BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'

REGULAR MEETING

July 7, 2009

10:00 a.m.

Harris Hall Main Floor

APPROVED 7/21/2009

 

Commissioner Pete Sorenson presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Bill Fleenor, Rob Handy and Faye Stewart present.  County Administrator Jeff Spartz, County Counsel Liane Richardson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.

 

1. ADJUSTMENTS TO THE AGENDA

 

Sorenson announced that there will not be a meeting next week.  Fleenor wanted to discuss the Sex Offender Program under item 12 a.

 

2. PUBLIC COMMENTS

 

Leslie Rubenstein, Cottage Grove, said she was in support of the Boardís decision to rescind membership in the AOCC. She urged the Board not to rejoin this year.  She thought under the right circumstances in the future, it might be wise to reconsider joining.  She said the AOCC is not democratic, not representative and not devoted to securing Secure Rural Schools funding for their county.  She reviewed the By-Laws of AOCC and noted that they havenít been revised in 18 years.  She indicated there was vague language open to broad interpretation.  She stated that the Executive Board is three members and they have the right to make a decision in an event of an emergency.  She didnít think it was very democratic.  She thought language could be changed after 18 years.  She said if the AOCC has in its bylaws that it is dedicated exclusively to funding Secure Rural Schools in lieu of past timber payments, she would support membership in the organization.  She commented that right now the language is too loose and there are many other things that have had the attention of the AOCC.  She said with lobbying congressional delegates, it would be better if the organization was devoted to one thing.  She said they have to improve their general lobbying if they want to get funding or any subsequent funding in the future.

 

Doug Robertson, Douglas County Commissioner, said he is President of the Association of O & C Counties and Vice President of the National Forest County and Schools Association.  He said Lane Countyís role in re-authorization of the Secure Rural Schools funding will be pivotal.   He said Senators Wyden, Merkley, Congressman De Fazio and others have identified the Association of  O & C Counties as playing a critical role not only in the first safety net that was accomplished in 1993, but in the three iterations of re-authorization that have occurred since that time.  He said for over 70 years Lane County has been an active participant in the O & C Counties and now more than ever their role is critical.  He noted in September the Association of O & C Counties will join three other major organizations in an effort to work with Congress to create language to address (on a longer term basis) the safety net and county payments issue.  He thought because of the efforts of Senator Wyden and others, they now have a list of counties throughout the country now participating, who werenít participating before..  He stated that it will take a team effort.  He urged the Board of Commissioners to remain an active member of the Association of O & C Counties, to remain a strong advocate for reauthorization and to take part in any and all discussions that impact and affect the O & C lands in the state of Oregon.

 

Carol Berg-Caldwell, Eugene, said she met with Spartz regarding a potential community fund drive plan.  She said they would invite the community to donate what they can afford for County programs they support, programs that in concert work for greater public safety.  She asked if the County could coordinate the fund drive.  She said Spartz indicated that it would require direction from the Board.  She indicated that there have been recent talks about a possible public safety tax.  She said if that doesnít go forward, she hoped the community fund driver will provide some funding support.  She hoped the County employees could coordinate the project.  She said she would be willing to help.  She gave her monthly $20 donation to divide between County programs:  child abuse, domestic violence prevention, mental health, homeless support, drug and alcohol rehab and skills programs at the jail. 

 

Mora Dewey, Cottage Grove, objected to the Association of O & C Counties.  She was against their environmental policy.  She added that she objected to the Northwest Forest Plan.  She said they are a powerful organization and they advise the BLM on many policies.  She commented that the Association of O & C Counties is not only involved in getting the money, but they are involved in telling them how they should spend it.  She thought it was too much involvement.  She said they need to find other organizations to get and spend money that doesnít involve logging or forests.

