As many residents in Newberg and Dundee know, on the 26th of this month ballots will be mailed for this year’s elections for Newberg Public School Board and Chehalem Parks and Recreation (CPRD) Board.
While CPRD elections are frequently ignored by most voters, they shouldn’t be. CPRD’s fees and taxes significantly increase the cost of living in Newberg and its resources are frequently used to promote the agenda of Progressive Yamhill. As an example, the so-called Cultural Center building (the former Central Elementary School Building) has been given over to the control of a nonprofit group for operations, while the ownership of the building remains with CPRD. The building is used to promote radical fringe political agendas and a meeting place for various Progressive Yamhill astro turfing groups. This structure of a separate nonprofit operating the Center on behalf of CPRD seems to have been created to permit Progressive Yamhill to obscure its activities in the building, with Progressive Yamhill member John Bridges (who serves as attorney for both CPRD and the nonprofit) claiming that the nonprofit is not subject to public records request despite that state law clearly says that it is. At the time of this writing, both CPRD and the nonprofit have refused to provide any documentation about how it leases the center to Progressive Yamhill groups or any of its finances, claiming that as a separate nonprofit it is not subject to public records requests. Worse, the nonprofit also claims the building as an asset on tax filings, which is probably fraud since CPRD still owns the building. This is all being done with the knowledge of present CPRD Board of Directors, which includes Don Loving who is presently running for re-election.
I will provide more detailed information about Cultural Center activities and examples of it being used to push PY’s agenda later in this article.
For those unfamiliar with the insidious nature of Progressive Yamhill and the Indivisible movement, and the chaos they have caused in the Newberg public schools, please read the article, How the Yamhill County Democrat Party Organized the Lawsuits Against Newberg Public Schools.
The short explanation is that Progressive Yamhill is part of the nationwide Indivisible movement, an extremist group of political activists who seek to dismantle the United States and rebuild it into a racially segregated socialist “utopia” per Critical race theory ideology. They frequently use various astroturfing groups, nonprofits and political action committees (PACs) setup by their members to manipulate public perceptions and gaslight voters during elections into electing their members into public offices. Traditional media publications are friendly to them and their agenda, and help them with this information manipulation. We know about the activities of Progressive Yamhill because I infiltrated their secret Facebook groups used to coordinate their activities in Yamhill County and I published many of their communications from over a four year period, which are detailed in the very lengthy article Meet Progressive Yamhill. They have over 2,000 members in Yamhill County and are extremely well funded by the national group as well as the Oregon Democratic Party, and many others.
This is not a “conspiracy theory”; this is very real and at this point I have written over 180 articles, all of which heavily cite public records and even their own secret Facebook messages that proves the claims I am making about them.
What is Chehalem Parks and Recreation District?
It is probably worthwhile to explain what Chehalem Parks and Recreation (CPRD) is and does, as some residents are unfamiliar with it.
CPRD is a quasi-municipal special taxing district created in 1965 by a vote of local residents, as a result of a campaign led by a group of community leaders brought together by Walter Jaquith. The goal was to develop new parks in Newberg by creating this new special taxing district as well as to improve existing parks owned by the City of Newberg. Its first projects were Crabtree Park, the first incarnation of the city pool and Jaquith Park. It also made substantial improvements to what became Herbert Hoover Park and Memorial Park. It also operated a preschool program.
Starting in the mid 1990s it rapidly expanded its scope. At present the district’s facilities include Chehalem Aquatic & Fitness Center, Chehalem Armory & Youth Center, Chehalem Community Center, Chehalem Glenn Golf Course (an 18-hole public course). Bonnie Benedict Preschool and Chehalem Senior Center, as well as numerous public parks and athletics fields. CPRD operates a wide number of recreational programs, as well as youth and adult athletics programs. It also owns a large number of undeveloped properties in its land banking portfolio (which CPRD purports to plan to develop into future parks), as well as several commercial retail space buildings and residential homes. At this time CPRD is the largest owner of property in Newberg and also owns properties in Dundee, too.
Several parks it manages are leased from the City of Newberg at no cost. In 1995 these leases were extended for 99 years. Also in that same year CPRD entered into an inter-government agreement with the City of Newberg and Newberg School District to develop what was then called the ‘Crater Site’, which resulted in the construction of Antonia Crater Elementary, Chehalem Valley Middle School, the Chehalem Senior Center and Darnell Wright Sports Complex, which requires CPRD to lease the land the Senior Center sits upon from the School District for $1 a year for 99 years.
