It was a very somber scene at the Roseburg Municipal Airport last Friday around 4 PM as two Black Hawk helicopters touched down gently carrying their tragic cargo; the bodies of the slain students and teacher from last Thursday’s murderous rampage at Umpqua Community College. Members of the Oregon National Guard, State Police, and Douglas County Sheriff’s office were all present, serving in the capacity of honor guard as one-by-one all nine were brought home. Many heads were bowed as the solemn task was carried out. Under Oregon’s Mass Casualty Incident statute, any time there are more than six deaths in one incident, the identification and release of information falls under the jurisdiction of the State Medical Examiner’s Office. For purposes of identification and forensic evidence collection, the victims’ bodies were removed from the crime scene at UCC and taken to the M.E.’s office in Clackamas, Oregon 175 miles away. In the meantime, that Thursday, parents and family members of the missing students were kept in agonizing suspense. One such parent was Justin Anspach, Engineer for Fire District 2. Anspach’s close friend and co-worker Chuck was at the scene and asked us (Beacon staff) if we could help find out if Justin’s son is still “in there”, referring to the barricaded UCC Campus; “His dad is frantic and can’t get ahold of him!” The Anspach family would not receive the dreaded confirmation until nearly 7:00 pm that night, more than eight hours after the attack began. The question that lingered throughout that surreal day was; “Why can’t we get the names of the shooter and his victims?” After all, the killer was “neutralized” within minutes of his opening fire on his classmates and teacher. Every media outlet from throughout the nation and the world was on scene, looking for any facts to file in their next report. The families merely needed to know! Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice told the Beacon that the reason for the delay was some heretofore unknown bureaucracy imbedded in the Mass Casualty Incident law, which nobody until now had ever heard of. Finally after many agonizing hours, Commissioners Chris Boice and Tim Freeman working with Sheriff Hanlin, put pressure on the Governor’s staff to release the Sheriff from the statute requirements which could have meant 24-48 hours before the State M.E. would release the names. The Governor’s staff would not budge stating that by law they could not release local officials from the provisions of the law but “we can’t stop you”. Within the next hour all the families were finally notified. Then the nightmare became reality.
Roseburg, Or- After the furor caused by County Commissioner Susan Morgan filing suit against Douglas County Clerk Patricia Hitt, in her efforts to overturn the county term limit ordinance, a group of citizens have decided to mount a recall campaign to remove Morgan from office. Chief Petitioners Ralph Lamell and Mario Zayas plan to turn in documents to the Douglas County Clerk’s office Wednesday September 30, seeking to get their petition approved for circulation. Lamell, a retired U.S. Army Non-Commissioned Officer, said he decided to take up this recall campaign “because when an individual swears to an oath, they are bound by that oath 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Susan Morgan is supposed to look out for the financial welfare of the county and enforce the county ordinances.” Lamell said that Morgan, by entering into a lawsuit against the county, is “creating a financial burden on the county taxpayers.” He said “If we let a commissioner over run the voting public, then we are no longer in control of our elected governing officials; we would no longer live in a constitutional republic, but a dictatorship.” Lamell and his wife Heidi, live with their five children on what he called a “small homestead farm” south of Roseburg. “We moved to Roseburg to be around family and provide a better future for our children after my retirement. We enjoy the outdoors, fishing and hunting and the company of their friends and neighbors.” Lamell, who spoke at last week’s commissioner meeting, hasn’t been active up to this point in local politics. “We are just ordinary people, nobody special, but I couldn’t stand by and watch this happen.” He said “somebody has to hold our elected officials accountable.” Lamell is joined by local businessman Mario Zayas who is also a Chief Petitioner for the recall. Zayas is the owner of Gino’s Automotive. Lamell said he is optimistic about the prospects of collecting the nearly 3,000 signatures required to get the recall on the ballot. The term limit measure Morgan seeks to overturn was passed by 69.42% of the vote in November of 2014.
