Monday, April 27, 2009

Metolius: All Over but the Whining?

In a rather curious editorial this morning, The Bulletin seemed to concede it has lost the fight to bring destination resorts to the Metolius Basin

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2009 at 4:23 PM

In a rather curious editorial this morning, The Bulletin seemed to concede it has lost the fight to bring destination resorts to the Metolius Basin - but it wasn't about to let the issue drop without one last parting whine.

Under the headline "The ugly wake of the Metolius ban," the editors chastised Gov. Ted Kulongoski for leaving a trail of "slain principles" behind him in his campaign to keep two destination resorts out of the basin.

The first principle Kulongoski murdered, according to The Bulletin, was the idea of making decisions by a public process. There were "public hearings, meetings with Jefferson County residents and officials," the editorial conceded. "But the public process meant little. The outcome was never in doubt."

What would have convinced the editors that the public process had been legit? If the outcome had gone their way we suspect they'd have had no problem at all with it.

The second "slain principle" was that "the government shall not take private property for public use without just compensation." Of course, nobody has taken away the property of Dutch Pacific Resources LLC and Ponderosa Land & Cattle Co., the would-be resort developers; they still own it. And to presume they've been deprived of their "right" to build resorts on it is a stretch, since the Jefferson County decision that allowed such resorts is still under court challenge.

"We agree with Kulongoski that the Metolius is a unique place," the editorial concluded. "But protecting it with disdain for principle will only inspire Oregonians to return again to the ballot box and approve property rights protections like 2004's Measure 37," which basically would have gutted Oregon's land use law if the voters didn't have the good sense to rein it in by passing Measure 49.

One inescapable irony here, of course, is that there's no more glaring example of a violation of principles than the loophole for destination resorts, which has allowed developers to skate around state land use law and build what essentially are nothing more than golf course subdivisions all over the rural landscape.

And we're really puzzled by that concluding sentence. Does it subtly signal The Bulletin might be ready to support a new version of Measure 37 in some future election?

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