In the last couple of years, Okanogan County has been sued for the Three Devils Road closure, the county’s draft comprehensive plan and ATV use of county roads. Now the Okanogan County Superior Court has filed suit against the County and its Commissioners for violating Separation of Powers doctrine, mandated by the U.S. Constitution, that the three parts of government – executive, legislative and judicial – remain separately managed without interference from each other. These four suits have been in the local papers. Are there more against the County?
The Three Devils Road closure is in appeal, as is the comprehensive plan. The County lost the suit regarding ATV use because they did not follow state law regarding environmental impact issues. As a result, the County is paying both their own attorney fees, and those of the appellants.
It is difficult to determine how much the county is spending on lawsuits. Legal fees should be recorded as professional services, but public disclosure requests have not shown which lawyer received how much, for what suit. Lawyers are paid about $350/hour. It has been said that the citizens’ Three Devils Road lawsuit has cost more than $40,000. In the last three years the county has been sued at least four times. We do not know the actual litigation costs, but they could be in excess of $160,000. This is taxpayer money that has not gone towards county services or its citizens.
Why are the current commissioners making so many decisions that result in lawsuits and litigation? They do not seem to negotiate in good faith on the behalf of the majority of the county’s citizens. They do not value the desires, needs, and safety of our local residents, but seem to be swayed by the desires of their preferred special interests.
What do you think?