October 2005

Demanding Accountability



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Josephine County Treasurer - $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Josephine County, Oregon - Where can you get a job that you receive salary and benefits costing your employer about $50 an hour or $400 a day? You get a free office and have employees under you that are trained to do your work. You are a supervisor that supervises the workers and working managers; you are a V.I.P. You can come and go as you please and there’s plenty of goof off time. It’s just like Dagwood Bumstead working for Mr. Dithers. You can even ride a motorcycle during duty hours if you wish. You aren’t answerable to anyone for four years, and if you haven’t let the cat out of the bag, you may be retained for another four years. And you get a Jim Dandy vacation to boot. Well, such a job does exist and it’s right here in Josephine County, Oregon. It’s the elected position of Treasurer/Tax Collector for the county.

At the present time John Harelson (pictured on the right) is the county treasurer. Don’t tell anybody, but he thinks he’s God’s gift to the county, and he’s also under the delusion that he’s the fourth commissioner. Harelson spends an estimated five to ten percent (if not more) of the normal daily work hours with his nose in the commissioners’ business. Harelson especially likes to hang out at the commissioners’ business meetings during his regular business hours since there’s nothing for him to do back in his office.

On October 12, 2005 during a commissioners’ business meeting, Harelson spent a couple of hours, perhaps more, watching the proceedings. This cost the taxpayers at least $100. Harelson has been observed doing this on a routine basis. One would think he had nothing to do, and they would appear to be right. He’s the guy that came up with the accelerated property tax foreclosure ordinance. He didn’t inform the county commissioners about this ordinance but went directly to his friend the elected Legal Counsel Steve Rich. Together they laid this egg and tried to get the commissioners to hatch it for them. The commissioners stood up and voted no. They weren’t sitting on this egg for these two birds. Harelson and Rich will be remembered at election time for this extremely unpopular ordinance. Both men appear to be anti-property rights and Harelson has certainly supported new property taxes and discussed taxing districts for family homes.

Harelson wasn’t elected County Treasurer to follow the commissioners around like a hound that smells blood, commissioners’ blood. Harelson’s objectives appear to be self-serving to protect his own interests. The Treasurer’s office has become his personal territory, his fiefdom (The domain controlled by a feudal lord).

His elected office gives him authority, influence, and a comfortable income to fatten his belly. The man has a political agenda, and he’s not averse to carrying it out. The US Observer sees Harelson as a dangerous man to the public’s best interest of an efficient and functional county government. The Observer recommends that the salary for Harelson’s position be reduced by fifty percent and all perks eliminated. We would also recommend that voters remove Harelson from his position at the next election.

If anyone sees Josephine County Treasurer/Tax Collector John Harelson away from his office during regular business hours 9-5, M-F please call the Observer hot line at (541) 474-7885 and leave a message mentioning the time, location, and what he was seen doing. Developing …

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