31 October 2012 by Published in: Opinion No comments yet

Vote for Statesmanship

Editorial Comments

by Deborah Steele Hazen

and Adam J. Wehrley

A few years ago, after decades of observing local and county politics; after witnessing how our leaders interacted with officials at the state and even the national levels, we came to a conclusion.

It’s all about relationships.

Successful leaders build strong relationships. That is how they succeed.

Good leaders don’t demonize those who disagree with them and make sweeping accusations and judgments.

All conservatives are not either greedy millionaires nor stupid rednecks. All liberals are not afflicted with a “mental disease.”

If we could get past the name-calling and partisanship, the distrust and ill-will they create, we could make a lot more progress towards solving problems.

Sometimes it seems that Americans are our own worst enemies. We argue over our differences so ferociously, that we forget to celebrate our mutual freedom and prosperity – yes, even in this long, worrisome recession, we are still far more prosperous than most of the world.

We must remember that we are all Americans – our ancestors may have come from different countries, we may have different languages, cultures and religions, but we share this country, this system of government, and a common future that lies in our hands.

If we forget that. If we fight so much among ourselves that we are weakened from within, it makes us much more vulnerable to the forces from without that would seek to destroy America and the freedom for which it stands.

That said, this newspaper is endorsing Mitt Romney for president.

We listened to every word of the three presidential debates as well as the vice presidential debate. At times, especially in the last presidential debate on issues related to foreign policy, we were surprised at the similarities between the two candidates.

What President Obama said during that debate seemed quite different than the attitudes we have witnessed during the past almost four years.

As much as we would like to, we cannot forget the image of the American president bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia. The leader of the free world should never bow to anyone, let alone the monarch of a nation which keeps its women in virtual slavery.

We have heard the denials, but we believe that President Obama has snubbed, more than once, our strongest ally in the Middle East – Israel.

He and his surrogates deny it, but some of the speeches we have heard President Obama give in Islamic countries or at the United Nations sound like apologies and appeasement. Those countries teetering on the brink of Islamic extremism might say they like us better because our president appeases them, but they respect us less. It is better to be in a position of strength when dealing with extremists.

We are very concerned about the episode last March in which President Obama and outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev were in a private conversation which was heard by the international press over a microphone that the two presidents didn’t know was on. The conversation was about the U.S.-led NATO missile defense system in Europe. President Obama asked President Medvedev for more time on the issue. “This is my last election,” Obama told Medvedev. “After my election I have more flexibility.”

“I understand,” replied Medvedev, “I will transmit this information to Vladimir.” Vladimir Putin, the in-coming president, the former communist KGB officer.

We understand that private negotiations take place between the American president and leaders of other nations. But, what is it that Obama will be willing to negotiate after the election, that he wasn’t willing to negotiate – and eventually announce to the American people – before the election.

Has America made mistakes in foreign policy in the past under various administrations – both Republican and Democrat? Of course, but, by and large we have used our strength for good, and we have done that more than any other nation in the history of the world.

We are afraid that President Obama – who had a very different upbringing than most Americans, a very different upbringing from most African-Americans (read his book “Dreams From My Father”), – believes in leveling the playing field of power around the globe. We are afraid that his policies regarding foreign relations,  and the military will result in weakening our ability to defend ourselves and the cause of freedom generally.

Gov. Romney really rang a chord with us during the third debate when he emphatically reminded the president that America does not dictate to other countries. We free other countries from dictators. That is the kind of attitude we want our president to project.

President Obama rightly gave the go-ahead for the raid that ended in the death of Osama Bin Laden, but the bulk of the credit goes to our our military personnel who carried out that mission, and the men and women of the intelligence community who tracked the mass murderer for years.

Lastly, in regard to foreign policy, the Obama administration handled the Sept. 11th attack on our embassy in Benghazi, Libya abominably, and then tried to cover it up with another apology to Islamic extremists.

