Citizens petition for return of Scott Greene, announce board recall

Chip Wood

Chip Wood

At last night’s meeting of the Northern Wasco Parks and Recreation District Board, several members of the public spoke against the dismissal earlier this year of Parks District Executive Director Scott Greene.

Dennis Morgan was one of four people from the public who spoke,

“I did not feel that Mr. Greene got a fair hearing,” Morgan said. “It’s hard for me to believe that someone would go from nine years of having glowing reviews to being a pariah.

He also delivered a petition with 88 signatures, calling on the board to reinstate Greene.

He was followed by Chip Wood, who had urged people to come out and support Greene.

“Not only did Scott Greene save the district,” Wood said, “But the district was in the position of disbanding. They asked Scott and he said ‘Give me two years and I’ll pull it out,’ and that’s exactly what he did.  This really comes as a blow to the community that he got fired in the manner that he did, and so I am going to start a recall of Nikki, Travis and Catherine. It’s going to cost the district $9,000. I just wanted everybody to know.”

Neither board members Nikki Lesich, Travis Dray nor Chair Catherine Whelan chose to comment on the announcement.

Following the public comment, the board voted to allow the chair to negotiate with their top choice of four applicants for the Executive Director position.

Board members also thanked interim director Kurt Cozad for his willingness to step back into the director’s role and spend time away from his wife and their dogs in Whitefish, Montana.

Cozad noted that he has a son living in The Dalles, and the experience found the two of them growing closer.

 

Audio: Citizen calls for Mayor Baze resignation over pot shop letter

Mayor Clint Baze

Mayor Clint Baze

Darrell Smith

Darrell Smith

At Monday night’s G0ldendale City Council meeting, Darrell Smith of L’Abri Architectural Products said new information had come to light that the Washington State Liquor Control Board had written to the mayor’s office to notify the city about the proposed retail recreational marijuana shop that had applied for a state license to located in Goldendale. Smith said the letter had a 20-day reply period, and that the mayor had neither responded to it nor notified the Goldendale City Council nor other local government agencies. Smith said that the only conclusions that could be drawn from his inaction was (1) a loss of contact with reality (2) neglect of the office or (3) a vested interest in the outcome, using the office of mayor to advance an agenda. In the end, Smith called for a new set of very strict regulations to deal with the existing shop, and for the mayor to resign his office. To hear his 8-minute indictment, click on the grey podcast bar below:

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Parallel to those events, The Sentinel obtained a copy of the WSLCB letter to the mayor’s office and produced the following story, including Mayor Baze’s reply, which appears today in the current issue on newsstands today. It is reprinted here by kind permission of The Sentinel.

By Lou Marzeles, Editor

Goldendale Mayor Clinton Baze had 20 days to tell the Washington State Liquor Control Board (LCB) the city either approved or disapproved of a marijuana retail store opening in the city. He was even free to ask for an additional 20 days if needed. If his response was not received within that time, the LCB would assume the city had no objection. The document offering him this opportunity was a Notice of Marijuana License Application sent by the LCB to the mayor.

Baze sent no response. Nor did he mention or bring the Notice to the city council when he received it.

The Notice was dated June 6 this year. The city council did not see it until Nov. 3.

While Baze has repeatedly insisted the city council was well aware of the incipient opening of the retail store all along, some members of the council say the notice was weeks before any clear indication of movement toward the opening of the store was brought to the council or the community. They are also incensed that the mayor never informed them of the notice until someone on the council specifically asked if he had received such a document and, if so, to see it. That request was finally fulfilled in an executive session meeting of the council on Nov. 3. (The Sentinel made a public records request for the document, which was delivered on Nov. 12.)

“We heard a rumor that there was such a document received by the mayor from the Liquor Control Board,” says council member Guy Theriault. He did not identify the source of the rumor, though another council member told The Sentinel they heard about it from City Administrator Larry Bellamy. “So we asked to see it. We saw it for the first time at that last city council meeting.”

Theriault says he is beyond frustrated. “We asked the mayor why he didn’t show it to us when he first got it,” he recalls. “He said because it was just another regular license request, like a liquor license, and therefore it didn’t need to go to the council or anyone else. Because of that, the council had no say in it at the very beginning. His reasoning is wrong—you can’t treat this as if it were a normal, everyday process when something of this nature comes in, something that violates federal law.”

Baze stands by his explanation. “It was a regular license request, like a liquor license,” he states. “We get them all the time. We don’t bring every license request like that to the city council. We checked out the applicants and they were clean, and the location specified was beyond the 1,000-feet requirement from certain public places. They were in compliance with state law. So we made no objection.”

