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County to skip water meeting
Commissioners wonít attend session, based on legal advice
by Ty Beaver, Herald and News 12/10/08

   Klamath County commissioners wonít attend a Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement meeting in Sacramento this week on advice of legal counsel.
   Commissioners John Elliott and Bill Brown both considered attending the meeting that begins today, but decided not to attend at the recommendation of county counsel Dan Bunch. Bunch said he was concerned about conditions of the meeting, specifically how elected officials can be held to a confidentiality agreement.
   ďThis process is not the medium for public officials to be discussing this,Ē he said.
   Stakeholders from groups representing irrigation, fishing, tribal and government interests have met regularly for years in closed meetings. In January 2008, the group publicly released the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement as a way to address water issues in the Basin.
   The agreement, among other conditions, calls for removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. Government off icials and representatives of PacifiCorp, which owns the dams, signed a tentative agreement in November to move toward dam removal.
   Elliott was a member of the stakeholder group, representing Klamath County, and attended meetings in the past.
   Brown said last week he might attend the meeting to raise concerns about dam removal and other aspects of the agreement that havenít been addressed. He added that he may not go because the groupís confidentiality agreement would prevent him from sharing information with county residents.
   Bunch said he heard the meeting could involve discussion of litigation involving Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the ongoing Klamath Basin water adjudication, two issues the county isnít involved in.
   He also said he has questions about a commissioner being held to an unclear confidentiality agreement, considering the strict rules on public meetings and open records laws they must follow.
   The recommendation doesnít preclude the commissioners from attending future meetings, but Bunch advises they donít attend until the legal questions are answered.
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