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“Legal, Justice and Public Safety”

John Cozier, Leadership Bend class of 2017
March 16, 2017


Leadership Bend and Leadership Redmond merged for one glorious day of civic training and education on March 16, 2017. We met at the Deschutes County Services Administrative Building in the Barnes & Sawyers Room. The purpose of the two groups meeting was to learn more about the facilities and areas of service shared by both communities, if not even region-wide.

After brief introduction, we were presented with a panel of senior staffers from our United Sates congressional delegation. Soon to retire, Wayne Kinney from US Senator Ron Wyden’s office reminisced about the over 800 community meetings he has attended representing Wyden’s office over the years and all the challenges and opportunities. Phil Chang of US Senator Jeff Merkley’s office announced an upcoming town hall meeting and spoke to us about his three areas of focus; funding issues, agency wrangling and legislation. Nick Strader of US Congressman Greg Walden’s office shared the reality that the 20 counties Walden represents east of the Cascades are larger in geographic size than all of the states east of the Mississippi River. The discussion from all three staffers reminded us how much they all do work together and that much of what they do is more administrative and productive and less political than it seems.

County Commissioner Phil Henderson and County Commissioner Tony DeBone presented an overview of the quasi-judicial role our Commissioners play. We were reminded Deschutes County in 2016 just had its 100 year anniversary. Deschutes County has the highest number of rural lots in the state even though over 79% of the county is still public lands. Bringing services to all of these lots outside of the major cities is one of the things done by our county. Because we have a County Administrator (Thank you, Tom Anderson) there are very few people who report directly to the Commissioners. Our discussion included topics ranging from county departmental structure, land use issues, regulations on growth of pot, tiny homes and how lucky we all are to have the quality destination resorts we do in our county.

Our discussion included topics ranging from county departmental structure, land use issues, regulations on growth of pot, tiny homes and how lucky we all are to have the quality destination resorts we do in our county.

Nancy Blankenship, the Deschutes County Clerk visited the class before lunch. She spoke of the many services the clerk’s office provides including recording, passport services, business licenses and elections, among others. She reminded us of the importance of all of our votes. She spoke of the rising trend of unaffiliated voters. When the question of voter fraud came up, she shared we have not seen examples of voter fraud in Deschutes County recently.

After a brief working lunch for our class project, The Leadership Bend Impact Summit, our executive leadership coach Sheila Mawdsley shared her wisdom with us regarding how to empower people in organizations.

Here were the highlights:

• Value people for people
• Share the values of the organization
• Entrust the employees to live by those values
• Achieve success by helping others to succeed

We then traveled to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office for presentations regarding Law Enforcement and Judicial Process. The Honorable Presiding Judge Alta Brady discussed with us her various perspectives and challenges administering the laws. A recent review of the courts in Oregon suggested our courts need to double in size to handle the current case load. It can take up to two years for a case to come to trial. She mentioned over 70% of the family law cases are Pro Se (without attorneys) leaving the burden on the judges to educate many of the parties as to the law. Doing this in the context of very consequential decisions can be a real challenge.

Sheriff Shane Nelson spoke to us about his experience as our Sheriff. He was open and forthright about some of the recent personnel challenges he has had. He was also upbeat and optimistic about the job the Sherriff’s Office does in making this a livable community. He mentioned many areas where he has worked to save the county money. His office has issued 2 warnings for every citation and has answered over 80,000 calls for service.

District Attorney John Hummel gave an overview of the structure of his office. He reminded us of the many checks on power that make our criminal justice system work so well. He gave us a sneak preview of project work his office is developing to reduce recidivism. We all look forward to the roll out of this project in three months. Mr. Hummel also told us that while they receive applications from all over for deputy DA’s, most of his new recruits come out of Oregon Law Schools. Our Deschutes County DA, John Hummel, is clearly an impassioned speaker and committed leader we feel we can be proud to support.

We ended the day by touring our modern, clean and secure county jail facility. The professionals working there should be commended for the vital job that they do to help keep our community one that is both livable and desirable. To our knowledge, all participants of Leadership Bend and Leadership Redmond were released from the jail at the conclusion of our tour.

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