Letter delivered by Reps. Fagan and Kennemer

Citizens who want out of the city of Damascus are so fed up with the actions of their City Council that they’ve written to the governor for help.

Jim Syring, leader of Citizens for De-Annexation from Damascus, and Hank Brown, the first person to file for de-annexation, wrote to Gov. John Kitzhaber last week because the city is suing everyone who wants out of the city.

De-annexation became possible after the state Legislature passed House Bill 4029 earlier this year to allow that to happen. The bill was widely seen as punishment because Damascus has not submitted a comprehensive development plan to the state since being incorporated in 2004.

The city of Damascus has denied all de-annexation requests, however, on the grounds that HB 4029 is unconstitutional. The city has also filed suit against the governor, Metro regional government, Clackamas County and everyone who files for de-annexation.

The letter, to be delivered to the governor by Reps. Shemia Fagan and Bill Kennemer, reads in part:

“Surely this is not what the Oregon Legislature, or you, intended when HB 4029 was passed and signed. We now have Damascus citizens forced to obtain legal counsel, good people concerned about their future, and elderly property owners worried they will lose their land.”

The letter goes on to ask that the state Attorney General and Secretary of State “undertake an investigation into the actions of our City Council and provide such assistance and protection as is required to restrain a city government creating havoc among its own people.”

Syring said the city recently added another 61 names to the lawsuit, all people who have requested required paperwork from the state, but who have not yet formally applied for de-annexation.

So far, 16 property owners have completed the de-annexation process, which includes a letter from the state and a formal hearing before the City Council, Syring said.

Urges no vote on all comp plans

Syring also is urging “no” votes on all three comprehensive plans that Damascus has on the May 20 ballot.

“The Citizens for Disincorporation and the Citizens for De-Annexation groups are united in recommending a ‘no, no, no’ vote on all three comp plans if you still have not voted,” Syring wrote in a press release. “If all three comp plans fail, the City Council will be doomed with more failure and the dysfunction will continue at an even more unprecedented level.”

Ballots were mailed to voters earlier this month. Ballots must be returned by 8 p.m. today, May 20, in order to count in the election.

If none of the comp plans gets a majority, the one with the most votes will be selected by the City Council to go on the November ballot, said city spokesman Todd Loggan.

But both plans submitted by the city will require a double majority to be selected, said Councilor Jim De Young, in accordance with the city charter. In other words, of the 6,800 registered voters in the city, at least 3,400 would have to vote for either of the city-sponsored plans to win.

But because the original plan was put on the ballot by citizens’ petition, it only requires a simple majority to win, he said.

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