By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: We have our own little ‘Wonderland’

Some great quotes come from “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll.

“Be what you would seem to be,” said the Duchess, who then put it “more simply”:


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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“Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.”

Alice, of course, had the most lasting quote, so surprised by the rabbit hole world that she forgot good English and just cried out, “Curiouser and curiouser!”

That phrase only just begins to describe the turbulent world of politics in Yamhill County.

Yamhill County commissioners developed extensive criteria and scoring policies for $2.2 million in grants to local nonprofit organizations from the county’s $21 million pool of American Rescue Plan Act funds. Fifty-two organizations spent time and money following the rules to submit detailed applications; county staff and volunteers conducted the prescribed scoring process and submitted recommendations to the commission.

Then, commissioners Mary Starrett and Lindsay Berschauer summarily rejected the package of grants, saying they will decide the nonprofit allocations based on their own personal criteria. Local outrage was swift and extensive, but as we know, public opinion is not hugely valued by Yamhill County government these days.

Two county commission candidates headed into the May primary election are pushing for a well-organized local partnership to draw federal funding from the massive Build Back Better Plan, touted as “the largest nationwide public investment in social, infrastructural and environmental programs since The New Deal.”

Harry Noah and Doris Towery, running in separate commission races, recognize this once-in-a-generation opportunity; Commissioner Starrett, meanwhile, was quoted from a Newberg candidate forum as saying, “We need to wean ourselves off grants, because what government gives, government holds conditions on.”

Curiouser and curiouser.

Not to be outdone, the city of McMinnville has created a major stir with its revelations of deficit spending years and plans for major increases in local utility fees. The city’s latest venture down that rabbit hole produced threats of legal action from multiple directions, with potential for longer-lasting financial disruption.

The city soon will have a new mayor, and one of the first orders of business will be to explain how three top city officials retired last year on state pensions and were re-hired on employment contracts without any notice to the public.

As Alice would say … well, you get it!

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


Tom Hammer

the bait is always delivered on a hook. Look who's biting.

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