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Sierra Club Order

Sierra Club Order

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Published by Cassandra Profita

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Published by: Cassandra Profita on Feb 29, 2012
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02/29/2012

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ChiefDeputyDistrictAttorney
Erika
SoubletDeputyDistrictAttorneys
Karen
R.
McClintockRyan
Hughes
StephenPettey
James
Gardner
SarahLundstedtOfficeoftheDistrictAttorney
CoosCountyCourthouse250NorthBaxterCoquille,Oregon97423(541)396-3121ext.257
FAX
(541)396-2991
TOO
1-800-735-2900
R.PAULFRASIER
DISTRICTATTORNEYCOOSCOUNTYOREGON
February28,2012Mr.DavidBahrAttorneyatLaw1035
}'2
MonroeStreetEugene,Oregon97402Mr.MikeStebbinsAttorneyatLawPOBox1006NorthBend,Oregon97459Re:PublicRecordsRequestoftheSierraClubGentlemen:IhavereviewedthematerialssubmittedbybothpartiesregardingtherequestbytheSierraClub(hereafterClub).TheClubrequeststhatI:1.OrdertheInternationalPortofCoosBay(hereafterPort)todisclosethoserecordsasdescribedonpagethreeoftheletterofMr.BahrdatedFebruary15,2012thatwasaddressedtome(acopyofthatparticularpageisattachedhereto,markedasExhibit1,andbythisreferenceisincorporatedherein);and2.OrderthatthePortwaivethefeesthePorthasrequiredtocomplywiththerequest.ThePortrespondsthatithasneverdeniedtheClubaccesstotherecordsandstatesthattheissueiswhethertheClubshouldpaythecoststhatthePortbelievesitwillincurincomplyingwiththatrequest.IfIunderstandthePortcorrectly,ifthefeeispaid,thePortwillcomplywiththerequestbysubmittingtotheCluballnon-exemptmaterials.
coosCountyisanAffirmativeAction/EqualOpportunityEmployerandcomplieswithSeclion504oftherehabilitationActof1973.
 
2
InotethatthematerialssubmittedbyboththeClubandthePortaddressonlythefeeissue.ItappearstomethattheissueIhavetodecidetodayisthefeeissue.Consequently,IdeclinetoreachthefirstissueraisedbytheClubasIseenoevidencethatthePorthasdeniedtherequestoftheClub.IwillnowproceedtoaddressanissueIraisesuasponteandthenthefeeissue.
1.Jurisdiction
Ibelievethereisathresholdissuethatneedstobeaddressed.ThisisonlythesecondtimethatIhavebeencalledupontoreverseadecisionofthePort.AsImentionedinthepreviousrequest,IquestionwhetherIhaveauthorityoverthePortforpurposesofthePublicRecordsLaw.MyconcerncentersonwhetherthePortisastateagencyoralocalgovernmententity.IfthePortofCoosBayisaStateAgency,thentheAttorneyGeneralisthepersonneedingtoaddressthisissue.IfthePortofCoosBayisanentitydefinedaslocalgovernment,thentheresponsibilitytoruleontherequestlieswithmyoffice.IhaveconcernsthatIdonothavetheauthoritytoruleonthismatter.ThePortCommissionisnotelectedbythelocalcitizensofCoosCounty.TheCommissionmustbeappointedbythegovernorandapprovedbytheOregonSenate.TheindividualmembersoftheCommissionarenotsubjecttotherecallprovisionsofOregonLawandcanonlyberemovedbythegovernororthelegislature.Inmyview,thatwouldmakethePortastateagencythusmakingtheAttorneyGeneraltheonehavingjurisdictionovertherequest.TheAttorneyGeneraldisagreeswithmyanalysisandopinesthattheresponsibilitytoruleontherequestiswithmyoffice.WhileIamnottotallyconvincedthatmypositioniswrong,thereisauthorityindicatingthatthePortofCoosBayisalocalgovernmententityandthusforpurposesofthepublicrecordslaw,withinthejurisdictionofmyoffice.ThePublicRecordsLawasdefinedinDRSChapter192doesnotdefinewhatalocalgovernmententityisnordoesitdefinewhatastateagencyisforpurposesofthisparticularstatute.Whenthespecificlawdoesnotcontainthenecessarydefinition,onemustthenlooktootherstatutesforappropriatedefinitions.DRSChapter174providesguidelinesanddefinitionstobeusedintheinterpretationofthelawsoftheStateofOregon.DRS174.116(1)(a)statesthatasusedinthestatutesofthisstate"localgovernment"meansallcities,countiesandlocalservicedistrictslocatedinthisstate,andalladministrativesubdivisionsofthosecities,countiesandlocalservicedistricts.AlocalservicedistrictisdefinedinORS174.116(2)(gg)asanyportorganizedunderDRS777.005to777.725and777.915to777.953.DRS777.915isthestatutecreatingthePortofCoosBay.ThusbydefinitionthePortisalocalservicedistrictandthusalocalgovernmententity.
 
