By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Starrett objects to governor's 'anti-gun jihad'

Yamhill County Commissioner Mary Starrett
Yamhill County Commissioner Mary Starrett

Brown issued a press release ordered flags lowered to half-staff in Oregon in honor of four Marines and a sailor killed in a barage of military recruiting office gunfire  in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Starrett said she was offended that Brown referred to the acts as “shootings” rather than “murders.” She said she was also offended that President Barack Obama waited a week to issue such an order on the national level, and that Brown had waited until a federal order had been issued.

She said the county should be able to decide for itself when to lower flags, and on which grounds.

Commissioner Allen Springer said he agreed with her, but added, “It’s the world we live in today, and it’s up to the voters to change it.” Commissioner Stan Primozich was absent.

The meeting was unusually well attended, but only three people took advantage of the time set aside for public comments.

Dan Hilbert made his usual comments in opposition to the opening invocation, objecting to its religious orientation.

Jeff Dunham told commissioners it affected his well adversely when a vineyard went in near his Yamhill-area property a few years ago, and he fears more vineyards will follow, possibly causing it to go dry altogether. Commissioners suggested he check with the planning department for information about future development proposed in the area.

Lafayette resident Angela Flood argued against time limitations imposed on such comments, saying people offering prayers should be subject to the same limitations.

Flood, who frequently files requests for public records, also objected to the money the county charges for handling and processing.

“We pay for the paper, the staff, the computers they are stored on. and the binders and filing cabinets they are stored in,” Flood said. She said that charging for public records serves to diminish public trust in government and limit the ability of residents to learn about their government and journalists to write about it.

“The practice of charging fees for documents is an abridgment of a free press and redress, and it needs to stop,” she told the commissioners. “If you truly believe in the Constitution, then let’s do this. Let’s go all in.”

She told them, “My goal is to see all county documents be made available online, and in real time. It doesn’t have to be all documents at once. Pick a date and start there, going forward. And if someone requests something, put it online.

“In lieu of that, all documents should be made available free of charge. There is precedence for this in other states. Oregon continues to lag behind in transparency, and it is not acceptable.”

Flood told the commissioners, “You weren’t afraid to take control on the Second Amendment conversation. Citizens are asking you to drive the bus on the First.”

Citizens are normally limited to three minutes, but Chair Allen Springer allowed Flood to run over.

Neither he nor Starrett responded to her remarks.

However, Starrett did ask how Flood could hear her speak, when Flood is legally deaf, and challenged Flood’s explanation that she reads lips. Flood told the News-Register she was upset by Starrett’s treatment, which included Starrett briefly covering her mouth, to prevent Flood from reading her lips.

Comments

BOC

News Register reporter Nicole Montsano’s story on comments made at the July 23rd county commissioner formal hearing are on two accounts misleading and inaccurate. I am offended that Governor Kate Brown refused to order flags flown at half mast after the murder of 5 U.S. servicemen on July 16th instead waiting for nearly a week until president Obama “requested” the lowering of flags. When Governor Brown did issue a press release asking that flags be lowered she used the opportunity not to honor those killed but to further her anti-gun agenda by referring to the “gun violence” that took their lives. Not terrorism or murder of unarmed members of our military but “gun violence”.It was disrespectful and disingenuous to exploit these 5 American soldiers’ deaths, and that’s just what Governor Kate Brown did. Going forward I am hopeful we will order the lowering of flags at county buildings without waiting for either the president or governor to get around to doing it. Regarding the comments made about Mrs. Angela Flood who is “legally deaf”, again, pertinent facts in this story have been left out. Mrs. Flood contacted the county looking for copies of past commission meeting minutes that were not yet available since they must to be transcribed, and approved by all commissioners.She was offered an audio CD of the minutes. She stated she did not want the CD because she was “deaf”.I ascertained that Mrs. Flood could in fact hear me as we had spoken before. In Mrs. Floods efforts to disparage the county's staff for not providing written minutes on demand and turning down audio copies she did a disservice to those who work so hard to provide records to the public. Again, the reporting of this story leaves pertinent information out, in what appears to be an effort to show myself, county staff and those who provide excellent customer service in our county government in a bad light.
Mary Starrett,Yamhill County Commissioner

Spongebob

"...to further her anti-gun agenda..."

