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About Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current | View Entire Issue (Oct. 4, 2017)
2B Wednesday, October 4, 2017 Appeal Tribune
Struggling county spends
federal safety net cash
on pro-timber video
PORTLAND, Ore. - The six-minute
video opens to ominous music and burn-
ing trees. After the flames are out, a nar-
rator says, forests suffer from devastat-
ing neglect, turning into a “vast sea of
dead, charred trees” that aren’t refor-
ested because of a maze of confusing,
contradictory environmental regula-
The music brightens as the answer
appears: Salvage logging. The video con-
cludes by urging viewers to call their
elected officials “and tell them these fed-
eral lands… are too valuable to simply
The clip credits a tiny nonprofit
called Communities for Healthy Forests
and went online in early September, a
day before Oregon Republican Rep.
Greg Walden introduced a bill to harvest
trees burned this summer in the Colum-
bia River Gorge. Timber companies sup-
port the plan.
It’s become routine for cryptically
named interest groups to push changes
in federal policy that industry wants.
The surprising twist this time: Federal
money paid for it.
Douglas County, a local government
so broke it closed all its public libraries
earlier this year, funded Communities
for Healthy Forests to create the video.
And it did so with federal safety net mon-
ey meant to ease rural Oregon’s depen-
dence on timber revenue.
Commissioners have awarded Com-
munities for Healthy Forests a total of
$490,000 in federal money over the last
two years, $250,000 of it to make videos.
Only one has been released.
The Douglas County commission’s
spending raises questions about a feder-
al program called Secure Rural Schools,
which has suffered from a lack of over-
sight since it was co-authored in 2000 by
Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.
The program gives counties part of
what they once earned from logging on
federal land before endangered species
listings curtailed the harvest. Oregon
has received $3 billion, more than any
Most of the federal money goes to
roads and schools. But counties have
wider leeway over a portion known as Ti-
tle III, which was funded at $14.3 million
nationally in 2015.
Chris Boice, chairman of the Douglas
County commission, said the pro-sal-
vage logging video counted as “educa-
tion related to forestry.” That’s a use that
Congress authorized for money received
before 2008. Boice said the county had
pre-2008 dollars on hand to pay Commu-
nities for Healthy Forests in 2015 and
But even back when education was an
allowed purpose, the law said money
could only be spent on after-school pro-
The cash the county awarded Com-
munities for Healthy Forests instead
could have been used to boost the coun-
ty’s wildfire preparedness or pay fire-
fighting costs, purposes allowed by Title
III since it was created.
Internal and external audits have re-
peatedly found Title III money misspent
over the last decade and urged reform.
But all the recommended changes
haven’t been adopted.
Wyden, who wants Congress to reau-
thorize the program, said counties
should be using the economic lifeline
wisely to meet rural Oregonians’ essen-
tial needs. In a statement, he said what
The Oregonian/OregonLive found in
Douglas County would spur him to en-
sure counties are held accountable for
their spending if the program is re-
“A single dollar of Title III payments
should not be wasted rehashing decades-
old debates and siphoning taxpayer mon-
ey away from its prescribed purpose of
protecting our communities from wild-
fires,” Wyden said.
Douglas County, the heart of Oregon
timber country, has been one of the big-
Damage from the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge. Douglas County utilized federal
safety net money to fund a video advocating salvage logging. PHOTOS COURTESY OF ODOT
gest beneficiaries under Title III, receiv-
ing $4.3 million between 2010 and 2015.
The county gave Title III money to
Communities for Healthy Forests to de-
velop videos criticizing federal forest
policy, revamp its hacked website, edu-
cate school kids and send the nonprofit’s
workers to conferences. A former coun-
ty commissioner, Doug Robertson,
worked for the group in 2015, records
Javier Goirigolzarri, executive direc-
tor of Communities for Healthy Forests,
said he was “totally unaware” that Wal-
den’s salvage logging bill would land a
day after the salvage logging video was
released. A Walden spokesman declined
A Portland nonprofit called Healthy
Forests, Healthy Communities helped
the video get seen with postings on its
website and Facebook page. That non-
profit shares a mailing address with the
American Forest Resource Council, a
major timber industry lobbying group.
