Apr 102013
 
U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley D-Oregon

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley
D-Oregon

Washington, DC – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after President Obama sent his 2014 budget request to Congress:

“This budget has both strengths and weaknesses.

“A strength is its investment in infrastructure and education. The president is right to emphasize rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure now when borrowing costs are low and construction can put a lot of people to work. The president is also on the right track in proposing investment in early childhood education and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. We must do more, however, to support k-12 education and to make college more affordable.

“Over the last 15 years we have lost 5 million manufacturing jobs and more than 40,000 factories in America. We must reverse that trend – if we don’t make things in America, we won’t have a middle class in America. That is why I am glad the President has proposed creating manufacturing innovation institutes to create private and public sector partnerships to bring manufacturing jobs to parts of the country that have suffered these job losses.

“However, I strongly disagree with the idea of applying the so-called ‘chained CPI’ to Social Security. ‘Chained CPI’ is DC-speak for cutting the hard-earned benefits for seniors who have worked their whole lives. There’s a view among some in Washington that we have been too generous to our seniors. They are dead wrong. Seniors receive an average of $1,200 a month from Social Security. For more than half of our seniors Social Security constitutes a majority of their income. We should be using a cost-of-living index that accurately reflects the real costs seniors face, not cutting cost-of-living adjustments that are already too low.”

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 Posted by at 3:53 PM
Feb 282013
 
Gold Beach Curry County, OR

Gold Beach
Curry County, OR
The Oregonian photo

In so far as the U.S. Congress can’t seem to agree on anything, perhaps including the time of day, it’s thrown a bucket of ice water on five southwest Oregon counties’ hope for a bail out to compensate for crashing revenues from federal timber lands. Oregon’s congressional delegation has been trying to direct at least some federal revenues at Lane, Douglas Coos, Curry and Josephine counties, but to no avail. The situation in Curry County is so dire that starting July 1st, there will only be two deputies for the whole county and only three jail beds for prisoners – the jail beds contracted out to Coos County, a long way up the road.

beehive

There is a special question on May’s ballot in Curry County, whether to raise local property taxes to support the Sheriff’s Office. The last attempt at such a levy went down rather soundly. The state may have to step in and help with other county functions like tax assessments, elections and other administrative services But other counties are in bad shape as well.

While things have gone from bad to worse, Curry and other county taxpayers have stubbornly resisted paying anything close to a tax rate found in most other Oregon Counties. They say government has gotten too big and that the citizens are short of cash as well.

The Oregonian picks up the story from here. Click here.

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 Posted by at 9:35 PM
Feb 272013
 

newport.city.hall.cameo

CITY OF NEWPORT

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS
MUNICIPAL AUDITING SERVICES

Projected Timeline:
RFP Release February 19, 2013
Proposals Due March 18, 2013 at 4:00 p.m.
Selection of Finalists March 25, 2013
Interviews if Necessary March 27, 20123
Notice of Intent to Award April 1, 2013
Complete Contract Process April 12, 2013
City Council Approval April 15, 2013 Continue reading »

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 Posted by at 12:06 PM
Feb 252013
 
The White House Washington, D.C.

The White House
Washington, D.C.

The White House has released state by state figures on how cuts in federal spending will affect all fifty states, including Oregon, from education to meals to needy families, air traffic controllers at airports to Head Start. The story is in the Oregonian. Click here.

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 Posted by at 12:09 AM
Feb 192013
 

newport.city.hall.cameo

CITY OF NEWPORT

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS
MUNICIPAL AUDITING SERVICES

Projected Timeline:
RFP Release February 19, 2013
Proposals Due March 18, 2013 at 4:00 p.m.
Selection of Finalists March 25, 2013
Interviews if Necessary March 27, 20123
Notice of Intent to Award April 1, 2013
Complete Contract Process April 12, 2013
City Council Approval April 15, 2013 Continue reading »

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 Posted by at 11:54 AM
Feb 092013
 

Gov. Kitzhaber’s O&C Committee stalls in the woods
Can’t agree on how to move forward
The Oregonian photo

It’s the same ole story; some want to cut a lot of timber to create jobs, others want to cut as little as possible to protect the forest environment. The result, Governor Kitzhaber’s O&C Timberlands Task Force ground to a halt and stayed there long enough for Kitzhaber to declare it a draw and to announce, in effect, it’s now up to Washington DC. We tried.