 

Doug Heiken, Oregon Wild, Eugene, thanked the Board from removing the AOCC dues from the County budget.  He stated that it was important for Lane County to distance itself from the extreme views of the association.  He added those views include selling off public lands to private industry that would result in those lands being clear cut, significant increases in old growth logging on public lands, reduced protection for streams on public lands and urging that the O & C Lands Act from 1937 trumps all the environment laws.  He said the AOCC represents a lot of the same ideas of those who have been losing elections in Lane County in recent years.  He commented that it was troubling that the organization operates in secret.  He said the association needs to come clean on past expenditures of Lane Countyís money. He added the website was not open and disclosing of what they are really about.  He wanted to see if they had a strategic plan that matched their work plan. He wanted to see how they money was spent.  He said maintaining forests adds to the quality of life.  He asked the Board what specific goals they have with membership in the association and what other means they have for accomplishing those goals. He said if the County rejoins the association, they will pay for some things they like and some things they donít like.

 

Peg Reagan, Gold Beach, stated she was a former county commissioner. She thought Lane County should not be a member of AOCC.  She said there are reasons why membership in the O & C Counties does not serve Lane County from a good government perspective to a pro-timber anti-environmental position they have taken over the years.  She had experience as a county commissioner about them not being subject to Oregonís Public Meetings Law, not being an open body.  She added that they have a history of not providing factual information.

 

Samantha Chrillo, Eugene, supported the County leaving the AOCC.   She recalled the AOCC lobbied for the WOPR Alternative 2 that is a liquidation of the remaining old growth forests.  She said it lobbied to turn over federal management of the forests estate management.  She added that meant the forests would be unprotected by federal laws.  She stated the AOCC is not accountable to the public.  She indicated that Benton County pulled out ten years ago.  She said Fleenor and Dwyer are interested in changing the goal of AOCC to lobby for logging in native forests that is premised of fire risk reduction and forest biomass removal as a more environmentally sound alternative to ancient forest clear cutting.  She noted that science doesnít conclusively support that.  She said they should be lobbying the state legislature and governor for a poverty tax on timberland and reinstating the timber harvest tax.  She thought Lane County could be leaders.  She stated that the citizens will resist if the Board decides to stay in AOCC.

 

3. COMMISSIONERS' RESPONSE TO PUBLIC COMMENTS AND/OR OTHER ISSUES AND REMONSTRANCE

 

Dwyer did not support cutting ancient forests, but he thought they could manage their resources in a wise manner that will benefit all of their citizens.  He said the O & C is a compilation of commissioners that represent counties that are affected by federal forest policies.  He thought they could make dramatic changes that will better reflect what their aims and goals are.  He wasnít interested in getting out of the O & C.  He said he would rather make them more representative of what they care about because they are an influential group. He said that timber policies are important to their citizens but it is one of many things.

 

Fleenor agreed with most of Dwyerís comments.  He commented that society changes over time. He said when this association was enacted and bylaws created, there was a different demographic in many of the Oregon counties.  He said over time things change and they are at a moment in time where they need to step back and look at the big picture about where they are today and where they need to go tomorrow.  He hoped they could work toward continuing their membership in the association. He didnít think it was bad to change.  He was supportive of working together with a diversity of stakeholders to come up with a better product.

 

Handy believed the new economy is reliant on them creating jobs and following the path the Siuslaw National Forest.  He noted that they successfully created jobs by improving habitat and drinking water quality and providing work products through thinning the thousands of acres of clear cut forests they have.  He believed the O & C Counties need to come into the 21st century and abandon the narrow timber view.  He thought they could create jobs on resource lands without conflict or controversy by following the model of the Siuslaw and others.  He said they need to put divisive pieces behind them to come together and lobby for the Secure Rural Schools funding and have that be their main mission.

 

Stewart said membership in the AOCC is a difficult topic to talk about because it is emotional and it has created sides.  He said the O & C Act was passed in 1937 and it clearly states that those lands are to generate revenue for the counties and schools.  He believes he has an obligation to uphold the laws of the land and the federal government.  He added that this is a law of the federal government.  He wanted to protect the assets for the citizens of Lane County and what it generates for revenue.  He said he canít turn his back on the organization. He said it is his obligation to find a way to transition into a permanent payment while the act is in place.  He commented that if citizens want to see the act change, they need to be lobbying the federal government to change the act.  He stated currently this is the law and they have to in good faith uphold what the law states and try to protect the vital funds that come to this county.

 

4. EMERGENCY BUSINESS

 

None.