3
IfthesetwostatutesarethecorrectdefinitionofwhatalocalgovernmententityconsistsofforpurposesofthePublicRecordsLaw,thenIhavejurisdictiontoruleonthismatter.IwillpresumethatIhavethatauthorityandwillnowseektoaddresstheparticularrequestoftheClub.2.FeeWaiverThePortisallowedtochargeapetitionerforpublicrecordsafeetocovertheactualcostsofthePortincomplyingwiththerequest.ThePublicRecordsLawprovidesthatthePort
may
waivethefeeifitsodesires.BoththeClubandthePortspendasignificantamountoftimearguingwhetheritisinthepublic'sinterestforthePorttowaivethefee.Evenifthepublicinteresttestismet,thePortstillhastheoptiontodenythefeewaiverrequest.See,InDefenseofAnimalsv.OHSU,199OrApp160,189(2005).AsIunderstandmyroleregardingthisissue,IcanonlyruleonwhetherthedecisionofthePorttonotwaivethefeewasunreasonable.Whilenotdeciding,IwillassumethatthepublicinteresttestwasmetbytheClub.Iwillonlyaddresswhetherthefeewaiverdenialwasunreasonable.ThePublicRecordsLawissilentastowhatfactorspublicbodiessuchasthePortaretoapplywhendecidingtograntafeewaiver.However,thePort'sdiscretionmustbeexercisedwithintherangeoflawfuloptionsavailabletoit.Ifaproposedfeeisnotpermittedbylaw,thePortwoulderrifitchosetonotwaivethatfee.Ibid.ThePortwantstheClubtopay$19,981tocoveritsactualcostincomplyingwiththerequest.Accordingtomyreview,thecostsarebrokendownasfollows:
1.
A75centperpagechargeforacopyofdocuments.Theportestimatesthatthedocumentsinvolvedwillnumberapproximately2500pages.Thatcostwouldbe$1875;2.ThePortestimatesthattofindandcollectthedocumentswillentail36hoursofsupportstaffwork.ThePortstatesthatthecostperhourforsupportstaffis$40anhour.Thatcostwouldbe$1440;and3.Theremainingamountis$16,666whichthePortclaimswillcostforoutsidecounseltoreviewthedocumentsandtoapparentlydecidewhichdocumentisexemptfromdisclosureandwhichdocumentcanproperlybedisclosed.Inreviewingthematerials,IcannotfindthatthePortabuseditsdiscretionwhenitrequiredthecopyperpagecostandthesupportstaffcostbepaid.Thattotals$3,315.Iamhavingdifficultywiththeattorneyfeecost,whichbymycalculationsisapproximately$16,666.ThePublicRecordsLawasawholeembodiesastrongpolicyinfavorofthepublic'srighttoinspectpublicrecords.Ifanagencyplacesahighcoston

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