Since then, the film has been viewed
94,000 times on Facebook and sent to fed-
eral elected officials by Tom Partin, the
council’s former president and now lob-
byist, according to an email obtained by
The Oregonian/OregonLive. Partin
didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Goirigolzarri said other video topics
will include the health impacts from
wildfire air pollution and how increasing
logging and thinning in federal forests
can minimize fires. Eight other Oregon
counties have funded the nonprofit, Goi-
rigolzarri said: Deschutes, Klamath,
Lake, Josephine, Grant, Curry, Jackson
“Given our fuel conditions in these
federal lands — we have a blanket of fuel
— it’s difficult to trust that wildfire will
give us desired effects,” Goirigolzarri
said. “Whereas if we take some action on
the ground, we can allow wildfire to im-
The county has spent discretionary
safety net money for other purposes that
are hard to reconcile with what’s allowed
under the federal Title III program.
It gave $71,000 to Wildlife Services, a
federal animal trapping agency, for
work that included killing bears and por-
cupines on public and private timber
land. The animals eat the inner bark of
Douglas fir, damaging timber crops.
Boice, the county chairman, said the
grant to Wildlife Services was for educa-
tional purposes, just like the salvage log-
ging video, in addition to supporting le-
See VIDEO, Page 3B
Supreme Court to hear public union case again
The U.S. Supreme Court is taking an-
other look at the constitutionality of
mandatory union fees during its upcom-
ing term, and experts say a ruling strik-
ing down such fees could significantly
damage public unions' influence in Ore-
But local union leaders say this case is
just another attempt at undermining
unions and that such a ruling would not
spell the end of public unions in Oregon.
"Not only is it not the nail, we're no-
where near the coffin," said Brian Rudig-
er, executive director of SEIU 503, which
represents some Oregon public employ-
A 40-year legal precedent allows
unions in states nationwide to gather
mandatory fees to pay for negotiations.
This helps ensure there aren't any "free
loaders" — employees who benefit from
contracts negotiated by the union with-
out having to pay for the effort.
In the current case, petitioner Mark
Janus, a state child support specialist in
Illinois, claims the AFSCME Council 31
fee requirement violates his First
Amendment right to free speech.
Prognosticators expect the Supreme
Court, with its new conservative justice
Neil Gorsuch, to side against the union.
If so, it could be a "serious blow" to the
financial well-being of Oregon's public
unions, said Keith Cunningham-Parme-
ter, law professor at Willamette Univer-
"Unions are going to be seriously ham-
pered in their ability to operate as they
do today," he said.
Part of the life blood of public unions
is this mandatory fee and without it
unions could lose significant political
sway, which, he said, is part of the point
— it is impossible to separate the legal
and political aspects of this case.
Unions have long been a target for
conservatives and pro-business interest
groups because of their often adversari-
Oregon unions regularly contribute
large sums of money to political cam-
paigns, endorse candidates and lobby for
and against state policies. Mostly they
throw support behind Democratic candi-
dates who are considered more union-
"The writing is on the wall for public
sector unions and it doesn't look good,"
Union representation has been falling
in the United States for decades. In Ore-
gon, 13.5 percent of employed workers
were members of a union in 2016, accord-
ing to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
This is higher than the rate for the Unit-
ed States as a whole, but down from the
state's peak of 21.6 percent in 1989.
Among the culprits for the national
decline are so-called "right to work" laws.
Currently, 28 states have passed legisla-
tion that outlaws labor unions from com-
pelling membership, which could ex-
pand to all states if the Janus case goes
against labor unions.
Unions feared a negative result last
year when a similar case out of Califor-
nia was heard, but the court deadlocked
at 4-4 after the death of Justice Antonin
Scalia a month earlier. The conservative
Scalia was expected to align against
unions as he had in previous cases.
As with the last case on this issue,
Portland lawyer Jill Gibson filed an ami-
cus curiae brief on behalf of an Oregon
client with a similar complaint as Janus.
She said she can understand the
union's position against allowing non-
paying members to benefit from union
negotiations, but protecting First
Amendment rights is more important.
"Those desires are so far outweighed
by the constitutional rights of freedom
of expression and freedom of associa-
tion," Gibson said.
Gibson added that she hopes a ruling
against unions would "return Oregon to a
two party state," limiting what she sees
as overwhelming financial support of
Democratic candidates by unions, some-
times against the political views of their
University of Oregon political sci-
ence professor Gordon Lafer said that
such a ruling could create a snowball ef-
fect where the real consequences aren't
realized for years as union membership,
revenue and influence decline.