CPRD generally collects around $3 million dollars a year in taxes and around $1.5 million a year in system development fees. Its third largest sources of revenue are golf clubhouse fees (usually around $1.5 million per year), pool dues (around $1 million a year) and sports receipts (around $500K a year).
Who Is Running for Election on CPRD’s Board in 2023?
What voters should know is that the CPRD election is at large, so whichever two candidates receive the most votes will take the two positions.
A short summary of the candidates who are running is as follows;
Both Don Loving and Peter Siderius have been deeply involved as past / present CPRD leadership. Siderius is presently on the Trails Committee, which is seeking ways to revive the Yamhelas Westsider Trail Project using Newberg and Dundee tax money (more on this later in the article). Siderius had been on CPRD’s board from 2012 to 2021.
Don Loving has served on the Board of CPRD since 1991. Keep this in mind as you read my criticisms of CPRD and how it has mismanaged the parks and diverted its resources to serving the agenda of outside interests.
David ‘Bubba’ King is married to Progressive Yamhill member Sarah King and they are the current owners of Honey Pie Pizza and Godspeed Hollow “raw milk” dairy farm. He is also a Chehalem Valley Chamber of Commerce board Director and City of Newberg SDC Committee member. Proof that Sarah King is a member of Progressive Yamhill comes from its subgroup, Newberg Equity in Education. I published this information last year in my article, Newberg City Council Spends Covid-19 Recovery Funds On Progressive Yamhill Members’ Private Businesses. Here is the screenshot of her Facebook profile from the member list,
Jason Fields is a conservative business owner who ran on the Republican ticket unsuccessfully against Democrat and Progressive Yamhill member Courtney Neron for Oregon House of Representatives District 26.
Matthew Smith is a conservative who previously sat on Lafayette City Council and was also Chair of the Board of Tax Appeals for Yamhill County.
In my opinion, only Jason Fields and Matthew Smith are the candidates running for CPRD’s Board who have no affiliation with Progressive Yamhill members and their agendas, nor have any involvement in past mismanagement of CPRD. The other candidates are all in some way aligned with Progressive Yamhill and/or involved in the mismanagement of CPRD which I will detail in this article.
Proof That CPRD is Presently Controlled by Progressive Yamhill Members
First, I will show that CPRD has long been controlled by Progressive Yamhill members. In many cases these friendships predate the creation of Progressive Yamhill, but not necessarily the liberal activism as many of the PY members have been involved in liberal activism long before the Progressive Yamhill group was created that brought them all under one unified umbrella.
Bart Rierson has served on the CPRD Board of Directors since 2015. Rierson is a member of Progressive Yamhill via the Newberg Equity in Education (NEEd) Facebook group, who I exposed two years ago. He is also one of the people who defended Kristen Stoller on social media after I exposed her grooming activities using her dance studio and the Community Wellness Collective.
As a reminder the NEEd group was expressly created for the singular purpose of making Critical Race Theory ideology the policy of the Newberg public schools and indoctrinating children into these ideas.
Rierson has also served on Newberg City Council, Newberg Planning Commission, Newberg Downtown Revitalization Committee, City of Newberg Budget Committee, Newberg City Club Member, Graduate of Chamber of Commerce and Ford Family Leadership programs.
Lisa Rogers has been on the board of directors of CPRD since 2017 and is presently the President of the Board. She is married to former Newberg Mayor Rick Rogers, whose affiliation with Progressive Yamhill I extensively detailed in previous articles, such as Newberg Mayor Rick Rogers’ Affordable Housing Conflicts of Interest subsection Rick Rogers Ties to Progressive Yamhill and Its Agenda.
Lisa Rogers is also, according to state records, the President of Chehalem Park Foundation which was started in March 2008. This is a nonprofit controlled by CPRD which it uses to collect donations for it.
Lisa Rogers is also listed as the President of the Board of Directors for the Chehalem Cultural Center Association 501c3 nonprofit, which CPRD contracted with to manage the building on its behalf. More on this arrangement and the activities that Progressive Yamhill members do at the location will be discussed later in this article. However it should also be noted that the Oregon Secretary of State website lists Karen Pugsley as President.
John Bridges is Legal Counsel for CPRD.
Bridges seems to have his hand involved in many Progressive Yamhill controlled entities. This is no surprise given that his wife Debra Bridges is a member, as I previously exposed in the article Liberal Newberg School Board Candidates Gaslight Voters, Lie About “Non-Partisanship” During Forum.
Chehalem Cultural Center is Controlled by Progressive Yamhill
There are a few irregularities regarding the Chehalem Cultural Center and its operations that need to be pointed out.
