Monthly Archives: October 2006

Police seize former Gold Hill councilwoman’s computer

Christine Alford works on her Web site lampooning city officials, “Gold Hill Entrails,” from the Gold Hill library after police confiscated her computer from her home on Monday.  Source


Daily Tidings

Amy Goodman takes on the mainstream media

Goodman, Hunter to discuss the news business

Media ownership concentration under attack

Community radio coming to Ashland

Chief Muchow put on paid leave

He’s also ordered by Gold Hill City Council to remove himself from Alford investigation

GOLD HILL — The City Council placed its police chief on immediate paid administrative Tuesday night while its auditors and attorney investigate allegations of fraud, harassment and other claims made against Chief Dean Muchow.

The majority affirmative vote was cast in the presence of City Attorney Steve Rich after the council concluded an emergency executive session. Council members Jan Fish, Gus Wolf and Donna Silva voted in favor of the action. Council members Tom Daily and Kathleen Price voted against the motions.

Muchow did not return calls for comment.

The Medford accounting firm of Purkeypile and Johannsen are reviewing Muchow’s cell phone charges, time cards and records with SORC (Southern Oregon Regional Communications, the valley’s emergency dispatch service), said City Recorder Mary Goddard.

“They are obligated to do this,” said Goddard. “If they find issues of fraud, they will notify the council.”

Rich told the council the accounting firm would supply “specific recommendations” if necessary.

Council members were also sent a multi-page questionnaire by the firm asking if they have knowledge of any actual instance of fraud within the municipality or its departments.

The questionaire created consternation and some confusion among the council members.

All voiced concerns the city could lose its insurance coverage.

“I’m concerned that (the auditors) are concerned,” said Fish. “This is an investigation. We need to cover (ourselves).”

Price said she was unaware of the questionaire. Daily was apparently unaware he was required to respond.

“You’re going to respond to that?” asked Daily, with an audible groan.

Fish, Wolf and Silva all said response is mandatory.

“You have to (respond) Tom,” said Fish.

Rich informed the council about recalled former Councilwoman Christine Alford’s tort claim against the city. The claim stems from Muchow’s investigation of Alford for identity theft, Rich said.

Alford’s tort claim notice states Muchow has harassed and intimidated her, and that he filed a false claim against her with the state Department of Human Services. The notice further states the city is vicariously liable for Muchow’s alleged actions.

Earlier in the meeting, the council voted unanimously to instruct Muchow to remove himself from Alford’s investigation and turn it over to “an outside agency.”

But Daily and Price were visibly upset with their fellow council members for placing Muchow on leave — and for requesting the immediate return of Muchow’s cellphone and his car and office keys pending a resolution to the investigation.

“You guys are bushwhacking him,” Price said of Muchow, shaking her head. “This town needs police protection. The merchants of this city are not going to be happy with you.”

Alford, reached for comment Tuesday night, said: “I’m satisfied with that. Sounds fair to me.”

Muchow was called at home and notified of the council’s action immediately after the meeting. Price and Silva will meet with Sgt. Hank Hobart to discuss scheduling for the duration of the chief’s absence, they said.

Officials take on the issues at Eagle Point City Hall Day

EAGLE POINT — Water rights, utility easement fees and transportation took top billing at City Hall Day in Eagle Point as state Rep. George Gilman, Sen. Doug Whitsett, Mayor Leon Sherman and candidates running for mayor and council positions discussed issues that affect regional economies.

“Water rights issues are important to most of Oregon but it’s a very big issue for the whole valley,” said Eagle Point City Recorder Dena Roberts during the Thursday meeting.

Maintaining private property and water rights is necessary if Eagle Point wants to retain its rural values and ambiance, which is what drives the city’s unprecedented growth, said Whitsett.

“Most people want to move there because they’re looking for that rural economy, culture and lifestyle,” he said. “The right to use water for farm production and animals is critical.”

