First, we want to say that most everyone has redeeming value, even if they have had an outsized negative impact on our fair little burg, and even we want to love some of these folks. That said, when you step into the public arena, you owe your better angels your full mental attention, and our 2016 list of Stupid-Heads and Dillweeds is proof positive that not everyone is on that same page. Without further ado, this year’s worst… the envelope, please…
1. Jerry Jackson
Outgoing Chair, Benton County Republican Party
Top dishonors this year go to several time unsuccessful office seeker Jerry Jackson for his fine mix of destructive politicking, self-righteous cowardice, and even a touch of the good old fashioned bull-malarkey.
When not harmlessly losing another of several runs for county commissioner, Jackson did some serious damage chairing the Benton County Republican Party—winning zero seats and recruiting what have sometimes been embarrassingly odd candidates.
This year’s Republican competitor for state representative, a rather decent human being in our experience, declined to initiate a campaign committee or mount any effort to win—he simply filled a space on the ballot. Also this last go round, the local R’s ran a guy named Paul Cauthorn, a wannabe so disingenuous, bombastic, and just plain odd that he warrants one of this year’s runner-up slots below.
The whole fiasco may seem like a Democrat’s dream at first glance, but just as journalism’s spotlight can help keep ‘em honest, the elected soul needs the shadow of quickly closing competition to stay creative and engaged. In other words, Democrats have a virtual lock on Benton County’s electorate, and it seems unlikely local Republicans under leadership like Jackson’s could ever articulate positions contemporaneous enough to make their party competitive for local seats. Getting this message, the party has picked Betsy Close as their new chair
As a county commission candidate this last election, Jackson accepted and then declined a debate invitation for Corvallis, making so many demands that organizers finally just gave up. At the time, he told organizers that he believed the audience would all be people that had already made up their minds, and that he did not want to take his time for the debate.
Later, Jackson tried answering questions about not showing up by saying the organizers had changed their plans. The organizers denied this in a public letter published by the Gazette-Times. Also, this paper received documents showing the communications between the debate organizers and Jackson; they indicate the organizers made no changes to their plans. Jackson only debated once in the county’s most populated city of Corvallis, and then only to an audience about a quarter the size that attended the debates he skipped.
The untruth-y-ness does not stop there. Jackson will sometimes allude to being a law enforcement officer, which as a Code Compliance Officer for Polk County, may be true in the strictest sense, but not really beyond that (just for fun, say Compliance Officer and Small Government Republican in the same breath). He also claims to have served as a school board member. Again true in the strictest sense, but he rarely mentions it was for a small private school.
And then there are times when Jackson sounds like a conspiracy theorist, for instance posting on social media how sitting Commissioner Anne Schuster let “slip” at a forum the county would be going to voters for a tax levy. So, this will be where we address Jackson personally… Jerry, the county seeks renewal of the same property tax levy every five years and everyone knows this—all our sitting commissioners have always been straightforward about it. The only thing conspiratorial about all this is that voters keep approving the thing. Wait, that’s not a conspiracy, that’s democracy.
Anyhoo, making it all worse, Jackson should know better, he has served on Philomath’s City Council. And in a turn of freakiness, one of the debate organizers aforementioned is also our Editor, Steven Schultz, who describes Jackson as seeming like a “friendly enough” guy, so there’s that.
2. Shannon Jones
Jones 5 Auto Sales
Shannon Jones owned and operated the Jones 5 Auto Sales used car lot in Corvallis. In September of last year, Jones’ dealership shut down while being investigated by police. After a year of investigation, Jones has now been found guilty of wire fraud, accepting payments for vehicles and never delivering them, selling consignment vehicles and pocketing the full amount, obtaining loans with false information, and distorting his business’s financial health to lenders and other associates. He has agreed to pay $1.3 million to the victims, however there is still no exact roundup of how many people were held up in his scheme. For any victims who have not spoken with investigators, you are still urged to call the Corvallis Police Department at 541-766-6924 or the Eugene FBI office at 541-685-6260. Jones is scheduled for sentencing in February.
