Ooh, I love it! A judge gets into a slapdown.
I had the news here first, in my Circuit Court reverses Marion County commissioners post. This was hugely reassuring for our neighborhood, which has been fighting the Ridge View Estates development (a.k.a. Laack subdivision) for almost five years.
Repeatedly, the Keep Our Water Safe committee formed to protect our property rights and senior water rights came out on the short end of 2-1 votes at meetings of the Board of Commissioners.
Patti Milne and Sam Brentano kept refusing to honor both facts and the law -- which isn't a good thing if you're an elected official sworn to defend the public interest, not your personal political and personal beliefs.
Now, Judge Nely Johnson has brought much needed fairness and truth to this long-running land use battle.
She reversed the Board's 2-1 flawed decision to approve a vested rights application that would have let the development continue, even though Oregonians voted in 2007 to protect high value farmland and groundwater limited land from large Measure 37 subdivisions like this one.
My wife and I have spent a lot of time in Board of Commissioners meetings, a lot, so we're intimately familiar with how Patti Milne makes decisions. In short, poorly. She thinks from her gut, so to speak, not with her head.
Truthiness is her thing, not truth.
In satire, truthiness is a "truth" that a person claims to know intuitively "from the gut" without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.
As I noted before, sixty-five people signed a letter from the Keep Our Water Safe committee asking Patti Milne and the other commissioners to hold a hearing before they voted on the vested rights application.
We correctly pointed out that a hearing officer's report was inconclusive, inaccurate, and incomplete.
Yet Milne and Brentano said there wasn't any need to learn key facts and legal information. They just had a feeling that the developers should be able to carry on with the subdivision.
Judge Johnson proved them wrong. Milne and Brentano gave the subdivision a pass on all six common law vesting factors; Johnson ruled fail on the most important five factors.
That's a serious judicial slapdown. Marion County voters should do the same in their own way come November, when Patti Milne is up for reelection.
As my wife and I said in the press release about Johnson's ruling:
Brian and Laurel Hines, local property owners who worked with their neighbors and the community to protect area water supplies, said “Judge Johnson's ruling shows that Commissioners Patti Milne and Sam Brentano ignored the law and ignored the facts to serve the special interests of a developer and their own personal agenda. Oregonians expect better from elected officials who have a responsibility to serve the public impartially. Not only did this approach waste taxpayer dollars but it also threatened neighbors’ property rights.”