The story of the Stanfield Act.
Sale of 2,000,000 Acres of Land Is Held IllegalPORTLAND, Ore., June 26.--Sale of 2,000,000 acres of Oregon and California grant lands to Jackson A. Graves by the O.&C. railroad was today declared forfeited and title to the land revested in the United States government by Judge Wolverton in federal court.
By International News Service
The land, which is in Jackson County, Oregon, was sold to Graves by the railroad nine years ago.
The court held that while the land was sold contrary to provisions of the land grant, this did not make the sale illegal but held that the action of Congress in the Chamberlain-Ferris bill made the sale itself illegal and so ordered the land returned to the government for classification and disposal.
Los Angeles Herald, June 26, 1918, page 6
The visit of the Senate Public Land Committee to Oregon is part of a general stock-taking program to determine its attitude toward a new national public land policy."Hearings to Frame New Lands Policy," Sunday Oregonian, September 6, 1925, page 18
Some 56 percent of the land area of Oregon is owned by the federal government, and its use is involved in the inquiry.
Grazing fees, timber sales, Indian reservation business and use of the public parks are among questions being considered.
The committee is to consider the charge that high taxes in Oregon and other western states may be attributed to the "locking up" of their natural resources by the federal government. Proposals for the return of all revenues derived from public lands to the states will be presented.
Hearings have been or will be held in Oregon as follows: Medford, September 5; Klamath Falls, September 7; Portland, September 8-9; Pendleton, September 10-11; Baker, September 12.
Members of the committee who are visiting Oregon this week are Senator Stanfield, chairman, Kendrick of Wyoming, Pittman and Oddie of Nevada, Smooth of Utah, Jones of New Mexico, Ashurst and Cameron of Arizona, Norbeck of South Dakota, Dale of Vermont and Dill of Washington.
----A gigantic inventory of the natural resources in public lands, national forests and national parks of the United States is being undertaken by the Senate Committee on Public Lands, which will hold a series of five hearings in Oregon this week. The public lands of the nation have always been a subject of controversy and strife, but lately the dissatisfaction over the way in which government control is administered has manifested itself in such a general clamor that the Senate decided to survey the situation with a view to formulating a new and more comprehensive set of regulations governing this property of the federal government.
Interest in the inquiry is by no means limited to the West, where the major part of the lands are located, but extends throughout the nation. In fact, it is freely asserted that from the standpoint of public policy no other present national problem transcends it. Uncle Sam is America's biggest landlord, and the disposition of his real estate holdings involves questions of such magnitude that they cannot be easily comprehended, much less effectively solved.
The holdings of the federal government total 431,000,000 acres, 97 percent of which is located in the 11 states of Oregon, California, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. These holdings are equal to the combined areas of France, Italy, the British Isles, Spain, Denmark and Belgium. The demand is being made by these western states that they be allowed to benefit from these lands holding resources worth millions in minerals, in timber and in grazing lands.
Oregon, with 56 percent of its land area controlled by the federal government, is vitally concerned with the results of the Senate inquiry. Among the facts and proposals which will be considered by the committee during its stay in Oregon will be the following salient points:
The United States government owns 13,000,000 acres of grazing land and 13,178,000 acres of national forest timber lands in Oregon.
The federal government derives large revenue returns from fees for grazing permits and for the sale of timber from these lands, only 25 percent of which is shared by the state.
The federal lands, which comprise some of the best grazing and timber lands of the state, are wiped off the state tax rolls. The state, however, is forced to maintain a government over this territory and in other ways share in the cost of its upkeep and development. It is contended that it is unfair to "lock up" the resources of a state--its mineral lands, its forests and its power sites--whereas such a policy is not followed in all the states.
High taxes will always prevail in Oregon as long as 56 percent of its land area, representing nearly one half of the property outside of Portland, is not taxed, it is contended. It is proposed that all revenues above actual operating expenses be returned to the state treasury.
The federal government is selling timber off of the national forest lands to private concerns which have no taxes to pay and no overhead expenses except those of cutting the timber. Under these favored conditions, it is said, they can undersell other concerns logging off their own lands.…
O. and C. Tax Refund BillMedford Mail Tribune, February 25, 1926, page 5
The following is the complete text of Senator Stanfield's bill for tax refunds on O.&C. lands in this state:
A bill for the relief of certain counties in the states of Oregon and Washington, within whose boundaries the revested Oregon and California Railroad Company grant lands are located.
Whereas, certain lands then belonging to the United States of America were granted, upon certain conditions, to the Oregon and California Railroad Company by acts of Congress approved April 10, 1869 (14th Statutes at Large, page 239) and May 4, 1870 (16th Statutes at Large, page 94), and
Whereas, the said Oregon and California Railroad Company and its successors in interest paid state, county, school and other taxes to the states and counties wherein such lands were situated upon all the lands conveyed by the United States to it until its title was attacked and suit instituted by the Attorney General of the United States, pursuant to a resolution adopted by Congress April 13, 1908 and for a few years thereafter; and
Whereas, by an act of Congress approved June 9, 1916 (39th Statutes at Large, pages 218-223), the title to said lands was revested in the United States and thereby became untaxable; and
Whereas, by the terms of said act last mentioned, the United States was to pay and did pay to the several counties in which the revested lands were located, the accrued taxes up to and including the year 1915, amounting to $1,571,044.05; and
Whereas, by the terms of said act the United States was required to pay to the railroad company and its successors in interest a sum held due at the rate of $2.50 per acre, amounting in the aggregate to approximately $6,250,000; and
Whereas, by the terms of said act the said lands were to be classified and opened for entry and offered for sale, and all moneys received therefrom deposited in the Treasury of the United States in a special fund, to be designated as "the Oregon and California Land Grant Fund," and used to reimburse the United States for all moneys paid the said railroad company and its successors in interest and for accrued taxes; and
Whereas, by the terms of said act the proceeds received from the sale of said lands and the timber thereon, after reimbursing the United States for such payments to the said railroad company and its successors in interest and for accrued taxes, should be paid and distributed as follows: 25 percent to the states, to become part of the irreducible school fund; 25 percent to the counties, for common schools, roads, bridges and port districts, 40 percent to the reclamation fund, created by the act of Congress approved June 17, 1902, and 10 percent to the general fund of the United States; and
Whereas, there has been received and placed to the credit of said "Oregon and California land grant fund" up to November 1, 1925 the sum of $3,563,224.32, leaving a balance charged against that fund of approximately $4,257,819.73, to be liquidated by proceeds from sales of timber and land; and
Whereas, many of the counties, port districts and school districts had incurred bonded indebtedness, relying upon the taxes from the Oregon and California grant lands to pay the principal and interest; and
Whereas, over one-half the total area of Oregon is in the public domain, about one-half of which is reserved but all untaxable; and
Whereas, the revesting in the United States of the title to the Oregon and California railroad grant lands deprived many of the counties of a very large part of the taxable values within such counties and resulted in greatly embarrassing such counties as the principal and accruing interest upon outstanding bonds mature;
Therefore, be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in congress assembled, that the Treasurer of the United States, upon the order of the Secretary of the Interior, shall pay to the several counties in the states of Oregon and Washington out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, amounts of money equal to the taxes that would have accrued against said lands for the years 1916 to 1926 inclusive, if the lands had remained privately owned and taxable.
Such amounts shall be ascertained by using the assessed value for the year 1915, used by the Secretary of the Interior in arriving at the accrued taxes for 1915 and the rate of taxes prevailing for the several purposes in each county, school district, port district or civil subdivision thereof for each of such years.
Sec. 2. The Secretary of the Interior shall ascertain as soon as may be after the approval of this act the rate of taxation so prevailing, compute the amount to be paid each county for each of such years and issue an order therefor upon the Treasurer of the United States and file same with his report thereon with the Secretary of the Treasury.
In computing the amounts so to be paid, the Secretary of the Interior shall include all Oregon and California land grant lands, title to which remains in the United States on the first day of March of each year.
Sec. 3. On or before the first day of October of each year after 1926, the Secretary of the Treasury, upon the order of the Secretary of the Interior, shall pay to the several counties amounts of money equal to the taxes upon said lands within such counties, to be ascertained, computed and reported in the same manner as for the preceding years, until all charges against said "Oregon and California land grant fund" shall have been liquidated and the said fund shows a credit balance as available for distribution under section 10 of the act approved June 9, 1916.
Sec. 4. All moneys paid under the terms of this act shall be charged against the said "Oregon and California land grant fund" and all proceeds received from the sale of lands, timber, or otherwise, shall be placed to the credit of such fund until all sums charged against such fund are fully and completely liquidated, and until the United States has been so fully reimbursed no distribution shall be made as provided in section 10 of the said act approved June 9, 1916.
Sec. 5. All moneys paid and received under the provisions of this act by any county shall be prorated, appropriated and paid to the state, county, port districts, school districts, road districts and other civil subdivisions of the county in the same proportion as the taxes assessed, levied and collected by the county for the year covered by such payment are apportioned and paid to the state, county and each civil subdivision will receive the same amount as though the money had been paid by a taxpayer for each year.
O.&C. TAX REFUND BILL ENDORSEDMedford Mail Tribune, February 28, 1926, page 4
The Medford chamber of commerce has unanimously adopted the following resolution in support of the bill introduced by Senator Stanfield to reimburse the Oregon counties for tax revenues lost through revertment of title to the O.&C. grant lands:
Resolved, that we heartily endorse the effort of Senator Stanfield in this matter and pledge immediate, active support and assistance in the undertaking; and hereby appoint a committee to push the matter and urge the cooperation of like organizations throughout the state.
COMMITTEE APPROVES SEN. STANFIELD BILLMedford Mail Tribune, May 9, 1926, page 1
PROVIDES REFUNDS O.-C. LAND
Advance Five Millions to 18 Oregon Counties in Lieu of Taxes--Local Citizens Before Senate--Outline of Case, and History.
WASHINGTON, May 8.--(A.P.)--The Senate public lands committee today approved the Stanfield bill to advance to 18 counties in Oregon $15,000,000 in lieu of taxes from Southern Pacific railroad land grants within their boundaries.
----PORTLAND, Ore., May 8.--(A.P.)--Guy Cordon, Douglas County district attorney, who was one of a delegation of seven that appeared before the Senate lands committee at Washington on behalf of the Stanfield bill, providing financial relief for 18 Oregon counties, today outlined the case as follows:
Originally the government granted 3,000,000 acres to the Oregon and California Railroad Company to aid in building the road from Portland to the southern boundary of the state. The company sold a portion of the lands under terms of the grant, but finally violated them by selling the land in lots of more than 160 acres and at a price greater than $2.50 an acre, as provided.
A suit, carried to the supreme court, followed, but without obtaining a decree of forfeiture.
By provisions in the Chamberlain-Ferris Act, later passed by Congress, title to the unsold portions of the land was revested in the government. The lands were classified under three headings--agricultural, power sites and timber. All funds obtained therefrom were to go into the O. and C. land grant fund, the railway to receive $2.50 an acre for all the unsold lands, subject to an accounting on former sales. An amount equal to accrued taxes on the land was to go to the counties interested.
Because sales of timber have been very slow, Mr. Cordon said, the counties and state have received nothing, so the bills, one introduced by Senator Stanfield in the Senate, the other by Representative Hawley in the House, provide for an immediate advance of a sum equal to the amount lost in taxes, a total of some $5,000,000, an annual payment of about $500,000 until such time as timber sales under the Chamberlain-Ferris Act show a credit balance in the O. and C. land grant fund.
Authorities, said Mr. Cordon, put the present value of the lands at between $70,000,000 and $80,000,000, so there was ample security to the government for the advances. Other members of the Oregon delegation were W. H. Gore of Medford; J. H. Weatherford of Albany; Judge Victor Moses of Corvallis; Judge R. H. Mast of Coos County; W. A. Weist of Klamath Falls, and Harry Walther of Medford.
CommunicationsMedford Mail Tribune, May 11, 1926, page 4
The following letter has been received by a Medford citizen from W. H. Gore, who is chairman of the O.&C. land grant committee now in Washington:
"The hearings before the Public Lands Committee have been finished and four of our committee left for home last night. Guy Cordon started this afternoon.
"The real work began after the hearings were over. Secretary work seems slow in approving our bill, also Budget Director General Lord. We had a hearing before Secretary Work the first week here and with General Lord the next day and visited the bureau of public lands. Congress knows we are here, as well as all interested department heads. Lawrie of the Portland Chamber of Commerce is interested and active. Harry Walther and I called on Congressman Kendall of Pennsylvania this morning. He proposes a conference of all those interested in the bill, which may lead to some good results. The Senate committee is ready to report out our bill at any time, but we feel that we must secure the friendly cooperation of Secretary Work and General Lord before this is done.
"We must not let Stanfield go to defeat in the primaries. We would have encountered a far more serious problem but for him. He is not of small consequence by any means here in the capital. Progress has seemed slow even under the most favorable conditions, but it is nearing the end of the session and things are in a jam. Every man we deal with has more than he can do without listening to us.
"Our delegation here in Congress is at the top of the world. No more important men in Congress and they are all making good. We believe we will have something good to report within a few days. We are laying down on them hard.
"Word comes to us from various sources that Stanfield is gaining in Oregon. He is the main hope of our measure. Hawley and Sinnott will advance the bill in the House as fast as they have any excuse for doing so.
"We have spent no time in sightseeing, much as we should desire to do so. One should not come to Washington without seeing the city and its many attractions, but we have not found the time. Tell our friends that we are well behaved and setting a high mark for future visitors from Oregon. None of our bunch has been arrested yet, but if we get this thing going right, you may expect us all to break loose and paint the town red. We shall depend on you to furnish bail.