I find it amusing that Commissioner Starrett deems it more useful to soften her written rant about the Governor's "anti-gun" position from a "jihad" to an "agenda". 'Jihad' is certainly more inflammatory, but 'agenda' is probably more accurate.

Lulu

Mary Starrett may know many things, but she certainly knows nothing about manners. Shame on you. You have embarrassed yourself--yet another point you'll never fathom.

Shasta

Actually its very common place to use descriptive words to describe ones death....shooting, stabbing, drowning, hanging, etc. Wouldn't it be somewhat unprofessional in any profession whether it be in the political, law enforcement, journalism(mrs. Starrett) etc. to make vague, or non descriptive statements about events? I think Mrs commissioner is taking the opportunity herself to promote her own agenda of the gun issue.

Jenj

what a circus.....makes me want to attend with a clown suit on, I'd fit right in

tagup

As a Yamhill county resident & taxpayer, I would prefer our county commissioners to focus on county business. I think there is plenty of work to do right here in Yamhill county, without taking on state and national issues The outrage over the flag is all very dramatic but clearly is not meant to serve the needs of the county. A commission seat is not an appropriate forum to advance one's own personal agenda, let's keep our eye on the ball.

Horse with no name

I agree tagup. It appears our county commissioners spend most of their time and energy on their religious mission as Christian soldiers instead of as county commissioners focusing on our county government. They all appear to be on the verge of throwing their hat in the Republican Presidential race because they are ready and willing to take over and cure all the ills the planet has with their simplistic worldview. Oh wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. First they want Yamhill County to secede from the State of Oregon, and then from their fundamentalist stronghold recruit more extremist, hook up with the wacks in Idaho etc. and on to Washington to get rid of those bad people. Then we will all live in bliss under their way of running things. Isn't that the way all the other crazy stuff in the world is running right now. Maybe that way is not the answer. Maybe a little more thought and a little less partisan politics could help us move forward in civilization.

Angela.Flood

Mary Starrett needs to inform herself on public record law. Meeting minutes DO NOT require commission approval to be released in draft form. I, actually, never made a records request. I simply asked staff when they thought they might complete the more than 6 month backlog of minutes not being prepared. If Ms. Starrett had actually read the correspondence, instead of getting her info second hand, she would know both. Maybe the better question is why the commissioners are providing so little oversight that a task could simply go so long without being done and none of them noticed? My deafness was mine to disclose...it was not a topic brought up by me but by her as a way to shame me after asking the commissioners to provide transparency into their dealings. It is unfortunate that she used this tactic, but more concerning that she might do this to someone more vulnerable, considering the sensitive information she has access to with her community boards if any of them try to hold her accountable in her official actions.

Lulu

"The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."

"The Second Coming" William Butler Yeats

David Bates

It's been a long day, and my brain is fried from travel and keeping up with our 6-year-old, but I've read Nicole's story through twice now (and Starrett's response) and several parts more than that, and I'm unable to determine what it is, exactly, that was "misleading" and "inaccurate" about it. But as long as I'm here and as long as Starrett is throwing around words like "misleading" and "inaccurate," I'd like to revisit her comment some time ago that you can't count on volunteers. The reason I'm curious about this is because we've had a couple of scary and spectacular fires in the last week, and both times, volunteer firefighters just emerged out of nowhere and put the fires out -- in one case, literally saving a neighborhood. Given that, it strikes me as a little misleading -- and even inaccurate -- to claim that you can't count on volunteers. Just saying.

Trafik

Good grief. Virtually every remark posted here contains incendiary language, reflecting each remark-maker's particular perspective. Indignance, it seems, breeds inflammatory words.

Yes, our indignant county commissioners routinely employ incendiary language. So do our indignant governor, our indignant senators, our indignant representatives and our indignant President. All this indignance is pitting us against ourselves (yes, all of us) and making it impossible to have a civilized conversation.

When we elect the true believers at both ends of the spectrum, we have only ourselves to blame when they can't even talk together, let alone reach consensus. All that's left now is to drink the Kool-Aid.