In regard to the economy, there is no argument that there were Wall Street abuses, bad bank loans, bad government-backed loans that need to be reformed and better regulated. We would also point out, that at least part of the roots of the recession can be traced back to Sept. 11, 2001, when America’s financial center took a terrible blow from Islamic terrorists. Anyone who doesn’t recognize the far-reaching impact that attack had on our economy isn’t thinking.

We are not economists, but we would acknowledge that some of the stimulus actions taken by President Obama in regard to the economy were probably necessary. Now, however, it is past time to rein in government spending, reverse the enormous debt, take steps that will enable the private sector to rebound, and get more people working again – and not just for the government.

Being a successful businessman, having turned around the Olympic games, having worked in a bi-partisan way to balance the Massachusetts state budget, we believe Mitt Romney is better equipped to lead America out of this continuing recession, then Obama, who has never worked in the private sector and seems to have little understanding of entrepreneurship.

We were offended, along with small business people across the country, by the president’s remark  “if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.”

Excuse me, Mr. President, my family has never accepted any help from the government in operating our businesses, and we have paid our share of taxes and fees to support the public road systems, water, sewer, etc., that everyone uses.

We also don’t like the disingenuousness of the Obama administration’s so-called middle class “payroll tax” cut. Do the majority of American people realize that the “payroll tax cut” is a two percent decrease in what they are paying into their own Social Security accounts? Not only does this “payroll tax cut” contribute to the destabilization of Social Security, it will have a negative effect on the amount of employees’ personal Social Security checks assuming they are ever able to collect them.

We believe there is a need for health insurance reform, but we didn’t like the way Obamacare was rammed through in a few months time without allowing adequate discussion and vetting of its numerous provisions. It needs to either be repealed or significantly amended, and it needs to be done in a bipartisan way.

Obamacare was the product of a Democratic party-controlled White House, U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate all hellbent to get a sweeping health care bill passed as quickly as possible while they had control of the White House, the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. In our opinion, that set the stage for the current lack of bipartisanship and statesmanship in Congress.

Based on his record in Massachusetts, we believe that Gov. Romney will be better than President Obama has been in encouraging bipartisan cooperation.

By all signs, the presidential election is going to be close. However it comes out, we hope the winner and his supporters will not dismiss and denigrate the losing side. America is split just about down the middle between those who lean toward the Democrat party agenda and those who lean towards the Republican platform. For the sake of our future, the next president must be a statesman. He must bring us together, not push us farther apart.

We as citizens of this great nation must demand that of our leaders at all levels.

Representative in 

Congress, District 1

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, who was elected to replace the disgraced David Wu as our representative in Congress is part of the metropolitan liberal power structure that has been ruling Oregon for far too long.

Her primary solution for the current economic situation is to increase government backed loans to business, and the rest of the same old tired, short-sided Democratic party line.

Delinda Morgan is an experienced business owner, contractor, farmer and community volunteer with a strong commitment to the inviolability of the U.S. Constitution.

She also believes in the wise use of the natural resources which supported generations of Oregonians, before they were locked up by an over-zealous Endangered Species Act and lawsuits by environmental radicals.

We share Morgan’s conviction that bigger government and federal control of local and personal decisions has not and will not work for our nation.

Secretary of State

Kate Brown has been a disappointment as secretary of state. While her statement in the voters’ pamphlet contains talking points on government accountability and support for small business, with which we are sympathetic, they’re hard to believe coming from an environmental lawyer with 21 years as a career politician and strong ties to special interest groups.

In addition to the duties of overseeing elections, conducting audits and overseeing corporations, Oregon’s secretary of state is also one of three members of the State Land Board, along with the governor and the state treasurer. As such the office wields a great deal of power over Oregon’s public property.

Knute Buehler is a brilliant physician and surgeon, small business owner and inventor. His experience growing a successful medical practice in rural Oregon gives him the perspective to clearly see the needs of entrepreneurs and small communities.

We believe Buehler would bring a badly-needed fresh perspective to the State Land Board.