In the meantime, the festering problem of collapsing county governments in O&C counties continues with some predicting another request for another federal government bail-out despite the fact that O&C county property tax rates are far below the state average – having had the luxury of now-gone federal payments on cut O&C trees. The details are in this story from the Oregonian. Click here.

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 Posted by at 11:57 AM
Jan 022013
 


Rep. Elect David Gomberg
District 10

Representative-Elect David Gomberg will be sworn in as State Representative for House District 10 on January 14 during an organizational session of the Oregon Legislature. District 10 ranges from Waldport to Tillamook and inland to Sheridan along Highway 18.

Gomberg has been named Vice Chair of the Human Services and Housing Committee. He will also serve on the budget writing Ways and Means Subcommittee for General Governance and the Education Committee.

“These are great committees,” said Gomberg. “Senior concerns are critical to my new district where half of the population is over the age of 55. A leadership position on Human Services will allow me to continue the great work that Jean Cowan has provided on aging and senior issues.”

“The Education Committee is an ideal place to advocate for our students, our schools and our community colleges.” Gomberg added that it is unusual for a freshman legislator to be appointed to the influential Ways and Means Committee. “I will, of course, be focused on job creation and economic development. But all things considered, I’m pleased with these appointments and the opportunity to champion issues important to Central Oregon Coast.”

Gomberg also announced that Angie Allbee of Newport will be serving as his Chief-of-Staff and District Liaison. The local office phone number will be 541-921-2038. Ethan Krow will serve as Legislative Assistant.

Representative Gomberg has reported his legislative priorities are stimulating the local economy, improving funding for education, overcoming barriers for small businesses, creating local jobs and improving the health and safety of his constituents.

The House will meet for an organizational session January 14-16, 2013, which will include the swearing in of all House members, the official election of the presiding officers and introduction of bills. The 2013 Session will officially begin February 4.

Gomberg can be found in Office 371 on the House side of the Capitol. His mailing address is:

Representative David Gomberg
House District 10
900 Court St
Salem, OR 97301

After January 14, Gomberg can be reached by phone at 503-986-1410 or by email at Rep.DavidGomberg@state.or.us

For more information, please contact Angie Allbee at (541)921-2038.

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 Posted by at 11:47 AM
Dec 302012
 


Lincoln County Commission

When the Lincoln County Commission gavels in their first session of 2013 on Wednesday, they’ll be discussing funding options for local mass transit, changes in membership to the Lincoln County Road Advisory Committee, and these two notable items:

* Amending orders setting the amount of reimbursement for livestock killed by dogs, and
* Review and decision on a claim filed by Tamara Sibley whose chicken was killed by a dog.

Their meeting begins Wednesday, January 2nd, 9:30am at the courthouse.

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 Posted by at 1:53 PM
Dec 182012
 

Jim Voetberg
Newport City Manager

During Monday’s Newport City Council noon Executive Session, city councilors met to discuss their “Performance Evaluation of the City Manager.” While evaluation forms and what is written on them are public documents, what councilors said verbally in connection with them is legally barred from being reported under Executive Session provisions found in state law. Mayor McConnell’s evaluation form contains elaborate doodling but nothing else. In light of the foregoing, McConnell’s views of Jim Voetberg’s job performance over the past year are officially unknown. We release (at the bottom of this story) the only written record of Mayor McConnell’s participation in Jim Voetberg’s evaluation during Monday’s Executive Session.

By Dean Sawyer, City Councilor

Jim Voetberg received a fairly solid report card from most of his city councilors based on written evaluations filled out and turned in Monday. However there were areas that some councilors continue to call for improvement.

Councilor Dean Sawyer said in his evaluation that Voetberg is outstanding with the way he works with the city planning commission but only average when it comes to effectively communicating with union members prior to and during the budget process. He noted a level of employee frustration.

As for the way Voetberg communicates with the council, Sawyer was very critical of what he called a lack of response to his emails to Voetberg. That Voetberg needs to be more open and transparent about city business. He said Voetberg does not inform the council in a timely way on issues that require council oversight. He said he learns more through the local news media. He also contends that Voetberg does not identify or share important issues with the council in a timely manner. Sawyer adds that Voetberg does not respond to council questions and requests for information in a timely or accurate manner. He says Voetberg avoids requests and openness.

However, Sawyer said when dealing with identified issues, Voetberg offers more than one option on critical issues. Sawyer said he likes that.

In terms of managing the city’s money, Sawyer says Voetberg’s performance at ensuring the city budget is properly prepared and executed and that funds are properly managed is outstanding. His collaboration with the council and the council’s advisory budget committee is also outstanding. Sawyer gives Voetbert a solid good rating for setting realistic budget priorities and offers projects that have sufficient resources to see them through. Voetberg, says Sawyer, finds ways to shave costs from projects which ensures better budget stability. Sawyer also gave Voetberg an outstanding score on the way he advises the council on city spending and status of projects every month. Even upon request. However, Sawyer wants Voetberg to get busy collecting fees and fines owed to the city, some of which have been unpaid for years.

When it comes to supervision, Sawyer gave Voetberg average-to-good marks on respecting and encouraging employee opinions about work related matters. An average score on teamwork and collaboration between management and staff. He gave Voetberg higher marks for ensuring safe and professional work environments, and employee training to ensure a competent work force.

Sawyer gave Voetberg high marks for the way he works with the city attorney to ensure city ordinances are fairly enforced and that he ensures compliance with state and locals laws and ordinances.

Sawyer says Voetberg works well with other government agencies and their staff as well as the many citizen advisory boards within the city itself.

Sawyer gave Voetberg only an average rating when it comes to providing goals and visions for the city. Sawyer says Voetberg still doesn’t seem to have a greater vision for the city’s future.

On other matters of leadership Sawyer says Voetberg does a good job with preparing the community for emergencies and disasters, about average on reducing problems of the city, but that he works very well with employees when reducing or eliminating problems. He’s also very good at promoting efficiencies in the city’s overall operations.

However, Sawyer says Voetberg still deflects too much blame onto city department heads for city problems and that he deserves low marks when it comes to decision making about lawsuits.

Sawyer says Voetberg goes out of his way to assist citizens with their issues at city hall and that he responds in an outstanding way to concerns from citizens. Sawyers really likes the way Voetberg is out in the community and attends many civic and social service group meetings. He says Voetberg does only an okay job with relationships with the news media.

Sawyer says Voetberg understands his job and its duties very well and that his performance is very much improved. But Sawyer continued to complain about what he calls a failure to share information in a timely and accurate manner.

However, when it comes to working well with the business community and major city projects, Sawyer gives Voetberg the highest marks, especially when it comes to Walgreens, protecting the city’s interest, dealing with the chamber and doing the heavy lifting to raise new revenues to improve the town’s sewer and water systems. He also likes the way Voetberg is pursuing the under-grounding of unsightly utility poles and lines along Highway 101 through town.

By Councilor Dich Beemer

Councilor Dick Beemer gave Voetberg middle of the road marks for employee relations, teamwork, sharing ideas, ensuring a safe and professional environment, worker training, and respecting and encouraging department heads. Beemer also gave average marks for Voetberg’s efforts to ensure that city laws and regulations are fairly enforced, his working relationship with the community, effective communication with community partners and relations with city advisory committees.

Beemer gave Voetberg average marks for listening skills, executing strategies to achieve city goals, mission and values and the way he prioritizes city policies.

In the area of council relations Beemer gave Voetberg average ratings for being a good communicator, for being open and transparent on city issues, offering the council choices on important matters and responding to city council questions.

Beemer also gave Voetberg average marks for dealing with the city’s budget process, reflecting goals and objectives of the city, finding cost savings in the budget, and for making sound business decisions.

By City Councilor and Mayor-elect Sandra Roumagoux

Councilor Roumagoux gave Voetberg average marks for the way he supervises department heads and other employees, the way he offers ideas, encourages teamwork and collaboration.

Roumagoux gave Voetberg higher marks for the way he ensures that city ordinances and regulations are fairly enforced, how he relates and establishes working relationships with the public, along with government partners and city advisory boards and committees.

Roumagoux graded Voetberg as average in the way he listens to people, articulates city strategies, ethics, understanding of critical issues, evaluates major problems and the way he assumes responsibility for his actions.

Roumagoux gave average marks in the way he handles citizen complaints but higher marks in his general relations with the community in his responding to citizen concerns, engages citizens and other groups on critical issues, attends community meetings and his relationship with the news media and the city council.

Roumagoux gave Voetberg good marks for the way he understands his job, enforces timelines for projects, his written and verbal skills and in the way he shares information in a timely and accuragte manner.

Roumagoux says Voetberg ranks highly in the way he works with developers while protecting the city’s interest, increasing the city’s tax base and the way he seeks funding for big projects. Roumagoux said Voetberg works well with union workers and that he’s open and transparent while conducting the city’s business.

Roumagoux says Voetberg keeps the city in the loop on major issues and that he offers options and information in a timely manner and that he’s open and transparent with the council.