 

5. COMMISSIONERS' BUSINESS

 

a. DISCUSSION/Current Relationship and Structure of the Association of O&C Counties for Purposes of Education and Possible Action to Continue Being a Dues Paying Member.

 

Alex Cuyler, Intergovernmental Relations Manager, distributed a one page information sheet on O & C Counties. (Copy in file).  He said in order to present something to the organization to change the bylaws, they would need to be a fully paid member. He commented that any sort of distractions that make Lane County somehow different could come up in the debate in Congress and those types of distractions donít serve to help Lane County. He added that Lane County plays an important role given the size of the funding and the lands that are within Lane County.

 

Dwyer wanted to make the organization subject to the laws that affect the Open Meetings Law. He thought they were becoming aware that larger trees sequester more carbon and they are a tool to protect from global warming.  He thought they should take advantage of anything that affects the climate of the earth.  He said their public role is to try to provide for the common good and utilize the resources wisely for the benefit of all, not to take an extreme position one way or the other.  He wanted to stay as a member.  He stated that his vote to stay as a member is contingent upon their being responsive to Lane Countyís requests.  He was willing to risk membership in order to give them an opportunity to make the changes.  He said if they are not received in a manner that is appropriate for a county or public agency, that he might change his mind and support the withdrawal.  He indicated that he would be fighting for a permanent method to fund the County.

 

Fleenor saw this as an opportunity to re-invent themselves with respect to the primary mission of providing for the common good.  He commented that if they were to capture the spirit of capitalism from a money making model that includes the cost of maintaining the environment, that as they move forward they are not subsidizing profit at the expense of the environment.  He said they have new technology available that they didnít have in the past.  He said it needs to be coupled into the mission of the O & C where they take advantage of the tools they developed and at the same time add the costs that have not been factored in He said they need to have an organization that is transparent and adheres to the Open Meeting Law.  He stated that they need to have a revised mission statement that reflects todayís economic reality.  He liked the carbon sequestration model where they can look at the forests for carbon sequestration.  He wanted a date certain when each tree would be harvested in the future.

 

Handy wanted to move beyond discussion about who is best upholding their oath of office. He commented that sometimes change is hard and there is different ways to go about making change. He thought this was a great time while they are not dues paying members in the O & C Counties to review what they were doing that could have been a distraction.  He thought the O & C Counties should make the changes  to eliminate the distractions in their organization that has kept the state and the counties from coming together and lobbying Congress as one.

 

Stewart said he is a member of the Board of O & C Counties.  He stated there are a lot of myths.  He said he had never seen an industry person at the meeting, as it had always been commissioners. He said they also have BLM representatives talking about what is going on in the forests.  He said they never gave input about the RAC members that was an appointment by the federal government that takes place in Washington, D.C.  He added that it had never come up as a Board item.  He said they were a cooperating agency that was involved in the Western Oregon Plan Revision as was the Department of Fish and Wildlife and all the other agencies.  He said they were there because they are the recipient of the management that the law states are supposed to take place on those lands.  He indicated that currently the O & C organization had taken a neutral stance on the different lawsuits that have taken place.  He said they gave direction to be supportive of what the BLM has.  He said they are not joining in with the timber industry or the others that have brought suit against the plan.  He said they donít have a different voice, other than what everyone else has.  With regard to giving notice, he receives a meeting notice and there is a second notice that goes to each commissionerís box to note the meeting times and places.  He didnít believe the meetings were closed meeting as an organization.  He brought to the organization how they should be mindful of the carbon cap and trade bills that might be taking place and how they need to take a position and be part of the process.  He thought it might be a small way for them to transition into a different payment program.  He also thought it was a way to encourage healthy forest stewardship different than sustainable harvests. 

 

Dwyer said meaningful change is always good to examine what they could do better and to learn from past mistakes.  He thought they could all work for the common good instead of taking an extreme position that furthers one groupís aim. 

 

MOTION: to form a Lane County Association of O & C Counties workgroup to make recommendations to the Board of Commissioners with respect to proposals to continue membership.  He requested that the work group consist of two county commissioners, Alex Cuyler, Liane Richardson and three citizens the commissioners would appoint.  He said they would do this with the intention of having a report back to the Board not more than 60 days so they can make a decision whether or not they want to move forward.

