change State law, to allow counties to bill property taxes monthly instead of yearly, as the law now requires? Why don’t you ask him.
One more thing – State government wants to begin billing motorists by the miles they drive, in addition to existing gas taxes, in an attempt to create new State revenues. Watch out if this effort moves forward with a monthly billing mechanism, because you could then be directly billed for the cost of State government, once again, without your consent. Would your car be seized if you couldn’t or wouldn’t pay that bill?
It seems that the Oregon Supreme Court, with the help of the Oregon Tax Court has indeed come to the rescue of big government in Oregon, giving it the ability to overcome those pesky voters who still seem to think they matter.
The only defense any of us have, is to elect local Councilors and Commissioners who will represent you, not the bureaucracy and special interests.
Don’t fall for their lies.
Vote NO! on this malicious attempt to recall your Councilors.