Sherman County eNews #302

CONTENT

  1. Invitation to Sherman County Residents, Tour John Day Lock & Dam, Dec. 2

  2. I Am Fear

  3. Remember Local Needs for Year-end Giving

  4. Oregon Continues Strong Job Growth in October

  5. Editorial. Connecting the Dots #3


1. Invitation to Sherman County Residents, Tour John Day Lock & Dam, Dec. 2

electric.lineThe City of Rufus and the Corps of Engineers invites Sherman County Residents to tour the John Day Lock and Dam. Please join us for this educational tour of one of the greatest engineering marvels in our area.

When: Friday, December 2nd from 1:00 to 3:00 PM

Details about the Event:This will be a guided tour through the powerhouse. Please dress for the weather. No open toed shoes will be allowed. There will be significant walking on this tour. You MUST RSVP with the City of Rufus no later than November, 28th at 4:00 PM. We will need the full names of each person who plans on entering the facility.

To RSVP: Email rufuscityhall@gmail.com Phone 541-739-2321 Text 541-705-5640


2. I Am Fear

[Editor’s Note: Today, November 15th, would have been Lou Tice’s 81st birthday. In honoring that memory, we offer one of Lou’s favorite Winner’s Circle articles. It is as relevant today as when it was first written, perhaps even more so.]

(LT)  What are you afraid of, and what does it cost you? Today, I want you to read one of the best descriptions of fear I have ever heard. I don’t know where I got this quote originally, but it is one of the best definitions I know, and it seems to be appropriate for the world in which we are living:

“I am Fear. I am the menace that lurks in the paths of life, never visible to the eye but sharply felt in the heart. I am the father of despair, the brother of procrastination, the enemy of progress, the tool of tyranny. Born of ignorance and nursed on misguided thought, I have darkened more hopes, stifled more ambitions, shattered more ideals and prevented more accomplishments than history could record. 

“Like the changing chameleon, I assume many disguises. I masquerade as caution. I am sometimes known as doubt or worry. But whatever I’m called, I am still fear, the obstacle of achievement. 

“I know no master but one; its name is Understanding. I have no power but what the human mind gives me, and I vanish completely when the light of Understanding reveals the facts as they really are, for I am really nothing.”

(LT) You see, if you have the courage to acknowledge your fears, you will be taking the first step toward controlling them instead of them controlling you. And if you take the next step toward understanding, you will be able to move past them to empathy, perhaps even to love. ~ The Pacific Institute


3. Remember Local Needs for Year-end Giving

          Most are tax-deductible non-profit organizations. [new in red]

         Please send corrections & additions.

