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Judge rules against Port of Coos Bay
Coos County Circuit Court Judge Paula Bechtold has issued a ruling against the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay in its public records fee waiver case against the Sierra Club. The Judge ruled that the Port violated both the law and the Sierra Club’s constitutional rights by failing to grant the special interest group a multi-thousand dollar fee waiver. Oregon Revised Statute allows public agencies to charge reasonable fees for making public records available upon request and specifically provides that the Port’s fees may include, “the cost of time spent by an attorney for the public body in reviewing the public records, redacting material from the public records or segregating the public records into exempt and nonexempt records”. The bulk of the estimated fee quoted to the Sierra Club was for the expected costs associated with legal review, redaction and segregation of records. Judge Bechtold held that the Port must waive the fees and bear the costs of responding to the request. The Judge also held that the Port violated the Sierra Club’s constitutional rights by requesting documentation to support the special interest group’s claims that granting it a fee waiver was in the public interest.