"With best hopes for the success of Senator Stanfield in the coming election, I must close.
"W. H. GORE."
EARLY ACTION ON O-C REFUND IS SEEN BY GOREMedford Mail Tribune, May 17, 1926, page 3
An encouraging telegram was received here this morning from W. H. Gore, chairman of the western Oregon counties' citizens' delegation, which has been at work for weeks past on behalf of the Stanfield bill to revert millions of taxes to those counties from O. and C. grant lands revested in the government.
The chief encouragement comes in the fact that following a conference of Stanfield with Secretary Work, that official will probably withdraw his hitherto known objection to the bill by stating that the measure is one of policy that should be left to Congress to decide.
Mr. Gore wires that "we anticipate decisive favorable action by the Senate at an early date," and "we expect favorable report from the House committee immediately thereafter."
He also wires that difficulties are encountered daily, and which it is the work of the counties' committees on guard at Washington to iron out and exercise patience, and reminds the local public his committee is doing everything possible to bring the matter to final consummation.
SUPPORT URGED FOR O.C. REFUND BILL BY GOREMedford Mail Tribune, May 26, 1926, page 3
The following telegram is self-explanatory. It is up to everybody in Jackson County now to wire or write to every congressman they might know, asking them as a personal favor and as a matter of justice to support this Oregon-California tax recovery bill, which will soon be up for discussion in Congress. This bill has been reported out of the public land committee of the Senate, and is ready to be released in the House committee on public lands. It will soon be up for discussion and passage in Congress, and it is necessary to marshal as many friends in support of this bill as we possibly can. This can be most effectively done by everyone wiring or writing not only our Oregon representatives, but any representatives they may know from the states they come from in the East.
----Member Oregon-California Grand Land Committee
of Chamber of Commerce,
Bert Anderson, Medford, Ore.:
Congratulations for successful fight for Stanfield in Jackson County. Steiwer can win November election only through our united support. This he should have. However please observe that the state overlooked the big idea. For first time in history the West, through control of the important committees of both houses, dominates Congress. With frenzied haste Oregon hurls back this control to the surprised but grateful East. While not yet released, House committee on public lands today ordered favorable report of Oregon-California tax bills. Arrangements made to advance bill on calendar. Final action both houses should follow soon. We need help. Have chamber of commerce and citizens reach congressmen everywhere immediately.
W. H. GORE.
BILL GORE STILL TOILING FOR O-C TAX REFUND ACTMedford Mail Tribune, June 29, 1926, page 3
Senator Stanfield is quite hopeful about the O. and C. land grant tax bill. Senator Gore of Medford is still here watching the situation. He wants me to see my old Kansas friend, Senator Curtis, this afternoon. What happens to [omission] is pretty nearly up to him as Republican leader in the Senate. The East, as I had expected and stated in the G.T. [Corvallis Gazette-Times], was somewhat amazed that we were asking for these back taxes. They had taken these lands from the railroads and off the tax rolls at our request, so it is easy to get their viewpoint. Mr. Gore's job has been to convince Senators that the Chamberlain bill which revested the lands in the government was a political measure and rotten to the core, aimed at making votes by hammering the railroads. The Senators see that, and Stanfield says enough of them see it to vote to rectify it if it can be gotten to at this session. That's where Senator Curtis comes in. I thought that Congress would make us take our medicine, would tell us we had made our bed and could lie in it, but Stanfield says the Congress is quite prone to correct a "moral wrong" such as this and in this case save us from our own previous folly.--C. E. Ingalls in Corvallis Gazette-Times.
An encouraging telegram has been received from United States Senator Robert N. Stanfield by Bert Anderson in which the Senator expresses his belief that Congress will pass the O. and C. land grant tax refund bill, now pending in the Senate, for the 18 western Oregon counties before adjourning. The fact that there is no opposition in the U.S. Senate to the bill is pointed out by the Senator as one of the hopeful features.
W. H. Gore, when last heard from several days ago, wrote from Washington his belief also that the bill would be passed before Congress adjourned.
GORE PRAISED FOR FINE WORKMedford Mail Tribune, July 3, 1926, page 6
The mayor, city council and all other city officials yesterday sent to W. H. Gore, the Medford banker, the following telegram of appreciation at the New Willard Hotel, Washington, D.C., for his untiring and successful labors before Congress for two months past in behalf of the Oregon-California land grant refund bill:
"Congratulations on fine work resulting in passage of the Stanfield Oregon-California tax refund bill. All Southern Oregon rejoices in its passage and in praise of fine work of yourself, Senator Stanfield and all others who had a part in it.
"Please convey our heartfelt congratulations to them all."
GORE'S TRIBUTE TO SEN. STANFIELDMedford Mail Tribune, July 4, 1926, page 4
The following telegrams from W. H. Gore of Medford, ex-state senator, who is in Washington as chairman of the delegation representing the 18 Oregon grant land counties at committee hearings, was received yesterday by C. C. Chapman, editor of the Oregon Voter of Portland:
"The Oregon & California land grant tax refund measure introduced by Senator Robert N. Stanfield has passed both houses of Congress. This constitutes a triumph of another of Senator Stanfield's important undertakings in behalf of the state he has so ably served in the Senate of the United States. It is true that this great accomplishment was only the performance of his obligation; so have been the many other important matters that have been initiated and conducted to successful termination by Senator Stanfield, though the potential facts upon which this case was founded were just as patent years before he appeared in Congress.
"This bill could never have been approved by Congress but for the unfortunate fact that Oregon controls the committee on public lands in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Senator Stanfield is one of the most prominent and forceful men in the Senate, with a wide circle of loyal friends in that body. Under his able leadership his important committee has conducted the most virile and successful campaign of accomplishment that has characterized its activities for 40 years. No possible opportunity to serve the interests of his state or the West in general has been overlooked. His comprehensive knowledge and keen appreciation of conditions in the West have qualified him for the outstanding record of achievement for Oregon and the West that he has obtained through his own initiative, diligence and determination. His alert mind is quick to sense a condition or situation adverse to interests of his constituents, and his devotion will not permit him to rest until he has provided both the remedy and the procedure for applying the same.
"Senator Stanfield has set a high mark, both for quality and quantity of public service, to which his successors in the United States Senate may aspire. Position offers opportunity to the man who is capable and qualified to meet the obligation it imposes. Leadership of the powerful committee on public lands of the Senate laid upon him a responsibility for the welfare of the West. He accepted the honor, glad of the opportunity for public service. He has performed every obligation the opportunity entailed. He had formulated a program of legislation for the years to come, the performance of which must produce results of supreme importance to the West. The record of legislation conceived by the Senator and approved by Congress during the session now closing evidences the entire good faith in which this program has been conceived and is the guarantee of results of far-reaching and vital importance."
BILL GORE, NEARLY BROKE, FIGHTS ON FOR O-C REFUNDMedford Mail Tribune, July 7, 1926, page 3
The sympathy of a grateful Medford and Southern Oregon will undoubtedly go out in one great sob; in fact all the 18 counties of Western Oregon are liable to burst forth in a loud wail when it becomes known that W. H. Gore, the local banker and Oregon's most famous lobbyist before Congress at Washington, D.C., is nearly broke and may have to walk home across the continent.
"Poor Bill, I hope it doesn't come to the worst with him," was the almost universal expression heard on the streets here this forenoon when his pending plight became known. While there is no doubt of the genuine sympathy of the grateful southern and western Oregonians, money is money, and Mr. Gore will probably have to soak his watch to avoid walking home.
Mr. Gore is still sticking with the ship at Washington and camping on the White House steps helping along the Oregon delegation in trying to persuade President Coolidge to forget his New England economic training and gladden us people of the great open spaces where men are men and taxpayers, by signing the Stanfield bill to reimburse the 18 western counties in millions for the taxes lost when the Oregon-California land grants reverted to the government.
Mr. Gore is still full of fight after these weary weeks of hard work in getting Congress to pass the bill, and still has hopes of the President signing, according to a telegram received from him as follows this morning by Bert Anderson:
"Interviewed Secretary of the Interior Tuesday at 9 a.m. with Stanfield, and then the President at 10 with the entire Oregon delegation. Measure not yet entirely lost, but it is in the greatest jeopardy. It is still under consideration by the executive. We are holding forces together and digging in for a final siege. Entire delegation will stick and fight. Nearly broke, but walking home will be good if we win."
GORE ATTENDS TO O-C DETAILSMedford Mail Tribune, July 14, 1926, page 2
W. H. Gore wires from Washington that Stanfield and he had a conference with Judge Finney, First Assistant Secretary of the Interior, yesterday on adoption of procedure for carrying out the purposes of the O.&C. land grant tax refund bill and at the request of Judge Finney would remain in Washington a few days and complete agreements by which the counties would receive payment in the near future.
ASHLAND PRAISES WORK OF GORE ON TAX REFUND BILLMedford Mail Tribune, July 14, 1926, page 8
ASHLAND, July 14.--Expressions of satisfaction over the passage of the Oregon and California relief bill are heard on every side. Telegrams expressing the appreciation of the chamber of commerce will be sent to President Coolidge and to Senator Robert N. Stanfield, the author of the bill. Ashland people are unanimous in their praise of the splendid work of W. H. Gore of Medford, whose efforts for the passage of the bill have been untiring.
BIG CROWD WILL GREET W. H. GORE ON RETURN HOMEMedford Mail Tribune, July 23, 1926, page 3
A big outpouring of Medford people to welcome home W. H. Gore, of Medford, from Washington in gratitude for his successful work of months past on behalf of the passage of the Stanfield bill to refund to eighteen western Oregon counties huge sums lost in taxes when the government took over this land, is expected at the Southern Pacific depot tomorrow forenoon.
According to the welcoming arrangements which have been planned by the Chamber of Commerce entertainment committee, the demonstration will be short and informal, with two bands present, those of Medford and Ashland, and also hundreds of citizens with noisemaking devices from all parts of the county to welcome Mr. Gore as he steps from the train.
It had been planned to have the fire siren whistle blow loud and long, but no arrangements had yet been made with Fire Chief Elliott for this at that time, and today the chief called attention to the fact that some time ago it was decided to have the siren whistle blown only for fires and on extraordinary occasions. Hence unless the city officials grant permission the siren will not be blown tomorrow for the Gore demonstration.
The welcoming crowd is expected to assemble at the depot at 10 a.m., as train No. 13, on which Mr. Gore arrives, is due to arrive at 10:20 a.m.
WELCOME HOME FOR BILL GOREMedford Mail Tribune, July 24, 1926, page 1
Local Citizen Greeted upon Return from Washington, D.C., Where He Labored for Tax Bill--High Praise for Senator Stanfield.
Amid the long and loud blowing of the fire siren, the sounding of many horns on autos and the stirring airs of the D.O.K.K. band, William H. Gore, bareheaded and smiling with happiness, stepped from the last coach on train 13 this forenoon at the depot into the arms of a waiting delegation consisting of president E. C. Gaddis and the directors of the chamber of commerce and Mayor O. O. Alenderfer and the city council members, while county officials, prominent business men and hundreds of people, including delegations from all parts of the county, craned their necks to see.
It was Bill Gore's day, with that name in everyone's thoughts and on everyone's lips during this great outpouring of a grateful people to honor a Medford citizen whose hard and successful work for many months past, along with that of Senator Stanfield, was chiefly responsible for the passage of the O. and C. bill in Congress to refund back taxes of millions of dollars to the 18 counties containing revested Oregon and California grant lands.
The band continued to play "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here," "The High Private" and the like, the auto horns continued to sound and the throngs to try and catch sight of the honored man as Mr. Gore, still bareheaded in the hot sun, waded through the throng along the depot platform, handshaking, laughing, exchanging short greeting with friends and kissing babies.
In his happy state of mind Mr. Gore was saved a possible embarrassing mistake through the foresight of H. O. Frohbach in removing a Negro baby and its mother out of his path.
Bill Gore felt good toward everybody, and everybody felt good towards Bill Gore. It was probably the greatest tribute ever paid in this city to a private citizen.
Mr. Gore was finally rounded up at the north end of the depot on top of a baggage truck where, upon his being introduced by president E. C. Gaddis, he made a characteristic speech of serious thoughts combined with humor. President Gaddis' brief introductory remarks, which could scarcely be heard above the roar of open throttles of nearby cars, contained words of sincere praise over the great work in which Mr. Gore played such a leading part in bringing such a huge sum of money to Jackson and the other counties concerned.
At the conclusion of his address three lusty cheers were given by the crowd for Bill Gore, and the latter hurried home for a reunion with his family.
In his opening remarks Mr. Gore declared that the passage of this O. and C. grant land refund bill was the greatest piece of federal legislation, measured in dollars and cents, ever known for the benefit of Oregon and this section of Southern Oregon. He talked somewhat briefly of the great difficulties encountered and overcome in getting this bill through Congress and signed by the President, all of which the public is more or less familiar with.
The passage of this bill was made possible, outside of the fact that it was generally recognized in Congress as a just bill, only through the loyalty and support given it by the entire Oregon legislative delegation, especially Senator Robert N. Stanfield and the folks back home, the speaker said.
Despite the fact that the justness of the bill was generally recognized, and that it practically passed unanimously in both Senate and House, Mr. Gore stated that such would have not been the case had the legislature then understood that it would take from 12 to 15 millions of dollars from the U.S. Treasury. Yet in all the dealings with Congress not a misleading statement was made.
In speaking of the huge sum of money coming to the Oregon counties through this new law, of which about 7½ million will come to Southern Oregon, Mr. Gore declared that the money would be forthcoming in two or three weeks after the counties had presented their claims based on the 1915 taxation on the O. and C. grant lands to the Interior Department and those claims had been audited by the government.
