In Shady Cove, they know what they don’t want


From left, Bob Sawyer, Larry Baines and Roger King belong to a Shady Cove group opposed to Measure 30. Baines says he’s skeptical whether the state Legislature will ever get the message that Oregonians don’t want more taxes.
Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell

Mail Tribune

Roger King and his buddies share two things: a passion for fishing and a hatred of taxes.

“We’re just a bunch of retired guys who hang out together, and sometimes travel together,” said the 68-year-old Eagle Point man.

King and about 12 friends rendezvous to fish, play cards or shoot the breeze. They oppose taxes, fall bait bans on the Rogue River and the formation of a water district in the city.

They belong to either the Shady Cove Taxpayers Association or the Citizens for a Sound Economy, two groups fighting taxes such as Measure 30.

King moved to Oregon for the fishing, but a sore shoulder limits his casting to three days a week. In his spare time, King tackles tax issues. “I learned I couldn’t fish full time, so I’m taking a break,” he joked.

King and most of his friends don’t think it’s a joke, however, that the Legislature tried to raise taxes.

“The money is there to solve the problem without any tax bill,” said King. “I don’t know how many tax bills will have to be defeated before we stop them.”

A majority of the men are concerned that the government is out of control, sneaking in taxes and raising fees for vehicles.

“Those of us who live here all our lives — that’s a heck of a bite,” said Shady Cove resident Jim Collier of a recent hike in vehicle fees. “This is just a small example of taxation without representation.”

Government, they feel, is extravagant in its spending, unable to cut back when the economy goes sour and constantly beating the public over the head for more money.

“I’ve learned that if the bureaucracy doesn’t get what it wants, they threaten us with scare tactics like the criminals are going to be released,” said Steve Mitchell, a member from Ashland.

Mitchell and his friends can cite a long list of government programs and agencies they feel could be cut back — from an oversized state motor pool to overstaffed departments.

“Every one of these agencies could be cut to the hilt, then redistribute the money,” said Mitchell.

Even at a local level, school districts waste money, they say.

“They say kids can’t learn unless they have a beautiful new school — that’s bull——,” said King.

He said only when government can show it had cut everything it possibly could would he entertain the thought of a tax increase.

There was some debate whether the failure of Measure 30 would send the right message to Salem.

“I think they’re too thick-skulled,” said Medford resident Larry Baines.

But Eagle Point resident Ron Ashley said, “It might do something.”

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476, or e-mail