Friday, May 18, 2007

Note To Timber Counties: No, They Weren't Bluffing

In the wake of failed levies to keep public services open in Jackson and Josephine Counties, reliable South-OR blogger Rogue Pundit uses a Grants Pass Courier article (sub reqd) to describe the cutback hammer that fell afterwards--swift:
One-hundred-twenty-five of about 400 county employee positions will be cut, with the bulk of the cuts set to take effect by May 31. About 30 of the 125 eliminated positions are already vacant, county officials said.


Rosemary Padgett, the county's chief financial officer, said ripples from the reductions in force will be felt regionwide.

"We are offering unemployment credit counseling," she said. "These are family-wage earners."

Twenty-eight juvenile justice employees and 11 people in the District Attorney's Office will be cut, with the DA cuts expected to be delayed until September, to clear caseloads. The remainder of cuts will come from other departments, including Animal Control and libraries.

Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson is pulling patrol deputies off the road. He told the Associated Press on Wednesday that could happen as early as Sunday. Gilbertson must lay off 42 of his the 88 employees allowed in his current budget. He already has only 15 of a previously budgeted 21 deputies patrolling the county's 1,642 square miles.
In a previous posting, RP also points to similar--if not more--catastrophic outcomes in Curry County, where the failed vote threatens it with bankruptcy or even complete dissolution of the county itself.

It should be said that RP's commentary tends to blame county officials as much, if not more than, the voters who defeated the levies. It's certainly true that the expiration of county payments has been known since the initial bill was passed in 2000, and even if they hoped it would be extended over the last couple Congressional sessions, they could have seen the writing on the wall from the AWOL response by "representatives" like Gordon Smith and the GOP leadership, as well as a President who still threatens to veto it no matter how it crosses his desk.

But there's a difference between poor foresight and hopefulness that the feds would continue bailing them out, and bluffing voters that deep cuts were going to happen--and that's what many residents apparently thought the counties were doing. It must be a bit of a shock to learn that the criminal justice apparatus in their towns is slated to functionally disappear--or maybe not. Check out some of the comments to the Mail Tribune stories:
We need to get back control of our government and have them work for us instead of us working for them. Cutting our police force isn’t a good thing, but we need to start somewhere.
The solution to this whole thing is not to tax ourselves to prosperity but to manage our taxes where the government is out of our wallets 90% of the time. Josephine county residents are taking things into their own hands. If I were a criminal and knew that concealed carry permits were up, I would probably think twice before committing a crime.

This is great news. I was a little disheartened by the yes votes being so big. Then again, when you live in a welfare state, a lot of people are running aroung with the ability to vote, even when their IQ is less than their body temperature.

No means no. You've heard it twice now. Are you so thick that you still don't understand?

I've lived in Southern Oregon for over 20 years and for that entire time we've had libraries. Well all the reading in the world isn't making you any smarter becuase you still can't grasp the meaning of a simple, two-lettered word...NO!

So that flushes your whole arguement down the toilet, the one about the kids needing libraries and there goes our future.

Screw a librarian today, they just got done trying to screw you.

If we want a place to go 'borrow' books and cozy up and read, then maybe it's time to hand it over to the private sector..charge a rental fee like we do on videos..or a monthly fee for unlimited use. There are video stores all over the place. Must be enough people renting them to support the stores. How about rental book stores....then the people who USE it, will be the ones paying for it.

This is a wake-up call for Jackson County and the State of Oregon to start listening to the people and find a way to fund libraries and other services without proposing any more tax burdens on the local communities.
Yes, if only we can find a way to raise money that we didn't have in the first place, without actually having it cost citizens any money! Should be an easy task--do we have any alchemists in the house?