3. Brad Avakian
Democrat Oregon Labor Commissioner
Democrat Avakian had to know his bid this last election for Secretary of State was over when even decidedly progressive Willamette Week endorsed his Republican rival, who they didn’t love either. Their problem, and ours: he seems like that dude who will say anything to get elected.
For instance, it may be laudable that he promised to audit large corporations, build green jobs, and get civics education back into schools—failing to mention that none of that would be in his purview as Secretary of State. So, either he’s pulling a Shannon Jones, selling what he can’t own, or doesn’t actually understand the office. And just for fun, he doesn’t always pay his Oregon taxes, which came out during a prior run for office.
4. Paul Cauthorn
Real Estate Investor
Having already pissed off everyone that ever attended a City Council meeting with his bombastic blasts towards anyone that didn’t agree with him, Republican Paul Cauthorn thought he’d try running for County Commissioner, a body he’d not visited at all in the past. When even The Gazette-Times, this cycle’s darling of local Republicans, refused to endorse him, they went so far as to mention his inability to get along with others as a factor.
We were especially amused at his attempts to not look Republican, like the selfie of himself in tie-dye visiting a Beaver Bowls event was gonna get it. Hmm, should we mention the goat in his lap on Facebook… maybe not.
More seriously, he also skipped the Corvallis debates, at one point telling one of the organizers that Jerry Jackson had asked him to bow out of the event. Paul… can we call you Paul…? We actually think you have what some would call heart, so be who you are, lose the tie-dye, be nicer to people, and tell Jackson to bugger off. In other words, you’re not ready for prime time, but one day you might be.
Disclosure: One of the aforementioned debate organizers is Steven J. Schultz, who also serves as publisher for this newspaper.
5. The Malheur Posse
Jan. 2, in the year of our lord 2016, some out-of-staters decided to cruise on up to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County and bravely occupy a federal building that looks after the area. Why were they there? Being really into grazing their cattle on federal land and expressing shock when they’re asked to pay for it, they arrived to protest on behalf of the Hammonds. Said Hammonds, a couple of locals who were busted for land arson, were sort of like, “Uh, we don’t want you here.” And neither did anyone else.
Their proud, gun-waving act of Merican freedom involved completely trashing the facility, destroying the plumbing and subsequently crapping in a huge hole they dug outside. They even received giant boxes of dildos as gifts from fans—we mean, detractors. It was a big, disgusting joke to the tune of $3.3 million of Oregon tax dollars. Around-the-clock police presence, school closures, wages for employees who could not work, shuttered offices in the area, people fleeing their nearby homes in fear, etc. Because the federal government had to get involved, the total bill wound up being something like $9 million.
And of course, they got off scot-free. The federales tried to nail them with conspiracy charges, rather than “wrecking a building, scaring the hell out of people, and pooping in an improvised ditch” charges. We received a fax this morning that says ringleaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy will be collecting LaVoy Finicum’s Dillweed award for him, considering he decided to martyr himself during an armed encounter close to the end of the circus.
6. Art Robinson
What kind of a Dillweed list would be complete without a little Art Robinson? The gift that keeps on giving, Robinson has failed four times to get himself a congressional seat in Oregon. This left Oregon Republicans drooling with glee, so they appointed him Oregon Republican Party Chairman from 2013 to 2015. Rather than drone on about his AIDS denial or why he’d be perfect for the Trump cabinet, we’ll just leave you with a few of our favorite Robinson quotes:
“All we need do with nuclear waste is dilute it to a low radiation level and sprinkle it over the ocean—or even over America after hormesis is better understood and verified with respect to more diseases.”
“Public education (tax-financed socialism) has become the most widespread and devastating form of child abuse and racism in the United States.”
“There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”
And our personal favorite, commenting on the number of white males at Cal Tech: “Its applicants are weighted toward those who seek severe, difficult, total-immersion training in science—an experience few women and blacks desire.”