In general, Mr. Gore said: "No part of our program was ever abandoned, and no mistakes and no misrepresentations were made." The 1915 taxes on the O. and C. land grants were $465,000, the speaker said, which would mean 12 or 15 millions of dollars for the 18 western Oregon counties instead of 7½ millions as at first thought when the bill was presented.
Mr. Gore stated that when the news reached Washington of Senator Stanfield's defeat for reelection the case to him almost seemed hopeless, as he presumed that Stanfield would at once proceed to be a "dead one," as is usually the case with a Senator when defeated. However, Senator Stanfield came to him at once after this news was known and said with much earnestness, "We must put this bill over if it is the last thing we ever do." Then they immediately resumed their work of enlisting votes, which continued until the bill was passed and signed.
In paying tribute to Senator Stanfield, the Medford banker said that within two days after his defeat, the Senator broke all precedents by appearing in his seat as usual in the Senate, with not a trace of resentment or soreheadedness. However, the other defeated Senators, including several prominent ones from eastern states, did not put in appearance for days afterwards and since their defeats became known continued to act as "dead ones" and lame ducks. Instead, the Oregon Senator, Mr. Gore said, worked all the harder and continued his active part in the Senate doings.
Relative to his own part in putting the bill over, Mr. Gore said that he did not waste an hour nor a dollar from the time he arrived in Washington and the bill was passed and signed, and immediately then started for home.
"I had to make good and have that bill passed, else I could not have come home except by sneaking up alleys," Mr. Gore said.
He also said he had received voluntary contributions from local citizens on the joking news published that he was "broke," and would have to walk home.
Mr. Gore is to speak before the Kiwanis here Monday and at the Ashland Chamber of Commerce banquet Tuesday, according to present arrangements.
BILL GORE BACK AT DESK AGAIN, WORK PRAISED
W. H. Gore is still busy receiving congratulations on the success of his indefatigable work before Congress against great odds for the passage of the Oregon and California land grant tax refund bill, following the great reception tendered him at the depot Saturday on his arrival home from Washington.
He was at his desk again at the Medford National Bank this forenoon for the first time in months, but his efforts to attend to business were useless because of so many citizens dropping in to greet and congratulate him.
In speaking of his Saturday reception, of which he had no inkling until he stepped from the train, was seized by the reception committee and saw the big crowd of 1500 to 2000 people assembled, Mr. Gore chidingly remarked this forenoon: "Why on earth didn't someone tip me off to what was going on? If I had known I could have prepared a speech for the occasion."
The lobbyist par excellence evidently did not realize that his improvised speech from the depot truck could not have been improved upon. In his ignorance as to the coming reception, as the train was coming to a stop Saturday forenoon and the noise of the fire siren was heard in his coach, Mr. Gore turned to a couple in the seat opposite him and remarked:
"I seem to be getting home again just in time for another big fire. Once before here a big fire was starting when my train was coming in at the depot."
This noon at the Kiwanis Club luncheon Mr. Gore delivered an address on his experience in behalf of the Stanfield bill at Washington.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 26, 1926, page 2
BILL GORE HONOR GUEST AT MONDAY MEET OF KIWANISMedford Mail Tribune, July 27, 1926, page 6
The Kiwanis Club were pleased to have as their guest and speaker Monday Senator W. H. (Bill) Gore, who "did it." Mr. Gore was greeted with continuous applause when he arose to speak and all through his talk. He gave a brief history of the O.&C. land grant tax refund bill from its first appearance in Washington through the committees of the House and Senate, then on the floor of both bodies, up to the President, and after his signature the several department heads it was presented to by Senator Stanfield and himself, which plainly showed the enormous amount of work that was done to "get the money," which Mr. Gore says will be forthcoming when the proper records and vouchers are filed by the 18 counties.
The speaker told of the many handicaps they met, how they were overcome and said thousands of bills for relief are presented in Washington and the disposition is to ignore them, and it's a proposition to "get by." He said this was accomplished principally through having Congressman Sinnott at the head of the House committee on public lands and Senator Stanfield at the head of the Senate committee, and with the untiring work of the latter for the bill which bore his name.
"Another reason we won," he said, "was because we had a just bill, never misrepresented our cause, adopted a line of action and stayed with it and convinced Congress, having first been sold to the proposition ourselves."
Mr. Gore says this county will receive about one million dollars as the initial payment and the state six or seven millions.
In closing, the speaker again paid a high compliment to Senator Stanfield and said without his help the bill probably would never have passed, and he is one of the leaders in Congress and has the faculty of rallying the leaders of the Senate to his support, whether he favors or opposes legislation.
Ashland residents will offer their tribute to the public spiritedness of William H. Gore at a complimentary banquet at the Lithia Springs Hotel tonight. It was Mr. Gore who played a prominent part in the passage of the Stanfield tax refund bill.
D. F. Carson, president of the chamber of commerce, will preside. The banquet will start at 7:00 o'clock.
COPCO FORUM HEARS GORE
At its luncheon meeting yesterday noon at the Hotel Medford, the Copco forum had for its guest of honor W. H. Gore, late of Washington, D.C. Harry L. Walther, another member of the Oregon delegation who helped put the bill over, was the chairman of the day.Medford Mail Tribune, July 30, 1926, page 5
After the luncheon Mr. Gore addressed his 42 attentive listeners, discussing his experiences in Washington, the procedure he observed in Congress and the history of the progress of the bill through committee and both houses of Congress. Frequently he referred to Mr. Walther, who was also in Washington for a time, for corroboration of some point, and an answer would be given which would throw an amusing sidelight on the story.
The meeting adjourned after the chairman spoke a few words in which he stated that Mr. Gore was far too modest in his statements concerning his own efforts in originating the idea and carrying to a conclusion the passage of the bill.
ADOPT SYSTEM OF COLLECTING O-C REFUND TAXMedford Mail Tribune, August 10, 1926, page 1
Assessors to Assess Land As If Privately Owned, and Extend As Before Withdrawal--Rule Money Is Relief, Not a Tax.
ROSEBURG, Ore., Aug. 10.--(AP)--District attorneys who met in Roseburg yesterday afternoon for the purpose of arranging a uniform system for presentation of the claims of the respective counties to the O. and C. tax refund adjourned late last night after deciding upon the system to be followed. It was determined that each assessor should assess the O. and C. lands exactly as if they were privately owned, extending the rolls in exactly the same manner as was done before the lands were withdrawn.
District Attorney Cordon was authorized to draw up forms of certificates for the signatures of the respective county officers in order to give proof of the formation of special taxing districts such as school road and port districts, under proper authority and the validity of the special taxes levied within those districts.
One point was particularly stressed as to the legal bearing on the status of the money when the time comes for distribution. The opinion was that the money is not in the form of a tax but that it is in the form of a relief, consequently it cannot be handled as taxes would be used, but on the other hand must be devoted to providing relief for taxpayers.
The fact that it is to be given in the same amounts as the taxes that would have been paid is only a "measuring stick," as Attorney Cordon called it.
Congress recognizes, he stated, that it injured the counties imposing additional taxes through the withdrawal of the lands. The amount of injury was in exact measure to the amount of taxes lost, consequently the relief should be the same as the taxes that would have been paid.
EARLY PAYMENT ON O.-C. REFUNDMedford Mail Tribune, October 3, 1926, page 1
EXPEDITE AUDITING OF FIVE CLAIMS
WASHINGTON, Oct. 2.--(AP)--The general land office today notified Senator Stanfield that arrangements are being perfected whereby 18 counties in Oregon, under the Oregon-California railroad act which was signed by the President last July, will be reimbursed for the taxes they would have received since 1916 on lands which would have remained in the possession of the railroads if they had not been taken over by the government.
The land office already has taken under consideration the claims of five Oregon counties, and the auditing of these claims is being expedited. It is estimated by the Department of the Interior that the payments by the government will approximate $8,000,000.
W. H. GORE TO BE PAID FOR WORKMedford Mail Tribune, October 7, 1926, page 1
County Court Votes to Pay Local Banker Between $10,000 and $15,000 for Securing Over Million for Taxpayers--May Receive Over $100,000.
The county court at a meeting recently passed a resolution pledging Jackson County pay Mr. Gore one percent of over a million dollars for his services in securing the O.&C. tax refund for Jackson County. The exact amount Mr. Gore will be paid will depend upon the exact amount received by the county, but the payment will probably be between $10,000 and $15,000.
PORTLAND, Oct. 7.--Multnomah County commissioners are considering a communication from the county court of Jackson County, asking if Multnomah County would be willing to pay W. H. Gore one percent of the money that will be received as its share of the congressional refund of the 18 land grant counties of the state, voted by Congress just before adjournment.
The Jackson County officials said the tax refund idea was conceived and promulgated by Gore and that he worked long and consistently for it, and was largely instrumental in having the law passed.
----MARSHFIELD, Oct.--According to the officers of the Coos County court the demand for the payment of over $120,000 to W. H. Gore for his services in securing the O.&C. tax refund bill has not been decided as yet. None of the counties benefited deny the value of Mr. Gore's services, but some claim there was no understanding of payment at the time the committee was sent to Washington and that if Mr. Gore is paid then other members of the committee should be paid.
----Mr. Gore, when interviewed today, said that the Jackson County court had written all the other county courts where benefits were received by the passage of the O.&C. tax refund, asking their opinion as to whether or not Mr. Gore should be paid one percent of the federal money secured, each county contributing its proportionate share.
The members of the Jackson County court, said Mr. Gore, believe that this is a small payment for the service he rendered.
BERT ANDERSON DEPLORES PLAN TO PAY BANKERMedford Mail Tribune, October 8, 1926, page 1
If Gore Is Paid for Services, No End to Pork Barrel, Declares Local Republican Leader--Demand Contrary to Agreement--Startling Disclosures Are Promised.
To the Editor:
In the public press of September 14th appeared the following dispatch from Marshfield, Oregon, headed--
"GORE LOBBY PLAN FAILS"Marshfield, Ore., Sept. 14.--(Special)--Senator Gore's proposal of becoming a professional lobbyist to represent the 18 counties which are participating in the tax money from the government did not strike a responsive chord when presented to the Coos County court here last week. The county was once obligated to pay Oswald West about $20,000 on a similar scheme and the court does not believe the county wants to maintain a followup policy on such affairs.
"Mr. Gore's proposal was to pay him 1 percent of the money already appropriated and he would go to Washington and hurry the distribution. It was stated in the discussion that Mr. Gore had already received $15,000 for his work for the 18 counties, and the Coos County court thought he was well repaid."
This was the first intimation we had that a pork barrel was to be opened. About October 1st the scene shifted to Josephine County and we got another eyeful. A special from Grants Pass to the Oregonian, dated October 1st, reads:
"LOBBYIST ASKS $120,000"Grants Pass, Ore., Oct. 1.--(Special)--Payment of 1 percent of the money obtained by western Oregon counties under the Oregon and California Grant Land Tax Refund Bill to W. H. Gore, Medford banker, is asked in a letter received here today by Eclus Pollock, county judge. The letter was signed by all members of the Jackson County court.
"1 Percent of Benefit of Tax Refund Bill Sought
"Fee Proposed for W. H. Gore, Who Wrote Measure and Aided in Effecting Passage
"This move, originating in Medford, would mean that Mr. Gore would receive more than $100,000 if every county granted the request. While at first the total amount expected by the counties was only $7,000,000, later estimates have increased it to $12,000,000. Mr. Gore would therefore receive $120,000 for his part in effecting passage of the bill. He spent several months at Washington this spring lobbying for the measure as its originator.
"Under the arrangement with Mr. Gore, his expenses on the lobbying excursion were paid by the various counties affected. Josephine County paid approximately $1000 toward his expenses. Nothing had been said previously of the 1 percent bonus, and it became as a surprise to the local county court who believed Mr. Gore to be establishing himself politically by his work. Local county court members stated that while something undoubtedly was due Mr. Gore for his labors, they were not favorably inclined toward the 1 percent schedule."
This was a second and closer glimpse of the pork barrel, and it was even larger and fatter than it appeared on September 14th.
I have been in the movement for the recovery of these Oregon and California land grant taxes from the beginning, and this second special made me almost doubt if there were such things as honor, integrity and unselfish public service left in the world, for I knew that the Honorable W. H. Gore nor any other living man was entitled to a single dollar of his recovered tax money, every red cent of which should be dedicated to the relief of the sorely pressed taxpayers of these 18 counties.
In yesterday's Mail Tribune, on the front page, in big type, the story of the pork barrel was brought down to the minute, and becomes an actuality, or almost so. Here it is--read it over again--
"W. H. GORE TO BE PAID FOR WORK"The county court at a meeting recently passed a resolution pledging Jackson County pay Mr. Gore one percent of over a million dollars for his services in securing the O.&C. tax refund for Jackson County. The exact amount Mr. Gore will be paid will depend upon the exact amount received by the county, but the payment will probably be between $10,000 and $15,000."
"County Court Votes to Pay Local Banker Between $10,000 and $15,000 for Securing Over Million for Taxpayers--May Receive Over $100,000.
Now let's get down to brass tacks. I with others from Medford attended the convention at Roseburg where a definite plan was adopted looking to the recovery of these land grant taxes. After much discussion it was voted to send a strong delegation to Washington to give testimony before the public land committees of the Senate and House, and to otherwise promote and aid in every way possible Senator Stanfield and the rest of the Oregon delegation in the passage of this just and equitable tax relief measure.