Creating more water storage might be the best way to deal with the growing demand, said the senator. “There are places to do that, it’s just a matter of getting it done.”

Calling Southern Oregon a “dry country” that wouldn’t be agriculture-friendly without massive irrigation efforts, Rep. Gilman also stands fast on maintaining water rights and storage.

“There are some individuals who say if they don’t use the water, they should lose it,” said Gilman. “But these cities deserve an opportunity to keep that water reserve for their future needs — they need to have long-term sources of water for people in the city.”

Franchise fees from utility easements were another hot topic. Without the right-of-way fees paid to Oregon cities by utility companies, communities could have much less funding for staff and infrastructure, said Roberts.

“There has been an attempt to restrict cities from managing their rights of ways especially in telecommunications,” Roberts said, referring to so far unsuccessful legal efforts made by some utilities, such as Qwest, to avoid paying the fees. “That could mean a pretty substantial impact to us and all cities across the state.”

Because many cities derive a sizeable income from telephone and utility rights of way, the fees have been important, said Whitsett.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to make peace with the possibility of losing some of the fees, he said.

“The thing folks really need to understand is that at the end of the day those easements for utility right of ways will all be paid for by the consumer because if the city charges the utility a franchise fee, that utility obviously passes it onto the consumer,” said Whitsett. “That’s where I hope people will take the time to learn about it.”

The issue becomes more complex as industry rapidly changes, said Gilman. This is especially true in the field of telecommunications, where more and more consumers are changing the type of service they use.

“When all the telephones were on hard lines there was no question that franchise fees would be paid to communities for rights-of-way,” Gilman said. “But now most of us have cell phones and we don’t use any of that infrastructure. This makes it tough, it’s not an even playing field.”

Gilman said he is gathering information from the public, city officials and industry leaders before delving any further into the topic, he said.

Transportation — specifically continuing to get ODOT to recognize that Highway 62 is fast becoming a main artery and needs improvement — was also discussed.

The informal, roundtable discussion was part of the statewide City Hall Day sponsored by the League for Oregon Cities. Eagle Point was chosen as this year’s host city for state House Districts 55 and 56 and Senate District 28.

Jennifer Strange is a freelance writer living in Central Point. Reach her at

Gold Hill candidate quits, cites police harassment

Accused sergeant offers no comment;

Muchow: Issue will be handled internally

GOLD HILL — A candidate withdrew from the city’s mayoral race Wednesday, saying he had become a target of police harassment.

Allan D. Jennings, a Gold Hill public works employee who was seeking election to the city’s highest office, said Sgt. Hank Hobart tried to intimidate him after Jennings filed a complaint with the city that may have ramifications within the Police Department.

“I’ve been stopped three times in the past weeks,” said Jennings. “Hank has written me a ticket, he’s called my wife and freaked her out and he’s called my supervisor and council members with bogus claims about me. I can’t have all this. I’m just a working man.”

Michael S. Stanley and Daniel Morris remain in the race for mayor.

Jennings, the city’s union shop steward, said Hobart began harassing him after he filed a complaint requesting the council clarify its policy on cell phone repayment. The council is demanding payment from public works employees for private calls, but not enforcing the same measures for police officers, Jennings said.

“I thought it was a just request,” he said. “But Hank has come down hard on me.”

Hobart did not return calls for comment. Police Chief Dean Muchow declined to comment, saying the issue should be handled internally.

On Oct. 8, Hobart issued Jennings a $242 traffic ticket for failure to use his lights. Jennings said Hobart cited him at dusk while he was driving the city’s backhoe on private property while on city business.

Jennings said Hobart also stopped him Friday while Jennings was hunting on the outskirts of town.

“I had a license and a tag,” said Jennings.

Hobart expressed concerns about the city vehicle Jennings was driving at the time, Jennings said. He was later stopped a third time by Hobart, but again not cited.

Jennings’ supervisor, public works director Royal Gasso, said Hobart called him to volunteer a “packet of concerns” about Jennings.

