the film
Commentaries and editorials

Dear Judge Redden,
This Newspaper Is For You

by Jeff Mapes
The Oregonian, March 6, 2009

Through the years, I've seen several famous cases of federal judges all but taking over the running of school systems, prisons and elections.

We don't quite have that in Portland. But as Matthew Preusch writes in The Oregonian Friday, "more than anyone else," U.S. District Judge James Redden "commands the Northwest's multibillion-dollar salmon-recovery effort."

For years now, federal lawyers have been trooping into Redden's courtroom in the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthourse in downtown Portland to defend their salmon recovery plans - only to be told they are not doing enough.

Today will be another such encounter, and this time you can feel the rhetorical pressure being jacked up on the veteran judge. The federal government is now joined by several Indian tribes, three states and numerous other public and private entities.

The Oregonian editorialized Friday morning in favor of the plan and on the op-ed page, Oregon Reps. Peter DeFazio, a Democrat, and Greg Walden, a Republican, reached across the partisan divide to urge adoption of this "collaborative solution." Reading these two pieces felt a little like pawing through Judge Redden's mail, given that they were really addressed to an audience of one.

There are still important players outside the agreement. The state of Oregon, the Nez Perce and several environmental groups say the feds haven't done enough. In particular, opponents want more water spilled over the dams to preserve salmon runs and have raised the issue of considering the removal of four Snake River dams.

The judge himself has questioned why the federal government has considered dam removal and Preusch writes that Redden has hinted that he may not accept the latest plan. This is not the first time Redden has been under pressure, which hasn't seemed to affect him. You can bet there will be a lot of lawyers in the courtroom this morning with all eyes on the judge.

Jeff Mapes
Dear Judge Redden, This Newspaper Is For You
The Oregonian, March 6, 2009

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