By editorial board • 

Berschauer continues flouting norms of reasonable conduct

There she goes again. We refer, of course, to embattled County Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer, who can’t seem to resist pursuing her own personal and political agendas at the expense of any and all who get in her way.

The public good be damned. Legislative, judicial and ethical constraints be damned. The only things that seem to count are what’s good for her and the partisans providing the financial and political underpinning.

The latest example came via a barrage of Berschauer e-mails badgering county officials to arrest and prosecute, on unrelated grounds, the plaintiff in litigation against her husband.

This is the very kind of conduct that has incited a citizen group to seek her recall from office. Ironically, it almost got lost amid news the group had launched a new effort after the original collected sufficient signatures, but fell victim to a legal technicality.

It took public records petitioner Lynette Shaw a month to pry the e-mails loose. In the meantime, the county shared what it had collected with Berschauer, who seized the opportunity to mischaracterize her own motives, Shaw’s motives and the content of the communications via social media.

State law strictly forbids any use of public office for private gain. But that didn’t stop Berschauer from peppering a pair of elected county colleagues — Sheriff Tim Svenson and District Attorney Brad Berry, both of whose budgets are under board of commissioners purview — with e-mails targeting a man who’d run afoul of her husband.

If that weren’t enough, when Berry handed it off to another county, to avoid “even the appearance that decisions on the case were improperly influenced,” she initiated a series of exchanges with the outside prosecutor attempting to bring influence to bear.

Her commission mentor and colleague, Mary Starrett, shares Berschauer’s no-holds-barred pursuit of far right ideology. But Starrett has been as vigilent in keeping personal and political agendas separate as Berschauer has been lax in commingling them.

When residents of Starrett’s one-lane Parrett Mountain road sought county permission to gate it off to outsiders, neither she nor her husband signed the petition or commented on it in any way. When it came before the board in the fall of 2017, she not only recused herself, but vacated the chambers entirely for the duration of the discussion, thus going well beyond what ethics law requires.

Sadly, a lack of civility, principles and restraint has marked Berschauer’s tenure from the outset — even during her campaign, for that matter.

Just weeks after being sworn in, she launched scathing personal attacks on county officials guilty of nothing more than following the policy direction of the board as previously constituted.

She belittled and berated them in public, even though none of them reported personally to her and she had no prior experience with them, thus no foundation for evaluating their conduct or performance. It represented a shocking breach of public and private sector norms, but drew no apologies from her.

During her short tenure, Berschauer has committed repeated acts of abuse of power, violation of trust, moral corner-cutting, political retribution, factual distortion and partisan grandstanding. Aided and abetted by Starrett, she has also flouted higher legislative and judicial authority in costly exercises clearly doomed to fail.

We are reminded of what Army lawyer Joseph Welch famously said in confronting red-baiting ideologue Joe McCarthy in the Army/McCarthy hearings: “Have you no sense of decency?”

Comments

Meatloaf

A tiger never changes its stripes. Berschauer will continue this corrupt behavior as long as she is in office. I disagree with the notion that somehow Starrett has been "vigilent in keeping personal and political agendas separate". IMO, she's just more sneaky in how she does it. One of the biggest downfalls of electing Berschauer was fully empowering Starrett. Remember, we have a three member board. Two out of three nut cases gives us what we are seeing right now. No different than Lewis and George.

Duck fan

Berschauer loves the attention, even if it's negative. She's like a little kid who throws a fit just to get attention. Picking up the newspaper and seeing her name in the headlines is like a shot of adrenaline to her. Power drunk. A big fish in a very tiny pond.