“I didn’t request any information,” said Gasso. “He said he did it to assist me in any matter dealing with Mr. Jennings. None of the information in the packet indicated proof of misconduct or wrongdoing.”

The packet also was given to Councilwoman Kathleen Price, the former council liaison with the police.

Council President Donna Silva sent an e-mail to the council expressing concern about Hobart’s and Price’s actions.

“She stated she was gathering information on Allen Jennings,” wrote Silva. “Kathleen also had some documents that she received from officer (sic) Hank Hobart.”

Silva on Wednesday said she also has concerns about police officers offering personal information to specific council members and about the seizure on Monday of former Council member Christine Alford’s computer by Gold Hill police for investigation of identity theft.

Jennings said Alford’s troubles have him concerned there is a “search and destroy” policy in place against anyone who challenges the Police Department.

“I sure didn’t expect this,” Jennings said. “I thought I could do good things for the city. But I don’t want to be like Christine Alford, staying up all night afraid the police are going to come banging on my door.”

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail

ACA listserve continues to be a positive venue for constructive discussions on
Ashland watershed and environmental issues, including with 2 city councilors.  We
now have an additional venue for dialogue with all 19 Ashland candidates for 9
public offices (judge, recorder, parks(3), council(4)), and any issue related to
that public servant’s duties.  This email announces this new venue, which has
different guidelines, and does not replace the more focused ACA listserve.
  [Please forward this email to your friends and neighbors.]
  …tired of negative campaigns?
  …personal attacks and name-calling?
  …distractions from core issues?
  Ready for civil discourse on real issues?
  Ready for breakthrough?
  Welcome To Ashland Dialogue!
     Ashland Dialogue exists for thoughtful, respectful dialogue on how we choose to
govern ourselves in Ashland, Oregon.  Ashland chooses among 19 candidates this
fall to elect 9 public servants to represent the majority will of We The
People.  Ashland Dialogue focuses on key issues for the future of Ashland
families and finances–during and after the campaign.
     Open, inclusive. Ashland Dialogue is a series of open, inclusive listserves for
respectful dialogue in the public interest.  If you care about Ashland, you
have a home here.
     Free, independent.  We’re free (no charges to read or post) and independent.
We have no sponsors.  Not affiliated with City of Ashland.  Spam and email
business ads not allowed.
     We’re conversational.  Ashland Dialogue is designed for interactive
conversations. Feel free to interact with candidates.  It’s a conversation, not
a campaign speech.
     Keep it local.  We focus on specific issues that Ashland council/ recorder/
judge/ parks commissioners will vote on or act on in their public servant
duties.  There’s a listserve for each position type elected this fall:
     Easy to start.  Anyone can post to the listserves.  Just send an email to the
listserve for your topic.  You can ask a simple question in your email’s
subject line.  (You don’t even need to type text in the email body unless you
want to.)  Your entire email can be as simple as:
    What’s your position on ___?
  Example: For example, you can send an email to and
simply say on the subject line:
  Workforce Housing:  What’s your position on workforce housing?
     Anyone can view the listserves.  To see how candidates respond to your
question, click:
     Anyone can receive the emails.  To receive listserve emails (individually or as
a daily digest), simply join the listserve following the directions there.  If
you have any problems joining, email the moderator and we’ll send you an
invitation, which makes it easier to join with a click.  One big advantage of
joining is seeing the original emails (with bolds, italics, original spacing,
etc.) rather than after it’s been re-formatted by listserve software.
     You control the topic, you frame the issue.  Unlike candidate forums with
someone else’s questions, here you ask the question in YOUR language.
Candidates don’t have to respond to your question, unless they want your vote.
     Write respectfully.  No labels.  No personal attacks.  No name-calling.  Think
civil discourse.
     Moderated.  The listserve is moderated to prevent spam, business ads,