It’s uncertain who the mayor includes in saying “we,” given that majority of the city council—like the city voters’ majority who voted against I-502—disapproves of the store. That council majority expresses strong emotions about Baze’s unilateral step that opened the way for the store to open. While all the council members were contacted for comment for this story, only four of the seven responded.

“It’s very upsetting,” states council member Lucille Bevis. “We never saw that notice until five months after it arrived.”
“It was not only incumbent on the mayor to bring that notice to the council,” says council member Len Crawford, “it should have been absolutely obvious to him to do so. It’s in contradiction to federal law. By not giving us that notice, he set the city council up to fail if this turns into a legal turmoil, which it could. This should have been handled in June.”

While proponents of legalized marijuana dismiss out of hand the notion that federal law will ever take state law to task on the issue, entities that advise county and municipal governments take that possibility very seriously and have urged caution. In an advisory article in the September/October 2014 issue of CityVision Magazine, a publication of the Association of Washington Cities that provides training and guidance to municipal authorities, Hilary Bricken of the Canna Law Group wrote, “Washington cities and counties are using federal illegality as a basis for banning cannabis businesses.” She added that even though the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) provided a memorandum to U.S. Attorneys on certain federal priorities that could leave marijuana law enforcement to state law authorities, the memorandum was not legally binding. “And it does not change federal law,” she wrote. “The federal government remains able to enforce federal law even against I-502 businesses that are in compliance with all state laws.” The article advised Washington cities to carefully consider “the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws where their own local business licensing and permitting for cannabis businesses may be construed as violations of federal law because that licensing or permitting operates as an ‘endorsement’ of marijuana cultivation and distribution. These cities and counties could fear federal prosecution of their civic leaders and the loss of federal funding.” The article ends with a statement of certainty that sooner or later the issue will make its way to the highest state court.

Federal courts have not hesitated to strike down state laws that contradict federal law; as recently as Nov. 8 this year, Judge Susan Bolton of Federal District Court in Phoenix ruled that an Arizona law on immigration was invalid because it conflicted with federal authority. For the present, federal authorities have turned blind eyes on Colorado and Washington. No one at any federal level has given assurance that will remain the case indefinitely so long as federal law still prohibits sale of marijuana.

“Given the sensitivity of a pot shop coming to a city that had previously voted against the matter, I feel it was absolutely incumbent that the mayor inform the council, regardless of his own feelings,” says council member Mike Cannon. He, too, presses the point about federal law. “While business permits normally do not come before the council, when they involve breaking federal law and the controversy of legalizing pot, common sense would demand consulting with the council and notifying the public.”

Cannon adds that city government has been secretive. “Transparency is essential to a good government, and it seems to be sorely missing in our city administration,” he says. “In addition to training on transparency, I feel training on avoiding conflicts of interest is needed by city leaders, including the council. In hindsight, significant information was not disclosed at times the council was asked to vote on various issues.” Cannon calls the way the pot shop issue was handled an awful mess and a sad turn for the community.

Baze dismisses the complaints about not revealing the LCB notice. “I understand how they feel,” he says. “But the reality is, we can’t treat one business any differently than any other. It’s not fair.” Despite Klickitat County and Goldendale having voted against I-502, to Baze the state’s passage of I-502 trumps local consideration. “It’s the law,” he says. “I’m just doing my job.”

Audio: Sandy Macnab and the history of the Christmas floods of 1964

Flooding in downtown Wasco

Flooding in downtown Wasco

Heavy flooding eroded this ditch in a Sherman County field

Heavy flooding eroded this ditch in a Sherman County field

Sandy Macnab at Sunday's event

Sandy Macnab at Sunday’s event

Interstate freeway bridge over the John Day after the 1964 flood.

Interstate freeway bridge over the John Day after the 1964 flood.

Fifty years ago this December, a perfect storm of conditions produced massive flooding in the Northwest and Northern California. An atypical cold spell began in Oregon on December 13, 1964, froze the soil, and was followed by unusually heavy snow. Subsequently, a Pineapple Express storm brought persistent heavy warm rain.[3][8] The temperature increased by 30 to 40 °F. This melted the snow, but left the soil frozen and impermeable. Some places received the equivalent of a year’s rain in just a few days. As rivers and streams overflowed and the soil became saturated, reports of mudslides, closed roads and reservoirs filled over-capacity came from throughout the state.  Many towns were isolated. By the end of the flood, every river in Oregon was above flood stage and more than thirty major bridges were impassable.

