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Senator Whitsett regarding Klamath Settlement: "does not pass the smell test"

Senator Doug Whitsett KFLS radio talk Monday December 24, 2007

We are being told that the binding confidentiality clause in the Klamath Basin Settlement Agreement precludes allowing the agreement to be seen and read by Basin citizens before its adoption by the parties. The parties participating in the settlement are apparently self-selected and represent groups and agencies with certain interests.

For instance, PacifiCorp is one of the parties whose ratepayers were not represented at the negotiation table. The exclusion of participation extends to most of the elected representatives of the people. This closed process brings into question whether participation by Oregon agencies, and paid employees, may be in violation of Oregonís open public meeting laws. At least, it certainly creates the specter of potential conflicts of interest, if not of outright favoritism, toward the interests of certain parties.

It is my understanding that the current tenth draft of the agreement was only drafted and printed December 18th, and that some portions of the agreement may not yet be finalized. We are also being told that the state and federal parties to the Agreement may simply walk away if the yet to be completed agreement is not signed by all the parties to the agreement by the first week in January. Of course, there is at least the implication by the federal agencies, that water may not be made available for project irrigation in 2008 if the agreement is not timely completed.

This prescribed timeline provides little time for evaluation of the plan even by the members of the organizations that were allowed a seat at the negotiation table. Further, this evaluation timeline is focused on the Christmas and New Year holiday season, a time when communication is often difficult. We are told that there is no provision for input from those not represented until after the parties to the settlement have agreed to support the agreement.

It is my observation that private ownership promotes conservation and that government ownership does not. In my opinion, federal and state agencies have exhibited a very poor track record in managing public trust lands and water in the Klamath Basin.

I encourage all Klamath Basin people to closely watch this process where the title to both land and water rights would allegedly be transferred to government entities, supposedly to make the basin whole again.

As a matter of fact, for me a whole lot about this entire process does not pass the smell test.

 

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