"Times are tight, and one of your bills
was just declared optional," Lafer said.
Oregon Education Association offi-
cials don't believe many people will
leave the organization even if the ruling
goes against it. John Larson, OEA presi-
dent, said they have made a concerted ef-
fort over the past few years to connect
with members to ensure the union is go-
ing in the right direction.
He said they aren't focused solely on
this case, which the Supreme Court will
hear this winter, but have prepared sev-
eral budget and program scenarios de-
pending on how membership changes.
"As long as we continue to focus on is-
sues our members care about, we be-
lieve they will continue to be members,"
Larson said. "We will continue to weather
503-399-6864, or follow him on Twitter at
Continued from Page 1B
Continued from Page 1B
the game. It’s all these guys busting their
butts and I have a ton of assistants help-
ing me, and Mannion set the (founda-
tion). I’m just trying to stay within it and
do what I can to make it mine, but also
continue the success.”
Craig has strong ties to Silverton.
That’s why the job appealed to him,
and those ties made him an attractive
candidate to replace Mannion despite a
relative lack of coaching experience.
As a seventh-grader at Silver Crest
Elementary School in Silverton, Craig
played at McGinnis Field, home of the
He played his high school football at
Silverton — Craig was a receiver and de-
fensive back — and is a 2009 graduate.
Craig was a volunteer assistant coach
under then-Silverton coach Scott Gragg
in 2010, and returned to the program in
2014 after graduating from Oregon
State. This is his fourth year as an Eng-
lish teacher at the high school.
It has been a smooth transition to
Craig from Mannion.
“He knew all our basic formations and
things like that. He already had train-
ing,” junior running back/linebacker
Hunter Meissner said. “The culture’s the
same which is nice because we love our
culture here – work hard and play hard.”
What Craig lacks in experience he
makes up for with a strong work ethic,
enthusiasm and a motor that is always
running at “100 miles an hour.”
Craig acknowledges that he was sur-
prised to be named head coach in May
primarily because of his age and that he
still has much to learn. Three of Silver-
ton’s four current varsity assistants —
North Salem has been approved to
play down to Class 5A and is in the
Mid-Willamette Conference with
Central, Dallas and Silverton.
Woodburn, which is choosing to
play down, is moved to the six-team
4A Oregon West Conference along
The final proposal also creates a
small, but powerful West Valley
League in 3A. Current league schools
Amity and Dayton would be joined by
Blanchet Catholic, Salem Academy
and Scio along with current 4A Yam-
Willamina would move into a
league with Clatskanie, Rainier, Taft
and Warrenton, and Santiam Chris-
tian would go south with Creswell,
Harrisburg, La Pine and Pleasant
Meanwhile, the new 2A Central
Valley League would take in Chema-
wa, Colton, Culver, Delphian, Ger-
vais, Kennedy, Santiam, Sheridan and
The Tri River would add Jefferson,
Lowell, Monroe, Oakland and Oak-
ridge along with Regis.
St. Paul moves back down to 1A in
the final proposal and moves back
into a virtually unchanged Casco
Silverton football head coach Josh Craig leads a practice on Tuesday, Sept. 26. ANNA REED /
Mike Fessler, John Howard and Craig
Rankin — coached him when he was a
high school player.
“Shoot, there’s times when I come
across something and I’ve gotta ask my
assistants, ‘OK, what do we do here?’”
Craig said. “And they’re great.”
Rankin said Craig was ready to handle
the responsibilities of a head coach.
"His energy is just infectious with the
players," Rankin said. "I've seen Josh
succeed in so many things over his life-
time. The age for me, and I know for the
other coaches on our staff, was not an is-
sue at all."
Craig may not look much older than
some of his players, but they don’t view
him as a peer. Nor does Craig want to be
in their shoes.
His players refer to him as Coach or
Coach Craig, and "never Josh.”
“I don’t want to be a teenager and I
don’t want them to think I’m cool, be-
cause I’m not,” Craig said. “I have a
Facebook (page), barely. They know
things about other teams that I don’t
know because of social media.”
Craig will turn 27 in December, a few
weeks after the state playoffs conclude.
What a birthday present it would be if
Silverton wins its first state champion-
ship in football since 1991.
But for now, Craig is focused on day-
to-day goals, both in the classroom and
on the football field.
“I’ve got a great deal here,” he said.
“Not to use a cliché, but it’s kind of a
dream come true.”