Firstly, on its website it claims, “The building is currently owned by our public partner, the Chehalem Park and Recreation District. Chehalem Cultural Center is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization”. It turns out that “Chehalem Cultural Center” is an assumed business name of Chehalem Center Association and is not a registered nonprofit as the actual name of the entity is Chehalem Center Association (CCA). The CCA was created in 2005 and according to its articles of incorporation, Don Clements was the original registered agent and as everyone should know, Don Clements has been the superintendent of CPRD since the 1980s. You can download and read the CCA’s articles of incorporation and bylaws yourself by clicking here but I will embed relevant sections below.
Secondly, according to its articles of incorporation bylaws the CPRD Board of Directors have the ability to appoint and remove the CCA’s Board of Directors. Each elected Director of CPRD is also entitled to serve as a Director of the CCA. This means the CPRD Board of Directors are directly responsible for who runs the CCA as well as what they do in the Center. This is because the CCA was created “exclusively to support” CPRD.
Lastly, John Bridges is both Legal Counsel for CPRD and the CCA. Something that I know because he has claimed that CCA is separate from CPRD and refused public records requests made of CCA on those grounds, never minding the fact he is legal counsel for both entities.
The result of these elements means that the CCA is an extension of CPRD since it cannot act independently of it, and therefore it is not a genuinely separate entity from CPRD. Its management is indistinguishable from CPRD and consequently its claims of being a 501c3 that is separate from CPRD may actually be fraudulent. A 501c3 is not just some separate bank account you can claim tax exemptions on, its operations must actually be truly independent of any other entity. These articles of incorporation demonstrate that it is not and I think it would be relatively easy to pierce its corporate veil in a court of law if the matter was taken there.
As I explained in the article Newberg City Council Spends Covid-19 Recovery Funds On Progressive Yamhill Members’ Private Businesses, subsection Giving A Quarter of a Million Dollars to the Chehalem Cultural Center, the Chehalem Center Association (CCA) nonprofit is managed by Progressive Yamhill members such as Sean Andries, Polly Peterson, Kris Horn and Karen Puglsey, as well as involvement from others like Lisa Rogers as I mentioned before. Again as mentioned before, CPRD Board has ultimate authority over the CCA and so these people are all running the Center because the present CPRD Board wants them to.
Anyone who has ever visited the Center knows it is used to push fringe radical ideologies. For example, twice the Center has hosted an exhibit of artwork that is supposed to represent menstruating vaginas as part of its efforts to promote fringe third wave feminist activism. Here are some photos of that exhibit,
This is what the liberals in charge of a place children are encouraged to visit is placing into the Center as “artwork”.
As another example, here is an exhibit promoting Critical Race Theory and other fringe Marxist ideologies. This colorful exhibit (very obviously targeted at children) is presently in the Center, and it ridicules American culture and heritage, even renaming the Thanksgiving holiday to “Happy Genocide”.
Furthermore the Center has been distributing other kinds of literature and pamphlets, including material that I believe encourages children to become runaways if their parents do not support their LGBTQ lifestyles.
This so-called Cultural Center isn’t promoting anything that is genuinely related to the culture of Newberg. It is instead just a way for Progressive Yamhill to infiltrate the community and push its radical insane Marxist ideologies onto children and lend them legitimancy. The leadership of CPRD all know this and support it. This has been going on for years with their knowledge and approval. Many residents have complained about how the Center promotes hateful anti-American rhetoric and they do not care, because this is how they want the Center to be ran. The leadership of CPRD created the nonprofit to run it on their behalf so they could feign no responsibility over these activities. Don Clements, Don Loving, Peter Siderius, Jim McMasters and all the other leadership of CPRD know this Center has been used for years to promote anti-American Marxist propaganda by Progressive Yamhill members and they have permitted it. I can say they know because they have to walk past these kinds of exhibits on their way to the “ballroom” where they attend events related to City Club and Tunes on Tuesday and other events.
Cultural Center Operating Agreement
This operating agreement was provided by CPRD in response to a public records request. Please keep in mind it is an unsigned version, which is irregular. CPRD is not providing the signed version and has tried to claim that it does not have to provide any detailed documentation because the Cultural Center Association is a separate entity. Similarly the Cultural Center is refusing to provide any documents related to its operations or the signed version because it claims it doesn’t have to.