employment seekers, personal attacks, off-topic posts, mass mailings,
filibusters, etc..
     Accountability.  Ashland Dialogue is home to issues like accountability,
transparency, and fiscal responsibility.  If candidates give slogans instead of
real answers, or duck tough questions, this is the place for accountability.
     Respect for public servants.  Disrespect is out, accountability is in.  Public
servants, including candidates, are accountable for their decisions, actions,
and inactions.  Of Ashland’s 14 elected positions, all are volunteer positions
except city recorder (full-time) and municipal judge (about 1 day per
week–Tuesdays).  This listserve is about respect for regular Citizens like you
who climb out a limb to run for public office, and become your public servant.
     Observe the proposed Ashland Code of Ethics at
     Speak your truth. This is not the place for rumors. Address public
responsibilities, not candidates’ private lives or person characteristics.
     Name and address are optional.  Unlike City’s new listserve policy, we don’t
require your name and address.  Since your public interest issue is probably
echoed by hundreds of others, name/address are usually irrelevant.  You can
provide your name and/or address when your post, or be anonymous.  We respect
your decision.  Note that the email address is posted.
     See listserve for listserve guidelines.  Because dialogue to new in our
environment of attack ads, feel-good slogans, and distracting articles about
candidates’ personal lives, I’ve posted listserve guidelines as Welcome 1-4 on
each listserve. In general, as long as your email is directed to a specific
issue within the public servant’s scope, and follows guidelines for respectful
dialogue, it will be posted as is.
     Beyond “Letters To The Editor”– We’re “Corresponding With Candidates”. With
this listserve, you don’t write letters to a ‘middle-person’.  You talk
directly with those responsible for our tax money and community’s future.  We
‘co-respond’–candidates respond to you, you respond to them.  This listserve
is correspondence, not a one-time letter.
     ‘Post early and often.’  There’s no pre-set limit to number or length or
emails, within the limit of ‘filibustering’ (long repeats, off-topic
distractions, etc.).  If you have a report you want the entire community to
read, and for candidates and public servants to respond to, email your report
as an attachment to the moderator, who posts them as open documents.  If the
document is already on the web (as on City’s web site), link to it in your
email, possibly with a 1-2 sentence orientation.
     Citizen oversight of government.  With a 2006 tax increase of almost $10
million and a City budget now over $100 million, City of Ashland is quickly
becoming larger and larger.  The corporation known as City of Ashland has
involved itself in many businesses–ski resort, golf course, airport,
ambulance, fiber network, cable TV, and now a new ‘utility’ service–wireless
internet.  Citizen oversight of this expanding government requires a place
where Citizens can speak honestly, directly, and publicly to their
representatives, without intimidation or retribution for agreeing or
disagreeing.  Ashland Dialogue provides such a forum.
     Continues after the election.  After 19 months of design and development, my
plan is that Ashland Dialogue be a ongoing forum for respectful dialogue in the
public interest.  We aren’t going away after the election.  Campaign ‘promises’
won’t be forgotten.
     It’s your family.
     It’s your $100 million of taxes.
     It’s your government.
     And it’s your listserve.
    Welcome To Ashland Dialogue.

October is Energy Awareness Month

There are numerous local and regional organizations working to create a sustainable energy future. Below is a list of opportunities for individuals, homes and businesses to actively support renewable electricity and energy conservation, followed by a list of resources to learn more about how you can take part in Oregon’s renewable energy revolution.

Renewable Electricity Options & Conservation Programs

City of Ashland Renewable Pioneers/
Bonneville Environmental Foundation

City of Ashland Conservation Division

Energy Trust of Oregon (Pacific Power customers eligible)

Oregon Department of Energy

Pacific Power Blue Sky

Oregon/Northwest Renewable Electricity Resources

Climate Solutions

Northwest Energy Coalition

Environmental Protection Agency – Green Power Locator

Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association

Renewable Northwest Project

Solar Energy Association of Oregon