We are also encouraged by Buehler’s six-point plan to reduce waste and increase the long-term sustainability of the public employees retirement system (PERS) which threatens to bankrupt school districts, local governments and the state itself.

According to figures announced last week the explosion of increases in PERS may cost the Clatskanie and Rainier school districts the equivalent of nearly 14 teaching positions in the next biennium.

We believe Buehler is best qualified to help Oregon’s executive branch address this crisis and other issues facing Oregon.

State Treasurer

In his two years as state treasurer, Ted Wheeler seems to have done a fine job managing Oregon’s finances, including using sensible investment in his efforts to dampen the impact of financial problems he inherited.

However, we are impressed by the more pro-active approach to reform presented by Tom Cox, especially addressing the PERS crisis and the realization that Oregon “depends on the natural resource economy. We must responsibly open up our resources to invigorate the rural economies.”

Cox’s PERS plan shares many strategies with Buehler’s, but with greater detail and strong assurances to protect existing obligations.

We endorse Cox as part of a team committed to reversing one of the greatest threats to our public schools, police, fire and other agencies.

Attorney General

Following last week’s candidate forum in St. Helens, we were excited to learn more about attorney general candidate James Buchal. With degrees from Harvard and Yale, in physics, business and law, plus 21 years experience fighting against government encroachment on personal property rights, Buchal has the expertise to cut through the red tape and bureaucracy holding back Oregon’s growth and restricting our freedoms.

Buchal’s three goals of decentralization, simplification and accountability should resonate with anyone who’s ever felt their efforts were being suffocated under multiple layers of government control.

We also believe there is reason to doubt Ellen Rosenblum’s commitment to protecting Oregonians against violent offenders. At times she seems more interested in judicial activism than enforcing the law.

We’ll gladly vote for Buchal.

Commissioner of 

Labor and Industry

Without labor there is no industry, but the opposite is also true. The Commissioner of Labor and Industry is charged with regulating, licensing and settling disputes between these two constituencies.

Environmentalists, anti-industry and anti-wealth groups in Oregon have conducted long-standing battles against industry, which have been driving business out of our state for decades, forcing younger workers to leave rural Oregon or take less than family wage jobs.

In return for workers’ votes for liberal candidates, environmentalists and government bureaucrats consistently throw private sector workers “under the bus,” when it comes to job creation and industry expansion which would bring more good-paying jobs.

Brad Avakian is exactly the type of liberal bureaucrat who gives lip service to labor causes while promoting regulations and hostility which ultimately convince businesses to invest their dollars across the river or overseas.

As a construction worker, contractor, businessman and legislator Bruce Starr has the breadth of perspective and the experience to both bring jobs to Oregon and keep industry accountable on issues of fair compensation and worker safety. It’s time to end the class warfare rhetoric and bring jobs back to Oregon. We urge you to vote for Bruce Starr.

The Sheriff’s Race

On the topic of the importance of our elected leaders being able to build relationships and consensus, bring people together for the common good, we have been struggling with our thoughts about the Columbia County sheriff’s election for months.

First term sheriff, Jeff Dickerson, and his proponents have written and said much about his leadership and character qualities. They fiercely defend his decisions regarding the use of declining resources. But he has created a remarkable number of enemies in one term.

On the other hand, former long-time deputy sheriff Dave Fuller and his supporters believe that Dickerson’s decisions have sometimes emphasized appearances over service to the public.

Last spring, Scappoose police officer Anthony Miltich withdrew his candidacy for sheriff after the Dickerson campaign team made an issue over the fact that Miltich’s fourth anniversary of his certification as a police officer by the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training came a few weeks after the election filing deadline. State law requires that a sheriff candidate has been a law enforcement officer for four years. There was some confusion about whether that meant four years before the election – which Miltich did meet – or four years before the filing deadline, which he missed by a few weeks.

Miltich withdrew from the race and threw his support to Fuller. He also pointed out that Dickerson had used $8,000 of taxpayer money to produce a video promoting the sheriff’s office that was being used on Dickerson’s campaign page. It was also used during the unsuccessful campaign for a tax levy. Taxpayers money cannot be used for campaigns.

