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Logan County’s disputed zone

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Star Trek watchers may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

State Reprenstative Jason Murphey

State Reprenstative Jason Murphey

Last week I wrote about taxpayer-funded attorneys who become engaged in lengthy legal actions. One of these legal actions has created tremendous and incalculable harm to the local economy, cost local taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to out-of-town attorneys, and placed several hundred residents in a literal no-man’s land between warring government entities.

Assisting those caught in the disputed zone has been one of the most challenging tasks during my tenure as State Representative. It has placed me in a position to closely observe the conflict, and frequently reminded me of the Star Trek episode.

At the core of the problem is a well-meaning but inappropriate, debt-enticing and overreaching federal program which overrides and interferes with a common sense state law, out-of-town attorneys who have fed on the hundreds of thousands in largess which is taken from local taxpayers, and some local government officials who refused to show the follow the lead of their more reasonable colleagues to attempt to resolve what should have been a minor dispute but has since turned into a 10 year war–funded by you.

About a decade ago, the City of Guthrie extended water service southward to an area which needed access to water but couldn’t easily get water from the rural water provider. Unfortunately, Guthrie’s action infringed on an antiquated map of service boundaries which dated back about 30 years. 

No one was harmed by Guthrie’s action, and the matter could have easily been settled in accordance with state law which would have allowed those in the affected area to petition to be removed from the jurisdiction of the rural water provider that did not have the infrastructure to provide the water and into the jurisdiction of Guthrie which could deliver the water.

Rural water districts, however, are trained to take on debt from a federal loan program and to pledge their jurisdictional authority as a security for the debt. This trumps state law and places the issue into the domain of the federal court system.

For the past ten years, the tortured residents of the disputed zone have been forced to navigate the ensuing minefield of politics and litigation, and the toll on new development in the area has been hard to quantify. 

It is hard to describe the plight faced by a business owner who needs water service but can’t get it because the closest water provider is afraid that taking on a new customer will weaken their position in court.

To be continued next week.

Thank you for reading this article. Your interest and input are much appreciated. Please do not hesitate to email Jason.Murphey@hd31.org with your thoughts and suggestions.

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  1. August 5, 2014 at 10:55 am

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