Regardless, CPRD fulfilled the public records request with this unsigned version of the operating agreement and claimed in an email it outlines the relationship between the CCA nonprofit and CPRD. By reading the document you can see that CPRD retains ownership of the Cultural Center building and the CCA nonprofit is managing the property on CPRD’s behalf. It also shows that CPRD paid for the renovations to make it a center and that CPRD is responsible for its maintenance and other expenses, such as its utility bills and custodial charges. So it is clear that the promoting of Anti-American rhetoric in the Center has been subsidized by Newberg and Dundee tax payers. CPRD is bankrolling Progressive Yamhill’s propaganda in Newberg, from the heart of downtown Newberg, and has been doing so for years.
Furthermore the CCA is permitted to keep all of the revenue it gains from its activities in the Center, which effectively means CPRD has created the CCA as a means of hiding the Center’s revenues and not including this money in CPRD’s annual audits. The agreement also says all signage and interior decorations must be done with the consent of CPRD, showing that CPRD is approving this anti-American exhibits for display in the building.
Alarmingly, the agreement was set for a duration of fifty years. Which is an absurdly long time period for a nonprofit to be given the right to generate revenue and hide it from the public using a publicly owned building, which the public is responsible for maintaining maintenance and other improvements on. Oregon law specifically states all lease agreements for special districts must be no longer than 30 years, which conveniently went into effect in 2017 when the most recent drafted contract was dated, although not signed.
Anyone who reads the agreement can clearly see the agreement overwhelmingly benefits the Cultural Center Association (CCA) nonprofit, allowing appointees by CPRD’s Board to have control over the programs and use it to financially enrich their members via salaries and keep all of the revenue. The taxpayers are on the hook for paying all of its utilities, cleaning expenses (to include housekeeping) and other maintenance / building improvements, but have been deprived input over its management since CPRD gave all of that to a nonprofit ran by Progressive Yamhill members. The entire scheme has clearly been designed to make it very difficult to remove Progressive Yamhill members from control over the building and undermine the will of voters in the community. For this reason alone, I would say CPRD’s leadership at the time of this agreement (which includes Don Loving and Peter Siderius, who are running for election right now) should be removed by voters, even with recalls. They have not only grossly mismanaged public property, but betrayed the interests of voters by creating this insane operating agreement with a private entity so they can hide finances and use the building to promote anti-American extremist ideologies in the heart of Newberg to its children under the guise of being “art” and “culture”.
Yamhelas Westsider Trail Project Involvement
More evidence that CPRD leadership are betraying the interests of tax payers in the district to instead serve the interests of Progressive Yamhill outsiders can be seen in their attempt to revive the Yamhelas Westsider Trail Project, which would be developed on property well outside the bounds of CPRD’s territory and taxpayer base.
For those unfamiliar with this project and its troubled history, last year Tom Hammer contributed a guest op-ed article to the Advocate that details its history and explains that it was ruled illegal by the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). The short summary is that for ten years Progressive Yamhill and its members have tried to push through a new trail project that would run from Yamhill to McMinnville and eventually connect to other trail projects in the works, allowing for light rail to be built that would connect Portland to McMinnville. This is because the “trail” is in fact an old retired railroad. Progressive Yamhill has, through a group called Friends of the Yamhelas Westsider Trail, published a great deal of propaganda and misinformation designed to build support for the trail and pretend it is about riding bikes and not because many of these people own boutique wineries and vineyards that would benefit from the light rail bringing tourists from Portland to their doorsteps. The problem is that, per state laws, if the trail is constructed it would prevent the farms (whose lands the railroad runs through) from managing their crops with any spray programs, also known as integrated pest management, and be heavily restricted in other kinds of work they can do, in addition to the park providing easy access to their private lands where they grow crops, which could be damaged or even stolen by people using the trail. The project was shut down several years ago by a decision of LUBA who ruled constructing the park is illegal and a violation of the zoning for the area.
The Yamhelas Westsider Trail Project is an ambition of Progressive Yamhill members. Their primary motivation is because the project includes plans to build light rail, which many members believe will make it easier for them to bring tourists from Portland directly to their wineries, as several of their members own property adjutant to the railroad. I do not believe they like new trails as much as they desire light rail to be constructed for their private business interests, having the government subsize the costs of bringing them customers for their wineries, eaters and other related businesses.
For evidence that Progressive Yamhill is behind the project, you can simply read some of the threads related to it from within their private Facebook group, such as this one,
Please notice the presence of Jeff Musall, who says plainly that his motivation for running for Chehalem Parks and Recreation’s Board of Directors was to “save the trail” and that other PY members supported this. This shows clearly that Progressive Yamhill has long been working to subvert Chehalem Parks and Rec to revive their pet project.
