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County hires Wyoming attorney, private citizen pays

 

By Michael Howell

On Tuesday, November 19, the Ravalli County Commissioners approved spending up to $1,500 to retain the legal services of Budd-Falen Law Offices of Cheyenne, Wyoming to provide a template for filing objections to water right applications being made by the U.S. Forest Service on streams in Ravalli County. The funds to pay the law firm were drawn from a special account set up by the Commissioners in October to accept private donations for such legal efforts.

In October, Commissioner Ron Stoltz said that he had received a telephone call from Budd-Falen Law Offices in Wyoming telling him they had received phone calls from some Ravalli County residents who said they were willing to pay for the firm’s services if the County would hire them to help out in the County’s water right objections. Stoltz refused to reveal the identity of the Ravalli County residents at the time. On Tuesday, he said that Hamilton resident Terry Ryan was one of the contributors.

According to officials in the finance department, Ryan has been the only contributor to the fund and contributed $1,500 in October.

Stoltz received a letter from Budd-Falen on November 5, thanking him for “choosing this law office to advise you with regard to assisting you with the issues raised by the Forest Service filing on water rights in Ravalli County,” and outlining the company’s billing rates. The firm charges attorney fees by the hour at various rates and for all other costs incurred on the case.

Budd-Falen specializes in litigation involving private interests against federal agencies and Stoltz believes that the law firm may be able to provide a template for filing water right objections that might pass muster with DNRC. The agency has rejected all the county’s past objections due to lack of standing and lack of facts supporting the claim that the criteria was not being met.

 

One Response to County hires Wyoming attorney, private citizen pays
  1. Larry Campbell
    November 27, 2013 | 3:50 pm

    Karen Budd-Fallon is a darling of the Sagebrush Rebellion. She was a part of Reagan’s “Coors Kitchen Cabinet” along with the notorious Secretary of the Interior James Watt. See the link below for more info:
    http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Karen-Budd/319632655
    The retainer fee for Ms. Budd-Fallon may have been paid with private money, but Commissioner Burrows signed the contract. This means Ravalli County is the responsible party, putting the County on the hook for contract obligations. Ms. Budd-Fallon charges $250/hour. The case looks like a sure loser, given the most recent Ravalli County Commission objection to a similar filing for in-stream water rights was summarily rejected because of lack of standing, meaning there was no possible harm to County interests. No harm; no foul. In actual fact there is no harm to any interests and benefits to County irrigators, fish and wildlife. This is just another ideological battle that our shortsighted Commissioners are dragging us into. It could well turn into another unnecessary drain on taxpayer money brought to us by self-described ‘fiscal conservatives’ who seem bent on shrinking government by bankrupting the county to advance selfish, self-serving goals.

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