At that convention I insisted that W. H. Gore be made chairman of this delegation, knowing that there was no man in the state quite so well qualified by knowledge and experience to lead the fight as he. Judge W. J. Hartzell of the Jackson County court was given the job of collecting funds to finance the enterprise, and this fund was to be ample for all necessary expenses. There was no understanding or agreement, intimation or suggestion that any commission or bonus or tribute above actual expenses were to be paid to anyone. On the contrary it was freely talked even by Mr. Gore himself that all slick attorneys, professional lobbyists and other light-fingered gentry should be shooed away; that we had a just measure; that we knew our business, and we would go down to Washington and get the money ourselves.
Now my advice to the county courts of these 18 counties is to be damned careful about how this tax relief fund is handled. If they ever start to open a pork barrel every other member of the hand-picked convention that nominated Stanfield as an independent candidate at the Portland Hotel may want a slice of this pork.
Now I have only lifted the lid an inch or two--just enough for you taxpayers to get a peek at what is inside. There may be some other things inside that will interest you, and if you want to get a good encompassing look you can take the lid clear off, for all I care.
What I have written has been more in sorrow than anger. To find that your idols have feet of clay is terrible! How the mighty have fallen.
Medford, Oct. 8th.
JACKSON SHARE OF O-C REFUND $1,152,543.22Medford Mail Tribune, October 12, 1926, page 1
Assessor's Office Compiles Figures for Federal Approval--Division of Fund Announced--Apportioned to School Districts.
Jackson County will receive $1,152,543.22 from the O.&C. land grant tax relief measure, provided the figures just completed by County Assessor J. B. Coleman are accepted by the government, and they no doubt will be, as Assessor Coleman has spent several weeks extending the tax and has been exceedingly careful.
This amount is for the 10-year period from 1916 to 1926, as provided in the bill, and the county will share in the $500,000 a year provided in the bill, beginning with 1926.
When the bill was pending it was figured this county would receive about $800,000 from the initial payment.
The bill provides that each county is to be paid when the tax claimed is verified by the government.
The amount the county is to receive will be divided as follows:
County general fund, $874,734.13.
Special school district fund, $206,790.52.
Special road fund, $70,937.18.
City of Jacksonville, $81.39.
The money to be distributed in the school and road districts will be according to special levies in the districts having O.&C. lands within their boundaries.
The school districts not receiving any funds are numbers 6, 29, 49, 69, 99 and 100. Of these Medford, No. 49, will not receive any benefits at all. District No. 5, in which Ashland is included, will receive $2,458.18.
The district receiving the largest amount is Butte Falls, No. 91, which receives $34,256.00. Wimer, No. 62, is next with $33,687.48.
District No. 7, Neil Creek, receives the smallest amount, $4.31. No. 7, on Rogue River, north of Eagle Point, next lowest, $9.38.
The amount allowed to the city of Jacksonville is for a 40-acre tract of O.&C. lands, located in the city, and it is the only city in the county having these grant lands within its limits.
LINN PROTESTS GORE PLANMedford Mail Tribune, October 12, 1926, page 7
ALBANY, Ore.--Judge W. H. Gore, Medford banker, who aided in procuring the tax refund on railroad grant lands in Oregon, will receive but a small part of 1 percent of Linn County's share of the return, unless the Linn County court has a radical change of heart. The court was both surprised and indignant when it learned of the plan to reimburse Gore to that extent for his part in procuring the legislation.
"Senator Stanfield and Congressman Sinnott were the men who put this legislation over," said Judge Payne. "If it had not been for the work of these officials the efforts of the committee would have been fruitless, despite the able work of Judge Weatherford of Albany who, the record shows, was the man who really did far more in securing the refund than Mr. Gore."--(Portland Journal)
GORE OFFER RESCINDED BY JUDGEMedford Mail Tribune, October 13, 1926, page 1
W. J. Hartzell Recalls His Vote Favoring Payment to Local Banker for Services in O.&C. Tax Refund Measure--Is Convinced People of County Oppose Such Action.
County Judge W. J. Hartzell today issued the following signed statement:
"It has become very evident that my attitude concerning the payment to Mr. W. H. Gore for the services of the O.&C. land grant matter is not in accord with the desire of the majority of the citizens of Jackson County.
"As I make it my first duty to serve them, I have decided to notify the other members of the County Court that I recall my vote on that question and will enter the recall on the record awaiting further development of the desire of the citizens.
"W. J. HARTZELL,This action by Judge Hartzell did not come as a surprise to those familiar with the situation, and since the announcement of the County Court that they had pledged the county to pay W. H. Gore for his services, complaints and objections have been coming in to Jacksonville from all parts of the county. As one official expressed it:
"Mr. Gore certainly did fine work and deserves the gratitude of the people of Jackson County and the entire state, but there is very apparently a difference in extending gratitude and extending cash. Every hour since the first announcement protests against payment have been coming in from all parts of the county. In my judgment 50 percent of the people are opposed to this action.
"The point made by many is that this refund was not a gift but a deserved relief measure for the taxpayers of this county, who have suffered injustice all these years. The idea is the taxpayers should have the benefit of all this relief, over and above the necessary expenses, and that commissions should be paid to no one."
The announcement of Judge Hartzell of course represents only his personal views, but it is believed that County Commissioners Alford and Bursell will take similar action. One of them must endorse Judge Hartzell's stand or the withdrawal of the resolution will be impossible.
GORE PAYMENT IS OPPOSED BY R. N. STANFIELDMedford Mail Tribune, October 15, 1926, page 1
Junior Senator Writes Co. Court Payment for Services Would Cheapen Achievement--Is Certain No Member Wants Cash Reward.
That Senator Stanfield opposes the payment of money to W. H. Gore for his services in securing the O. and C. tax refund for Jackson County came to light today when the following letter received by the county court from the junior senator October 9th was made public:
The County Court,
Gentlemen: It has come to my attention, through the press, that you have under consideration a proposal to pay, or have decided on the payment to, the Hon. W. H. Gore, of Medford, of one percent of the money received in lieu of taxes on the O. and C. grant lands. Proper appreciation of the untiring efforts of Mr. Gore to bring to your county compensation for the loss of revenue resultant from the recapture by the federal government of these lands is certainly commendable. Without Mr. Gore's assistance, and that of the other representatives who came to Washington, my efforts would have been hampered to such an extent that the bill might not have passed at the last session.
Great credit is due to Senator Gore and his associates. They rendered a splendid public service, but to force upon them a monetary reward would rob them of the greater reward of public appreciation and approval, which constitutes the greater possible compensation for public service.
These are public-spirited gentlemen and were not moved by any selfish purpose when they volunteered their services and made the long journey to Washington. You and your people will long honor them for what they have done, providing there is not forced upon them monetary compensation, which would make you feel that you had discharged the debt of gratitude. I am sure that no member of the delegation has ever suggested that he would accept money in lieu of this public appreciation.
Before leaving Washington I arranged with the general land office of the interior department and with the comptroller general to expedite the payment of these monies. My office in Washington is equipped and ready to render all the service necessary so far as you are concerned to facilitate and accomplish the early settlement of your claims upon their presentation. My office is at your command and I, as your Senator, will assume the responsibility of giving to you every service that could possibly be required in the premises, without any cost to the taxpayers. This money cannot be regarded by you as different from money collected directly from the taxpayers of your county if it will relieve those taxpayers from payment of the exact sum of money paid to you by the federal government.
Assuring you that I am yours to serve, I am,
Robert N. Stanfield.
GORE PAYMENT IS FAVORED BY VICTOR BURSELLMedford Mail Tribune, October 15, 1926, page 8
To the Editor:
I was surprised to see the statement of our honorable county judge without consulting other members of the court.
He has acted as secretary and treasurer of the county court and attended all meetings of the committees and knows that the courts of Josephine, Columbia, Benton, Lane and Jackson had agreed to tender Mr. Gore a nominal amount above his expenses; and in further talks with Mr. Gore we were informed he would ask a fee of 1 percent from all counties concerned, which the entire court, after consultation, agreed to pay him.
At Judge Hartzell's suggestion Mr. Gore consented that he write a circular letter to the different county courts suggesting they pay the 1 percent, which letter was signed by the entire court.
Why so solicitous of public opinion at this time, and so reticent in his actions regarding redemption of road bonds last spring, which did not coincide with present actions, or with the opinions of Jackson County bankers or the commissioners.
We are all the people's agents and will obey the people's wish, but not the dictates of politicians. This whole matter smirks [sic] of politics.
I am a firm believer in the Oregon primary law and think the vote of thanks extended Honorable Robert N. Stanfield in this county at the primaries should be final.
REVIEW DENIED BY HIGH COURT IN O-C APPEALMedford Mail Tribune, October 18, 1926, page 1
Legal Action Over Sale of Grant Land Decided--Espee Will Lose Nothing by Decision--Amount Involved Small.
WASHINGTON, Oct. 18.--(AP)--The Supreme Court today refused to review the Oregon and California railroad case involving the prices paid by settlers for land originally granted by the government.
The government originally stipulated that the land be sold at not more than $2.50 per acre. Later claiming this stipulation was being violated, it sued the railroad and the buyers. Meantime, Congress enacted a law providing that the buyers might retain title by paying the government $2.50 per acre.
Andrew B. Hammond, Charles B. Winton and others won a decision from the Oregon supreme court whereby the railroad was required to refund money paid it for the land, and the railroad sought an appeal.
----PORTLAND, Ore., Oct. 18.--(AP)--The Southern Pacific Company will lose nothing by reason of the decision today in the Oregon and California railroad case, said Ben C. Dey, attorney for the company. "The railroad, under the decision of Federal Judge Wolverton in the land grant accounting case, is to be reimbursed by the government in the amount of judgments involved.
"The total amount involved in the cases disposed of in today's decision is about $175,000."
Andrew B. Hammond, Charles B. Winton, and the Booth Kelly Lumber Company brought two suits against the Oregon and California Railroad Company for $2.50 an acre for land purchased by them from the company. This amount was paid to the government in order to quiet title to the land.
STATE PLANS TO GET SHARE OF O.&C. REFUNDMedford Mail Tribune, October 27, 1926, page 1
Visit of State Official to Jacksonville Throws New Light on Situation--Expected to Demand Nearly Quarter of Million Dollars from Jackson County.
That the state of Oregon hopes to get a large slice of the O.&C. tax refund of approximately $8,000,000 to be returned to the 18 counties came to light at Jacksonville yesterday when Ralph Wirth, secretary of the state tax commission, came to Jacksonville and asked to look over the records.
The state will base its claim upon the contention that it is entitled to a portion of the refund which would have gone to the state had the O.&C. lands been on the tax rolls. This would amount to about 20 percent.
Should the state succeed in its endeavor it would take at least a million and a half dollars from the total sum allotted to the counties and Jackson County would be in a position to lose at least $230,000, perhaps more.
While Mr. Wirth is convinced the state has a strong case, county officials are equally convinced the claim will never be sustained by the courts, and they declare the 18 counties involved should not listen to such a proposal but should fight for every cent of the tax refund for themselves.
"This was a relief measure," said one county official today, "relief not for the state but for certain counties in the state, upon which the government placed an unjust burden. The state did not suffer from the withdrawal of these lands or make good for delinquent taxes. The counties did, and every cent of the refund should go to them.
"Apparently the state considers taking action. If it does then the 18 counties should fight them to the last ditch."
If the county's refund claim is sustained by the government and no errors are found therein, Jackson County's share in the total will be $1,152,543.22, providing there are no deductions such as the state contemplates.
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE O.&C. BILL.Medford Mail Tribune, October 27, 1926, page 4
Next Sunday the Mail Tribune will print the facts about the O. and C. tax refund measure; just who was chiefly responsible for the passage of the bill, and why. We urge everyone, regardless of politics, to read this article by C. E. Ingalls, editor of the Corvallis Gazette Times, who was in Washington when the fight for the measure was made, and who knows what he is talking about. The facts he gives, moreover, have been publicly announced before, and not denied, even by those whose political claims are injured thereby. After all, political propaganda is not what the people want. What they want are the facts. Here is an article that gives them.
THE TRUTH ABOUT O.&C. TAX REFUND BILLMedford Mail Tribune, October 31, 1926, page B2
The following interesting account of how the O.&C. tax refund measure was passed is written by C. E. Ingalls, well-known editor of the Corvallis Gazette Times:
Because no one has yet printed the inside dope on the O.&C. land grant tax refund law, and because several people are claiming most of the credit, and one candidate practically all of it, and because the real credit has never been placed where it belongs, I believe it is time to tell here the inside story of this whole transaction. I was in Washington during the closing days of Congress and was told the story in detail, because it was not thought at that time that the law would ever be used as an issue in the present campaign. Senator Stanfield, having wired his congratulations to Fred Steiwer, and promised his support, was at that time seriously considering an offer of a position with a big trust company in New York. Because E. J. Adams, from whom I got the most of the story, has been driving home by auto and was somewhere on the road between here and Washington, I could not get in touch with him until this week to get his permission to use certain telegrams which I have in my possession and which form an interesting and important part of the story. I have been a close friend of E. J. Adams, Mr. Stanfield's secretary, ever since the road bond issue was for the "opening up," to account for his "opening up" to me when I was in Washington and answering some pointed inquiries about this now famous measure.
It will be remembered that the public lands subcommittee, of which Mr. Stanfield was chairman, held meetings in the West in the summer of 1925, meeting at Medford, Baker and other points in Oregon. When the committee was in Medford, former state senator W. H. Gore appeared before the committee and asked that a bill be introduced to make an appropriation for Jackson County for the money it had lost by the Chamberlain bill which took the O.&C. land off the tax rolls. Mr. Gore advanced the very plausible argument that Jackson County people had voted bonds to pay for the first paved road in Oregon, and they had voted them under the promise and with the understanding that they were to be paid for out of the O.&C. land grant taxes, which in Jackson County are very large. It was explained to Mr. Gore by the committee at once that such a bill could not even get out of committee; that there were hundreds of such bills presented as the result of the government taking over state or city property during the war, said property being still used by the government and paying no taxes, but that it was impossible for the government to make appropriations for such a purpose, and that if it did so and the appropriation was constitutional that thousands of other communities all over the country would come in with similar requests. Mr. Gore's request didn't even make an impression on the committee and was apparently forgotten before the committee got out of town.