Indeed, in March 2021 the CPRD Board of Directors voted 3-1 for Superintendent Don Clements to meet with County Administrator Ken Huffer to investigate how CPRD can take over the project, even though the proposed trail is well outside of the jurisdiction of CPRD. This is further evidence that CPRD has been hijacked by Progressive Yamhill to serve outside interests and it is not focused on serving the interests of the people who actually fund it with their taxes and whom the district was created to serve. Resources meant for Newberg and Dundee residents are instead being diverted to serve the interests of a small minority of winery owners who do not pay these taxes.
Clements has had other meetings with the Friends, as evident by this newsletter from Jan 2022 released by the Friends of the Yamhelas Westsider Trail,
CPRD Starting a Legal Battle with Yamhill County and Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals
I believe CPRD is at present taking steps designed to revive the Yamhelas Westsider Trail project and they are going about it in a rather sneaky way that those unfamiliar with the project are overlooking.
At present, CPRD is preparing to enter a legal battle with Yamhill County Board of Commissioners over their desire to add a bridge to Ewing Young Park, which CPRD’s present leadership claims is necessary to expand the park to build a frisbee golf course. Local residents who live near the park are heavily opposed to the expansion because they believe it will instead be used by homeless vagrants to build encampments, which is already a problem at this park and other parks managed by CPRD. The reason why I mention this issue in the same section of my article as CPRD’s Yamhelas Westsider Trail Project agenda is because two weeks ago Gary Allen at the Newberg Graphic published an article titled, CPRD will appeal county decision denying expansion of park. In this article Allen wrote the following,
Readers of the Advocate will note that in past articles I have criticized the Newberg Graphic, particularly Gary Allen, as serving not as a legitimate objective news source but instead as a mouth piece for Progressive Yamhill and a distributor of their propaganda. That Allen wrote this paragraph strongly implies this is the viewpoint of PY members and so the battle over this bridge at a CPRD park seems to have little to do with building something of legitimate value for Newberg and Dundee residents. Instead CPRD is battling the County and LUBA as a back door tactic to allow CPRD to use its resources (ie funding legal expenses) to bring a challenge to LUBA’s land use decision that shut down the Yamhelas Westsider Trail project development. As the trail project is outside the bounds of CPRD they cannot directly challenge the decision LUBA made concerning this project, but they can create a new project that conflicts with LUBAs decision, the construction of the bridge at Ewing Young Park. That CPRD is claiming the bridge is necessary to build a frisbee golf park, an activity that almost no residents in the area participate in, is rather absurd and so the true motivation for the legal battle with the County and LUBA must be for serving a different goal. I believe that goal is to challenge the decision that killed the Yamhelas Westsider Trail project so that Progressive Yamhill can revive it, and the tax money of Newberg and Dundee residents is being diverted to serve this outside interest.
As stated before, voters should ask themselves why CPRD is starting legal battles to benefit projects that local residents do not want in order to build facilities local residents will not use, and is seemingly doing so to challenge a LUBA ruling concerning a project (Yamhelas Westsider Trail) that is well outside their special jurisdiction and only benefits those who live outside of it. I do not believe these people actually care about trails as much as they desire to challenge LUBA’s ruling by creating cases that conflict with the same rules that the Yamhelas Westsider Trail project did. They are intentionally planning new trails with the goal of permitting CPRD to challenge LUBA’s decision.
Furthermore, CPRD’s Trail Advisory Committee had a meeting last month and at 28 minutes in the video they discuss the Yamhelas Westsider Trail while discussing Ewing Young Bridge, noting that they will challenge LUBA’s decisions regarding the definition of ‘transportation’ and that these restrictions will impact many other trail projects they are trying to create.
You will also notice they discuss how the Newberg Dundee Bypass Trail project will also clash with LUBA’s decision and they will have to challenge LUBA on it. I find this incredibly interesting given that the Newberg Dundee Bypass Trail was largely funded by the then-Progressive Yamhill controlled City of Newberg Council (Rick Rogers, Stephanie Findley, Jefferson Mildenberger and Elise Hollamon) voting to award a large chunk of the covid-19 relief ARPA money the city received that was intended to help the City and its businesses economically recover from the covid-19 crisis. So, Progressive Yamhill members donated the City’s covid relief money to CPRD so that CPRD could build a trail that, quite frankly, does not need to be created and will in no possible way improve the economic recovery of the City, so that CPRD has another avenue to challenge LUBA’s decision regarding the Yamhelas Westsider Trail.
