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Developers of Cob power plant underhanded about intentions

Published September 7, 2004

By Traudy Bagley

Guest columnist

Klamath County Commissioners Al Switzer and John Elliott have proven themselves unfit to lead this county by failing to meet deadlines set by the Oregon Department of Energy and People's Energy of Chicago regarding county input into the Cob energy facility.

It is unbelievable that these two men are so wrapped up in promoting this that they are willing to forgo their citizen constituency in the county and work outside the scope of the public arena.

Switzer, as the head of the county commission and as head liaison to Klamath County Economic Development Association, should recuse himself from voting on the extension the economic development zone, due to the huge conflict of interest that he has created by failing to disclose his discussions with People's Energy to the public. As an elected public official, he does not have the right to participate in extensive ex-parte negotiations with this multi-billion dollar company. He admitted to extensive ex-parte communications with People's Energy in the Herald and News on Aug. 25.

The Cob energy project has been forced on the county by the Economic Development Association and its director, Trey Senn, as well as Elliot and Switzer.

Their neglect of public duty is confirmed by Catherine van Horn of the Oregon Department of Energy. She says commissioners' failure to comment on the plant, when asked, has resulted in the state of Oregon making decisions that the county should have made regarding potential damage to the roads and bridges of the area. These are all multi-million-dollar issues that will fall upon the city and county taxpayers to fund when the plant is built, if People's Energy refuses to pay the damage.

It is evident that People's Energy has no intention of paying its fair share of the obligatory property tax it will owe. Why should we believe the company would pay for anything else that's its responsibility?

The company has shown its hand and it is not what this county should be dealing with. If you invite a viper into your home, you'd better be ready to live or die with the potential bite - after all, you knew what it was when you brought it in.

It is not a good corporate citizen.

At every turn company officials have tried to be underhanded about their true intentions, from the original proposal's use of 12 million gallons of cold, clear water a day to stating publicly that they would not pay one penny more than $1 million a year in property tax.

The rest of us, whether we own a home or business, must pay our share of property tax. We must each live by the rule of law that dictates what our land can be used for.

Why should People's Energy be exempt from paying the full property tax allotment and restricting its plant to 12 acres zoned for exclusive farm use like every other energy plant located in Oregon?

The company will bring only a few permanent jobs into the area - actually fewer than the new Quizno's submarine shop, according to testimony at the City Council meeting. NEW Corp., on the other hand, is employing 600 full-time employees who will infuse the area with good-paying jobs.

We simply do not need commissioners, the development association or chamber of commerce employees who will forgo our basic property rights, public safety and taxes and deal behind our backs with giant corporations. It is a travesty that these individuals are working to push their own agenda at the expense of the rest of us.

Traudy Bagley lives on East Langell Valley Road in the Bonanza area

 

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