E. J. Adams, who was present, however, did not forget it. A few months later Congress convened. Senator Stanfield was deeply engrossed in his bill regarding grazing legislation and devoted much of his time to hearings upon the question of grazing rights upon public lands and a draft of a bill to regulate grazing, not only in the national forests, but in the open public domain that is now used as an out range by the small rancher.
While the Senator was engaged in the work upon this measure in which the sheep men were interested, his secretary, Mr. Adams, an able and efficient lawyer, kept thinking of Mr. Gore's request and wondering if a way could not be found legally to accomplish for ALL the land grant counties what Mr. Gore had asked for Jackson County. He finally reached the conclusion that there was no difference between the relations of the government to these counties than there would be between a trustee and the beneficiary of an estate in trust. Mr. Adams, as a lawyer, knew that the trustee would ask for an order from the court to advance money to said beneficiary, even if he had to borrow it. If a proper showing is made, a court always grants such relief. In this case, the U.S. government was the trustee. There were three beneficiaries, the counties, the state, and the U.S. reclamation fund. The counties were in need. Therefore, the thing to do was to ask for an order from the court (Congress) to advance the money from the Treasury to be paid when the estate (the land grants) was sold. With this idea in mind he drafted the now famous O.&C. land grant bill, wholly unbeknown to his Senator, and formulated a plan for a campaign at home to get the cooperation of the press, the county courts, the chambers of commerce and other civic organizations to back the measure up in Congress. He then presented the whole proposition to Senator Stanfield, went over the bill with him, showed him drafts of letters he had written to the county courts, the press and others in Oregon and got him to agree to introduce the measure February 18. The date was set so that the people in Oregon who were interested could be notified and time their campaign accordingly. The Senator for some reason failed to introduce the bill till five days later and then, by his request, it was referred to the committee on public lands.
According to custom, the measure was then referred to the Department of the Interior, which reported ADVERSELY. After that nothing more was done about the measure and it was apparently a lost hope. In response to letters that kept coming to people in Oregon, however, a meeting of county judges and others was held in Roseburg, where it was agreed to send a delegation to Washington to urge the matter on. There were a number of men on that delegation, but the three who made the presentation of the case were W. H. Gore, Guy Cordon, district attorney of Douglas County, and Judge Weatherford of Albany. Mr. Cordon, as the committee hearings show, made an excellent argument and I found out that he had spent some time in Salem and in the libraries at Washington preparing his brief and he "knew his stuff."
The delegation arrived in Washington about the middle of April. They found their bill as introduced by Stanfield a month and a half before turned down by the interior department. They went to Mr. Hawley and got him to introduce the same measure in the House, April 15, where, by request, it was referred to the public lands committee of which Congressman Nick Sinnott of this state is the chairman. Sinnott immediately called his committee together and gave the Oregon delegation a hearing. Congressman Hawley got another hearing with the interior department and they backed up on their former ruling and agreed to let matters take their course without their opposition. Why they turned down Stanfield is a story it might not be proper to tell.
May 8, 1926, the Senate Committee on Public Lands reported the Senate bill (S 3255) favorably and recommended its passage. It was placed on the Senate calendar immediately for consideration.
May 28, 1926, the House Committee on Public Lands reported the Hawley bill favorably and recommended its passage.
June 2, 1926, Congressman Sinnott got the Hawley bill up in the House for debate.
June 3, 1926, Congressman Sinnott again brought the Hawley bill up on the floor for debate, and it passed without change and was sent to the Senate.
June 4 the Hawley bill was referred to the public lands committee of the Senate. This bill was an exact copy of the bill reported by the Senate committee May 8.
June 7 the Senate committee on public lands reported the Hawley bill favorably and recommended its passage. It was immediately placed on the Senate calendar for consideration.
June 30, 23 days later, on motion of Senator Stanfield the Hawley bill was substituted for the Senate bill introduced by himself and placed before the Senate for discussion. It was laid over on motion of Senator Curtis of Kansas, to enable him to read the report of the committee.
July 1, Senator Stanfield again moved to take it up and it passed without opposition in the exact form it left the pen of Mr. Adams. It was not changed in a single word or punctuation from the form in which it was drafted by him.
July 2, the bill was signed by the Speaker of the House and the Vice President.
July 2 it was enrolled, and July 3 it was presented to the President for his signature along with the last-day bills that passed. The President shoved it aside with two or three other bills without his signature.
July 3 Congress adjourned. Compare these dates. They are significant.
The Oregon members of Congress were alarmed at the action of the President and sought an interview with him to explain the bill and ask him to sign it.
The President gave them no satisfaction and left for his summer vacation without signing it.
Everything had been done that it seemed could be done. The delegation had had their opportunity to present their claims to the President, and it was not signed and the President had left for White Pines.
Knowing the intense interest Adams had taken in the matter, and realizing that he knew more about it than anybody in Washington, I immediately wrote to ask him if he had explained the trustee application to the President for I didn't see how the President, who is a keen lawyer, could avoid being convinced that the bill was a just measure. A few days later the President summoned the Oregon delegation to White Pines, exacted certain promises from them in reference to introducing a measure at the next session to provide for the payment of interest on the money advanced, and he then signed the bill.
A few days after that I received a letter from Mr. Adams in which he said my letter came too late, but that he had already acted. He explained that when the delegation called on the President at the close of the session to urge him to sign the bill that he, Adams, was not invited to the conference and so he did not know what the delegation told him.
"I knew it was not possible to get any action by seeing the President after the delegation had seen him. The President's private secretary, however, is a very warm personal friend of mine and I sent him a wire explaining the whole situation and got a reply that was significant. I am enclosing copies of both telegrams for your information."
Here are the copies of the telegrams Mr. Adams sent to me--the one from him to the President's personal secretary, and the secretary's reply.
Washington, D.C.Hon. Edw. T. Clark
July 8, 1926.
White Pines, N.Y., Summer White House.
Knowing the dominating desire of the President to be right and do right, feel certain he will approve Oregon-California Grant Land Relief Bill if he clearly has in mind this is not attempt to appropriate federal funds for relief of counties in lieu of taxes lost because title revested in government, but is instead an appeal to Congress for an act to authorize the United States, acting as trustee, to make advances to nineteen counties in Washington and Oregon pending sale of land and timber which is property of estate in trust and sufficient many times over to ensure repayment of all advances made.
This procedure is comparable to petition to court by beneficiaries under a trust for an order authorizing the trustee to make advances to them for living needs pending sale of property belonging to estate, when advances repaid. This is common and justifiable procedure in settling estates to best advantage.
The government gave half of forty-mile strip in alternating sections to induce construction railroad which put market value in its lands and then sold the sections it retained for double price.
After thirty years private ownership and taxable rights upon which counties and states relied for necessary income this taxable property was suddenly removed from the tax rolls and title revested in government compelling many counties to go on warrant basis and all of them to increase the tax burden on the remaining taxable property which has caused a halt in development and severe hardship which can be remedied by these advances without slightest danger of loss to the government.
Signed, E. J. ADAMS.To this telegram Mr. Clark replied as follows:
Paul Smiths, N.Y.My Dear E. J.:
July 10, 1926
Your argument was a most effective one and under the conditions of which you were aware I am hopeful of favorable action.
Very truly yours,Mr. E. J. Adams
E. T. CLARK, Secretary
Secretary to Senator Stanfield
United States Senate
----The next day after the Adams telegram was received by Mr. Clark the President wired the members of Congress from Oregon, calling their attention to the fact that the bill did not provide for the payment of interest on the advances made nor the elimination of land to which the title still remained in the government, but from which the timber, which is the chief value, had been removed and asking them if they would join in amending the bill at the next session of Congress in these two matters, to which the members of the Oregon delegation replied they would.
These were the conditions to which Mr. Clark referred in his letter.
I left Washington shortly before Congress adjourned. In discussing the bill with me, Mr. Adams laughed as he explained that he had really got more than he expected.
"When a trustee goes to court for an order for an advance of funds for a needy beneficiary to an estate," he said. "Interest on the advance is always a matter for consideration. I expected some of the members of the committee or in Congress to raise this question and purposely left it out of the bill for something to 'trade' on--a 'concession' as it were. Nobody insisted on it, however, and the bill went through just as it was."
But it didn't get past the President. As a lawyer he immediately recognized the omission and according to his secretary's letter to Adams was the "condition of which you are aware."
I am giving the public this story as it came to me in Washington before it would be used as a vehicle upon which Mr. Stanfield hoped to ride back to the Senate. I believe it to be substantially true as related above. It shows convincingly that there is "honor enough for all." It shows that had Mr. Hawley not introduced the bill in the House where Nick Sinnott rushed it through, there would have been no land grant legislation, for the Adams bill introduced by Stanfield in the Senate was not acted upon, and, if it had been acted upon instead of the Hawley measure when the latter was brought up in the Senate, two days before the adjournment of Congress, and if it had then passed the Senate, it would have been too late to get it through the House.
Mr. Adams himself asked me at the time to say nothing about his part in the matter, on the theory that anything a secretary did was the act of his Senator. At that time he had no idea that Stanfield would run against the regular Republican candidate. This week for the first time since Congress adjourned I have been able to get in touch with Mr. Adams and persuade him that the public ought to have the truth. He gave his reluctant consent, adding, "but leave me out of it as much as possible; I don't want any credit."
All right. I am willing to give all the credit to Mr. Stanfield to this extent--he had the good judgment to appoint one of the smartest and most capable men in Oregon to be his private secretary, a fact so well known that the Oregon Journal, before the present campaign, frequently showed its contempt for Stanfield by referring to him as "Senator Adams."
C. E. INGALLS.
JACKSON CO. TO GET $1,151,962 AS TAX REFUND
After having been on the county tax rolls since 1866, when they were granted by the government to the Oregon and California Railroad, now a part of the Southern Pacific system, over 440,000 acres of railroad grant lands in Jackson County were taken off by the passage of the Chamberlain-Ferris act of 1916, providing that the lands be sold and the receipts be distributed among various departments.
The bill, however, failed to function, and as a result this county, one of eighteen in which such lands are located, was deprived of a large amount of taxes each year, causing action to be taken by United States Senator Robert N. Stanfield in Congress last year. As a result, an appropriation was made by the government to reimburse the affected counties for non-payment of taxes.
A total of more than seven millions of dollars was authorized by this act to reimburse the eighteen counties, and as its share Jackson County received $1,151,962.74.
This amount, with the exception of the money apportioned to various districts, will go into the county general fund.
The Chamberlain-Ferris bill, that has been a law for several years, provided [that] the railroad company would receive $2.50 per acre for the grant lands in its name and that the counties would benefit next. The remainder of the receipts were thus apportioned: 25 percent to the reclamation service and 10 percent to the federal government for administration costs.
The tax refund bill was introduced by Senator Stanfield as a relief measure and will continue to function until the Chamberlain bill comes into effective operation. The money that was appropriated by the relief measure will be charged against the grant land fund, the sale of the lands being the means of reimbursement. However, until the lands are sold, the government will pay annual taxes upon them at their assessed value.
A committee of southwestern Oregon residents, of which W. H. Gore of this city was a member, aided materially in the passage of the bill. Mr. Gore, who spent several months in Washington in connection with the bill, was especially instrumental in its passage and received a great ovation speech upon his return to Southern Oregon.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 2, 1927, page D1
ENACTMENT TO REGULATE O-C REFUND READYSALEM, Ore., Jan. 19.--(AP)--Funds derived from the Oregon and California land grant refunds would have to be applied to indebtedness of the various counties, school, road and port districts and other subdivisions benefiting, if house bill number 85, introduced by Representatives Howard, Potter, McCready, Cramer and Schulmerich and Senators Bell and Bailey, passes.
Measure Designates Uses of Grant Money--Income Tax Bill Rejected at Polls, Revived--May Test Tax Limitation Law to Secure New Revenues.
Money derived from the fund would have to go into special funds and be invested in lawful securities.
A second income tax measure has appeared. Representative Mark McAllister has introduced a bill with a property offset. This is a duplicate of the bill rejected by the people at the November election. Representative Hazlett has a duplicate of the Grange income tax bill, and still another income tax bill is expected to be introduced.
The house late yesterday adopted a resolution providing for an investigation of telephone rates and practices. Attorney General VanWinkle, ex-Governor Oswald West, Colonel A. E. Clark and four members of the house will conduct the investigation.
The House adopted a resolution by Representative Hector MacPherson of Linn County, for a special commission of five members to study administrative reorganization and report to the next session of the legislators.
Legislators considering the matter of increasing revenues for state purposes and grappling with the problem of taxation were discussing today a suggestion that a test case be submitted to the supreme court for an opinion concerning the five percent limitation in the constitution.
This provides that taxes may not be increased more than six percent over the amount levied the year previously, money for payment of bonded indebtedness and interest thereon being expected
The question has been raised whether this limitation would apply to new forms of taxation, such as the proposed tax on intangibles and corporate excess, or upon income tax.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 19, 1927, page 1
STATE SHARE IN O.-C. TAX REFUND TO SUPREME CT.STATE HOUSE, SALEM, Ore., Jan. 25.--(AP)--If it is finally determined that the state of Oregon is entitled to a share of the land grant tax refund, the amount coming to the state will be $1,349,391, that amount to be deducted from the claims of the various counties, according to a report made by State Tax Commissioner Earl Asher. Whether the state is to share in the fund will be a matter to be decided by the state supreme court. As soon as some county receives its share of the fund from the government it is probable that the state will start some legal proceeding to collect its share, and this will settle the question whether the state is to share in the funds.