Mudstump

Yet another example of our extremist county commissioners teaching by example that if you don't like the law you don't have to follow the law. Maybe someday they will get around to doing the work we pay them to do and actually govern the county.

Also, shame on Ms. Starrett for her childish and cruel tactics. Can we vote them all out and replace them with leaders who actually value the tax payers hard-earned money? It seems they are free-loading off the taxpayer by just keeping their seats warm and running their extreme ideological agenda.

miketubbs1

Mudstump,

Are you accusing our county commissioners of pulling pages straight out of our current president's playbook ... or that of our currently-unelected-extremist-governor?

miketubbs1

....and please, if you will, try to refrain from throwing a sissy fit when you reply to my query, please.

Sal Peralta

Mike Tubbs - You are justifying Commissioner Starrett's bomb throwing and refusal to accommodate a hearing impaired woman because of Obama? I am not following your point. How is one related to the other?

My question is whether Starrett consulted with county counsel before posting under the username BOC in this forum?

It seems to me that she has basically confirmed that she does not believe Ms Flood deserves any accommodation with regard to meeting minutes in a format other than audio because she does not believe she is deaf.

She also appears to be saying that the BOC can choose not to provide written minutes of any county meeting by simply refusing to approve the minutes. I am pretty skeptical about that. Six months is a long time to wait for approval of meeting minutes. Most organizations approve written meeting minutes at the next regular meeting.

It sure seems like a stupid battle to pick, refusing to provide written minutes of a county meeting to a woman who is legally deaf on the grounds that she is not actually impaired.

Does Starrett's use of the monicker BOC mean that she is speaking on behalf of the entire board when she posts here?

miketubbs1

Mr. Peralta, please point out if you will, where Mudstump had made any reference concerning Angela Flood's hearing issues, or her request minutes in whatever form.

You can't because Mudstump made no mention of such in her comment.

Sal Peralta

Make Tubbs - I assume that is what was being referred to in the second paragraph, where Starrett's actions were described as cruel. Do you believe Ms Starrett's actions towards ms flood were justified? If President Obama or Kate Brown treated a citizen the way, Ms Starrett treated Ms Flood, what would you say about it? What do you think Ms Starrett would say about it?

miketubbs1

Sal, My answer is no. I do not believe that Angela Flood's request for a copy of the minutes in written form (if that indeed was her request) was handled appropriately by Ms Starrett, much less justified.

Again, nowhere in Mudstump's 'written comment' do my eyeballs spot any mention of Angela Flood's request. As for the behavior of our current president, he does treat requests from citizens (congress) with rude contempt, as do his appointee's. It doesn't require a 'Swami Hat' to assume that much from his behavior.

Angela.Flood

People who know me know that I can stand up for myself, and I will. While this incident was shocking, it is simply more of the 'blame others' behavior that has gone on and will continue, until someone puts a stop to it.

I am reviewing my options at this point. I don't know what direction it will travel, but I do know that I do not want anyone else to have to endure the commission's abuse of citizens. Even her response to this article continues to reflect her attitude that rules and laws do not apply to her. On the 25th anniversary of ADA, she continues to take the county backwards.

Ironically, I have an email from her stating that if she ever violated her oath of office, which includes following the constitution, she would resign. May be we take this as a resignation?

Ms. Starrett is a member or chair of a number of committees and organizations that have access to confidential information. People need to ask themselves that level she will go to to stop the next person, and the next, and the next...

This is a link to those organizations...Review them. Ask them what they are doing to protect confidential information from being transferred to her.
http://www.co.yamhill.or.us/sites/default/files/boc_liaisonassignments_2015_ms.pdf

The testimony I provided was video taped (not expecting the unrelated and inappropriate response from the commission members regarding my deafness, as it was in no way part of my testimony) as part of information for the public records advocacy effort. So, if one is interested in seeing Ms. Starrett's comments, and Chair Springer's allowance of it, that video is located at: https://www.youtube.com/user/teagle7

I am asking people to get involved. Not for my sake, but for the others in our community that may not know this could happen or what to do afterwards.

These officials are supposed to be representing our interests. But, in Ms. Starrett's case, in this incident, she has now become a liability.

yamhillbilly2

Really? Mary Starrett now speaks for our BOC. Mr. Springer and Mr Primovich, Does she speak for you? Do you both really support her childish, bullying style for government? Oh yeah, that's your style Mr. Springer. Will somebody get going on the recall so I can sign the petition?

