Unfortunately, three previous Benton County commissioners have taken it upon themselves to unjustifiably attack our current commissioners for their continuing participation in the timber lawsuit (As We See It, Oct. 22). You have to wonder what motivates them, given the judge’s deadline to “opt out” of the lawsuit was over two years ago.
They talk the talk on environmental values (multiuse), but as told in the Gazette-Times' excellent cover story on Oct. 20, the plaintiff’s attorney recently “told Judge McHill: ‘It has always been about a breach of contract, pure and simple.'"
In 2017, I provided public testimony both supporting multiuse of these forests and arguing to “opt in,” primarily because it doesn’t allow the state to avoid consequences of reneging on a written contract — such agreements being the cornerstone of our civilization throughout recorded history and presumably well beforehand.
And consider the cost — there’s no financial obligation if this class action suit loses, but winning awards the county an estimated $27 million. That’s a lot — five years worth of the upcoming 911 tax, alternatively, $309 per resident (see cost analysis from my June 30, 2017 letter).
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Instead of castigating the current commissioners, we should encourage them to work with the state to renegotiate the contract to include multiuse and its environmental benefits. If those three previous commissioners feel so strongly, why didn’t they take on that difficult task, thereby avoiding the lawsuit? Their lack of planning is not our emergency (Parable of the Ten Virgins).
Philomath (Oct. 23)