Just who is Norman Fincher? Shady Cove Water District President Jim Collier may have met his match when Norman Fincher of Strand, Atkinson, Williams & York Investment Securities (Medford) challenged Collier’s ruling that there would be no public comment except on agenda items during the regular water district meeting on October 16. Fincher is a resident of Medford but owns property in Shady Cove. He refused to reveal where the property is located when asked by this reporter. He also said he had forgotten to bring business cards although later he did produce them during the meeting.
At the beginning of the meeting, Collier announced that according to public meeting’s law from the attorney general’s manual, citizens have the right to attend meetings but do not have the right to participate in public testimony or to comment. Collier than said anyone wishing to comment on agenda items could speak for three minutes. Fincher read a list of 28 hard-hitting questions unrelated to the agenda. When he finished, Treasurer Bob Hawkins rebuked him saying Fincher had not had permission to say anything. “He (Collier) read that out of the book…it is participation only,” Hawkins said with a raised voice. Collier added that comment would be permitted only if it was an agenda item.
Fincher, not intimidated, asked for a copy of the bylaws to make sure the outlines for a qualified meeting were being met. Collier would not supply the bylaws. Rhetoric flew back and forth between the two men with Fincher asking whether Collier knew his own bylaws or if Collier even knew whether it was a qualified meeting he was calling to order. Collier responded, “I do not wish to enter into a debate with you at this point.” The argument continued with Collier looking angry.
Some of the questions Fincher asked were about the qualifications of board members to create a water system; whether board members were bonded and whether volunteers doing the accounting were bonded; what ORS statute allows assessing an arbitrary fee for services not yet rendered; if residents would get the $6 fee returned with interest if the district does not meet its goals; how the funds received were being invested to ensure compliance with Oregon Municipal Laws and ensure the protection of the buying power of the dollars collected. There was more in the same vein.
Introduced at the meeting was the new water district attorney, Ken Tharp. This young attorney with a pleasant manner listened to the exchange but did not say much.
After the meeting adjourned, Fincher again challenged Collier saying it seems the district is not willing to receive public input. And they were at it again. Fincher even suggested the potential as an organization, that the district may have created identity theft from their way of collecting information. Fincher did qualify that by saying he did not know if this had occurred. Collier accused him of making unfounded accusations.
After Collier and Fincher finished, resident Lynn Horn said Fincher failed to acknowledge who he represented and that he literally harassed the board members of the water district at the meeting. Some others present agreed with her. A woman asked Fincher if he was legal counsel to someone and he said no. He said the company on his business card is “just where my office is” although his card lists him as the Vice President and Senior Financial Advisor of Strand, Atkinson, Williams & York. One resident asked, “Why the mystery”?
Other business conducted during the meeting included the treasurer’s report with a bank balance of $3,880.76 and $48.04 in petty cash. The water district recognized the return of funds by Jackson County from the lawsuit that declared the district viable. Collier said with the return of $506.93 the case was completed. Another $500 is still expected from the county from a bond posted during the time of the appeal that ultimately won the case.
Resident and water district supporter, Olin Shanrock, played the DVD of “Liquid Gold” that was a promotion of Ron Boehm’s Shady Cove Waterworks from about six years ago. It was shown because Collier had a call in August asking him if the water district had thought about acquiring the infrastructure Boehm had completed.
A letter of inquiry may be sent to the City of Shady Cove over the $150 the city charges for a permit fee when issuing well permits. Collier said the district would like to know about that.
Collier asked for volunteers to hold office hours at the water district in hopes to expand the amount of time open but no one volunteered. The district is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. The next meeting is November 11 at 2:00 p.m. at the old Masonic Building at the corner of Highway 62 and Cleveland.
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent