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How not to fund a police force

Motorists behaving badly? Then ticket them, but don't do it for profit

Gold Hill's municipal court judge wonders whether the city might be trying to support its police department by writing more tickets.

Gee ' you think?

The total value of Gold Hill citations soared from &

36;1,683 heard in September to &

36;8,048 heard this month. As of last week, the total for November's court session stood at &

36;10,558, and the month wasn't even half over.

That alone should raise suspicions, but Police Chief Dean Muchow removed all doubt in his September department report, in which he discussed hiring a third officer:

A way to finance this officer, and also help pay for gas, citation books and other forms, would be through traffic and ordinance citations, Muchow wrote.

That certainly seems like an open-and-shut case.

— But Muchow wasn't finished. He helped the City Council draft an amendment to city law to increase the city's share of citation fees.

Under state law, the city must impose a unitary assessment for each violation and send that portion of the fine to the state. The amount of the assessment is set by the Legislature for each type of violation, and the state uses the money for specific purposes related to criminal justice.

Needless to say, funding a third officer for the Gold Hill Police Department is not high on the state's list of priorities.

Gold Hill's city attorney wisely advised the city to continue paying unitary assessments to the state and to revoke the new ordinance.

A police chief has no business drafting city ordinances. And the prospect of a city setting out to support its police department by writing citations is an open invitation for abuse.

If unsafe driving is really a problem, by all means, issue more citations. But don't hire an officer whose salary depends on traffic fines.

A simple solution For the first time in 50 years, chinook salmon are showing up in rural Lake Creek, thanks to a common-sense ' and relatively inexpensive ' reconstruction of a fish ladder in Eagle Point.

The new fish ladder on Little Butte Creek allows salmon to easily skirt a diversion dam at the Butte Creek Mill. Previously, fish had to navigate a two-jump ladder that often was impassable in the low-water conditions of September and October, the peak time for migrating salmon.

The beauty of this project, much of which was completed with volunteer help, is that it greatly expands the spawning grounds of one of the Rogue River's main tributaries and does it for the relatively paltry sum of &

36;250,000.

Now, &

36;250,000 is real money to most of us, but when it comes to improving fish migration, it's not much. Elsewhere along the West Coast, federal managers, environmentalists and dam-dependent businesses and farmers spend that much every time a fisheries lawyer clears his throat.

Most of the money for the project came from Pacific Power, as part of a mitigation requirement related to work being done on the Rogue River. The Oregon State Police and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife helped coordinate the project along with volunteers from, among other places, the Little Butte Creek Watershed Council.

And it was work well done. Now maybe they could take a crack at the Columbia River?

Correction

Eighty-five applications for a Measure 37 exemption have been approved and eight rejected by Jackson County. A total of 189 applications have been filed in Jackson County. An editorial in Sunday's Mail Tribune gave an incorrect number of approvals.