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May 02, 2010

Comments

Nice job. If large numbers of the public don't get steamed enough about this to take more action than a cynical sigh, then we deserve deserve every piece of disrespect this self-serving gang of evil clumsily (and blatantly) serves up.
Ed Taylor

Ed, first thing is, large numbers of the public need to know what is going on, since Beglau's letter is highly deceptive and will fool many people who don't look at it closely or check the untruths in it.

I've contacted the Statesman Journal news department (as well as the editorial board). It'll be interesting to see if the SJ jumps on this story about ethical lapses in county government with as much enthusiasm as they showed in their extensive series on problems at the Willamette ESD -- which struck my wife and I (she used to work for a different ESD) as blown way out of proportion.

Will ethics of the county power structure, and advertisers in the Statesman Journal, get as much attention as the supposed wrongdoings of volunteer board members of a school district? We'll have to wait and see.

I decided to write Beglau, rather than phone him. Here's the email that I just sent to wbeglau@co.marion.or.us

------------------
Mr. Beglau, my wife and I received a letter from you on Saturday. I'll start off by saying that we support Measure 24-292. We do, however, like reasoned political discourse, so that isn't our problem with your letter. It is the seemingly unreasonable aspects that bother us.

I realize you're busy, so will ask you some questions that hopefully can be replied to in a few words.

(1) Did you write the letter yourself, or did someone else write it for you? If the latter, please let us know who wrote it.

(2) Who paid for the mailing? I note that your return address on the letter is the Salem Chamber of Commerce, so I assume that the Chamber or its anti-Measure political action organization paid for it. This isn't indicated on the letter, which seems to come directly from your office (most people wouldn't know that 1110 Commercial Street is the Chamber office, not a county office).

(3) What makes you think a special election will be needed if the election passes? Section 12 C (vii) of the Measure says "Commissioners shall be elected by plurality vote at the first general election held in November following the adoption of this Charter."

(4) Would you agree that your statement in your letter that there will be a cost to hold a special election is false? If you disagree, please provide evidence that a special election must be held, as you state.

(5) Where did you get your estimate that the cost to implement Measure 24-292 will exceed $500,000? This is at odds with the figure cited by the sponsors of the Measure, which indicates a savings of almost $272,000.

These are reasonable questions about your letter. I look forward to hearing back from you as soon as possible. Your official web site says that you believe everybody should be held accountable. We agree on that.

So it seems entirely appropriate for a taxpayer, voter, and citizen like me to inquire about a letter that came from the Marion County District Attorney. Thanks in advance for taking the time to answer my questions. It'd be fine if you simply click "reply" to this message and type in some brief responses after each question.

--Brian Hines

Here's what Oregon state law has to say about making false statements relating to a measure. Beglau says that a special election will be required if Measure 24-292 passes. As noted above, Section 12 C (vii) of the Measure says "Commissioners shall be elected by plurality vote at the first general election held in November following the adoption of this Charter." Hmmm...

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260.532 False publication relating to candidate or measure; civil action; damages; other remedies; limitation on action. (1) No person shall cause to be written, printed, published, posted, communicated or circulated, any letter, circular, bill, placard, poster, photograph or other publication, or cause any advertisement to be placed in a publication, or singly or with others pay for any advertisement, with knowledge or with reckless disregard that the letter, circular, bill, placard, poster, photograph, publication or advertisement contains a false statement of material fact relating to any candidate, political committee or measure.

I haven't heard from Beglau yet. So I just sent him another email:
---------------------
Mr. Beglau, I wanted to be sure that you got this message that I sent to you a few days ago (see below). I often take a while to respond to emails myself, so simple busyness might be the reason I haven't heard from you. However...

In case there's another reason, I wanted to back up the issue of your Measure 24-292 a philosophical level. To the question of whether you should respond to a constituent asking questions about it. My answer, not surprisingly, is "Yes." If you differ, I'd be interested in learning why. Here's my reasoning.

You are a public official. And a government employee. The letter you sent out had your name and title, Marion County District Attorney, prominently displayed. So you were using your office to back up the credibility of the letter. Thus it seems entirely appropriate to ask you, in your official capacity, about statements that you made which were false. Or at least, all the evidence points to them being false.

For example, the claim that a special election will be needed if Measure 24-292 passes. And that the county public safety budget will be on the chopping block if the Measure is approved by voters.

Investigating the Chamber of Commerce's PAC financial records, I learned that notorious GOP consultant Chuck Adams has received over $35,000 by Bigger Government? No Way. This leads me to suspect that he wrote the letter that you signed, but naturally I could be wrong. Adams was the subject of a lawsuit in 2006 that charged he violated election law in the course of supporting the campaign of Karen Minnis. He engaged in some sleazy falsehoods, so it wouldn't be surprising if he is up to the same dirty tricks in the Measure 24-292 campaign.

I mention this because, as noted below, I agree with the statement you put on your website: that accountability is important. You may have erred in what you said in your letter. If so, to err is human. We all do it. What matters is how we own up to our errors, and do our best to not have them happen again.

When people write to a public official, looking for answers, revenge usually isn't the first thing on their mind. Nor, anger. In my case, I'm concerned about voters getting truthful information about an important citizen initiative. Some people are talking about filing legal complaints against you. In my opinion, whether this should be done depends on your response to the concerns that have been raised about your letter. Saying "I was wrong; this is how it happened..." goes a long way toward resolving conflicts. Just a suggestion.

--Brian

I will be looking at elections law and see if I need to file a complaint with the Secretary of State's Office--if no one else already has.

Jan, good for you. You should check with the HAVE folks, the organization sponsoring the Measure, to see if you can join forces with them. I don't know if they've filed a complaint yet.

Did you notice a post I wrote about Chuck Adams likely being behind this letter? See:
http://hinessight.blogs.com/hinessight/2010/05/chuck-adams-likely-behind-deceptive-measure-24292-letter.html

I mention an election law complaint that was filed against Adams for making a "false statement of material fact." That sure seems to also apply to Beglau's letter.

It's sad, and disturbing, when we can't trust our own District Attorney to follow the law. This is what happens when politics gets excessively mixed up with serving the public interest, which is part of the problem with county government that Measure 24-292 aims to fix.

I so appreciate an informed and such a great article and I will be sharing this!! People in the community of Salem, Oregon need to wake up with whats going on within their local government and its officials just like it states on their website " On the home page of the DA's web site, I found this quote from Walt Beglau:

"I believe that everyone should be held accountable. Justice must always be public, accessible and fair. Everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect."

Whats your take on this? Please share this with others!! :)

Great post, thanks for the information. I am just trying to find a good attorney salem oregon.

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