By editorial board • 

What will it take for voters to decide enough is enough?

Our trio of like-minded county commissioners preaches transparency, accountability and local control; fairness, ethics and evenhandedness; civility, respect and accommodation of opposing views; thoughtful deliberation toward decisions designed to bring us together, not drive us apart.

But in recent times, particularly since the advent of stridently partisan Lindsay Berschauer two years ago, it has repeatedly delivered quite the opposite.

It has taken high-handed actions designed to inflame. It has run roughshod over even the most understandable and well-grounded concerns. It has engaged in unrestrained nepotism, favoritism and self-dealing.

It has often cloaked its motives in secrecy. It has attempted to assert its control both upward over state and federal laws it doesn’t like and downward over city and special district regulations not squaring with its partisan ideology.

It has often acted in vengeful and vindictive ways. It has repeatedly poured money into favored ideological causes, skewed funding to reward friends and punish foes, and withheld funding for worthy causes its members don’t personally favor.

One of the hallmarks of the trio’s ascendency has been brushing off the wisdom of people who’ve earned advanced degrees, compiled sterling records and amassed decades of highly specialized experience in their fields. Our commissioners seem to think they know more about medicine than doctors, law than attorneys and just about anything else than just about anyone else.

So it came as no surprise here when the commissioners maneuvered in secrecy to stage a surprise takeover of the county’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, and provided hardly even the barest outlines of an honest rationale.

No surprise that they saw fit along the way to stack the panel with members of the hazelnut industry, political cronies, people with George family connections and applicants with no demonstrated interest or expertise in parks and recreation. That they ignored recommendations based on earnest interviews and deliberations conducted by existing parks board members. Or that one of the hazelnut growing political cronies deemed more suited than parks board choices just happened to be Berschauer’s politically active husband, Mike Firestone.

Nor was it surprising when two board members who do boast demonstrated interest and expertise in the field immediately quit in protest, giving the novice newcomers an even clearer path to unfettered control.

Berschauer said she was simply trying to give work on a new long-range parks plan a jump-start.

But she almost immediately suggested a more sinister motive, saying one question she wants the newly expanded and reconstituted board to consider is a possible “need to monetize.” Not consider further development, expansion or improvement of the current largely undeveloped system over the coming couple of decades, but the possibility of milking a few more dollars from it in the form of user fees.

One other hidden motive also suggests itself, of course. How could it not, given the fact Berschauer rode trail opposition to victory and continues to fan those flames to whip up political and financial support?

Early prediction: The new board will not look kindly toward trails for hikers, bikers or wildlife enthusiasts.

Does this truly represent the majority view of voters in Yamhill County? We think not.

Our largely rural county is deeply rooted in principled conservatism. But the board’s pattern of behavior represents a perversion of the concept, twisted and tormented well past the breaking point.

There is nothing principled about it. And it does a disservice to the root definition of conservatism as a commitment to traditional values.

One has to wonder, where will the heavy hand of county government next strike a blow for narrow partisanship over the broader public good? Planning, transportation, law enforcement, public health, agency administration?

If we want to make Yamhill County functional again, we will need to elect commissioners dedicated to making the gears mesh smoothly, not jamming them willfully and maliciously at every turn.



IMO, What we're seeing and experiencing now actually started about 20 years ago when Leslie Lewis walked in the door of the commissioner's office. Didn't take her long to figure out that she needed a puppet second vote in order to commandeer the Board. Thus, as a sitting commissioner, she acted as campaign manager and treasurer for Kathy George. Since that time, there has been a string of commissioners and Administrators who forgot they were supposed to represent the citizens and instead represented special interests or their own interests. Lewis, George, Springer, Primozich, Starrett, Berschauer, Tschabold, Huffer, and now Johnston. Corruption, quid pro quo, and nepotism. Until the voters wake up and pay attention, stop drinking the kool-aid of these self-serving officials who actually only serve themselves, their families, their donors, or some other special interest we will get more of the same. The longer this trajectory goes, the worse it will get. 20 years in the making and no sign of it ending soon. It is incredibly sad that Yamhill County is the laughing stock of the state. We need a cycle breaker and the sooner the better.




