By Phil Henderson

Do you have a point you’d like to make or an issue you feel strongly about? Submit a letter to the editor or a guest column.

Julia Shumway’s recent article, headlined “County on the Hook for trip to ALEC Forum” is a prime example of how progressive journalists, like Shumway at The Bulletin, use articles to try to criticize and shame responsible public officeholders.

In this article, she used inaccurate, misleading and incomplete reporting to create a story by innuendo, rather than by fact.

Shumway’s article originated from a Deschutes County Commission meeting she attended where Commissioner Tony DeBone questioned expenses incurred while traveling to a three-day conference in Washington, D.C. in November.

The conference was hosted by a non-partisan organization called the American City County Exchange. This organization is connected to the American Legislative Exchange Council, but is different.

Shumway asserted and implied that ACCE is a partisan organization. It is not.

Its goals are limited government and protecting taxpayers — something all commissioners should be concerned with.

The conference I attended included county commissioners from around the country, who deal with problems similar to those of Deschutes County.

I attended presentations on issues we face daily in Deschutes County — housing costs, budget making, land use policy.

I also had opportunities to hear about national policy from U.S. senators, congressmen, agency department heads such as H.U.D. Secretary Ben Carson, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and the president’s economic advisers.

Several Oregon legislators were present in Washington, D.C., while I was there, as well. The whole trip was worthwhile.

I don’t know why DeBone questioned my expenses. He had known I was planning a trip to Washington, D.C., because we had scheduled a land use hearing for a Tuesday morning so I could attend the hearing and then take a red-eye flight that would get me to Washington, D.C., by Wednesday.

Further, he had been on two trips to Washington, D.C., in 2018: A White House conference just a few weeks before and a National Associations of Counties’ conference (for five days) in the spring.

Why didn’t Shumway report on those? What were those agendas?

Of more concern, former Commissioner Tammy Baney attended numerous trips in 2018 for which the county was “on the hook.”

Shumway learned about those trips by examining Baney’s expenses.

Several trips took place after Baney’s May election defeat. She knew her term would be finished in December. Those conferences were in Sun Valley, Idaho and Nashville, Tennessee.

The interesting thing is, Baney did not ask me about the appropriateness of those trips. I never saw her expense reports and never heard any discussion of what she learned attending these conferences at a board meeting. Who was being secretive?

I made these same comments at the meeting Shumway attended, but she wrote nothing.

Why did Shumway fail to investigate any of those trips or write about them? She had the same information on them. Favoritism? Bias? Different agenda?

After all, Baney is a registered Republican who supported progressive Democrat James Cook in the general election. Clearly, Shumway likes Baney’s politics better.

When Shumway writes investigative stories — of which she has done several — she lacks balance. The Bulletin always promotes transparency, but it is missing here.

Instead, Shumway sought out a liberal organization, Common Cause, to attack my decision.

In this article, she spent 14 paragraphs trying to link me to the ALEC conference, which Common Cause doesn’t like. I attended the ACCE conference.

Common Cause suggests that my successful effort to get the $350 conference attendance fee waived was an inappropriate benefit to me. I checked with county counsel, and it is not.

The waiver of the attendance fee was an incentive that benefited the county. It saved several hundred dollars — making the trip affordable.

As a commissioner, I am prudent about negotiating value for the county taxpayers.

How can we buy things of value and save money?

I did that job here.

— Phil Henderson is a Deschutes County commissioner.

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