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Thanks to commissioner for clarifying things

I never thought I’d ever say this, but thank you, Doug Briedenthal.

I remember back when you were campaigning and you told folks in the Ruch School cafeteria that the O&C Lands had been given to the counties by the railroads and then taken away by the federal government. We met again a few months after you were elected and you could not recall the statement. Even later you loaned me a book on the history of the O&C counties and it covered decades of political maneuvering but said nothing about land management.

Of course I knew you were cozy with the Association of O&C Counties, having heard you speak with them. But this whole new business with the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC), well, I can’t help but thank you for that.

It seems the AOC set up a special account just for you so you could pursue an office with “a little-known group, Western Interstate Region” (MT, 12/5/15). Sure looks like an expensive office. Makes me wonder what you do to campaign for an office with the WIR. Did you buy ads? Conduct polls? Print cards and flyers, brochures even? Did you buy yard signs?

Or is all that money just to attend conferences and schmooze your way into higher office? It’s pretty clear you really like conferences, travelling and living in comfortable suites. I certainly hope the county got something out of travels that required you to miss 30 commissioner meetings this year.

So I really have to thank you for letting the cat out of the bag. Here we are, us poor citizens, clearly ignorant about the inner workings of our government, learning our county belongs to an Association of Counties that includes in its mission the support of elected county officials to pursue political ambitions.

Not only that, we’re part of something called the Western Interstate Region, where positions of influence require the ingestion of $1,000 seafood platters. Clearly all that seafood must have stimulated your brain cells.

So thank you, but as a citizen I’m wondering what my county gets by being part of the AOC and WIR. I’m probably ignorant of all the wonderful jobs they’ve created for Jackson County, the grants to civic and educational projects, assistance with planning and development and all the other stuff these kinds of groups do when they gather in suites for 30 people. I know I’m just a poor taxpayer, but I sure would like to know what we get for the money we spend on these organizations, including the extensive travel required by our county commissioners.

I know it must be frustrating to have the Oregon Ethics Commission looking into all this. I hope they realize what a public service you’ve done by revealing all this behind-the-scenes stuff to the voters. Of course you’ve only done something wrong if you personally benefited and we all know that you were just doing your job, enjoying all those trips. The ethics folk have a limited view of unethical behavior, so you’ll probably be cleared of any wrongdoing because you did not “personally benefit. “

So thank you. I’m still wondering, however, how the citizens who elected you will benefit.

Jack Duggan lives in the Applegate Valley.