Give to these organizations

  • to honor someone with a shared interest,
  • to recognize someone’s achievement or success,
  • in memory or remembrance,
  • to express your appreciation, or
  • as a gift for someone who has everything.
  • ABC Huskies Day Care, Sherman County Child Care Foundation, P.O. Box __, Wasco, OR 97065
  • Grass Valley Pavilion Renovation & Rejuvenation Project, City of Grass Valley, P.O. Box 191, Grass Valley, OR 97029
  • HAVEN from Domestic and Sexual Violence, PO Box 576, The Dalles, OR 9058
  • Little Wheats Day Care Inc., P.O. Box 71, Moro, OR 97039
  • Maryhill Museum of Art, 35 Maryhill Museum Drive, Goldendale, WA 98620
  • Oregon Cultural Trust, Oregon Cultural Trust, 775 Summer Street NE, Ste 200, Salem, OR 97301 – a portion of these funds are allocated to Sherman County Cultural Coalition.
  • OSU Extension 4-H Programs, P.O. Box 385, Moro, OR 97039
  • Pioneer Potlatch
  • Rufus Community Center, City of Rufus
  • Sherman County Ambulance, PO Box __, Moro, OR 97039
  • Sherman County Athletic Foundation, PO Box 191, Moro, OR 97039
  • Sherman County Cultural Coalition
  • Sherman County Fair, P.O. Box 45, Wasco, OR 97065
  • Sherman County Food Bank, Mid-Columbia Community Action Council, 312 E. 4th Street, The Dalles, OR 97058 [Designate recipient county.]
  • Sherman County Historical Society & Museum, P.O. Box 173, Moro, OR 97039 –qualifies for Oregon Cultural Trust Tax Credits
  • Sherman County Junior Hoops, c/o Sherman County Athletic Foundation, PO Box 191, Moro, OR 97039
  • Sherman County Lions Club, P.O. Box 27, Wasco, OR 97065
  • Sherman County Little League
  • Sherman County Preschool
  • Sherman Parent Teacher Organization
  • Sherman County Public/School Library, 69512 High School Loop, Moro, OR 97039
  • Sherman County Scholarship Association, Attn: Gary Shelton, 65912 High School Loop, Moro, Oregon 97039.
  • Sherman Development League, P.O. Box 11, Moro, OR 97039
  • Sherman Experiment Station Foundation, P.O. Box ___, Moro, OR 97039
  • Wasco Cemetery Association, Sun Rise Cemetery, PO Box , Wasco, OR 97065
  • Wasco RR Depot & History Center, City of Wasco
  • Wasco Salmon/Steelhead Tournament, P.O. Box ____, Wasco, OR 97065
  • Your church

4. Oregon Continues Strong Job Growth in October

toolbox4Oregon added 6,100 nonfarm payroll jobs in October, continuing a trend of strong job growth. Since October 2015, Oregon added 55,400 jobs, which was a gain of 3.1 percent. This growth rate is nearly double the national job growth rate of 1.7 percent over that period. Oregon’s September nonfarm payrolls were revised upward by 1,900 jobs to a new reading of a gain of 4,300 jobs.

In October, Oregon gains were led by two industries which each added 1,800 jobs: construction and health care and social assistance. Next in line were leisure and hospitality, which added 1,000 jobs; government, which also added 1,000; and retail trade, which added 900. Only one major industry declined substantially in October, as professional and business services dropped by 1,200 jobs.

Job growth was widespread among the major industries over the past year, with none declining. Leading the way were three industries that expanded by more than 4 percent: construction (+5,900 jobs, or 6.9%); other services (+3,300 jobs, or 5.3%); and health care and social assistance (+10,300 jobs, or 4.6%). Other industries with above-average growth over the past year were information (+1,300 jobs, or 4.0%); government (+10,400 jobs, or 3.4%); professional and business services (+8,000, or 3.4%); and leisure and hospitality (+6,600 jobs, or 3.4%).

In October, Oregon’s unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, essentially unchanged from 5.5 percent in September. The unemployment rate was close to its year-ago figure of 5.6 percent in October 2015.

Oregon’s labor force continued to grow in October, bringing the labor force participation rate up to 63.3 percent, from 61.3 percent in October 2015. Oregon’s labor force participation rate–which represents the share of the population that is employed or unemployed–has increased since May 2015 as the job market has improved because of Oregon’s strong growth.


5. Editorial. Connecting the Dots #3

pencil.sharpWe greatly respect public service, process and transparency, and want public officials to succeed in the performance of their duties. We hope citizens will appreciate successful, ethical role models and want to serve. We believe it is our collective responsibility to pay attention, be informed and hold public officials accountable.

In October, we expressed concern about the Frontier TeleNet board members’ lack of process and transparency, including during development of a new position and contracting for services.

We took a look at Frontier TeleNet’s meeting minutes, 2015-current, and made note of  those present – board members, media and others – who were participating in or observing the position development process.

Information therein is, of course, what is reported and recorded by the participants. That does not necessarily make it a true or complete record. In connecting the sequence of activities through Frontier TeleNet minutes and other public documents we found discrepancies.

