Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Amy Thuren doesn't like to make trouble.

"I am a builder, not a complainer. We have county commissioners so we can have genuine, active citizen involvement, and it isn't happening."

                    Amy Thuren, Candidate for Jackson County Commissioner.


Amy Thuren is a reluctant critic. "What I discovered energized me." she said. "I like Rick Dyer, but I can do better in the core job of a County Commissioner, to make sure county government represents the people of the county." 

Amy Thuren
Thuren has been attending County Commissioner meetings and reading minutes of past meetings. That is when she realized that the minutes of the meetings of the Economic Development Advisory Committee were missing for the past two years. "They aren't there because it stopped meeting. It went dormant."

Rick Dyer is the liaison to that committee, Thuren noted.  Amy Thuren is running for County Commissioner, position 1, Rick Dyer's position.

"Then I realized it actually got worse. Two other important citizen advisory committees, the Mental Health Advisory Committee and the Local Alcohol and Drug Planning Committee appear to have gone dormant as well. There hadn't been enough participation to make quorums."

Thuren had done the research, then checked it with County Administrator Danny Jordan, to be sure she understood it correctly. "It just seemed too big a mistake to be true." 

2012  --  Don Skundrick liaison.  Met 11 times.
2013  --  Don Skundrick liaison. Met 10 times.
2014  --  Don Skundrick liaison.  Met 5 times.
2015  --  Rick Dyer liaison. Met 4 times.
2016  --  Rick Dyer liaison. Met 2 times.
2017  --  Did not meet.
2018  --  Has not met.

Thuren said there is a lot of wisdom on the Economic Development Committee, if they and others were used effectively. She noted the Committee included, at different times, Stephen Gambee, Jay Harland, Curtis Burrill, Randy Jones, Bill Thorndike, Monte Mendenhall, Steve Vincent, and Art Baden.

Thuren said that without vigorous citizen involvement important work doesn't get done. She cited the problem that emerged for Sue Kupillas, a former County Commissioner and a leader in the rebuild of the historic Butte Creek Mill in Eagle Point. She appealed to the county for $100,000 toward this economic development project. Even the lay members of the Budget Committee realized that the county had dropped the ball, Thuren said. They asked what policy and procedure the county had in place to review grant requests of this kind. There wasn't one. No criteria, no basis for comparing one project versus another, nothing.

SOREDI logo
Thuren said that SOREDI was a good tool for the county, but it was not a replacement for active and direct involvement of county government. "We own an airport. We have a Planning Department and a Public Works Department. We rezone land, build and improve roads, make decisions on air and water quality. We have the responsibility for law enforcement in most of the area of the county. County government has tools SOREDI does not."

"SOREDI is a partner, not a replacement, for county leadership."

Thuren said the lack of citizen engagement in the area of mental health and drug addiction left her dismayed, particularly since elected officials are floating an idea to the public that we may need to tax ourselves to fund the largest bond issue in Jackson County history. "The county is considering a $100 million dollar jail, with 1,000 cells--a gigantic endeavor. A jail that huge represents a failure of our mental health and addiction treatment system, on top of a housing crisis. Thuren said that the county needs, "first of all, the active, energized involvement with everyone working on the precursors of incarceration. We need to coordinate mental health and addictions. Otherwise we will fill up that jail and need another one." 

"The public isn't going accept a project with that price tag until the county works out a plan that addresses mental health and addiction."

From Rick Dyer's Voters Pamphlet
Thuren said that she discovered that even as a non-elected citizen witness that she was bringing changes to the county. "After I brought questions about this to County Administrator Danny Jordan, within a week he brought a recommendation to the board to change in the bylaws, to reduce the number of meetings to a single one per year. They were out of compliance with their own rules so the immediate fix was to change the rules so the Commissioners are back in compliance. But, of course, the right thing to do is engage the business leaders consistently and proactively."

Thuren noted that Dyer listed among his achievements in the Voters Pamphlet his involvement with Mental Health, Addictions, and Economic Development.

"I was blown away. It isn't enough to talk about doing it. I saw his voters pamphlet, I saw the way citizen involvement was dropping away, and I just decided I needed to speak up and do something about it."

Thuren said that this campaign was not simply a choice between two people. It was also a choice by voters of how they wanted the job of commissioner done. "My whole career, as Executive Director at my current work, at the Red Cross, and at Consumer Credit Counseling, is about involving board and staff leadership so there is full involvement of the stakeholders."

Another iteration
Thuren said she received her information on county involvement the old fashioned way, by doing her homework. She said she is attending weekly meetings, studying the minutes, talking with the County Administrator, talking with Department Heads, and talking with citizens.

"I want to be a county commissioner who connects the citizens, businesses, and organizations back to the county. The way to do that is to involve them."






4 comments:

  1. Ties in well with your series of posts a while back about how the Mail Tribune doesn't report on the Commissioner's anymore, and hasn't for a loooooong while.

    Someone should have interviewed Skundrick on his way out, declining to serve another term.

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  2. It appears the Mail Tribune was lacking in their assement of Dyer’s leadership skills and commitment to serve. Dyer hasn’t shown himself to be a strong leader, and at times hasn’t met the minimum expectations of the job. The fact that he has one term under his belt does not make him the superior choice, as determined by the Mail Tribune. Amy has shown that she can bring energy, enthusiasm and creative solutions to a variety of community challenges. She doesn’t need someone to lower the bar to meet her abilities. It’s tine for a fresh face on the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.

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  3. They also do not fulfill their responsibility to serve as liaison with the Jackson County Vector Control District. They do not attend JCVCD's board meetings and, contrary to requirements of Oregon State Law, they refuse to serve as "county court" to hear concerns of the community. Both Roberts and Dyer have held liaison assignments in the last four years and are well aware of widespread citizen concerns and public outcry regarding aerosol spraying in our neighborhoods of highly toxic chemicals, almost daily spring through to Sept.

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  4. We need more focus on mental health and addiction recovery than the county is currently giving. I trust Amy to make that happen.

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