Interestingly, per a Newberg Graphic article Don Clements stated that CPRD had sunk over $800,000 into planning the Newberg Dundee Bypass Trail. That is, instead of repairing existing parks they decided to blow almost a million dollars PLANNING a nature trail that almost nobody is going to use, just as the existing trails CPRD has are rarely used.
Per its project page on the CPRD website, they are projecting the entire project will cost $6.4 million dollars. Unsurprisingly, Friends of Yamhelas-Westsider Trail are listed on the webpage in favor of this trail that in order for CPRD to construct will require CPRD to legally challenge the LUBA ruling that killed their light rail project.
Meanwhile, as they waste tax payer resources on these legal challenges and time daydreaming about trails nobody is asking for, CPRD does not maintain the parks it already has under its management within Newberg city limits and lets them deteriorate and become places for drug abusing vagrants to camp at, which makes them unsafe for children to play at.
CPRD Is Not Responsibly Maintaining Existing Parks
As most anyone who has visited any of the public parks maintained by CPRD knows, the parks are in disrepair. Some heavily so, such as Jaquith Park (which ironically is the park that CPRD was originally created to build and maintain).
In a public records request I filed, CPRD refused to provide information about how much it spends on maintaining its properties by claiming they do not track how much they spend.
Based on the answers I received CPRD does not track costs for specific properties it owns and consider these costs when it creates its annual budgets. This raises the question about how CPRD knows how much it needs for its budget if it does not know how much it spends on its properties?
The only rational conclusion I can arrive at is that CPRD’s leaders cannot have an accurate assessment of its budget needs and that the numbers CPRD puts into its spreadsheets are being invented out of thin air, since they are not based on actual costs from previous years. They are only tracking what they are budgeting, not what they are actually spending. This is evidence that the District is completely mismanaged in a way that ought to be considered criminally irresponsible, and this accounts for the sorry state of disrepair the parks are in. For all we know embezzlement is occurring since they do not track their actual expenses per property. We surely cannot see how any of the money is going into maintenance of the parks by looking at them.
See for yourself the present state of Jaquith Park. This used to be the nicest park in Newberg. Now look at it after years of neglectful mismanagement.
There are many other parks in Newberg in similar states of disrepair but I have focused on Jaquith because, as I mentioned before, this is the original park which CPRD was created to build and maintain. That present CPRD leadership has allowed its flagship park, its legacy to become this bad is indicative that CPRD’s leadership have diverged far away from the mission to serve the people of Newberg. They are instead focused on other agendas. This is something Don Loving can certainly be held accountable for, since he has been on the Board since 1991.
That proper maintenance has not been done on the parks in many years is not a result of a lack of money, as CPRD has an unallocated employee fund that has grown to over $11 million dollars. CPRD has plenty of money to properly maintain the parks and its leadership have simply not been spending it responsibly.
For evidence of this, simply look at the budget spreadsheets which CPRD has published on its own website, such as this one,
The most recent proposed budget for 2023 shows a breakdown of its budget for this year,
From the same document, CPRD outlines constructing over 10 other brand new projects with its money instead of focusing on improving the parks it already has. This is part of the problem with CPRD’s leadership, they are fixated on creating new things instead of maintaining the quality of that which already exists,
In fairness I will point out this 2023 budget allots $109,000 to repair the sidewalks at Jaquith Park. But it should never have gotten to this stage of decline to start with; it took many years of neglect. You can also see that maintaining and improving existing parks like Jaquith is not a priority for CPRD’s present leadership, as they spend similar amounts purchasing lawn mowers for the golf course. Meanwhile they allot millions to potential new parks projects and trails that will likely never get constructed as they are tied up in County zoning approval processes, and even if they do, will rarely be used but must still be maintained, meaning there will be less money to put toward parks like Jaquith and Memorial that are more frequent staples of resident life.
CPRD’s Financials Show It Has Had Sufficient Money to Maintain The Parks
After spending a great deal of time pouring through CPRD’s past years of audits, it is clear that CPRD has had a huge surplus of funds year after year and decided to not repair or maintain the parks.
For example, even if we look at pre-covid-19 years, this remains true.
- On page 46 of its 2019 audit it had budgeted $475K for improvements / land acquisition from general fund but according to the audit actually only spent $102,066 and on page 50 from its system development funds it budgeted $710K for improvements but only spent $226,439.
- On page 42 of the 2018 audit it had budgeted $631K for improvements / land acquisition from general fund but only spent $367K. From the system development fund it had budgeted $668K for improvements / land acquisition and spent $567K.
