Back to Home Page

Local Links
Sun Valley Guide
Hemingway in Sun Valley
Real Estate

For the week of Mar. 8 through Mar. 14, 2000

Lawsuit on chamber funding stays alive

New plaintiffs bring complications

Express Staff Writers

A lawsuit protesting the city of Ketchum’s payments to the Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber of Commerce will proceed after a tangle of procedural difficulties was resolved on Friday.

The suit, filed in Fifth District Court in Hailey on Dec. 21 by Ketchum resident Craven Young, charges that the city’s contract for services with the chamber violates the state Constitution. As of Friday’s hearing before Judge William Hart, Young has been joined in his effort by five more plaintiffs.

The hearing was set to rule on a motion filed by Ketchum city attorney Margaret Simms to have the suit dismissed.

But on the Tuesday before the hearing, Raymundo Peña, a lawyer from Rupert, entered the fray representing seven more Ketchum residents, who, like Young, called themselves members of Burdened Taxpayers, a group claiming to be overburdened by city property taxes.

Peña attempted to add the additional plaintiffs to Young’s suit. However, Hart told him his clients would have to file their own suit, and he would then consolidate the two into one court action. Also, the list of seven plaintiffs was reduced to five.

Young, who holds a law degree but is not a member of the Idaho bar, is representing himself. In an interview, Fred White, one of the new plaintiffs said, "Maybe we felt more comfortable having a bona-fide lawyer" as a reason for filing a second suit that is nearly identical to the first.

Also, White said, there is more strength in numbers, at least on a human perception level, which could benefit the plaintiffs’ cases.

Hart told all three parties to start anew. He gave the plaintiffs seven days to file whatever more they want and told Simms that she could then file whatever she wants in response.

"Litigating this on the merits is very important," Hart said.

In an interview following the hearing, Young called Simms’ legal tactics in making procedural objections a "delay game."

The city has already paid the chamber of commerce $157,500 as its first installment for the current fiscal year, but according to its contract for services with the chamber, will pay a second installment of $157,500 on or before April 3.

Young contended the city’s alleged delay tactics are to allow it to make that payment before a court can intervene. For that reason, he said, the new suit requests a writ of prohibition to forbid the city from making the payment. Young’s initial complaint asked only for a declaratory judgment ruling the city’s contract with the chamber to be illegal.

A hearing is scheduled for March 17 at 11 a.m. in Hailey to rule on Simms’ motion to dismiss the suits.

Simms said in an interview that her motion focuses on a contention that the plaintiffs lack standing in their role as taxpayers.

"The cases in Idaho say that a generalized grievance by taxpayers should be addressed by the legislative process," Simms said.


Back to Front Page
Copyright © 2000 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.