The amounts that will be paid to the state by the several counties affected are:
Douglas $321,168; Jackson $250,443; Lane $228,460; Benton $55,430; Clackamas $85,026; Columbia $36,795; Coos $76,090; Curry $5620; Josephine $96,315; Klamath $22,040; Lincoln $4351; Linn $48,988; Marion $23,608; Multnomah $12,199; Polk $51,070; Tillamook $7301; Washington $13,377; Yamhill $13,801.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 25, 1927, page 7
ISSUE JACKSON O-C. CHECK FOR $1,151,962Word has been received by the Mail Tribune that the Assistant Treasurer of the United States has issued a check in favor of Jackson County for the sum of $1,151,962.74 in payment for the O.&C. Land Grant tax refund, being the amount due this county in accordance with the Stanfield bill passed by Congress last spring.
COUNTY TO GET HUGE PAYMENT
Covers Period from 1916 to 1926--Is Second Largest in State, Under Stanfield Bill--Josephine County Receives Check.
This is the tax refund for the years 1916 to 1926 in Jackson County and is the second largest amount due any of the sixteen counties affected by the bill.
The check, signed by H. F. Tate, Assistant Treasurer of the United States, has been received by Treasurer A. C. Walker and has been negotiated through the First National Bank, and from there will be divided among the various depository banks of Jackson County.
This money will be distributed to the different funds, including general county, roads and school districts having O.&C. land within their territory and will be used to liquidate indebtedness.
The distribution has not been completed as yet by the county officials, but will be soon and the amounts in each fund will be published.
This huge sum will retire thousands of dollars in bonds and warrants, will save much interest money and will put the county on a solid cash basis.
There is little chance that the state will claim a share of the money, as no action has been started to obtain it. It was announced several months ago that the state would ask for a portion of the money received.
----GRANTS PASS, Ore., Mar. 15.--(AP)--Josephine County has received a check for $530,664.53 from the federal government as its share of the Oregon and California grant land tax refund.
The county court meeting today has decided to call in all outstanding indebtedness and will retire this before any other use is made of the money.
The county's indebtedness is estimated at $144,000. No definite program of expenditure has been worked out.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 25, 1927, page 7
GORE IS VITAL FACTOR IN O.-C. BILL PASSAGEMuch of the credit for the passage of the Oregon-California land grant refund bill, with its financial reward of $1,151,962.74, is due to the efforts of W. H. Gore, president of the Medford National Bank, former legislator and chairman of the committee from the Western Oregon counties interested who went to Washington, D.C., to work for the passage of the bill.
Local Banker Labored 3 Months at Capitol for Measure--
Favor Applying Sum to Paying Indebtedness.
Mr. Gore labored for three months for the measure, which at the inception was given but slight chance. He toiled with Senators and Congressmen, showing them the justice of the proposals, and did not return home until final approval had been given by the President at his summer White House.
The local citizen was credited at the time with being a most important factor and with impressing the nation's statesmen by his voluminous and forceful data on the subject. Mr. Gore, with ex-U.S. Senator Robert N. Stanfield, took the initiative in the fight for the refund on forfeited taxes.
It is the opinion of Mr. Gore, who is excessively modest about his achievements, that the refund money should now be applied to paying off the indebtedness of the county.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 16, 1927, page 1
JACKSON FOLK LUCKY IN O.-C. LAND DRAWING
Philip Lowd of This City Wins Site on Redwood Highway and Jesse Miller of Prospect Gets Crater Highway Location in Land Office Lottery.ROSEBURG, Ore. March 18.--(AP)--Little interest was shown here today in the land drawing conducted by the Roseburg land office. The drawing was in connection with the opening of approximately 23,000 acres of O. and C. railroad and Coos Bay wagon road grant lands. All filings up to March 14 were counted as simultaneous and a drawing was held today to settle conflicts.
Interest centered chiefly in five tracts suitably located for summer home sites or automobile camps. Unit number 30 on the North Umpqua, east of Roseburg, was won by Clyde White of Hoaglin, from among eight applications. Unit number four on the Crater Lake Highway was won by Jesse Miller of Prospect from among six applications. Unit number 57 on the Redwood Highway went to Philip B. Lowd of Medford, and a similar tract, unit number 71, in the same vicinity, was secured by Fred Ereman of Grants Pass. There were eight applications for unit number 256 on the McKenzie Highway, and the tract was won by Vernon F. Caldwell of Walterville, Ore.
Out of 278 tracts offered for homesteading, applications have been filed for only 30. There were 14 conflicts. On tracts where there were no conflicts, the applications were allowed.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 18, 1927, page 1
TABLE ROCK GETS O.-C. SHARE FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTTABLE ROCK, Mar. 23.--Dick Strauss, a prominent farmer and stockman of Sams Valley was a business visitor here Tuesday.
It is reported that a case of smallpox has developed in the Agate district, the patient being a former employee of the Modoc orchard. This report has created quite a little scare among people in this district and several have been vaccinated during the last few days.
A check for $93.00 was received the first of the week by the clerk of the Table Rock school district, this being the amount due the district from the O.&C. tax refund.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 25, 1927, page B1
WAGNER CRK. MAY USE O.-C. MONEY TO BUILD SCHOOLWAGNER CREEK, March 31.--The Wagner Creek district received $6922.32 from the O. and C. land grant fund. It has been rumored that the sum collected will be spent for a new, modern school house, furnace heated, and properly ventilated. Medford Mail Tribune, April 1, 1927, page B8
COUNTY TO FIGHT O.-C. FUND GRABCounty Judge W. J. Hartzell announced this morning that Jackson County would join with Marion County in opposition to the efforts of the state to secure a share of the O.&C. tax refund monies, and would carry the question to the highest courts, if possible.
Will Join With Marion in Opposing State Plan--Jackson Would Be Heavy Loser--Test Case to Highest Court in Prospect
It is expected that representatives of the 18 counties benefiting would meet at an early date, and decide upon a plan of action.
It also developed today that the state had made elaborate preparations to press its claims, according to County Judge Hartzell, including the issuance of a pamphlet, "that must have cost at least $500," setting forth the contentions of the state and showing comparative figures on the amounts received from each county, before and after the passage of the O.-C. tax refund.
----SALEM, Ore., April 9.--(AP)--That the courts will be called upon to determine whether the state is entitled to a portion of funds paid over to Oregon counties, under the O. and C. land grant refund, became apparent here today following a demand on J. T. Hunt, Marion County judge by Sam A. Kozer, secretary of state. The demand is a mere formality and will be refused by Judge Hunt.
The state eventually expects to lay claim against 18 counties for a total sum amounting to $1,349,391. The maximum sum claimed from a single county is $321,168 from Jackson County. The minimum is $4351 from Lincoln County.
In his letter to Judge Hunt and other Marion County officers, Kozer declares that Marion County has received, under the O. and C. land grant refund, the sum of $119,335.56, "of which $24,059.41 is directed and required by said act of Congress to be paid to the state of Oregon."
"We expect that this will probably be a test case," it was said today by I. H. VanWinkle, attorney general. "Our desire is merely to have the state's rights, whatever they are, finally determined in court. I presume the county officials are as anxious to have a determination made as we are."
It is expected that other counties in Oregon, which have received money under the O. and C. refund, will come to the assistance of Marion County when the question goes to court. If the state loses its cases against Marion County, it will drop the matter as regards other counties, but if the state wins here, it will press its claims against all the others.
It is anticipated that the state will institute mandamus proceedings against Marion County officials to require them to secure and pay over the money, rather than starting a direct action at law for recovery of the funds demanded. This will eliminate the services of a jury in the lower court, and bring the whole matter before the supreme court on appeal. It is expected that whichever side loses in circuit court, an appeal will be taken to the supreme court.
Under terms of the federal act under which the counties received their funds, according to the stand taken by the state, it is required that the funds shall be paid over to the counties and paid out by the counties to the same parties and in the same proportion that taxes would have been paid out had they been collected by the county on the lands in question.
It is unofficially understood that counties have paid out the money as required by to the school districts, road districts or others, as apparently required by the congressional act, but no payment has been made to the state.
----ROSEBURG, Ore., April 9.--(AP)--District Attorney Guy Cordon of Douglas County is today getting into communication with County Judge Moses of Benton County to consult with him regarding the action to be taken by the other land grant counties of the state in joining with Marion in the suit brought by the state of Oregon to obtain a share of the O. and C. money. Judge Moses is chairman of the committee appointed by the counties affected by the land grant act to handle the legal affairs, while Mr. Cordon was appointed several months ago as the legal representative of the several counties and he will appear on behalf of all the counties in the trial of the case, cooperating with the Marion County legal staff and such outside legal talent as may be secured by the counties.
Attorney Cordon was county assessor of Douglas County at the time the land grants were revested in the government. He was a member of the of the delegation that went from the state to appear before the congressional committee investigating the refund measure and personally prepared the brief which was submitted to the Senate committee and which later was embodier in the Senate's favorable report.
Because of his thorough understanding of the act and the land grant situation, Mr. Cordon was chosen by the county judges to represent the counties in a legal way.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 9, 1927, page 1
ALL AFTER SLICE OF O-C FUNDSSALEM, Ore., April 9.--(AP)--Counties which did not participate in the land grant refund may seek to compel the state to divide its share among them if the state succeeds in obtaining a share from the eighteen counties that did participate, it was indicated today.
Oregon Counties Not in Land Grant May Ask for Share, If Division Is Ordered--General Now Ordered--Jackson Joins in Legal Fight to Resist State.
This statement was made by members of the Marion County court who yesterday requested to repay to the state $34,059.41 out of the $119,355.56 which was the county's share of the refund. They announced they would resist the claim.
----According to well-informed local authorities, the act of the state in requesting a portion of the O.-C. grant tax refund will precipitate a long legal battle in the high courts. The announcement that the state would make this move was no surprise to officials but was unknown to the public in general.
Outside of the distribution of the money to the school districts, road districts and apportionment to various funds, no disposition of the share received by this county has been made. Jackson County would pay the largest amount if the state is successful in its contentions.
Douglas and Jackson counties have both signified their intention of assisting Marion County in resisting the claims. The other counties benefiting are expected to make formal declarations of assistance this week. A meeting of the representatives of the various counties affected will be held in the near future to map out a plan of action. In Douglas County the apportionment of the money calls for the building of a $200,000 courthouse and retirement of road bonds.
County Judge W. J. Hartzell yesterday announced that Jackson County would oppose the state's claim "to the last legal ditch."
Medford Mail Tribune, April 10, 1927, page 1
PAYMENTS O.-C. FUNDS APPROVEDWASHINGTON, Apr. 11.--Payment of approximately $10,000,000 in back taxes to 23 counties in Oregon and Washington has been approved by the interior department. The taxes are for land formerly held by the Oregon and California railroad and taken over by the government in 1915.
Treasury Department to Issue Over Ten Millions to Oregon and Washington Counties--Douglas Attorney Heads Legal Fight Against State Claim of Share.
One of the largest payments is to Douglas County, Oregon, which will receive $1,471,640. Several to other counties run into several hundred thousand dollars, but the exact amounts and the names of the counties sharing in the distribution were not made public today.
Comptroller General McCarl, to whom the recommendation for payment is submitted by the interior department, after the amount is determined, has approved that to Douglas County.
Several other payments have not been considered as yet by the General Accounting Office.
Under a bill passed by the last Congress, the interior department was authorized to determine the amount of the taxes from 1915 to 1926 and to pay them. The government recovered title to the land on which the Oregon and California Railroad line was operated in 1915, but had questioned the right of the western counties to tax the land.
An opinion of the supreme court, however, sustained this right with the result that the back tax payments are being made.
----ROSEBURG, Ore., Apr. 11.--(AP)--District Attorney Guy Cordon leaves tomorrow for Salem to represent the land grant counties of Oregon cooperating with Marion County in contesting the state's claim to a portion of the O.&C. grant land tax refund. Attorney Cordon, who was recently selected by the organization of the land grant counties to supervise the legal matters connected with the land grant case, has been given assurance from practically all of the affected counties that they will defend their claims until the last, going to the United States Supreme Court if necessary, and will proportionately bear the costs which may be incurred.
County Judge Bernard of Lane County and Commissioner C. L. Beckley of Douglas County, members of the legal committee appointed by the county courts of the land grant counties, spent yesterday evening in Roseburg conferring with Attorney Cordon regarding plans for the court defense.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 11, 1927, page 1
O.-C. FUND COUNTIES GIVE AIDSALEM, Ore., April 12.--(AP)--Victor P. Moses, county judge of Benton County and chairman of the Oregon and California Land Grant Association, made up of the eighteen counties receiving money from the government as refund for Oregon and California grant land taxes, has written to County Judge Hunt of this county offering the aid and resources of the association to fight the demand of the state for a share of the tax.
Assure Marion of Full Support in Legal Fight to Block State Attack--Amounts to Be Paid Certified by Treasury Department.
While the formal demand made recently on the Marion County court by Secretary of State Kozer for something over $24,000 of Marion County's share of the refund applied to Marion County alone, the state does not conceal the fact that the demand on Marion County is only in the nature of a test case. If the state wins out against Marion County it will mean that all the eighteen counties involved will have to pay up their share to the state.