Sunday, Nov. 16, the Sherman County Historical Society met for its annual dinner at the Steve Burnet Extension & Research Center in Moro. Guest speaker Sandy Macnab of the Oregon State Extension Service presented a program on the history of the 1964 Christmas flooding and the impact in Sherman County.

Sherman County was hard hit by the floods. One major loss was the Oregon Washington Railroad and Navigation Co., which operated a railroad from Biggs to Shankio, which had been hauling goods in and agricultural products out since 1900. Whole large sections of the tracks were wiped out where the tracks ran along rivers and stream, and the line was not rebuilt.

Also, I-84 (then called I-80N) was cut off when the center span of the freeway bridge over the John Day River collapsed. Several people died as a result. And many parts of the county were isolated by bridges that washed away over many streams.

To hear Sandy Macnab’s account of the events, click on the grey podcast bar below.

Audio: Klickitat County Marijuana moratorium hearing November 12, 2014

Klickitat County Commissioners Dave Sauter, left, Rex Johnston and Chair Jim Sizemore, prior to the start of the marijuana moratorium hearing in the Kliickitat PUD meeting room on Nov. 12, 2014

Klickitat County Commissioners Dave Sauter, left, Rex Johnston and Chair Jim Sizemore, prior to the start of the marijuana moratorium hearing in the Kliickitat PUD meeting room on Nov. 12, 2014

Alan Rathbun of the Washington State Liquor Control Board

Alan Rathbun of the Washington State Liquor Control Board

On October 21, Klickitat County Commissioners passed a second six-month moratorium on any new marijuana producers, processors or retail stores in the unincorporated areas of Klickitat County. As part of the legislation controlling such moratoriums, commissioners are required to hold a public hearing within 60 days of passing any such moratorium. That hearing was Wednesday, November 12, at the Klickitat PUD meeting room.

The meeting ran from 6:30 to 9:20, and heard testimony from 37 people. By our count, 25 were opposed to the moratorium and 12 were in favor.

Prior to the start of testimony, a standing-room-only crowd heard some opening remarks from Alan E. Rathbun, Director of Licensing and Regulation for the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which has jurisdiction over recreational marijuana. He also answered some questions from the audience. You can hear that portion of the meeting by clicking on the grey podcast bar below:

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Testimony, part 1

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Testimony, part 2

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At the close of the meeting, Klickitat County Commission Chair Jim Sizemore had closed the oral testimony, but told the audience written testimony would be accepted until 5 p.m. November 21 at the Klickitat County Commissioner’s office.

Commissioners, he said, would make a decision about the moratorium’s future on December 9 at 2 p.m.

Oregon Cherry Growers named one of Oregon’s top 13 manufacturers

To hear our interview with Oregon Cherry Growers CEO Tim Ramsey, click on the grey podcast bar below11 11 14 Oregon Cherry Growers win award

SALEM, Ore. – October 7, 2014 – Grower-owned cooperative Oregon Cherry Growers was recognized as one of Oregon’s top 13 manufacturers last week at the Portland Business Journal’s 2014 Oregon Manufacturing Awards ceremony, alongside companies including Stumptown Coffee and Daimler Trucks North America. Oregon Cherry Growers was honored for its new, innovative Royal Harvest™ branded line of dried fruits.

The Royal Harvest line of ready-to-eat dried fruits, which includes strawberries, blueberries and cherries, was recognized for its proprietary drying process that protects the natural sweetness of the fruit and ensures perfect texture and moisture content so the fresh character remains bold without transferring moisture to surrounding recipe components. The line demonstrates Oregon Cherry Growers’ ability to meet changing consumer interests and help food service chefs and food developers keep pace with the escalating demand for natural, healthy tasting fruit ingredients. All dried fruits are Non-GMO Project verified, natural, preservative-free, sweetened with Fair Trade certified pure cane sugar, and kosher and halal certified.

“We work hard to stay on the cutting edge and deliver fruit ingredients our customers are looking for, while maintaining the highest standards for quality and taste,” said Tim Ramsey, Oregon Cherry Growers President & CEO. “With the hundreds of manufacturers located in Oregon, it is a true honor to be recognized as one of the state’s leaders in product innovation.”

About Oregon Cherry Growers

Founded in 1932, Oregon Cherry Growers (OCG) is a grower-owned cooperative of family farms cultivating, manufacturing and marketing the finest fruit from orchards from Oregon’s bountiful Willamette Valley and the Columbia River Gorge. OCG supplies fresh, maraschino, dried and frozen sweet cherries, blueberries and other fruits to customers worldwide. Managed by a board of growers, OCG employs more than 400 staff at its processing facilities in Salem and The Dalles, Oregon. For more information, please visit: www.orcherry.com.