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Mallams: Ethics complaint was for harassment. Commission determines there was no merit to ethics violation claim about county proclamation
  by Guest Writer  TOM MALLAMS (Klamath County Commissioner)

   I believe now and always have believed in open and transparent actions by our elected officials. This is one of the many beliefs that prompted me to run for the office of Klamath County Commissioner.

   I fully understand and accept the high level of scrutiny associated with any elected office. This is something that I have always embraced over the many, many years of involvement in various local matters. Having taken strong positive stands on issues, I have been the target of more unfounded criticism than I could count. Again, all this goes with the territory. I will continue to welcome any and all ideas and opinions on issues facing Klamath County.

   Dealing with criticism respectfully and straight forward with simple truth and facts has always been my philosophy. However at some point, one has to question how far is far enough with unfounded claims and criticism?

   I will state the obvious, I am not only a Klamath County Commissioner, but my wife and I have a smaller irrigated farm. I do not run the day-to-day operation any longer. Being a county commissioner is much more than a full-time position.  

   A recent complaint filed with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, by Klamath Irrigation District, against me is another example of a baseless claim.

   I have been accused of having improper unannounced meetings dealing with water issues in the Klamath Basin, forming a proclamation. The simple fact is that the Klamath County Board of Commissioners discussion was conducted in scheduled, open public meetings with appropriate agendas posted as required.

   I did not suggest the formation of the proclamation and furthermore, I did not even participate in the discussion.

   On Aug. 12, a letter from the Government Ethics Commission to Klamath Irrigation District asked for “additional information.” Klamath Irrigation District responded by sending a copy of the July 22 Klamath County Board of  County Commissioners published, public meeting agenda.
   Highlighted was item E-2 which was specifically addressing the very same proclamation addressed in their complaint. In other words, Klamath Irrigation supplied the exact evidence disproving their first allegation of “no public notice made.”

   This elected Klamath Irrigation District Board also claims I was using my position as a public officer, using public funds and facilities for my personal benefit.

   Its claim is that in the Klamath adjudication my irrigation water was shut off and the proclamation was an attempt to have the court allow me to turn my water back on.  

   This elected board not only missed the published meeting notices and agendas, but also somehow missed the very simple fact that our irrigation water was never even shut off. My wife and I made a simple business decision many years ago to drill a well so we would have the option of irrigating from the river or a well.

   In short, there was no personal benefit to be realized. We are still irrigating. I have a very hard time believing that this board or its attorney had absolutely no knowledge of these facts before filing this claim. (Only three of the five board members voted to file this complaint.)

   In a letter dated Sept. 4, six days before the recent Herald and News article was published on this ethics complaint, the Government Ethics Commission declared: “The commission has taken no action on the submitted material.”

   According to the Ethics Commission, this meant the “complaint had no merit,” and the commission was not even going to open it up.

   This effort is an obvious vain attempt to harass me as an elected official, trying to defame and slander me personally for purely political motives.

   But as always, I will continue to do what the citizens of Klamath County elected me to do, which is to gather the facts and be willing and able to make the hard decisions required to help Klamath County not only survive but thrive in these troubling times.  

   The continual positive calls, emails, letters and personal comments are more rewarding than I ever imagined possible. I enjoy each and every day and each and every challenge. I thank every citizen for this opportunity to continue serving all of Klamath County.  



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