Roumagoux also had high praise for Voetberg in the way he handles the city budget and for collaborating with the council in developing and then acting on the budget throughout the fiscal year.

Roumagoux singled out Voetberg’s performance in dealing with the Dennis Reno lawsuit as outstanding, keeping the council in the loop in what was a very difficult piece of litigation that cost the city a $60,000 portion of the total $210,000 that Reno was awarded by a federal judge over allegations of wrongful termination and retaliation of a whistleblower.

By Councilor Lon Brusselback

Councilor Brusselback gave Voetberg average ratings throughout many of the above categories of city manager behavior. Brusselback gave Voetberg good ratings in his relationships with the citizenry and other public agencies. Brusselback said Voetberg is a good listener. Brussel back especially likes Voetberg’s realistic attitude toward constructing city budgets that are reasonable and in accordance with city finance capabilities. Brusselback said Voetberg is ethical, has command of the issues, has a proactive approach to solving problems, assumes responsibility for his actions and well understands his job.

Brusselback does not like the evaluation form formats. Too confining in certain areas, he claims.

Councilor David Allen

Councilor Allen was more critical of Voetberg’s job performance. He rated Voetberg low on the way he respects and encourages employee opinions about work-related matters. That he’s weak on encouraging teamwork and collaboration between management and staff. On other matters of policy execution, government relations and leadership, Allen gave Voetberg and average rating.

But in terms of ethics he gave Voetberg a less than average grade, also for his command of critical issues, identifying potential problems and executing solutions and for not having a good approach to problem solving. Allen gave Voetberg a failing grade on the issue of accepting responsibility for his actions and the result of his actions.

In terms of community relations, Allen gave Voetberg average grades but downgraded Voetberg’s performance in communicating well with the news media and with the public on city activities. In general, Allen gave Voetberg a low grade on the way he shares information in a timely and accurate manner.

In terms of economic development Allen gave Voetberg average to low scores.

By Councilor Jeff Bertueit

Councilor Bertuleit gave Voetberg average to good scores in terms of his supervisory performance with staff and department heads. Good to average marks for the way he executes city policies, government relations, but only average to below average marks on his leadership in terms of describing and executing strategies to meet the city’s goals, values, and mission. Bertuleit gave average to good marks on Voetberg’s ethics, command of critical issues, and promoting efficiencies in city operations.

In terms of community relations, Bertuleit gave Voetberg a poor rating in the way he handles citizens complaints and a likewize poor rating in his dealings with the news media. Bertuleit did give high marks that Voetberg gets around the community very well and is active with a number of community groups.

Bertuleit gave average to good marks on Voetberg’s performance of his administrative duties but downgraded him in the way he shares information in a timely and accurate matter.

On economic development Bertuleit gave mixed gradings; average on working with developers and in protecting the city’s interest, a good rating in the way he seeks funding for critical infrastructure programs, but poor marks toward working to expand the city’s tax base and therefore revenue flow into city coffers. He also downgraded Voetberg with regard to short and long term initiatives to enhance economic development.

Bertuleit was generally critical of Voetberg’s relationship with the council judging him deficient in openness and transparency with the council, giving timely and necessary information on matters that require city council oversight and in answering council questions quickly and accurately.

In terms of financial management, Bertuleit gave Voetberg higher marks in terms of budget preparedness, setting realistic budget goals, progress reports on the way city funds are being spent on under-construction projects and in the way he shares budget audit results with the council.

By Mayor Mark McConnell:

Mayor McConnell left his form blank except for some elaborate doodling. His verbal comments about his evaluation of Voetberg are not legally releasable to the public under Oregon’s Executive Session provisions.

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 Posted by at 2:33 PM
Dec 152012
 

Coast Street and W. Olive, Newport

A small but committed group of Newport area folks braved the cold wind and occasional rain to show their sign, shine their candles and support each other in opposing gun violence in this country. It was part of a nationwide outpouring of resolve, through MoveOn.org, to once again call attention to what is termed America’s more than two century love affair with guns; especially recently with semi-automatic weapons which, at the hands of a deranged man this week in Connecticut, mowed down 20 children and six adults, including himself. Last week three people died in a similar incident at Clackamas Town Center. In both incidents after the gunmen stopped shooting, they shot themselves.

Meanwhile, Oregon state lawmakers are being asked to begin working toward a bill to outlaw semi-automatic weapons being sold in Oregon, weapons which are called very efficient at killing large numbers of people very quickly.

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 Posted by at 5:54 PM