 

Fleenor MOVED, Dwyer SECONDED.

 

Handy thought Stewart and Fleenor should be the commissioners on the committee.  He wanted to amend the motion that three citizen members  be an appointee of the remaining three commissioners  He also wanted a sunset of three months to come back to the Board with recommendations.

 

Stewart wasnít sure what the goal of the newly formed committee was.  He didnít know if the committee would make a recommendation on whether or not they should stay a member of the O & C Counties or if things could be changed.  He asked how they would transition into that because Lane County couldnít present anything before the body unless they are a member.  He thought it was important that they maintain membership in the O & C Counties.  He stated that as a member of the Board, their focus has been on reauthorization.  He added that they chose to make comments on a plan revision.  He said he makes sure he upholds the laws and maintains property rights and does things that the citizens expect.  He believed they have an obligation to uphold the law.  He commented that if they donít want to uphold the law, they need to find a different way to replace the asset.  He recalled Congressman DeFazio stated that O & C was critical in the reauthorization and the effort they did.  He noted that they have a coalition with the National Forest Counties and Schools and the Nation Association of Counties that have been working together.  He thought it was critical to find a solution and they are part of a team and effort to make that happen.  He said there were opportunities to take bylaw changes to the organization at their annual meeting.

 

Dwyer agreed that Fleenor and Stewart should be on the committee.  He also thought Doug Heinken would be a good representative.  He also recommended Dale Riddle and Jared Mason-Gere.  He wanted to appoint these people on the committee and the charge would be to report back to the Board not more than 60 days. 

 

Fleenor accepted Dwyerís amendment.

 

Handy supported the motion.  He thought it was important for the committee to hash out the issues.  He thought any counties could make recommendations to change bylaws.  He thought they currently should not be paying dues to O & C., with the commitment that if they see changes they will come back to the table and will be part of the group.

 

Sorenson indicated that he would support the motion.  He commented that if he doesnít see changes on the website or the structure of the organization of the willingness to adopt a more reasonable perspective, then their work will be in vein. He said if they find after the task force meets and the association makes changes in responses to their decision to stop paying them, then maybe the task force idea will be good.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

6. COMMITTEE REPORTS

 

a.  ORDER 09-7-7-1 Adopting Positions on Legislative Issues During the 75th Legislative Session And/Or 111th United States Congress.

 

Alex Cuyler, Intergovernmental Relations Manager, discussed HR2673, introduced by Congressman DeFazio in June, providing equity between a member the military and their spouse with regard to a pension.

 

MOTION: to support HR 2673

 

Dwyer MOVED, Stewart SECONDED

 

VOTE: 5-0

 

Cuyler discussed HR 2454. (Copy in file).

 

MOTION: to support HR 2454.

 

Dwyer MOVED, Stewart SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

7. COUNTY ADMINISTRATION

 

a. Announcements

 

Spartz announced that Lane County received the GOFAís Certificate of Conformance regarding the 2008/2009 Budget. He added that it represents a national standard for reporting and disclosure of financial information.  He recalled that Lane County has received this award for a number of years.  He reported that he had a conference call yesterday with their financial advisors on the Build American Bonds, funding the federal government is making available.  He said they are giving Lane County an $8.9 million allocation for recovery zone economic development bonds.  He commented what was nice about the bonds was that they could designate any part of the County to use them in.  He thought due to the economic conditions that most of the County could qualify.  He added they are taxable bonds, but whatever rate they have to pay in the market place to carry them, the federal government rebates 45 percent of the interest costs.  He indicated the second allocation is for about $13.5 million.  He said they are recovery zone facility bonds they would issue on behalf of private organizations that would want to do economic development.  He noted the rate on the bond would be dependent upon the credit market.

 

8. PERFORMANCE AUDITOR

 

a. Announcements

 

Stewart Bolinger, Internal Auditor, stated that he completed technical research for the precautionary principle results. He indicated that he was waiting for responses to his questions from the city of Berkeley.

There being no further business, Commissioner Sorenson recessed the meeting at 12:15 p.m.

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary