Group wins records ruling against port in Oregon

COOS BAY, Ore. — The Oregon chapter of The Sierra Club has won the latest round in its effort to get public records from the Port of Coos Bay about plans to export coal.

The World newspaper reported Thursday ( ) that Circuit Judge Paula Bechtold has ruled the port violated public records law and the Sierra Club’s constitutional rights when it demanded more than $19,000 to produce the records.

The Sierra Club has been trying to get the records since 2011 as part of a long-running battle over coal exports to Asia, which opponents argue would contribute to global warming.

The port agreed to produce the 2,500 pages of documents, but wanted to be paid for the cost of a lawyer blacking out confidential material.

A port spokeswoman, Elise Hamner, says it hasn’t decided whether to appeal.

The port countered the records request with a series of questions about the club’s finances and personal finances of its board.

A lawyer for the Sierra Club, Jessica Yarnall Loarie, said the judge decided port officials “were essentially acting in bad faith with their questions” trying to ward off the records request and violating the club’s rights to free speech and freedom of association. The judge found the port had established a pattern by asking similar questions of other groups.

So, Yarnall Loarie said, the judge ruled the port couldn’t collect any of the more than $19,000.

Most of that consisted of lawyer’s fees, but a few thousand dollars was for the administrative costs of assembling the records. The Coos County district attorney, R. Paul Frasier, had earlier decided the port could collect the administrative money, though not the legal fees, and the port appealed his decision to Bechtold.

The port’s chief executive officer, David Koch, said in a statement he was troubled by the ruling on the constitutional violation. “That was certainly not the port’s intention,” he said.

More in Local News

If vehicles crash and tumble, rescuers want to be ready

The Puyallup Extrication Team practiced with other fire departments on cars, SUVs and even buses.

Man arrested after stolen car crashes in Everett

The accident occurred in the 100 block of SE Everett Mall Way.

5-vehicle crash in Arlington kills 62-year-old woman

Medics had transported her to the hospital, where she later died.

2 men hospitalized after rollover collision on U.S. 2

Two men were taken to the hospital with minor injuries… Continue reading

Marysville police serve a warrant — across the street from HQ

A man who fled was taken into custody. Police were serving a warrant for alleged drug-related crimes.

Marysville man charged with stabbing wife who sought divorce

Nathan Bradford, 45, found divorce papers while going through the woman’s car.

Man on ferry accuses child of theft, allegedly pulls knife

The man was arrested, no one was hurt, and the ferry was delayed 30 minutes on its way to Mukilteo.

Front Porch

EVENTS Snohomish man’s legacy The life and legacy of William Shelton, the… Continue reading

State is close but still not compliant in school-funding case

Lawmakers must act during the next legislative session to satisfy the state Supreme Court.

Most Read