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Next Washington County Unit Meeting
September 17, Thursday, 3pm via Zoom

On Your Ballot

Proposed Washington County Charter Changes

by Eric Schmidt

Washington County voters adopted a “home rule” Charter in 1962. Quoting now from the Washington County website, “Home rule means that voters may establish the basic form and structure of county government rather than the structure provided by state statues. Numerous separate amendments to the Charter have been approved over the years, the most recent being in 2014.”
In 2020, Washington County voters will be asked to decide the fate of two proposed changes to the Charter.

Measure 34-300, if passed, would change Section 30(e) of the current Charter to establish an independent salary commission that would determine the salaries of the Board of Commissioners.
Currently, the Charter sets the salary of the chair of the Board at 80 percent of the salary of a circuit court judge and the salaries of the other four commissioners at 40 percent of the chair’s salary. The proposed Charter amendment would delete that provision and replace it with language that establishes an independent salary commission. The members of that commission would be “five qualified human resource professionals with experience in compensation.” In odd numbered years, the commission would set the Board of Commissioners’ salaries and document the reasons for the salaries. As of now, only the chair of the Board is considered full time. The other four commissioners work as many hours as they feel the need to work.
Multnomah and Clackamas Counties currently use a commission system to set salaries for their Boards of Commissioners as do several other non-charter Oregon counties. The Washington County Board voted four to one to put this measure before voters. Commissioner Roy Rogers voted no, saying the measure granted the salary commission broad latitude to make other changes.
Measure 34-301 would, if approved by voters, end the so-called “ordinance season” in Washington County. Section 103 of the current Charter prohibits the county from adopting land use ordinances from the first day of November until the last day of February. In other words, Washington County cannot approve, amend or reject any land use and development request for four months every fiscal year.
The four-month moratorium has frustrated many developers and land use planners alike over the years. Washington County is the only Oregon county with such a prohibition on land use ordinances. The Board of Commissioners voted five to zero to place this measure on the 2020 General Election ballot.

Civics Education
Harvard Case Study: MLK and Voting Rights
by Josie Koehne

On August 20, our Washington County Unit of the LWV of Oregon hosted an evening civics lesson event for adults and students via Zoom, hosted by Sunset High School social studies teacher, Alisa Harvey of Beaverton.

Various state leagues across the country sponsor high school social studies and civics teachers to attend a training
by Harvard University’s Paul Whiton Cherington Professor of Business Administration, David Moss, on the Harvard Case Study Method that he developed. The Harvard Civics Project is an initiative formed (1) to bring case method teaching to high schools, and (2) to use this methodology to deepen students' understanding of American democracy.

Alisa Harvey did an excellent job bringing Martin Luther King and the voting Rights Act to life using a case study that the event’s participants read beforehand in order to answer questions during the Zoom meeting. A lively discussion took place around a number of historical factors at work at the time that influenced decision-makers after the civil war up through the passage on the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

The final question posed was what should Martin Luther King, Jr. do at an important decision point about whether or not to 
cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge on a march planned from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to demand voting rights for African Americans. It was an exciting and engaging way to learn about history. Alisa proved to be an excellent teacher!
LWV Leagues across the country are soliciting and sponsoring civics and social studies teachers to study at Harvard next summer to learn this case study method, and in exchange, they agree to host a case discussion event after they return home. If you would like to submit an application to apply for a Harvard Case Study Method sponsorship, please contact Kathleen Hersh, Chair of the Washington County unit at
Next Unit Meeting
Our Next Unit Meeting will be Thursday, September 17 at 3pm via Zoom. We will discuss voter engagement and voter education.  Outreach Circle, postcards, VG distribution and promotion, Speakers Bureau.  Come join us and see what we can do to have the best turnout of well-informed voters ever!

The Zoom invitation will be sent out the week of the meeting.  If you don't receive an invitation, email Kathleen at
Copyright © 2020 the League of Women Voters Washington County Unit, All rights reserved.

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