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 (http://bit.ly/14tQ2IA ) 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

Police presence returns to Edmonds School District

Jacob Hubby is set to walk the halls of Meadowdale High School as a school resource officer.

Mukilteo crabber missing; his boat was found at Hat Island

Frank Urbick set out Thursday morning but did not return.

Police looking for leads in case of missing Snohomish man

Henry John Groeneveld, 63, was last seen on Monday, when he said something about going to “the river.”

Separate Everett fires send man to hospital, damage boat

The man was hospitalized for smoke inhalation from the early morning fire.

Suspected escort charged with felony assault, robbery

She allegedly told police she shot the man in the head “because he was performing (a sex act) wrong.”

Lives were on the line

After an estimated 350K emergency calls over 35 years, dispatcher Steve Williams is set to retire.

Celebrating the origins of Christmas

LDS church holds annual nativity festival featuring more than 600 sets.

Drive-by shooting reported in Marysville neighborhood

Police said there was no evidence to indicate it was targeted at a specific person or property.

Trooper’s car struck when he was arresting man for DUI

She drove away but was arrested for investigation of driving under the influence and hit-and-run.

Most Read