Dave Werschkul Removal
1/90 (Article1): Dave Werschkul PhD, County Commissioner, Kalmiopsis Audubon Society founder convicted of felonies, fined, jailed, removed from office, for an infraction.
Curry County Commissioner Dave Werschkul, a founder of Kalmiopsis Audubon Society, Oregon Audubon Council and The Oregon Shores Coalition, has been found guilty of a felony, for which the judge fined him $5000 and sentenced him to 10 days in jail which began on 1/24/91. He has been removed from office and replaced in a complex sequence of unprecedented and highly controversial events. Control of the Board of Supervisors, which had an environmental majority, has been returned to conservative interests.
Earlier this year Dave was the subject of a recall which he easily won, but subsequently, it was determined that he signed his wife's ballot in his own recall election. Apparently this was done because she was in a hospital in Medford at the time recovering from a broken back resulting from an accident. For this minor indiscretion, which we understand is rarely considered worthy of more than a reprimand, Dave was indicted on three felony charges: voting twice in an election; making a false statement to a public official; and signing someone else's ballot. After a quick trial he was convicted.
When Dave was elected as Commissioner he resigned his Audubon membership, although his perceived affiliation with us has been a consistent theme of some of his opponents. The Audubon Society has not always agreed with Dave's positions over the years. Nevertheless, he has generally been pro-environmental in his voting and has consistently opposed real estate speculators and "over-developers".
While some people found him abrasive and somewhat difficult to deal with at times, he also had strong supporters.
Prior to his election as Commissioner Dave, who has a Doctorate in Biology, was instrumental in the creation of the Grassy Knob Wilderness east of Port Orford. He also served as President and Conservation Chair of Kalmiopsis Audubon Society. Failing to support the timber industry was one of the charges against him in his recall.
It is ironic that when our legal system finally got around to putting a Curry County official in jail it is one for whom there has never been a hint of conflict of interest or personal gain from public office. Dave never used a County automobile and actually returned part of his salary to the County every year.
The people of this county elected Dave and that vote was overwhelmingly reaffirmed by the landslide victory in his recall. The whole point of a democracy is that the public can choose their elected representatives. When all is said and done, Dave was run out of office for an offense that should have been handled by a minor reprimand. Every cloud has a silver lining and we hope this bizarre incident will free Dave to rejoin Kalmiopsis Audubon Society and resume his former active role with us. We invite him to rejoin our Board of Directors. He has tremendous talent, energy and knowledge and of course is a real bird expert. He certainly would bring some interesting and diverse experience.