Local labor activist Wes Brain receives apology

Two Jackson County commissioners apologized to Ashland resident Wes Brain Tuesday for rejecting his appointment to the Rogue Valley Workforce Development Council over a false rumor that he had burned the American flag.

"Dave (Gilmour) and I personally apologized to him," said Commissioner C.W. Smith.

Commissioner Jack Walker, who made the unsubstantiated accusation in January, was not present at the meeting in Grants Pass that also included two commissioners from Josephine County.

All the commissioners at the meeting voted to make Brain a member of the work force council.

Smith said a formal letter will be drafted apologizing to Brain for the original rejection, which was based on Walker's incorrect information that Brain was involved in a flag-burning in February 2003.

During the meeting, Smith said, "I thanked (Brain) for being a gentleman about it."

He said he also apologized for the delay in holding a second vote on Brain's appointment. There was a lack of a quorum at the previous meeting.

Brain, who was originally nominated for the position by the Southern Oregon Central Labor Council, said he appreciated the apology, but was still a little shaken at the original accusation.

Worried about what he said was a continuing decline in basic rights afforded to citizens, he said, "This isn't about me, this is about anybody who contributes to our participant democracy."

Brain said he believes Walker has taken enough heat over the issue. "I have no reason to pursue legal action against Jack Walker," he said. "I don't have the time or effort."

Walker said he would not have any comment on the issue Tuesday.

Jacksonville resident Dan Davis sent the work force council a letter recently offering a firsthand account of the flag-burning incident.

"I must tell you that I personally was at the demonstration against the Iraq war and occupation as a Vietnam veteran and saw the flag-burning take place," the letter states. "I remember it quite well because I was appalled and angered by the act and took the microphone and spoke vehemently against the burning."

Davis said he recalled with absolute certainty that Brain was not a participant in the act.

Brain said he was not present when the flag-burning took place.

As a result of the commissioners' earlier incorrect decision, they have decided that if any accusations come up again over an appointment, they will thoroughly review them before taking a vote.

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