Mudstump

Miketubbs1 - "Mr. Peralta, please point out if you will, where Mudstump had made any reference concerning Angela Flood's hearing issues, or her request minutes in whatever form.

You can't because Mudstump made no mention of such in her comment."

I stated in my comment, "Also, shame on Ms. Starrett for her childish and cruel tactics." For your translation, this means that when Ms. Starrett unprofessionally and publicly pointed out Ms. Floods deafness she went well over the line. I would imagine such tactics on a grade-school playground, but not at our Board of Commissioners meeting. She even took it a step further or too far imo. She covered her mouth.....to see if Ms. Flood could hear. Wow....that's about unprofessional and childish as a person can go. How about doing your job Ms. Starrett and make sure that meeting minutes are available in a timely manner for the public? Responsible leaders all over the country are managing....why not Yamhill county commissioners? Something to hide...or do they just want the taxpayer paying their salaries to be about 6 steps (months) behind their radical agenda?

Jeb Bladine

In the interest of accuracy:

1) Yamhill County is not 6 months behind in providing written minutes of BOC meetings. Arguably, the county is 3 months behind, as minutes are posted on the county website for meetings through April 30. Audio tapes of BOC meeting since that date presumably satisfy the Public Meetings Law for disclosure of minutes in a timely manner.

2) Perhaps the county has not transcribed written minutes of any BOC meeting since April 30 – we will ask. If so, they are subject to public disclosure whether or not they have been formally approved by commissioners.

3) The commissioner accuses the newspaper of leaving pertinent information out of this story in order to “show myself, county staff and those who provide excellent customer service in our county government in a bad light.” The story was written on deadline Thursday afternoon to report accurately what occurred at a BOC meeting that same day. It wasn’t an investigative effort to uncover whatever the commissioner might have considered pertinent to the issue.

4) The phrase, “anti-gun jihad,” as referring to Gov. Brown, comes from the website of the Oregon Firearms Federation, a fiercely proactive gun-rights group run by the commissioner’s brother, Kevin Starrett.

5) According to the website, www.ushistory.org, the governor is authorized to lower the flag for an active service member from the state who is killed while on active duty, but it took an order from the president in this case. We would welcome more information about that element of the national Flag Code.

6) We do not know if Angela Flood is legally deaf. We do know, based on state statutes and the Americans With Disabilities Act, that public officials should consult with legal counsel before determining the appropriate response to requests related to public records and meetings access by people with disabilities.

Angela.Flood

Actually, Mr. Bladine, while the website now contains minutes to April 30, it did not at the time of my request. And not all minutes up to that time had been prepared. There were several up to that time that had not. Thus the 20 sets of minutes sent to me on July 16th.

One simply would have had to review the agenda for the July 23rd meeting to note that another stack of minutes had just been approved (as had at the previous meeting) going back to Feb 26th, (February 2nd at the 16th meeting).

But thank you, again, for doing your research before telling me I am incorrect. Next time, just ask me directly before you post. It would save the inaccuracies.

miketubbs1

Up until this morning, Jeb, I actually hadn't known the definition of a Gadfly. So, I looked it up, and low & behold... .

sbagwell

Mike:
Mudstump said in his/her first post on this subject, "Also, shame on Ms. Starrett for her childish and cruel tactics." Clearly, that is a reference to Starrett's treament of Angela Flood.
Steve

Jeb Bladine

Always happy to update information: While the county has not posted BOC minutes beyond April 30 on its website, minutes now have been approved for various meetings through June 4. County staffing issues this year impacted that process, as we learned at the newspaper – it would appear they now are catching up.

However, we don’t see many published records of “informal” meetings. The BOC designates its various meetings as “informal,” “formal” and “combined informal/formal,” as if there were some difference with regard to statutory requirements. There is no difference – a meeting is a meeting, all with the same requirements related to notice, proceedings, minutes and related records.

miketubbs1

Thank you, Steve, for 'Parroting' what she'd already clarified for me in her second post on this subject.

sbagwell

Happy to help, Mike.

Steve

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