Government conflict produces frustration
Legal battles between citizens and government come in all shapes and sizes. By definition, those battles are news, especially when citizens pit one branch of government against another.
Consider the ongoing sagas of Riverbend Landfill, Evergreen Air Museum and the proposed Wallace Bridge international equestrian center.
For years, opponents of the Riverbend Landfill expansion have sought recourse from Yamhill County government, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality and the state’s land use appeals system. They have used the electoral system, the media and the court of public opinion.
In 2011, Evergreen Air Museum challenged the property tax liability determined by Yamhill County. The museum’s appeals to the Oregon Tax Court have not produced much relief.
On another museum front, the Oregon Department of Justice last year launched an investigation into possible commingling of funds between EAM and for-profit Evergreen operations. For weeks, museum officials and other interested parties have been on a day-by-day watch for a final report long promised by the DOJ.
Moving up the government chain, Wallace Bridge interests have taken on agencies of the federal government in an epic battle against bureaucracy. Proponents of the proposed multimillion-dollar Wallace Bridge facility have abandoned all faith in the phrase, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”
These stories, and many others, have something in common: passionate people on both sides who will experience life-altering levels of frustration. Win or lose, battles with the government can leave scars from complex and confusing laws, years of conflict and unsatisfactory rulings.
It’s enough to make people wish for a return to simpler times when disputes were decided with dueling pistols. That’s not a good option, I know, but you get the point.
Too often, these battles are not about what’s right and what’s wrong. Too often, they involve egos and uncompromising positions. Too often, they play out as a game of gotcha and counter-gotcha, with more focus on obscure interpretations of sloppy legal language than on finding the best and fairest resolution.
On the other hand, such is the reality of legal conflict. People disagree, and it falls to one governmental branch or another to resolve those disputes.
Battleground arenas include law enforcement, local government, elected officials, state agencies, federal bureaucracies and courts at all levels. Those who seek redress in those systems can attest to one commonality —frustrations that can run long and deep in their lives.
Jeb Bladine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-687-1223.