Judge Moses, in his letter, not only extended the good offices of the associations to the Marion County court and district attorney, but asks for advices and says that as soon as he hears the wishes of the court he will call a meeting to be held in Salem in the near future to discuss the matter and what assistance is needed to contest the case.
The local court is in a mood to go against the highest tribunal against the state's demands, as it believes the state is not entitled to any of the money.
----WASHINGTON, April 12.--(AP)--A list of counties in Washington and Oregon to which payments of back taxes by the federal government have been certified to the Treasury by the interior department shows that three in excess of one million dollars are to be made.
In addition to Douglas County, Oregon, which is to receive $1,471,640, Jackson County, Oregon, gets $1,151,962 and Lane County, Oregon $1,069,840. Other payments scale down to $3764 to Clark County, Washington, the only one in the state to benefit. Seventeen Oregon counties are to receive payments. The total thus far certified, covering taxes on land recovered by the government from the Oregon and California railroad in 1915, is $6,027,396. They include payments of $111,855 to Klamath County; $198,346 to Linn; $200,206 to Polk; $266,647 to Benton; $503,706 to Coos; $139,853 to Columbia; $530,644 to Josephine; $119,355 to Marion; $63,644 to Washington County; $52,734 to Yamhill; $40,500 to Tillamook; $31,527 to Lincoln; $25,792 to Curry and $45,353 to Multnomah, all Oregon counties.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 12, 1927, page 6
O.-C. COUNTIES PICK COUNSEL TO FIGHT GRABSALEM, Ore., April 14.--(AP)--John H. Carson, district attorney of Marion County, and District Attorney Guy Cordon of Douglas County will be associated together as counsel to represent the 18 counties of Oregon against whom the state is preparing to bring action to collect part of the O. and C. land grant fund. Arrangements to this effect were completed here this afternoon by a committee of officials representing the counties.
Officials Meet at Roseburg Today--Levy to Be Made in Proportion to Amount Received to Pay Expenses--Early Settlement of Case Expected.
Decision was also made to make a levy upon each of the 18 counties affected in proportion to the amount the county is to receive under the land grant refund, the idea being that all the counties will combine to assist Marion County in its legal fight against the state. Within the next few days, it is anticipated that the state will begin its action against Marion County in court here, expecting to make it a test case.
"The whole case will probably be decided on a demurrer," said Cordon this afternoon. "There is nothing in it for a jury to decide, the whole thing is interpretation of the statute."
The committee of county officials consisted of the following:
County Judge V. P. Moses of Benton County, chairman; Judge C. P. Bernard, Lane County; Judge John Phillip, Columbia; Judge R. H. Mast, Coos; Commissioner C. L. Beckley of Douglas and Judge W. J. Hartzell of Jackson. J. T. Hunt, Marion County judge, was also present as an official against whom action is to be brought, although Judge Hunt is not a member of the committee.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 14, 1927, page 1
FIRST MOVE FILED O.-C. COIN GRABSALEM, April 23.--(AP)--The long anticipated suit by the state of Oregon to collect certain Oregon and California land grant funds from counties in the state was begun in circuit court here this morning. A petition for a writ of mandamus was filed by Attorney General I. H. Van Winkle in behalf of Sam A. Kozer, secretary of state, to require members of the county court, the county clerk and the county treasurer of Marion County to pay over to the state the sum of $24,059.41. It is claimed that this amount is due the state under the terms of the federal act under which the Oregon-California land grant refund was made to the counties.
State Starts Suit Against Land Grant Counties--Jackson Listed to Lose $213,967--Relief to Tax Burdens Indefinite.
In a tabulation of statistics compiled by Attorney General Van Winkle this morning, it is indicated that Marion County and six other land grant counties will gain by complying with the alleged terms of the act while the remaining eleven land grant counties will lose.
All eighteen of the counties which would be affected by a ruling in the Marion County case have banded together to resist the state's suit here, however, and both sides have announced that the result of the suit in circuit court will be considered merely preliminary and that the supreme court will make the final adjudication of the case on appeal. Attorney General Van Winkle has expressed himself as desiring merely to arrive at a final determination of what the various rights in the case are.
A table of figures compiled by the state tax commission at the request of Mr. Van Winkle shows that the eleven counties that are heaviest beneficiaries under the O.&C. land grant refund will lose by complying with the state's demand. These counties and the sums they will lose are listed as follows:
Benton, $35,882; Clackamas $23,329; Columbia $15,071; Coos $44,141; Crook $454; Douglas $282,216; Jackson $213,967; Josephine $83,942; Lane $168,927; Linn $8,908; Polk $27,682.
The seven land grant counties that would be benefitted are listed as follows:
Klamath $9959; Lincoln $6375; Marion $34,170; Multnomah $477,466; Tillamook $20,072; Washington $29,667; Yamhill $14,922.
Other counties not coming under the terms of the O.&C. land grant refund would all be benefitted as follows;
Baker $27,855; Clatsop $34,668; Crook $6965; Deschutes $15,544; Gilliam $11,924; Grant $9053; Harney $10,534; Hood River $12,336; Jefferson $6483; Lake $12,261; Malheur $16,049; Morrow $13,275; Sherman $12,275; Umatilla $56,659; Union $23,751; Wallowa $14,036; Wasco $21,599; Wheeler $5,555.
This situation is due to the fact that the refund money claimed by the state, if paid by the counties as demanded, will go into the general state treasury, reducing the state's financial burden which would otherwise be apportioned out among the counties. In the case of eleven counties hardest hit by the state's demand, sums asked are in excess of the proportionate benefits returning to the counties. These are the counties which received the largest amounts of refund money.
"I can't say that this payment to the state will have the effect on an actual reduction of state taxes apportioned to the counties," it was stated this morning by Earl L. Fisher, state tax commissioner, "but eventually it will be of that much indirect relief to them, for the state is, of course, supported through the counties."
No provision was made as to how the state will apply the money in case it gets it. It is estimated that the total amount from the eighteen counties to the state will amount to $349,842 in case the state receives the portion it demands.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 23, 1927, page 1
W. H. GORE THINKS O.-C. REFUND WILL NOT REDUCE TAXPears in the Rogue River Valley will provide a good crop this year, although not as heavy a one as last year, yet, on the whole, a very substantial crop, is the opinion of William H. Gore, banker of Medford, who is registered at the Multnomah. The growers are prepared to wash the fruit, if it is considered necessary, as it was the objection to the spray last year which so upset the pear growers of Southern Oregon and resulted in considerable loss. According to Mr. Gore, it costs 3 to 5 cents a box to remove the spray--not much, superficially, but aggregating a formidable sum when you consider treating the entire crop. By the first of July Medford expects to have its new water system in operation. The contractors are rushing the job and it looks as though the water will be rushing through the pipes in time for the first of the month. The water is captured in the mountains from springs and the volume is so great that it will be sufficient to take care of Medford when the population is twice what it is today. Mr. Gore is the man who conceived the thought of having the federal government turn over money to the counties in which the Oregon and California land grants lay. He worked on this idea for several years before it finally became seriously recognized and eventually Congress made the appropriation. Several of the counties are still arguing what they will do with the money they received, and Mr. Gore expresses the belief that notwithstanding the receipt of the funds, taxes will not be lowered in the counties affected.--Portland Oregonian.
Medford Mail Tribune, Junil 16, 1927, page 3
REDUCTION IN COUNTY DEBT NEAR $500,000The county tax budget for the year, subject to final approval by the budget committee at an open meeting to be held Wednesday, November 25, has been completed for publication and reveals an increase in population, a healthy financial condition, a reduction in the county bonded indebtedness, that the city of Ashland will pay approximately 1.6 mills less levy than the rest of the county, and that the levy for the county will be at least 2.8 mills less than last year.
O. and C. Tax Refund Is Responsible for Reduction in Debt and Lowering of County Tax Levy Nearly Three Mills.
By an act of the last session of the legislature, the county is prohibited from levying general road millage on property within the corporate limits of Ashland, as provided for in their city charter.
The general road levy will be for $123,000 or approximately 1.4 mills. The county library levy of .2 mills is provided for in Ashland by a special city levy.
The general road levy calls for $123,000, less $65,000 expected to be secured from auto licenses and rent of forest lands, or $57,000. The amount last year was $54,356.84. The increase was due to the repair of flood damage last February.
The estimated expenses of schools and libraries is $86,011.60. It is figured upon the basis of 10 cents for each child of school age, showing there are 8,601 school children now. Last year the budget called for $83,134, or 8,314 children of school age.
The bonded indebtedness of the county is $490,000. Owing to the application of O.-C. tax refund funds, there will be no levy this year for redemption of highway bonds, which last year was 1.3 mills, netting $41,000, and no levy for highway bonds interest, which last year was 1.5 mills, netting $50,000.
According to the treasurer's figures, $410,000 worth of highway bonds have been redeemed since the passage of the O.-C. refund bill.
No levy is made for the enforcement of the prohibition law, the law providing that this work be taken care of from fines for violations. The prohibition fund, the first of October, showed a surplus of $2000, a radical departure from the late enforcement of Special County Prohibition Enforcement Office Sam Sandefer, with a yearly outlay of approximately $10,000.
The budget provides $6,500 for an emergency fund and $3,000 for a county fair.
For the market road fund $49,395 is provided. Last year it was $44,764.46. Most of this sum will be expended on the Lake Creek market road and completion of market roads in the Applegate and Sams Valley.
The current expenses, which provide for the maintenance of all county offices and agencies, is figured at $176,130.50. Last year it was $169,465.46. The estimated receipts of the county from various sources is $101.950.
The estimate for the state tax for this county is $213,528.17. Last year it was $213,528.47.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 1, 1927, page 1
CO. COURT PAYS GORE FOR O.&C.At a special meeting of the county court yesterday, a county warrant in the sum of $5000 for services rendered in the Oregon-California tax refund matter, was issued to William H. Gore, president of the Medford National Bank, who spent two months in Washington D.C. while the bill was pending in Congress, and awaiting the signature of the President.
$5000 Paid Local Banker for Services in Securing O. and C. Tax Refund of Over Million--Will Issue Explanation on Wednesday, December 7th.
The county warrant was paid and cancelled yesterday.
The county court announced that at its regular meeting next Wednesday a resolution, setting forth the whys and wherefores of the payment, would be passed and signed.
An order was passed yesterday ordering the county clerk to draw the warrant.
Jackson County's share of the tax refund money was $1,152,543.23, and at one time it was proposed that Mr. Gore receive one percent of this sum for his work, over $100,000.
During his stay in the national capital in behalf of the measure, the expenses of Mr. Gore were paid by the county, according to county officials.
The tax refund idea is generally credited to Mr. Gore, and for years before it consummation he was a worker in its behalf, and was instrumental in interesting former Senator R. N. Stanfield, who introduced a bill in the Senate. Congressman Hawley introduced a similar bill in the house. It finally passed both houses. It was then up to the President for signature, and it was threatened with veto. The President was finally prevailed upon to sign the bill at his summer White House in the Adirondacks.
While the tax refund bill was proceeding its devious ways through Congress, Mr. Gore was making speeches, conferring with congressional leaders and busy explaining to the doubtful the merits of the tax refund. There is no doubt that he toiled long and strenuously, and was a vital factor in securing the passage of the bill. While awaiting the presidential signature, Mr. Gore was leader of the political maneuvers to get the presidential John Hancock upon the bill.
Mr. Gore returned home from the capital and was warmly welcomed at the depot as a conquering football team and was hailed as a public benefactor.
About the time that the O. and C. refund check arrived at the county treasurer's office, the matter of compensation for Mr. Gore was broached, and received chillily by the public and by the people of the state in general.
The matter of compensation was forgotten, but has been pending quietly, as the county warrant of yesterday attests.
County Commissioner Victor Bursell said over the telephone this morning that the $5000 county warrant was "issued simply as a gift for services rendered in securing $1,200,000 for Jackson County."
The county commissioner stated that at one time it was suggested that one percent of the sum received be paid, but that this was rescinded and no action taken.
Commissioner Bursell said that the warrant was issued upon the solicitation of taxpayers who had met with the court, among the number being Mike Hanley, A. C. Hubbard and Frank Wortman.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 3, 1927, page 1
O.-C. COUNTIES TO BE ASKED TO PAY BILL GOREThe Jackson County court, which Friday issued a warrant to W.H. Gore, Medford banker-farmer, for $5,000 for services rendered in the Oregon-California tax refund matter, will request that other Western Oregon counties who benefitted from the bill will pay Mr. Gore their proportionate share of the $15,000 claimed to have been expended in behalf of the bill.
Jackson Takes Lead in Reward for Services in Securing Passage of Bill--Josephine Expected to Follow Suit in Payment of Expenses.
County Judge W.J. Hartzell said yesterday that other counties would be requested to do their share, and that the county court "felt Jackson County should take the lead."
It was said that Josephine County would be next to extend a financial reward to Mr. Gore.
According to county officials the payment of the $5000 was made after a delegation of taxpayers had discussed the matter, and held the same to be just and fair.
Eighteen western Oregon counties benefited to the extent of approximately $18,000,000 by the passage of the O.-C. refund bill and its final approval by the President.
Mr. Gore spent two months in the capital working for the passage of the bill. He was the originator of the plan, and highly conversant with its every detail.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 4, 1927, page 1
DECLARE GORE SPENT $14,700 OF OWN MONEYTo the Editor:
Committee of Prominent Medford Citizens Explain Why Banker Should Be Reimbursed--Corrections Made in M.T. Announcement.
We desire to correct some errors in the Mail Tribune article appearing on the front page of December 3rd in which is discussed the issue of a warrant in favor of W. H. Gore.
