By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Commissioners oppose minimum wage increase

The county’s opposition reflects that of the McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce, which believes wage-setting should be a free-market function, unfettered by government regulation.

The letter states, “Our initial analysis is that the cost statewide to local governments is in the range of $450 to $500 million a year,” in terms of increased costs for goods and services. It argues that violates Article XI, Section 15 of the Oregon Constitution, which “prohibits unfunded mandates on local government.”

The commissioners go on to take note of the chamber’s opposition to all three measures currently in the Legislature — SB 1532, SB 1592 and HB 4054 — and echo its argument that “all businesses should have the autonomy to pay their workforce at the level they deem economically sustainable.”

In other business, a recommendation from Solid Waste Coordinator Sherrie Mathison that the commissioners re-appoint Steven Farley and John Arand to the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, and appoint former City Sanitary partner Joe Cook, failed 2-1 in the face of strong objection.

SWAC member Jennifer Redmond-Noble opposed Cook’s appointment, arguing the committee was already heavily weighted with people who have either direct or indirect ties to the industry. She said she believed Cook still received some form of compensation from either Recology, holder of the local waste collection franchise, or Waste Management, holder of the local waste disposal franchise.

Mathison told commissioners she had received no applications for a vacancy, so had hand-delivered applications to five people knowledgeable in the field. She highly recommended Cook, saying his background with City Sanitary makes him particularly knowledgeable about garbage collection in the county.

Commissioner Stan Primozich voted to approve the trio, but could not get Commissioners Mary Starrett and Allen Springer to go along.

Springer asked Planning and Development Director Mike Brandt to have Mathison check into Cook’s industry ties and report back. In the meantime, he said he would welcome more applicants.

“The only thing that I would kind of warn against a little bit is, how far do you have to be removed from somebody that you know that’s part of the landfill? ... Everybody knows everybody at some point. I’m just saying we’ve got to be a little cautious of that at some point.”

Redmond-Noble responded, “I think we’re being cautious completely on the wrong side.”

Commissioners also heard from resident Joseph Gall, who was upset over the FBI shooting of Robert Finicum, while he was in the process of being taken into custody in connection with an armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.

Gall quoted a passage of the Oregon Constitution reading, “All free governments are founded in their authority and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness and they have at all times a right to reform, alter or abolish the government in such manner as they think proper.” He said that gave the armed militant group “constitutional authority.”

The commissioners also held an executive session to discuss labor negotiations.

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