- On page 41 of the 2017 audit it had budgeted $476,481 from general fund for improvements / land acquisition and spent $431,513, and from its system development fund it budgeted $485,160 but only spent $206,959.
I could go on but you get the idea. Year after year, in what I reviewed, CPRD had sufficient money and budgeting to maintain these parks and they chose not to do so. They allowed them to deteriorate. They did not spend the full amounts they budgeted for park improvements, which is indicative of gross incompetence at managing the District.
I will also mention that I have noticed other irregularities in the audits. For example, year after year CPRD claims that the Scout House at Memorial Park and the former Boys and Girl’s Club building that sits opposite from the Fire Department building (which CPRD now calls the Community Center) generates significant six figure revenues, although I don’t see how that is possible. I think any reasonable resident of Newberg would also struggle to understand how that is possible as well. CPRD also claims that its playgrounds generate significant revenues as well, and I am struggling to understand how that is possible for reasons that should be obvious to anybody.
Here are examples of what I mean,
Update regarding Scout house and playgrounds as revenue sources: CPRD has stated in an email to me they do not own the Scout house and do not generate revenue from it or from playgrounds. So far I have received no explanation on why these have been repeatedly listed as sources of revenue for CPRD for many years. They have been counting playgrounds as a source of revenue since at least 2004 and the Scout house since 2014.
CPRD’s publicly available financial documents use a top down accounting method which obscures exactly where its reported revenue comes from and how its money is spent. For an entity with such a large number of properties to manage I find this incredibly suspicious and I strongly believe CPRD needs a forensic accounting audit to investigate what is actually happening.
List of CPRD Audits from 2004 to 2021
If anyone would like to verify the claims I have made concerning how CPRD has been reporting its finances, you can click here to download a zip folder containing all the audits which have been submitted by CPRD to the State of Oregon from 2004 to 2021.
CPRD Actively Undermining Private Businesses They View as Competitors
During my investigation of CPRD I heard many stories about how CPRD leadership have taken actions to undermine private business owners. For example, prior to the construction of Chehalem Glenn Golf Course, Ken Austin had been acquiring land with the objective of constructing a golf course in the land near The Allison Hotel. Several sources told me that Don Loving intentionally pushed forward on the construction of CPRD’s golf course despite Ken Austin telling him he had already been planning to construct one. Loving pushed forward on the construct of a golf course anyway, even though CPRD’s plans did not include a full course and they did not have the funding to build facilities such as a proper clubhouse for the golf park. Because the area cannot accommodate more than one golf park, Mr. Austin was forced to abandon his plans despite having spent years acquiring property to construct one.
In another example, several owners of daycare centers in Newberg informed me that employees at CPRD attempted to intimidate them into ceasing their businesses because their businesses competed with CPRD’s own youth programs. Unfortunately none of these owners were willing to have their businesses be known in this article for fear of further retaliation but I found their stories credible.
In yet another example, Excel Gym was forced to shut down its location in Newberg. While many believed it was forced to shut down due to loss of business during the covid-19 gym shutdowns imposed by Gov. Kate Brown’s emergency orders the truth is that Excel Gym’s owner, David Faxon, was prevented from relocating the gym to another warehouse in the same general area when he was unable to reach an agreement with the landlord the gym had at the time. This new landlord was going to work with Faxon to ensure that the Newberg Excel could endure the covid-19 shutdowns. Faxon had located another warehouse zoned light industrial to move the gym into with this landlord who would be lenient on rental payments during the state mandated shutdown but the City of Newberg refused to allow Faxon to move his gym into that facility unless he paid over $200,000 in system development fees, which they refused to waive despite that the access road for the new location was the same as the original location. Faxon believes Excel was intentionally prevented by the City of Newberg from moving because it would benefit CPRD and its gym facility at the Aquatic and Fitness Center, which before had struggled to find members for its gym program. I did in fact read many letters from City of Newberg staff to Faxon showing that they were unwilling to provide any waivers of exceptions to his business despite knowing it would result in Excel’s Newberg location shutting down completely.
The connection between the City of Newberg and CPRD at the time, obviously, is Rick Rogers who was then mayor and Lisa Rogers who is on the board of CPRD.
In fact, under Roger’s tenure as mayor the City changed zoning and system development fee structure to make it incredibly difficult for any new business wishing to provide recreational facilities or services to come to Newberg. Many locations which had permitted this use were rezoned to remove it, and out of zone usage of a location now will cost over six figure in fees to be paid to the City, half of which the City sends to CPRD. This to me looks like intentional collusion between the Progressive Yamhill aligned members who controlled the City of Newberg and the Progressive Yamhill aligned members who control CPRD, intentionally preventing private businesses from being able to operate and trying to give CPRD a monopoly on recreational activities in Newberg.