Roseburg, Or-Douglas County Clerk, Patricia Hitt has retained Roseburg Attorney Charles Lee, to defend her decision not to accept Susan Morgan’s filing for candidacy in the May 2016 Primary election. Morgan attempted to turn in papers to the Clerk’s office on Monday September 21, while Hitt was out on medical leave recovering from surgery, despite Hitt’s earlier communication with Morgan advising her that she could not file for a third term, under current county code. Hitt told the Beacon she had left her staff with explicit instruction not to accept Morgan’s filing. After being rejected at the Clerk’s office Morgan filed a lawsuit that same day against the County Clerk. According to Hitt, County Counsel Paul Meyer recommended Charles Lee to defend her. Lee, a member of the Roseburg School Board, and former candidate for Circuit Court Judge, has already made filings in the case, which is on a fast track schedule devised by Morgan’s attorney, Sharon Rudnick of Harrang Long Gary Rudnick P.C. of Eugene, Oregon. Under the original proposed schedule the court hearing would have taken place before Judge Randolph Garrison by October 30, 2015. That schedule may now be in question after Lee’s filing Monday, September 28, which was a Motion to Disqualify Judge Garrison. In a declaration supporting the motion Hitt stated; “I do not believe that I can have a fair trial or hearing in this matter before the Honorable Randolph Garrison.” The motion was granted and an order disqualifying Garrison from hearing the case was signed by Judge William Marshall and entered in the court. It is unknown at this writing which judge will hear the case. According to Hitt, the commissioners appropriated $10,000 so far to the Clerk’s budget for her legal expenses. It is not known at this time, and will depend on the initial ruling of the court, and whether the decision goes on to the appellate court, what the final legal costs to defend against Morgan’s suit will total. In the meantime the Chief Petitioner for the original Term Limits measure, John Parker, has retained the legal services of Portland Attorney, James Buchal, who has filed an intervenor motion for Parker. Parker has started a legal defense fund to assist with the costs associated with defending the people’s initiative. Parker said “I got this thing rolling, and with the help of a lot of volunteers got it on the ballot, but it’s going to be up to the 69 plus percent who voted for it if they want to keep it.”
Roseburg, Or- Term limited Douglas County Commissioner Susan Morgan was in full campaign mode this past weekend according to several who were in attendance at the Roseburg Rod and Gun Club’s Gun and Knife Show at the County Fairgrounds. Morgan had her campaign brochures on display as she greeted voters in the Republican Party booth, despite the fact that she was not legally filed as a candidate at the time. Monday September 21, Morgan attempted to file documents with the County Clerk’s office, seeking a third term as commissioner, despite being informed previously by County Clerk Patti Hitt that she was ineligible. Hitt who was absent on medical leave, told the Beacon she had left strict instructions with her staff, not to accept the filing from Morgan. Last spring Hitt retained outside legal counsel, seeking an opinion on the measure and determined that in lieu of any court ruling to the contrary she was duty bound to uphold the voter approved county ordnance. The cost to the county for that opinion was $5,000. Within hours of Morgan’s filing being refused by the Clerk’s office, she filed a lawsuit against Patti Hitt, in her official capacity as the elected Douglas County Clerk. Joining Morgan in her lawsuit against the county are many of Morgan’s former campaign staff and donors including; Lynn Herbert (former campaign manager, Morgan donor), Bill Markham (Former State Representative, Morgan donor), Norm Smith (former director of the Ford Family Foundation), Andy Owens Sr., Elin Miller (UCC Board), Georgia Stiles (former Real Estate Broker and Morgan donor), Keith Tymchuck (former Reedsport Mayor), Dotty Randall Stapleton (Owner TMS Call Center and Morgan donor), Chuck Ireland (Ireland Trucking, Morgan donor). The lawsuit seeks to overturn the voter approved term limit measure passed in November of 2014. The plaintiffs allege in their filing that the measure, although vetted by Douglas County Counsel Paul Meyer as constitutional before authorizing signature gathering, is in fact unconstitutional. John Parker, Chief petitioner for the measure told the Beacon that Meyer approved the measure before passing it on to the DA’s office for ballot title and wording. He said there was a statutory time period for anyone, including Commissioner Morgan to challenge the measure, but no challenges were made. According to filings with the Oregon Secretary of State’s ORESTAR filings Morgan has spent $5,000 so far with the law firm of Harrang, Long, Gary Rudnick, PC, of Eugene, Oregon, who filed the suit on behalf of Morgan and her associates. County Commissioner Chris Boice told the Beacon the county will have to defend County Clerk Patti Hitt and the county ordinance which was passed by nearly 70%. He said “that’s our obligation.” Commissioner Freeman did not return our call seeking a comment. Susan Morgan also declined a request for comment.