Dickerson argued that the video was made months before the levy was placed on the ballot. True, but it was made after a Dickerson-directed citizens’ group was led – without being allowed to seriously consider any other options – to the conclusion that a levy should be placed on the ballot.

The elections division ruled there was no violation of election laws by Dickerson having that video on his campaign website. But we still question the ethics and whether the video, in these financially-strapped times, was a proper use of taxpayer money.

In our own observations, Dickerson seemed to react angrily to the voters’ defeat of a proposed sheriff’s levy put before them in a time of deep recession.

While we have found him to be a very good communicator in regard to his own and his department’s accomplishments, we have also experienced how defensive he is to any hint of criticism, and how quickly he responds with a counter-attack.

We are disturbed that he has purged the sheriff’s department of a number of long-time deputies, including virtually all former commanding officers, who did not whole-heartedly embrace his policies.

He also disbanded the sheriff’s posse and he has alienated valuable search and rescue (SAR) volunteers. In one very sad case, he delayed calling in the SAR for 30 days, after a young woman went missing in her car, because of his theory of the case. When he finally did call in the SAR, they found her body within hours.

We realize that anyone is capable of making errors in judgment.

We didn’t like the way Dickerson exploited a missing person case that was being conducted by then-Undersheriff Gerry Simmons, when the two were running against each other four years ago.

Dickerson’s opponent, Dave Fuller, made a wrong judgment call last April 1, when he drove himself home from Longview after having some drinks on a chartered casino bus trip – a fundraiser for the Clatskanie fire department.

Between Rainier and Goble, Fuller says he swerved to miss a deer and his vehicle ended up in the ditch. He wasn’t injured, no one else was injured, and the damage to his vehicle was well under $1500 – the legal threshold to report an accident. He called a tow truck which took him and his vehicle home. The next day he drove it to the garage.

Fuller has told us that he did not believe his ability to drive  was impaired. No one will ever know for sure.

About six weeks after the accident, Fuller says a state police investigator knocked on his door. He was issued a citation for failure to report an accident, and was put on administrative leave. A sheriff’s office internal investigation ensued. Someone leaked the information to a south Columbia County newspaper.

Undersheriff Andy Moyer, Dickerson’s second-in-command and campaign manager, is emphatic that the sheriff’s office did not leak any information to the press, merely answered questions after the press found out about it.

The press also found out about an incident that happened 27 years ago in which Fuller was a passenger in a car that crashed. The driver had been drinking. There were no injuries. Fuller left the scene before law enforcement officers arrived to investigate, but the others involved in the accident had his name and contact information. He was reprimanded for leaving the scene.

After 29 years with the sheriff’s office and after being on administrative leave for three months, Fuller resigned in September while the internal investigation was still on-going. He says he regrets his mistakes and has learned from his them.

We believe that a sheriff’s office under Fuller’s leadership would bring back many of the experienced deputies who have left under Dickerson’s command, and that the sheriff’s office would resume policies and practices similar to those of former Sheriff Phil Derby.

We will vote for Fuller.

However, we think it’s time to look seriously at scaling back the sheriff’s office to just its state-mandated duties – operation of the jail, serving of civil papers and court security. We think rural law enforcement would be better delivered by the Oregon State Police for major crimes and through the various city police departments, which are frequently first on the scene anyway. Rural residents, however, would have to agree to help support those services.

Other Endorsements

The Chief made the following endorsements and recommendations during the past two weeks.

State Representative, District 31: Lew Barnes.

Columbia County Commissioner, Position 1: Earl Fisher.

Columbia County Commissioner, Position 3: Tony Hyde.

Statewide Ballot Measures:

Measure 77: No.

Measure 78: Yes.

Measure 79: Yes.

Measure 80: No.

Measure 81: No.

Measure 82: No.

Measure 83: No.

Measure 84: Yes.

Measure 85: No.

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