Whether careless, thoughtless or intentionally misleading, deceitful or unethical, these are especially disappointing considering the collective governing experience of board members and staff.

Let’s learn from this. There are rules and regulations for public meetings, process and notices. Asking questions is not a personal attack.

The process used for developing a new position, publishing legal notices, and developing a scope of work and an agreement for services, gives reason for concern.

Chronologically, beginning with Frontier TeleNet’s minutes of August 10, 2016, board members discussed, “retaining a marketing specialist” who “would recruit call center clients and market ISP (Internet Service Provider) possibilities. Proposed contract would be $80,000.00 yearly.”

On August 24, before establishing, in an open meeting, the need for a marketing specialist, a job description or compensation range, the board approved advertising in The Dalles Chronicle, The Times-Journal and The East Oregonian, a Personal Service Contract Request for Proposals (RFP) for Agency Executive Director of Marketing.

Marketing is mentioned just once with otherwise general and specific technical communications qualifications in the RFP. There are no requirements for a degree, residence or professional liability insurance and, with a very short application period for a position with an organization “made up by three counties and a school district,” the result is the perception of a predetermined outcome.

By the September 15 deadline, Frontier TeleNet had one applicant for the part-time position and a letter of concern about the process … and closed the process. In our experience, with just one applicant, most boards would take a second look with expanded advertising.

The lone applicant’s cover letter and resume contain no mention of marketing experience, nor the usual references or complete education, certification and employment records.

The applicant is on record as a participant at Frontier TeleNet meetings February 8, March 15, June 20 and July 28.

The applicant is on record as present during development of this position August 24, September 15, September 28, October 17 and November 10.  

On September 28, the board received a second letter of concern … and approved the position for Frontier TeleNet Executive Director of Marketing and negotiations with the applicant, Connections, LLC.

The position as advertised bears little resemblance to the approved scope of work and contract agreement … as it apparently continues to evolve. There is no record of an interview or a scoring system one might expect to measure the application against the requirements.

On October 7, after application for and approval of the position, the applicant submitted an inquiry to Oregon Government Ethics Commission (OGEC) regarding potential conflict of interest in taking this position, stating that, “… Frontier TeleNet oversees EMS and 911 communications, including management of the towers and other infrastructure as well as handling the technical challenges and partnerships… This is a contract position that was advertised with a full description of qualifications in multiple papers.” 

Frontier TeleNet was created to provide local governmental services, including a telecommunications system. Frontier Regional 911 Agency operates a call center using Frontier TeleNet and Frontier Digital Network infrastructure. The advertised “full description of qualifications” is one page; the approved scope of work and consulting agreement is two. It’s true, three is multiple; a broader state-wide search is a general practice for such a position.

Based on the information provided by the applicant, OGEC responded in the affirmative on October 12, citing Oregon Revised Statute 244.040(1) which states that public officials are prohibited from attempting to use their public positions in order to obtain any financial benefit for themselves, and continues with, “… If that benefit wouldn’t be available if the public official didn’t hold the public position… whether the position is offered because of the public position—the actual office—you hold, and if that’s the primary reason the job opportunity is being offered, then it would be a violation of ORS 244.040(1) for you to accept. For example, this is the difference between being offered a job because you have 10 years of experience and high recommendations building business partnerships, versus being offered a job because you are a County Commissioner and TeleNet thinks that because of this you’ll have some advantage over others for the company to build more business or make more money by way of your public or political connections. Thus, I’m basing this analysis on your assertion and explanation that you’re being offered this contractual job opportunity because of your experience doing the kind of work the position requires, and having nothing to do with the fact that you hold a particular public office…”  OGEC does take into account the manner in which the opportunity arose… if through avenues generally open and available to members of the general public.

The applicant was present at Frontier TeleNet meetings before the position was advertised.  At an October 13 Sherman County Court meeting, the applicant reported “a ruling by the Ethics Commission stating there were no conflicts ”… with applying for the position… No other candidate applied for the job. The job is an enormous amount of highly complex work that requires the candidate to live in the three-county area.” No residence requirement is found.

