“Josephine County is broke,” wrote the commenter at Huffington Post. “Armed citizen volunteers have taken over most patrol duties against the wishes of Sheriff Gilbertson.”
Washington, D.C., is flush with new tax revenue… and Wall Street is riding high with the big stock indexes near record highs. Meanwhile, in places far from the centers of power, we’re seeing one of our forecasts play out. Now nearly two years old, we said the “mother of all financial bubbles” would make itself felt first on the local level.
Josephine County, Ore. — population 83,000 — sits on the California state line. As long ago as 2007, the county government ran out of money for the libraries and shut them down; they’ve since reopened under the auspices of a nonprofit group.
“I don’t have anybody to send out there,” said the 911 dispatcher to the woman who was about to be raped in her own home. “Can you ask him to go away?”
It happened in Josephine County last August. The story “went viral” only last week. The intruder — the woman’s abusive ex-boyfriend — eventually broke in, attacked and fled. Then police swung into action and arrested him.
“If you don’t pay the bill, you don’t get the service,” said Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson. Budget cuts, he says, make it impossible to respond to emergency calls on evenings and weekends.
“What’s left of the Josephine County Sheriff’s Dept. is basically only available 9-5,” concurs the HuffPo commenter.
“You may want to consider relocating to an area with adequate law enforcement services,” the sheriff added helpfully.
The Sheriff’s office does, however, have the resources to carry out marijuana raids.
HuffPo’s Radley Balko put Google through its paces and came up with accounts of no less than four raids — all of them taking place since the woman was attacked in August.
Blame it on Washington’s perverse incentives, spotlighted in a 2010 Wall Street Journal article featuring Tom Bosenko, the sheriff two counties south in Shasta County, Calif. “If he steps up his pursuit of marijuana growers,” the paper reported, “his department is eligible for roughly half a million dollars a year in federal anti-drug funding.”
“The problem here,” writes Balko of the current case, “isn’t that there are no resources available for law enforcement officers to respond to 911 calls in Josephine County. It’s that federal, state and local officials have decided that preventing Josephine County residents from getting high is more important than preventing them from getting raped.”
Turns out that even back in better days, it was federal money keeping Josephine County government afloat.
“Federal forests make up 60% of the land in many rural Oregon counties,” explains the Portland Oregonian. “Because federal land isn’t subject to property taxes, the federal government for decades shared timber sale revenue with the counties.
“But that money dried up as environmental restrictions, lawsuits, recession and market changes reduced logging on federal forests by 90% since 1989. The change cost counties millions.”
The situation is quickly moving from bad to worse.
Josephine County residents narrowly rejected a property tax increase last month. Gilbertson is threatening to close the jail.
And the state government might end up Bigfooting the county for having voted the “wrong” way. Gov. John Kitzhaber is imploring the Oregon legislature to grant him emergency powers. “The measure would authorize the governor to declare a public safety emergency for up to 18 months,” reports the Associated Press. His powers would include the imposition of a local income tax.
Wonder what the “armed citizen volunteers” would think about that.
Who knows? Before it’s all over, Oregon might lose its status as one of five states with no sales tax.
Dave Gonigamfor The Daily Reckoning
Dave Gonigam has been managing editor of The 5 Min. Forecast since September 2010. Before joining the research and writing team at Agora Financial in 2007, he worked for 20 years as an Emmy award-winning television news producer.
LOL. Nothing better than seeing lefties that want others to pay for all their special “let’s save the world” projects (that never save the world by the way)…..ending up having to pay for it with their own money instead. Tax the lefties.
Environmentalists have too much sway.. Too many of them are ignorant of the matters in which they involve themselves.
Bob re read the story again. It isn’t “lefties” that have the problem it is rethugs who don’t want to pay taxes. Taxes is what civilization is all about. If you don’t want taxes move to Somalia. I am sure once the citizens start paying for what they want things will turn out just fine.
The environment belongs to everyone not just people who have the luck to be born in the forest. The forest and its attributes affect conditions far more removed than your little corner of the planet and a good deal of that wood is being shipped offshore and benefits a few people with deep pockets .
Indeed, the environment is global, and that should engender a little humility in those who look for simple solutions to complex problems. For instance those who oppose controlled burning which, ironically, imitates nature’s way of maintaining forests. My concern is that I detect a kind of religious zealotry in the Green movement. It is always better to regulate than to prohibit. Better birth control than a China-like forced abortion approach.
Taxes and expenditures. Many a young athlete gets paid millions of dollars to play a sport, but then ends up broke because he pisses it away. Maybe law enforcement in the counties before bike paths and light rail in the cities to please “Yuppies,” or are is that term passe? Or maybe fewer benefits for state and county employees in the city in order to provide employees in less populated areas. Life is choices,life is flexibility.
Hmm, we have different views of civilization.
What if the citizens of Josephine County don’t want to pay taxes? Isn’t democracy all about the will of the people? If you don’t want to allow Americans to run their own local government perhaps you should move to China, along with the Portland politicians who want to impose these things on them.
I lived somewhere where the sheriff was an hour away. It’s not the end of the world.
You nasty ‘sivs are so authoritarian.
“Taxes is what civilization is all about.”
Funny, I always thought it was the cost of being uncivilized. Civilized people wouldn’t need to steal from others to live.
“Oregon might lose its status as one of five states with no sales tax.”
Not gonna happen. They’ve tried many times…
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