Court to consider appeal for Damascus cityhood
The Oregon Court of Appeals will consider the legality of the vote that disincorporated Damascus on May 17, 2016. The legal challenge is being led by James De Young, a former Damascus city councilor and longtime resident.
After he was rebuffed by the Circuit Court in 2016, De Young began the process of appealing the decision through the Appellate Court. On Tuesday, Nov. 7, his case was picked up. De Young has named the state of Oregon, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Clackamas County and the city of Damascus as the defendants.
In a release, De Young stated the basis of his legal action. The release cited that because the vote on disincorporation was forced on Damascus by the state Legislature as Measure 93 under HB 3085, it violated the Oregon Constitution because the legislation singled out one city, rather than applying statewide.
The statement also highlighted that the vote violated Oregon Constitution and statutory laws for the existing process for disincorporation, and the Damascus Charter and Home Rule, which reserves the right for only the city of Damascus, its people or the City Council, to put an initiative on the ballot when it concerns the internal affairs of the city.
According to De Young's statement a lawful initiative on disincorporation failed in November 2013. Upon the failure, unelected representatives of the people turned to the Legislature to get a bill drafted. For De Young that, in effect, circumvented what the people of Damascus should be able to do on their own.
Should the Appellate Court rule in favor of De Young's appeal, it would void the 2016 vote.
Would an affirmative court decision automatically bring the city of Damascus back into existence?
From De Young's point of view, the answer is yes, even though the city's heart quit beating more than a year ago.
In De Young's statement, an ad hoc committee has been meeting to suggest ways to avoid the conflicts of the past. Issues of taxation, police, road repair and the comprehensive plan are all part of their deliberations.