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Posts published in “Day: March 24, 2021”

A mad, mad, mad, mad county


We pay them each $78,265.44 per year.

Every month, we pay them $6,522.12 apiece to oversee the county’s various departments, to liaise with department leaders, to make sure the business of Yamhill County gets done.

At a time when the nation is starved for unity, two of our so-called nonpartisan county commissioners are going well outside the scope of their duties to enact pointless, divisive, unnecessary hyper-partisan legislation. After a year of quarantine, we have an anxious public, some worried about the safety of COVID vaccinations, others scrambling to secure a vaccination. The local economy is in shambles after a year of lockdown. Homelessness is rampant, worse than it’s ever been in this area. Yet Yamhill County Commissioners Mary Starrett and Lindsay Berschauer are focused on getting a high-profile and largely pointless gun sanctuary measure passed. And we are paying them handsomely for this exercise in personal grandstanding.

I want to be clear it’s not the subject of firearms that chafes me. In fact, I’ve participated in a great deal of recent discussion on firearms regulation and I am convinced a firmly centrist approach with two-way dialogue is the only way to proceed on that issue.

No, it’s not the issue that bugs me. It’s the overwrought departure from the traditional duties of a Yamhill County commissioner. Even though positions are technically nonpartisan, everyone knows Commissioner Casey Kulla is a pretty firm Democrat. Likewise, Commissioners Starrett and Berschauer make no secret of their hard right tilt. But at least Commissioner Kulla has the good grace to pretend like he cares about the spectrum of his constituents. Many people even believe he actually tries to represent a broad swath. By contrast, Starrett and Berschauer seem to enjoy nothing more than giving a hearty “up yours!” to Democrats, centrists, moderates and even some sane Republicans. No pretense of consideration outside the base.

We’re paying $156,530.88 of county money to two commissioners who do not give the tiniest crap about half of their constituents. Not even enough of a crap to pretend they like us.

On the heels of the unnecessarily bloody death of the Yamhelas Westsider Trail and the potentially huge debt liability attached to its demise, we were told with a straight face that saddling the county with a two million dollar debt was the correct conservative action — apparently, no one remembered fiscal conservatism. Not a trace of irony and not a shred of concern for the other half.

When challenged about the inappropriate, unnecessary, totally out-of-the-scope-of-their-duties nature of this ridiculous gun sanctuary measure, we’re told gun rights are an important part of life in Yamhill County. So is social security. So is health care. So is the economy. But apparently silly things like health care or the economy aren’t important enough to earn a grandiose look-at-me virtue signal from Starrett and Berschauer. Coming as it does after a year of lockdown, I can’t believe guns have more immediate importance to two of our county commissioners than health care or the economy.

We elected them to run the county, not embark on personal, controversial crusades. If they can’t pretend they like the other half, the least they could do is pretend to be focused on the county — you know, the mundane, administrative tasks they’re supposed to oversee. But that’s the boring stuff that doesn’t garner headlines and attention.

Meanwhile, we’re paying $156,530.88 a year for this giant, unnecessary, pointless exercise in divisive politicking. So many terms come to mind. Out of touch. Tone deaf. Self-serving. Those are the polite ones.