System Development Fees Are Not Spent For Original Purposes They Are Collected For
System Development fees is another area that CPRD leadership are mismanaging and in so doing, artificially driving up the cost of property in Newberg and Dundee.
System development fees are charged to new construction within Newberg City limits, and about half of the SD fees which the City collects it must share with CPRD. These fees are charged to new developers under the claim that because of the increased usage the new development will bring the City needs the fees in order to build new infrastructure and maintain existing ones, such as utilities, roads, sewage drains, etc. for the new development. However under the current code the City also charges these to any businesses which move into an existing building that is not zoned for the industry that business does (so in the case of Excel Gym, they would be charged for moving a fitness business into a warehouse zoned only for light industrial manufacturing usage). The argument the City made is that out of zone usage increases the traffic to roads and utility usage, so they treat a business moving into an existing property as if it were new development. In addition to being extremely unethical and, in the case of Excel Gym, showing these codes can be written and enforced to restrict what kinds of businesses can come to Newberg to compete with existing businesses (or CPRD), the reality is that CPRD does not build new roads, new utilities or other things which system development fees are meant to go to. So instead CPRD diverts the money into a fund which it used to engage in land banking practices, acquiring properties to supposedly develop into new parks but which it rarely actually does any development with. As shown in the financial reports, what it has not been doing with the money is using the fees to maintain and improve existing parks like it is supposed to be doing, as this is why the fees were charged to developers to begin with.
What this means is that land that could have been sold privately for development into housing or new businesses instead goes into the black hole of CPRD’s land banking portfolio, reducing land availability and consequently contributing to the high cost of land in Newberg and Dundee city limits. It’s incredibly ridiculous that CPRD has been using fees charged on new development to allow itself to acquire other properties it takes off the market, artificially creating more land scarcity and driving costs of land up as a consequence.
Then Progressive Yamhill members who sit on Newberg City committees and councils turn around and say that the City needs to expand its city limits by bringing County land into its urban growth development boundaries, arguing that most available land has been developed. Meanwhile CPRD is the largest owner of land in Newberg city limits, the vast majority of which is undeveloped overgrown forest land and prior farm land it has done nothing with. This then allows the City to charge more fees to developers, diverting half of that money to CPRD who then sucks up more of the land into its black hole portfolio it does nothing with, again, artificially increasing the cost of land in Newberg not just by charging high fees to developers but diverting those fees to a fund so that available land can be taken off the market completely with no concerns about needing to actually profit from that land purchase.
For proof that CPRD is spending the system development fees it collects from private developers to engage in land banking, you can look at page 38 of the PDF CPRD has uploaded for its 2023 budget. The system develop fees collected are spent for land acquisition.
In my opinion this is extremely unfair to developers and a misuse of the system development fees they are asked to pay. Developers are asked to pay these fees because their new development places a financial burden on the City, which charges fees to ease that burden. CPRD is leeching money and turning around to spend that money competing with developers for land to supposedly develop parks, but which instead just sit in its portfolio for decades untouched and uncared for.
It is no secret that I believe CPRD has been heavily mismanaged. It’s resources have been squandered on pet projects of outside interests such as the Cultural Center and now Yamhelas Westsider Trail. They do not adequately maintain the parks in City limits that CPRD was created to maintain. The golf course probably should never have been created as Ken Austin was an excellent entrepreneur and undoubtedly would have built a vastly superior golf course which, because it would have to actually be profitable, would be properly maintained and serviced. The grossly inflated system development fees that developers must pay to the City and CPRD are not spent into servicing parks but instead diverted into a land banking program that artificially creates scarcity of land within city limits, driving up the price of land.
No one who has had a hand in CPRD becoming this grossly bloated and distorted from its original purpose should be allowed to continue to mismanage it. CPRD needs new leadership who will reign in its excessive spending and perform a forensic accounting on it to see exactly where all the money has actually been going and update its accounting practices to actually be transparent. The Cultural Center Association contract should be canceled and the anti-American Marxists from Progressive Yamhill removed from control over it. A 50 year contract where tax payers must subsidize the expenses for a private entity who gets to keep 100% of the revenue from a publicly owned building and pays no rent cannot possibly be legal.
I certainly hope voters make the correct choice at the ballot box when ballots go out on the 28th.