On May 1, 2017, Home Rule Petitioners Doug Hockett and Suzanne Hall filed a petition for an initiative measure to create a home rule charter system of government for Douglas County.
Here’s where they are so far:
They successfully prevailed in challenging District Attorney Rick Wesenberg's revision of the ballot title to bias the petition. He got it so wrong it is believed to be intentional to delay the collection of signatures to place the measure on the November 2017 ballot.
Last Thursday, the County Clerk was asked to meet with Douglas County Counsel Paul Meyer and an attorney representing a Plaintiff [Melvin "Bud" Smith] who was preparing to sue her if she approved the initiative petitions. It appears the meeting was an opportunity for her to reevaluate her decision to approve the petitions. She notified the attorney for the prospective plaintiff that her decision to approve the initiative was unchanged. For a copy of the relative correspondence and the complaint please go here: https://websites.godaddy.com/blob/0eca8f3b-6120-4008-9880-507315fb492b/downloads/1bjnos01j_73179.pdf?e3ed350e
As a result of County Clerk Patricia Hitt's decision to allow the initiative process to proceed, she was served with a lawsuit that also included the Petitioners, forcing them to once again require legal representation.
The Constitution preserves the right for citizen initiatives for County Home Rule Charters. The Clerk has verified everything with the Secretary of State’s office the constitution seems clear. Therefore, Petitioners are now actively soliciting and gathering signatures with only 30 days to do so.
The other interesting point is, the law firm suing Petitioners Hockett and Hallus is Harrang Long from Eugene, Oregon. Harrang Long is Douglas County’s “go to,” outside legal counsel and is currently representing the County in other active legal proceedings. Meetings and calls took place between the County and their law firm about Harrang Long suing the County prior to Monday June 26, when County Counsel Paul Meyer asked the Board of Commissioners for a conflict waiver for Harrang Long so they could sue the County and the County Clerk. The Board of Commissioiners unanimously granted the waiver for their own law firm to sue them, the Clerk and Home Rule Petitioners on behalf of Plaintiff Melvin, "Bud," Smith, a retired Roseburg Attorney.
We believe this lawsuit is an attempt to intimidate direct democracy and the Initiative Petitioners.
We understand the first amendment and will not be intimidated and quieted on behalf of the citizens of Douglas County and our rights to direct democracy. The best defense is a good offense and that is the direction we intend to pursue. We will not be distracted by the Plaintiff or those he serves.
We are asking for help with our legal expenses. We have already spent several thousand dollars to respond to District Attorney Rick Wesenberg's actions. We knew this would be difficult; but we didn't know it would be menacing. Please help by donating and sharing. Thank you!
- Marie Dixon
- Diana Larson
- Susan Applegate