TALENT, Ore. -- Dirty tricks are still afoot in Talent.
Since last September's Almeda Fire, Talent's Mayor Darby Ayers-Flood and the TURA Board have been working on a plan to bring home those displaced by the devastating fire. To do so, the Talent Urban Renewal Agency Board and the Phoenix-Talent School District have developed a plan for transitional housing at the publicly owned Gateway site at the corner of 99 and West Valley View for more than 50 households who lost their homes and aren't eligible for FEMA assistance. Eventually, the location will be home to those seeking permanent housing.
However, some have been resistant to the idea, namely Mallory and Nancy Buono -- it should be noted that neither of them lost their homes during the Almeda Fire. During a Feb. 3 virtual town hall meeting, Mallory had been scheduled to speak during public comments but opted out for some reason. Buono, however, did. For the last few years, Both Mallory and Buono have been vocal if not openly hostile opponents to anything put forth by Ayers-Flood and any of Talent's more progressive councilors. During Buono's spiel, she used her few minutes of comments to insinuate underhanded dealings made by both the mayor and councilors.
Some balked at the notion.
"Nancy's comments were at times ridiculous, extremely callous and, at times, overtly racist," David Hampton said in a response to a Facebook post. "This idea of some underground Talent conspiracy led by the Mayor is so laughable, it's just sad."
Also during the virtual town hall, the Ashland Food Co-Op's Julie O'Dwyer spoke. The Co-Op is planning an eventual expansion in the Talent/Phoenix area and she mentioned it in comments. "The Co-Op is fully in support of the communities of Talent and Phoenix in developing transitional housing as quickly as possible for all of the community members who have been displaced by the Almeda fire," she said. "The Gateway Project is by no means mutually exclusive to the intention of the Co-Op to establish a store in Phoenix or Talent. Our timeline (for expansion) is in no way in conflict with this project.”
Then, the dirty tricks started.
A few days after the virtual town hall, the Talent News and Review ran an unsigned advert that appeared to be from the AFC. The advert stated that there were plans to place a store on the Gateway land -- there was also a link to sign up for updates and take part in online surveys that required a person's address, email and phone number.
Then, a day or so after the advert appeared, O'Dwyer sent out this email to concerned individuals:
“We were just as surprised as you to see the ad and the related survey link. This ad and survey are NOT associated with the Ashland Food Co-Op. It is disturbing that our name and organization are being co-opted. No pun intended. Thank you for your concern and please assure anyone you speak with that this is not associated with the Co-Op.”
According to vetted anonymous sources, Buono was the one who placed the fake Ashland Food Co-Op ad in the TNR. At presstime, it's not known what the datamined information would have been used for. The Rogue Free Press attempted to contact Buono but she hasn't responded.