Shady Cove prevails in public safety court decision

SHADY COVE — A lawsuit aimed at overturning the city's public safety ordinance has failed in Jackson County Circuit Court.

The announcement came from Councilman Gary Hughes at Thursday's City Council meeting.

"Once again the city has prevailed in this latest court action filed against it," said Hughes, reading from a prepared statement that he said represented his own views.

"It cost the citizens of Shady Cove $19,000 to respond to this litigation. Add to that the number of hours the city staff spent on research, and the $19,000 goes much higher."

Resident Jim Collier filed the suit in fall of 2007, alleging that the city did not have a legal police department and that the council had violated its own rules after significant changes were made between the first and final reading and vote on the public safety ordinance.

Judge Daniel Harris dismissed those charges and ruled in favor of the city.

Hughes recalled a 1999 lawsuit against the city that alleged violations in budgeting and levying of taxes. The city also prevailed in that case, but Hughes said it cost the city more than $20,000.

"In that case," said Hughes, "Judge Carl Byers stated, 'Taxpayers should understand that disagreements with the judgment of their elected officials must be resolved through the ballot box, not through the courts. Only persuasive evidence of fraud or bad faith would justify the court interfering with the exercise of judgment by elected officials.'

"Before you rush to judge city government or city staff," he said, "please ask yourself, what have I done personally to make Shady Cove a better place to live."

Hughes received applause from most of the 35-40 citizens in attendance.

Collier said he got a preliminary report from his attorney in June telling him the case was lost. City attorney Steve Rich became ill while preparing final legal paperwork, delaying the announcement until Thursday.

Collier said he has discussed the case with his attorney but has made no decision about how to proceed.

The public safety ordinance was passed by the council last year. Each household in the city is charged a $15 monthly fee. The money is used to supplement the city's police department budget.

Bill Miller is a freelance writer living in Shady Cove. E-mail him at

Share This Story