Judge assigns homework to opposing teams

Two legal teams involved in a disputed land exchange case have been given a homework assignment that is due on Thursday.

On March 27, Hood River Circuit Court Judge Donald Hull directed the Cascade Resources Advocacy Group, plaintiff attorneys, and codefendants Mt. Hood Meadows, Ltd., and Hood River County to review more than 10 court actions. These matters regard “claim preclusion” and lawyers for the opposing sides have been asked to research the issue and write a legal brief in support of their stand.

Under claim preclusion, a plaintiff is prevented from bringing unnecessary delays to the resolution of a legal matter by consolidating all issues in one complaint whenever possible. Meadows and the county, represented by Will Carey, contend that CRAG’s current arguments are invalid since the same facts were already filed and dismissed twice last year in a different legal venue.

“They could have brought one lawsuit that laid out both alternatives,” said Jonathan Radmacher, Meadows’ attorney from the Portland firm of McEwen Gisvold, LLP.

CRAG, a Portland-based public interest law firm, represents the Hood River Valley Residents Committee and Mike Carthy, one of its members. CRAG attorney Ralph Bloemers declined to comment on the pending legal matter but made his firm’s legal briefs available and said the plaintiffs’ filings are on view on the organization’s Web site, www.crag.org.

Meadows and the county are also asking Hull to dismiss the existing case because he already determined twice last year that neither the HRVRC nor McCarthy, who resides a short distance from the former county lands, had no standing to file an action since they had not sustained a personal injury.

“There is no mystery to any of it, this case doesn’t raise any new issues, it focuses around all the same facts,” said Radmacher.

Last July, Hull denied the request of Bloemers and his partner Chris Winter that a prior dismissal of their case be reversed. That lawsuit requested court scrutiny of the county’s trade of 640 acres near the sourthern border for 785 acres owned by Meadows. The deal also included a $1 million payment by the county to offset the value difference in merchantible timber on its newly aquired property.

While awaiting the second hearing, Bloemers and Winters filed the same information in a “declaratory judgment” format that is less restrictive. The backup case was already underway when Hull upheld his dismissal that the earlier “writ of review” filing only applied to quasi-judicial, or legally binding, matters and the exchange had been enacted in a legislative capacity.

In both lawsuits, the HRVRC and McCarthy, a Parkdale landowner, contend that the county violated Oregon law by not basing the appraisal of the acreage it conveyed to Meadows on the developable value. The plaintiffs allege that since Meadows has publicly stated plans to build a destination resort on the north face of the mountain those future plans should have been factored into the deal.

The county and Meadows argue that state law requires forest appraisals be based on the “highest and best” existing use and not on speculation over a development proposal that has not even been submitted.

More information about Meadows’ arguments in the case is available on the Friends of Cooper Spur Mountain Resort Web site, www.friendsofcooper spur.com.

Once Hull has reviewed the briefs provided this week by both sets of attorneys, he could determine that there is no disagreement about the basic facts of the case and make a ruling from the bench. Or he could decide that the merits of the case need to be further aired in a public trial and set a date for that hearing to begin.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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