Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Corridor 3-Fer, Part 1

From yesterday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Why I voted for the mediation settlement agreement

By Bill Lambert

On Feb. 4, I was one of the five council members to vote for the mediated settlement between the city of Moscow and Hawkins Development Company. The settlement agreement came after 22 hours of negotiation between the two parties. The signed document occurred on Jan. 29. Anyone can get a copy of this signed document from our city attorney, Randy Fife.

The process of getting to mediation has been an ongoing process for many months that included our prior council and mayor. The first time that I heard about the possibility of mediation, I was opposed to it. I also wasn't in favor of challenging and spending thousands of dollars appealing water rights granted within a state and county that I didn't live in. Personally, I wanted to stay out of litigation. The previous council had approved continuing the challenge with Whitman County and the state of Washington.

The week prior to the mediation that took place in Spokane, the council was introduced to Peter Scott, an attorney who specializes in these matters. After listening to him for several hours I was convinced that mediation was the way to go.

At 5 p.m., Feb. 4, the mayor had called an executive meeting to discuss the mediation that took place in Spokane. Scott answered many questions and heard the opinions of everyone in that meeting. Here is what we learned during this meeting: The settlement agreement that our Mayor, Nancy Chaney, brought back from Spokane seemed fair and reasonable. Nancy's signature on this agreement as well as two of our council members made me realize that the document must have validity. I want to thank our Mayor Chaney, and Councilors Krauss and Steed, for representing us.

The page that had the signature of the two parties had a sentence that I would like to quote. "In an effort to avoid the cost and the uncertainty of further litigation, party representatives have reached an agreement in principle as set forth in the attached settlement agreement."

Scott told us litigation would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars with an uncertain outcome. I am not willing to spend tax dollars fighting decisions that are made by the state of Washington and Whitman County. Those thousands of dollars should be spent on streets, sidewalks, and services for our residents. We have already spent thousands of dollars of your money fighting this.

So where are we? The Idaho Department of Water Resources will either approve or reject our application to sell water across the state line. If they reject the application the mediation settlement goes away.

I appreciate the response I have received from many residents. Every concerned resident should get a copy of the mediated agreement and read it for themselves. Make your own decision on it - to me, it seems fair and reasonable.

Bill Lambert is Moscow City Council president.

No comments: