The ongoing melodrama that is downtown Coquille and the "three sisters"
Time is running out for the Committee to Recall Rowe to turn in 250 valid signatures of registered Coquille voters by September 1, in order to put the matter on the ballot. The committee is being run out of Jean Ivey-Gurney’s office on the corner of Central Avenue & First St in Coquille and the building is festooned with Recall Matt Rowe campaign signs.
Ivey-Gurney produces a weekly publication and was recently sent a cease and desist notice ordering her to stop using the name “The Sentinel” or be subject to litigation. Frazier Media, LLC, publisher of The Coquillian and The Coquille Valley Sentinel owns the assumed business name, The Sentinel.
Ninety days to obtain 250 signatures amounts to less than 3 signatures per day but the campaign appears to be loosely run. Reviewing the campaign’s finances, no cash or in-kind contributions to the recall campaign nor the cost of the campaign signs have been reported to OreStar, Oregon’s campaign finance tracking system. In-kind contributions could include services in lieu of cash, free advertising or publicity provided by local news publications. The committee treasurer is Deb Main, wife of Bob Main, Coos County Commissioner.
The campaign filed its original paperwork on June 1, 2020 naming Danette Foord, Jo Teel and Thomas Konomos as petitioners and who all have ties to Ivey-Gurney. Foord is Ivey-Gurney’s step-daughter. None of the petitioners have made themselves available to media including The World newspaper and The Coquillian. In fact, the real movers and shakers behind the recall appear to be Ivey-Gurney, Mayor Kathi Simonetti and Councilor Ann Parker who along with Ivey-Gurney is attempting to collect signatures from her office. All three benefited by the distribution of $8,000 in urban renewal funds to make sidewalk repairs in front of their businesses that according to city ordinance should have been paid by the property owners or tenants and not Coquille taxpayers.
“Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.” Witches song from MacBeth
In keeping with The Coquillian’s earlier theme that this running saga would make for a great oleo-melodrama at the Sawduster Theater, the trio have been likened by some to the three sisters in Shakespeare’s MacBeth. The recall petition which appears to have been filled out by someone who’s handwriting strongly resembles that of Ivey-Gurney claims Rowe is disruptive at council meetings. No one on the committee, or anyone else for that matter has provided examples or substantiated this claim and Ivey-Gurney, who does not reside in Coquille, hasn’t been seen at a council meeting in years.
The other claim is that Rowe has abused his office. Like the first claim there have been no examples or evidence to support this allegation.
“Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;”
Ivey-Gurney pulled some ingredients off the shelf to add to the sisters’ cauldron and published an anonymous letter to the editor in the guise of anonymous article making many potentially libelous claims and allegations against Rowe and even his family in her August 19 paper.
“Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,”
Ivey-Gurney has refused to name the author of the anonymous letter or who authored the article alleging Rowe directed city timber contract’s to the benefit of his father’s employer. She then said because of the reporting by The Coquillian has she would not be commenting further and hung up.
There are five cardinal rules of journalism to which The Coquillian endeavors to adhere. In particular truth and accuracy, getting the facts right is the cardinal principle of journalism. When we cannot corroborate information The Coquillian will tell you. We also believe in accountability. A sure sign of professionalism and responsible journalism is the ability to hold ourselves accountable. When we commit errors, we must correct them.
The Coquillian has reviewed the minutes of the city council meetings related to allegations printed in Ivey-Gurney’s publication. These records dating from 2014 to 2015 while Rowe was mayor prove that the claims published as fact in her paper are completely false. Rowe recused himself from voting on matters related to a Rink Creek Timber sale in question, citing specifically that his father was an administrator of one of the companies involved. Ultimately, the contract went to Scott Timber, a company Rowe’s father has no association with.
The timber sale produced a profit for the city and Rowe and the council voted to transfer one-third of the $1.2 million in timber revenue into the city street improvement fund and not the other way around as alleged in the anonymous and unsourced article.
Ivey-Gurney’s paper even took a shot at Rowe’s mother, a former city financial director, implying that she “could not account for a portion of the funds” from the harvest. The Coquillian has not reviewed city audits dating from this period but any discrepancies would have been divulged by external auditors at that time.
A further allegation dating from 2018 occurred while Rowe was not even a member of the city council.
The article is accompanied by an image of a service dog forced to wear Recall Matt Rowe campaign signs in the recent heat. The dog belongs to the husband of Daniece Day, another step-daughter of Ivey-Gurney.
Via email, The Coquillian asked Ivey-Gurney if she vetted the information in the anonymous letter to the editor, prior to publishing and if so how. We asked if she would name the author of the letter, or who wrote the article. Harkening back to accountability in journalism, we also asked if she plans to print a retraction. She has not replied to our queries.