When the opportunity came around to vote for the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners, I voted for the best candidates I thought would serve my interests as a citizen and businessman in our county.
When Josh Marquis ran for district attorney, I voted for him because I believe in many of the same issues he does. What annoys me as a voter is that the majority of the people in Oregon voted to prosecute violators of driving under the influence laws, and District Attorney Marquis has sworn to do so. Maybe the commissioners don't agree with his ideals, but he was elected to do as the voters wished.
My main concern is that our district attorney's office is not able to maximize its potential on behalf of the taxpayers because of several factors, the first being office space. How many attorneys would settle for the cramped, less-than-private office space our district attorney's office has? With Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy laws alone, this should be a concern.
The second issue is staffing. How many offices with three attorneys could function effectively with only one secretary?
How many DUIs get off easy and go on to violate again, here or elsewhere, perhaps costing human lives in the process? How much can one secretary do to support the workings of the district attorney's office?
How much can the voters expect from our district attorney when the budget committee cuts Marquis' stipend, effectively reducing his salary? How would each of the commissioners like to have their salaries at their own jobs, and those of their employees, reduced while they face the same, staggering workload?
The voters have dictated to Marquis that we expect him to uphold the laws that we voted for, and yet even in the face of added caseloads, it seems the commissioners are taking away the tools the district attorney needs to effectively perform his job to the best of his ability. Outward appearances are that there is a concerted effort to undermine his work.
In order to raise sufficient funds for the district attorney's office to operate, perhaps the good citizens should consider quarterly bake sales or car washes to cover the expenses of prosecuting criminals in our county.
We have all heard that we get what we pay for. If the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners isn't willing to pay for the support of the district attorney's office, or to pay the district attorney a decent salary, we may lose this talented experienced and effective judicial servant.
Then what will we do? Who benefits from that?