By Randy Sanne
Same rhetoric, same results. During the citizen comments at the Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday Mary Geddry ask the Commissioners, more specifically Cam Parry, what they meant when they said our county government needs to operate more like a business. She referenced Bob Mains statement that the county is a $100 million dollar a year business with more than 400 employees. After some rambling comments by Mr. Main that really didn’t address the question Mary asked the question again, and outlined the clear differences between private business and our county government. She reminded them that businesses provide goods and services for a profit and our county government provides services to its citizens paid for by their tax dollars, and that if the BOC ran like a private business their main customers would be the citizens that have already paid for these services. This time Cam Parry attempted to explain what he meant, he said that he didn’t mean he wanted to use any particular business “model” but that like a business the BOC needed to establish minimum levels of service that can be supported year after year without having to “cut and slash” with every new budget. He wouldn’t say how he thinks the county differs from private business in that regard, he just said he believes we do, and he said that was one of his reasons for creating the new advisory boards. During this time Mr. Messerle stayed silent.
While I agree that the citizens of this county deserve to be assured of minimum levels of core service (those that are important to the citizens, not the commissioners or other county staff) and have stated so to the BOC, these levels should be based on, and have a priority too, yearly tax revenues. Historical data could be used to establish what those minimum tax revenues would be. I don’t believe that other large employers do any better job of establishing guaranteed minimum staffing levels, nor do they avoid “slashing and burning”. Roseburg Forest products recently laid off more than 200 people at three of their plants, these layoffs were due to current market conditions which obviously effected revenues, they were immediate and long term, and when those laid off workers were hired they were not told that their jobs would be temporary. The county establishes their staffing and service levels yearly not daily based on markets. I was involved in two large layoffs while employed with Weyerhaeuser Paper Mills in Springfield and North Bend, both were immediate, the Springfield layoff involved shuttering a paper machine and laying off more than 120 people and the North Bend layoff involved shutting down the entire mill and laying off all of its approximately 240 employees. Again, I believe the county does a better job of forecasting than these large employers!
Mary also asked another question that she and others of us have asked before. If the commissioners truly want more citizen involvement why don’t they schedule meetings at times and in locations that give more citizens the opportunity to attend, something that Mr. Parry said at the time of his appointment to the board was a priority for him, she also asked that the new committees meetings be scheduled at times and in locations that would allow more citizen attendance, and again she was assured that these committees would be available to the public. Shortly there-after Mr. Main announced that the new Road department advisory committee’s first meeting will be held on August 17th at “2:00pm” in the “SMALL” conference room of the Owen building. This room holds fewer people than the commissioner’s courtroom. Other new advisory committee meetings are: Forest Advisory at 3:00pm in the Parks/Forestry conference room.
Structure advisory at 2:00pm in the Owen Building
I believe this shows a total disregard for the interests of the citizens of Coos County and is just the latest in attempts by the BOC to exclude us from the process. Knowledge is the enemy of politicians. I recommend that all concerned citizens call or e-mail our commissioners and demand public meetings at times that are more accommodating to the majority of citizens.
Remind them that next May we will all have the chance to ELECT commissioners that WILL act in the best interests of the citizens.