I agree with the editorial, but I think Sunrise's criticism is overly broad. Here's my take.

George may have been encouraged by Lewis to run as her backup, but she grew into a reasonably independent decision maker.

Primozich may have supported traditional pre-MAGA Republican positions, but he certainly wasn't corrupt. I don't think he ever engaged in quid pro quo politics or nepotism.

Tschabold was and Huffer is a solid administrator.


About 27% of all registered voters voted for these 3.

Let that simmer.

What will it take to make those that left their ballots on the kitchen counter upset enough to vote next time?????

Or will they continue to just bow their heads and take more punishment??


It's painfully obvious that these decisions are being discussed and made outside of the public's view in violation of Oregon public meeting statutes. How are our county commissioners able to so flagrantly violate these statutes and how are they to be held to account? It seems their hubris and utter disregard for the voters of Yamhill County knows no bounds.

M. Isaac

I agree with McMoniker. Both Ken Huffer and Laura Tschabold are and were, solid administrators. In my opinion, they have both done good jobs in holding the County together during challenging times.


I agree, especially on administration working in good faith and Primozich being an ethical leader. But Johnston lied his way to join his cronies (he donated several thousand to Lindsay and Mary donated to him) and is clearly taking orders. Lindsay seems to enjoy the scorch earth approach and doesn't care who or what she hurts. And Mary cares only about those in ideological alignment and fakes her on-air smile for everyone else, while trying to figure out how to profit and promote her interests without accidentally helping others.


McMoniker, Isaac, and YamCoCan - Perhaps our ideas of good administration are different. Examples, according to PERS public information Tschabold's final average annual salary was $166,450. The last three budgets of her time don't show anything near this salary anywhere. Transparency? Honesty? Between her, Vesper, and Huffer, labor relations at the County are at an all-time low. They seem to be in love with union busting Diana Moffit. The Interest based bargaining model was thrown out the window by these three. Good administration? The list of personnel related lawsuits lost by the county over the last few years is pretty long. Good administration? TYschabold swore to the YCOM Board that the county would not let the public safety radio system fail, yet recent N-R reports tell of "obsolete" radio equipment and a failing system. Honesty? This is just the tip of the iceberg. I seriously disagree with the statements that these folks were/are good administrators.


Sunrise, your comments reflects experience different than my own. That's very helpful perspective. I think because of the obvious and incredible level of self-serving cronyism and extreme partisanship, the commissioners garner more than their share of attention so perhaps the general public, separated from county operations, are unaware of those management issues. Thank you.


A minority of our fellow citizens voted in this trio of autocrats. Unfortunately ALL citizens in our county must bear the consequences – in our taxes, our quality of life, and our lack of any actual representation. Although I am liberal in my political leanings, I have honorable conservative family members, friends, and neighbors whom I cherish and respect. That said, I recognize nothing honorable OR conservative about this BOC. They do not govern, they reign.

Yamhill County is being dragged down into the malignant anti-American MAGA rat hole that is rapidly eroding our democratic republic. Although it began as a stealthy take-over, the BOC has become emboldened by unaccountable authority and the ability to overrule the opposition. They have solidified their grip on power and now flaunt their agenda with all the subtlety of a middle finger. I keep hoping the majority of our citizens will not continue to tolerate this reign of the royals. (We are required to pay them to "represent" us…..oh the irony!)

Thanks to the N/R for the editorial and observations by Mr. Kulla. This needed to be exposed and I hope it moves onto the “most read” list and beyond. If only the misrepresented majority can recognize the truth and urgency of the message! A call to action is long overdue.


Progressive being told, "No" and pulling back on their destructive policies is what we voted for.

Where were the criticisms and calls for "transparency, accountability and local control; fairness, ethics and evenhandedness; civility, respect and accommodation of opposing views; thoughtful deliberation toward decisions designed to bring us together, not drive us apart." when the left was in charge? It was nowhere to be found.


citizen X—When was the “left” in charge of Yamhill county?


Leslie Lewis, Kathy George, Tom Bunn and Rob Johnstone would be surprised to hear they constituted the "left," as would Dennis Geocks. We've had a solidly Republican, solidly conservative board for at least the last 30 years, and probably long before that.


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