On October 10, after application for and approval of the marketing position, the applicant registered Connections, LLC with the Secretary of State Corporation Division.

As for the applicant registering with the Corporation Division using a simple online registration form after the LLC was awarded the position, the applicant explained on October 13, “… the paper work did not go through… was not processed or filed …” 

On October 13, the Sherman County Court convened: “The purpose of the special session is to discuss Frontier TeleNet, Frontier TeleNet employee contracts, and the Court’s response regarding recent press about Frontier TeleNet.” 

Those not following Frontier TeleNet may wonder why the Sherman County Court felt the need to convene on behalf of, or instead of, Frontier TeleNet’s board of directors… nor understand the relationships of its partner organizations: Frontier Digital Network, Frontier Regional 911 Agency, North Central Education Service District, and Sherman, Gilliam and Wheeler counties. See the minutes at http://www.co.sherman.or.us/documents/CountyCourtMinutes101316SpecialSession.pdf

The Times-Journal, on October 27, reported on the October 13 session, ”… Commissioner McCoy asked about the process to contract with a director of marketing for Frontier TeleNet. Attorney Carey responded that the request for a personal services contract for the position was advertised in The Times-Journal, The Dalles Chronicle and East Oregonian for the required time and that any who responded were interviewed. Commissioner Mike Smith was the sole respondent, as Connections LLC. Research with the Secretary of State’s office indicated that at the time the Frontier TeleNet directors voted to accept the contract, there was no record of Connections LLC. Commissioner Smith explained that the records are in order now and indicated that it was likely a computer glitch that delayed the process. The terms of the contract have yet to be finalized, though it was noted that the focus of the position (is) on fiber, while the focus of the general manager is broadband…”

The Sherman County Judge serves on the Frontier TeleNet board with Wheeler and Gilliam county judges. The county commissioner who was running for re-election is the new Frontier TeleNet Director of Marketing.

The County Court’s article, “Sherman County Court Explains Fiber Optic Project,” was published in Sherman County eNews on October 17 and The Times-Journal on October 20.

On October 17, the Frontier TeleNet board approved the specifics, “a contract, starting November 1, 2016, and ending June 30, 2017, with Michael Smith DBA Connections LLC, with a monthly amount of $6,250.00.”

On November 10, according to unapproved Frontier TeleNet minutes,  “A lengthy discussion was held on the contract with Connections LLC for the Executive Marketing Director position.  It was pointed out that the contract does cover both the Frontier TeleNet and Frontier Digital Network entities and also the Frontier Regional 911.  At this time it is best to pay the monthly remuneration from Frontier TeleNet. Lynn Morley asked if the contract was going to be signed by Connections LLC and the answer was yes.  It was pointed out that Mike Smith dba Connections LLC had done substantial work during the month of October 2016.   Moved by Gary Thompson, seconded by Steve Shaffer to start the Connections LLC Personal Services Contract with a date of October 1, 2016.  Motion carried with all present voting aye.” There is no explanation for the addition of two partner boards to the contract, nor evidence of the approval of the Frontier Regional 911 Agency board of which Sheriff Lohrey and Mike Smith are members.

At this meeting, it was noted that North Central Education Service District, a Frontier TeleNet founding partner, sent a letter requesting withdrawal. The board accepted. 

We look forward to official email addresses for all public officials and a website that offers Frontier TeleNet’s board and staff contact information, history, services, minutes, maps and a chart to clarify its relationships with Frontier Digital Network, Frontier Regional 911 Agency, and its county partners.

Yes, it is our civic responsibility to be informed and to support and hold Frontier TeleNet accountable. Ask questions! Their minutes and meeting notices are available upon request. The Times-Journal is affordable. There is no charge for public meetings!


 

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