Read Our Most Recent Round Robin Newsletter Articles
Judge Grasty is planning to retire at the end of 2016.
He began the last County Court meeting in May by dispelling rumors that he had opposed investments of Google and Facebook in Harney County. He reported learning after the fact that Facebook had invested $500,000 in infrastructures in Harney County.
So, yours truly, asked him to dispel another rumor on June 1. Namely that he was going to continue on as a consultant to the County Court.
Here are just a few unrelated facts that sometimes arrive as an ahhh-haaaaa moment:
Planning for our local Comprehensive Land Use Review is underway. Local meetings will be announced after a practice meeting vets out possible opposition and arguments. With prepared responses the meetings are expected to move along smoothly.
A group of Harney County ranchers and the Western Lands Resource Center put on a BBQ on May 23rd. What is the Western Lands Resource Center? Besides a great meal by Merle and Windy Reid and beer courtesy of Rick Roy, I learned the following:
Brenden Cain informed me that he was leaving the BLM as of June 30th to join the Forest Service in Illinois. He and Teri want to be closer to their families in the mid-west. An acting administrator will be named while the District searches for a new Director.
Brenden explained that the Western Lands Resource Center is a new locally driven group and will be recreated within District areas throughout the west. That is why their announcement referenced both local and national 501(c)3 status.
Phil Taylot, E&E reporter
Former Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey was "personally and substantially" involved in the sale of federal lands in Nevada that would have earned his future consulting firm $528,000, in violation of an ethics pledge he signed, the Interior Department Office of Inspector General said in a report released today.
The report also concluded that Mike Ford, a consultant and former BLM employee who was Abbey's business partner before and after Abbey's tenure as BLM director, leveraged his connections to agency leadership to gain insider knowledge of the land sale and expedite its approval.
Reporter: Gayle Dixon
Imagine seeing a band of horses running across the desert, the mares and foals in the lead with the stallion bringing up the rear. This is the symbol of the freedom of the American west. The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 put the BLM in charge of managing these horses in balance with the ecology and other uses of the land. Prior to this, the wild horses were managed by the local ranchers and/or the mustangers that captured or killed the horses for dog food and rendering plants. At the time these mustangers were about to rid the country of the entire herd of wild horses which brought on this act to save them.
On Monday my fellow legislators and I will have the opportunity to hear the results of a long-awaited study outlining the potential effects of the largest tax increase in Oregon history. Initiative Petition 28, which was proposed by a cohort of liberal activists calling themselves Our Oregon, would bring in an estimated $5 billion every two years by imposing a new tax on gross receipts from the sale of consumer goods in Oregon. Although this tax, according to Our Oregon, is supposedly targeted at large and out-of-state businesses, the cost will inevitably be passed on to consumers and small businesses. Prices will rise and jobs will be lost.
Posted: Friday, May 20, 2016 2:27 am
A recall petition against a Harney County official has gathered enough signatures to force him to resign or face a recall election.
While the big news of the week is that a recall petition has been filed against a Harney County official (Commissioner Steve Grasty), the media always continues with “who did not support the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.” Does one really have to do with the other? Not necessarily.
While I did not sign the petition, I have attended County Court meetings for years and have voiced opposition to County over-reach in land use and other matters. Giving Bundy credit for our community awakening to long festering internal problems only serves to open fresh wounds and divert attention from the real issues.
News Release from Oregon State Sheriffs' Assoc.
May 12th, 2016 1:05 PM
The Oregon State Sheriffs Association (OSSA) along with numerous other organizations have reviewed the newest management plan released by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for 2.5 million acres of O&C timberland here in Oregon. OSSA takes a strong interest in this plan because federal law provides that the primary use of these O&C lands is to be used for a sustainable timber harvest that provides a revenue stream for Oregon counties. That revenue stream is supposed to help these counties provide a variety of public services, including law enforcement. Quite simply, the BLM plan ignores clear law and proposes a timber harvest plan that will continue to place these counties in a fiscal crisis.
The Harney County Budget Board met on April 13, 14 and 27, 2016. Members of the Board include Curt Blackburn, Teri Hellbush, Holly Smith and the County Commissioners. The public is welcome to attend. Attendance included administrative assistant, Sharon Johnson, and several primary candidates. Fiscal year begins July 1.
Topics of the conversation so far have included:
- Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) – The State has been trying to fix PERS ever since it was implemented and it is now into Tier III of newer employees in trying to downsize government liability. The program is tied to the stock market. The State Legislature never took rules off. It guarantees Tier I (original) employees a 8% return on their accounts. Employees contribute 6% of their wages while the employer has paid 12.1%, and that may go to 18%.
At the request of Judge Steve Grasty, the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) attended a County Court meeting and offered funding towards a review of our Comprehensive Land Use Plan specific to their Goal 5. Goal 5 provides statewide planning goals and guidelines for natural resources, scenic and historic areas and open spaces.
Our County Commissioners accepted the offer of funding with the option to say “NO Thank You” at the end of the lengthy process. Harney County will be the first to initiate this process with the State.
Mary Ausmus attended the October 7th County Court to question my public comments in the previous meeting. Specifically, why should the County Court wait until after the 2016 elections to review our County Comprehensive Plan?
My short answer was to involve more people. For the sake of discussion, however, a broader explanation was warranted.
I support a review of the Comprehensive Plan. As we will have a new Judge and at least one new Commissioner, it would be the best training possible for new members of our Court. After all, it will be their job to implement. Should they not have some say in its contents?
Complicating the issue is the funding source. As I outlined in a letter dated 8-25-15, the funding source was offered by visiting representatives of the Strategic Plan for the Land Conservation and Development (LCDC). As that letter explained, “initially there is an offer of $30-40,000 and technical assistance to help us review our comprehensive plan, with the expectation from LCDC that the planning process would “hit middle ground” on limiting conflicting uses. The process would have to compare and contrast our current comprehensive plan with their Administrative Rule. “Simplistically worded there would have to be findings of equivalence,” stated Director Jim Rue. More money can be available by the first week in January for consultants, overtime for our local planner, bird biologist, etc.” This is the same outfit that, along with ODF&W, has brought us the Sage Grouse Rules.