While Mr. Gore has refrained from participation in such discussion of these matters, either in public or in private, we believe the public should be informed as to the facts.
The article states that he was "two months in Washington" in the interest of the measure. Mr. Gore spent three and a half months of labor in our behalf.
Further, the article represents that his expenses were paid by the county. Mr. Gore used in his campaign in behalf of the undertaking a sum exceeding $14,700, beside $3850 spent by Mr. Gore that was provided by the counties to finance the undertaking.
It is a matter of common knowledge that Mr. Gore was the originator of the tax refund idea and the only worker in its behalf until January 1926. It is universally conceded that only his unfailing determination and personal labors resulted in recovery of, in round figures, $7,800,000 for the eighteen counties of Oregon, and $1,151,962.74 for the years 1916 to 1925, and an amount of $118,300.03 for 1926 for Jackson County alone.
In addition to this, provision was also made for continuing annual payments by the government until the O.&C. lands pass to private ownership. In other words, these lands were permanently restored to the tax roll and it is safe to say that this county will receive $100,000 for 1927.
As to the statement in this paper that "the $5000 warrant was issued simply as a gift": The undersigned asked the court, not for a gift nor for payment for services rendered, only reimbursement for his costs in this matter. We feel that every other honest taxpayer will insist upon this being done.
We would also like to correct the statement of $100,000 being 1% of $1,000,000, as stated in your article. 1% of $1,000,000 is only $10,000.
M. F. HANLEY,Medford Mail Tribune, December 6, 1927, page 1
A. C. HUBBARD,
J. F. WORTMAN,
M. J. NORRIS,
A. H. FISHER,
Gore's Tactics Condemned.To the Editor:
I had supposed that Bert Anderson's expose of W. H. Gore's first attempt to fix liability upon Jackson County, by the aid of the county judge and county commissioners, and the resulting storm of indignation, had ended this form of attempting to raid the county treasury. It seems we were mistaken. I will not attempt a review of this matter but only state a few things that occur to me.
Has the judge and county commissioners any power to order money paid out of the treasury as a gift or bonus?
I should say, certainly not. They can only do so by pursuing a proper course, where a legal liability is determined on the part of the county. The payment to Gore was illegal and made under suspicious circumstances. Gore knew this when he received and cashed the warrant. All the officials connected with the transaction must have known it. Will the people suffer this to pass unresented? In order to establish a moral claim in the total absence of a legal one against the county, it would appear that Gore, working under cover, as he has consistently done in this matter, has given the information to certain evidently misguided friends that it is not a gift or bonus, but a reimbursement of expense. They state that in three and a half months in Washington D.C., he spent $3850 furnished him and over $14,700 of his own money, a total of $18,550.
If he had an account for expense to present to the county, why did he not openly and in the usual way present it as a claim, properly itemized. I spent several winters in Washington in similar work, and I assert deliberately that he never can present an itemized and just account for such a sum, unless the money was improperly expended.
I would like to cross-examine him under oath on this point.
GEO. A. MANSFIELD,"Communications," Medford Mail Tribune, December 8, 1927, page 4
Prospect, Dec. 8.
Should List Gore's Expenses.To the Editor:
If Mr. Gore's necessary and proper expenses were $18,550, the bill should be paid in full by the benefitted counties. The other members of the committee should be treated as fairly. But the taxpayers have a right to know where their money goes and unless a frank showing is made in the matter, a recall should be in order.
Our officials certainly have no legal right to give "presents" of public money to anyone.
O. E. SIMMERS,"Communications," Medford Mail Tribune, December 13, 1927, page 4
Route 1, Medford.
GORE'S ALLEGED EXPENSES ARE GIVEN RAZZINGTo the Editor:
Bert Anderson, in Public Statement, Calls $14,700 Expenses Pure Moonshine--No One Should Be Paid--$5000 'Gift' OKed.
I hold the conviction that matters affecting the public should be discussed openly and publicly. This way only can the true facts be brought out and the truth established. If a self-governing republic, such as ours, is to endure, it must have an intelligent and informed citizenry--the people can be depended on to act justly and generously if they come into possession of the facts; the independent and unpurchasable newspapers of the country are the people's greatest publicity medium; through these, the humblest citizen can secure an immediate hearing, and if he has a just cause, he can rally to his support that imponderable but irresistible force called public opinion.
Now, since I have thrown out an impenetrable smoke screen, we can get down to brass tacks and discuss "who won the war." Did the Hon. Bill Gore win it? If so, what shall the concessions, mandates and indemnities be?
The county court says a donation or gift of $5000--six "well-known citizens and heavy taxpayers" in a published prepared statement insist that it shall be called a "reimbursement"--this last word was certainly an inspiration--commission, bonus, fee, manifestly could not be used; these terrible terms had brought shipwreck to the pork barrel in 1926. "Reimbursement"--surely this is a slick word.
How I came to overlook it all these years I can't imagine; its implications are boundless, its possibilities in the direction of entangling thought and concealing motives is in the nature of a discovery; it brings visions of how desirable but forbidden fleshpots may be acquired with small fear of detection. I feel sure that we have all been sadly neglecting the word "reimbursement."
$14,700 of MoonshineThese six practical jokers, masquerading as prominent Medford citizens, tell us, without cracking a smile, that besides the $3850 furnished by the county court, Mr. Gore had used "a sum exceeding $14,700" of his own money in this three and a half months campaign for the recovery of O. and C. land grant taxes. It is my studied opinion that this $14,700 business is pure moonshine. If Mr. Gore spent $14,700 of his own money in his efforts to secure the passage of the Stanfield bill, all he has to do is to present a properly attested bill to the county court and the people of Jackson County will see that it is paid--for the agreement when Mr. Gore was sent to Washington was that all legitimate expenses were to be paid--win or lose.
The county court, by resolution of record, has presented Mr. Gore with a gift of $5000 as a token of appreciation and gratitude for the notable service rendered by him in our behalf. While this action might be hard to defend on purely legal grounds, I believe it to be the right, the just and generous thing to do; it was the only thing they could do--putting it on a commission or reimbursement basis was not in the cards.
No Influence with County CourtSome very ridiculous charges have been made in reference to my influence with the present county court; I am sorry to say I have none whatever; part of the time we manage under a sort of gentleman's truce--part of the time under a species of armed neutrality--but no entente cordiale. However, I frankly approve of their action and believe they will be sustained by the sober judgment of the people. What small part, if any, I had in bringing about the payment of this $5000 will be disclosed in the following copy of a letter written and mailed to the county court some seven months ago, and to which they never made reply,
"Medford, Oregon,Hon. W. J. Hartzell and Members of the County Court,
April 30, 1927.
The affairs of life are so pressing that most of us fail to give any expression of gratitude for favors and benefits received; so, "lest we forget," I am going to say to you that in my judgement, the people of Jackson County would look with a great deal of favor on action being taken by the county court to appropriate $2500 to $5000 to present to the Hon. W. H. Gore, as an expression of gratitude from the people of this county for the exceptional work performed by Mr. Gore in securing the large advance of money from the federal government in the Oregon and California land grant matter.
Mr. Gore and I have been personal and political friends for years, and when I had published in the newspapers a protest against the collection of any commission on this refund from the federal government, it was done without any feeling of animosity toward Mr. Gore, but was done with the belief that probably I was the only man in the state who was qualified by a complete knowledge, from the very beginning, of the circumstances surrounding the passage of the Stanfield bill, to make an effective contribution protest against the collection of a bonus or commission.
No One to Be PaidThe understanding at all times was that no one was to be paid for work in connection with the passage of this measure or the collection of this money. The bill was introduced as a relief measure for the overburdened taxpayers of these eighteen counties. Most Congressmen and Senators finally came to the support of this measure, as a relief measure. I feel sure that President Coolidge would not have signed this bill if he had known that an effort would be made to collect a commission on it. It was purely a relief measure, and thousands of others felt that every dollar of it should go for the relief of the taxpayers of these eighteen counties. However, that has nothing to do with the question of the people of Jackson County expressing to Mr. Gore their sense of gratitude for the leading part he took in the passage of the Stanfield bill.
Credit for StanfieldI would make another suggestion in connection with the passage of this measure: When the new courthouse for Jackson County is finally built, it would be a fine thing to do for the court to have a proper bronze memorial tablet prepared, giving full credit to Senator Stanfield for the introduction and passage of this relief measure. This tablet should be set in the front or near the entrance of the new court house in a position where it can be easily seen and read by the public at all times.
Of course, it is up to the county court to take whatever action in these matters they may see fit, and I am offering this only by way of suggestion for the county court to think about.
With highest personal regards for each member of the court, I remain,
Sincerely yours,Medford Mail Tribune, December 13, 1927, page 6
ORDER O-C TAX CASE RE-ARGUEDSALEM, Ore., April 3.--(AP)--The supreme court today sprang a surprise by ordering a re-argument to be held Thursday morning of this week in the Oregon-California railroad land grant tax refund case.
Supreme Court Springs Surprise in Action Where State Is Seeking Cut from Grant Money--This County Interested.
The case of the state against the county court for Marion County involves the question whether the state is to share in the refund under the congressional act, or whether the land grant counties are to receive all of the money, which in the ultimate total will be about $10,000,000.
The case was first argued January 27, and for weeks interested officials and attorneys have expected an opinion among the regular Tuesday list of supreme court decisions.
----If Marion County loses in its effort to prevent the state of Oregon from collecting a share in the Oregon-California grant land tax refund, it would mean that Jackson County should be forced to pay the state approximately $250,000, or in other words the price it would take to build a new county court house, which is to be constructed in five years, said City Attorney John Carkin. The case of the state versus Marion County was argued first two months ago. If Marion County is unsuccessful, Jackson County could resort to a separate suit to prevent the collection by the state.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 3, 1928, page 1
DECISION FOILS STATE IN O-C GRABSALEM, Ore., March 17.--(AP)--The state of Oregon is not entitled to share in the Oregon and California land grant tax refund to the counties under the Stanfield Act, according to an opinion by the supreme court today.
OPINION BENEFITS JACKSON
Supreme Court Rules No Legal Foundation for Claim of State--Stanfield Bill Clear--Test Case May Be Appealed to U.S. Supreme Court.
The case was that of the state tax commission against the Marion County court to recover $24,059.41, claimed by the state as its share. This, however, was only the pivot on which turned the interests of 17 other counties lying along the Southern Pacific railroad, including Columbia County, and involving a total claim of the state in amount of $1,349,000.
The supreme court opinion was written by Justice Bean, concurred in by Justices Coshow, McBride and Brown. Chief Justice Rand wrote a dissenting opinion, concurred in by Justices Belt and Rossman.
The opinion affirms Judge L. H. McMahan of the circuit court for Marion County, who dismissed an alternative writ of mandamus.
It was predicted here today that the case would be appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
"In order for a peremptory writ to be issued," says the opinion, "the alternative writ must disclose a clear duty on the part of the defendant to pay the amount therein provided under the terms of the act of Congress approved June 13, 1926.
"The obligation of the county to contribute its portion of the state revenue exists only by virtue of the statute, and the valid requirement of the county to contribute to the funds or revenues of the state must have its foundation in law. Usually a legislative enactment prescribes the duties and obligations of a county to its parent state.
"In order for a county officer to be warranted or authorized to pay out the funds of a county to a state official or anyone else, the law must so require and direct. The county officer making such a disbursement must be able to put his finger upon the law creating the demand and prescribing his official duty.
"The allegation of the writ . . . to the effect that by reason of matters and things alleged in the writ of the county of Marion has received from the United States now has in its possession the sum of $24,054.51, which it is specifically required and directed by law to pay to the state of Oregon is a mere conclusion based upon other allegations of the writ, and does not fulfill the requirement. The state has not shown a legal duty on the part of the defendants to pay it said sum, or any part thereof."
Again the opinion says: "Under the plain provisions of the act of July 13, 1926, the funds received by Marion County thereunder are to be prorated and apportioned to the county port districts, school districts, road districts and other civil subdivisions of the county as required by the state law and no part thereof is due the state of Oregon."
Chief Justice Rand, in his dissenting opinion, takes direct issue with this and lays stress on section five of the act, which "directs that when received by the counties all moneys . . . shall be prorated, apportions, and paid to the state, county port districts, school districts, road districts and other civil subdivisions of the county in the same proportion as the taxes assessed, levied and collected by the county for the year covered by such payment are apportioned and paid to the state, county, and each civil subdivision will receive the same amount as though the money had been paid by a taxpayer for each year."
----The decision of the state supreme court today, in favor of the counties in the attempt of the state to grab a portion of the O.-C. tax refund monies, was received with satisfaction here by county officials and others. The decision will stabilize Jackson County finances to the extent of $250,000, which has been kept in a surplus fund, not being available as long as it was involved in litigation.
According to County Commissioner Victor Bursell, the final disposition of the money will not be made for six or eight months. It may be used for the retirement of Crater Lake Highway bonds, or used for the erection of a new county courthouse.
----ROSEBURG, Ore., April 17.--(AP)--The announcement of the decision of the supreme court relative to the state's claim for a share of the O. and C. land grant refund was received here today with great rejoicing in Douglas County, which had more at stake than any of the other land grant counties. Had the decision been in favor of the state, Douglas County's payment to the state would have been $340,000 and an annual payment of approximately $24,000.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 17, 1928, page 1
O-C TAX COIN SET ASIDE FOR COURTHOUSEThe county court, at its regular session today, issued the following statement upon the disposition of the O. & C. tax refund monies, made available by the decision of the state supreme court yesterday holding that the state of Oregon had no claim thereto:
County Court to Study Plans and Sites for New Building--Funds on Hand for Retiring Road Bonds--Balk at Paying Excessive Premiums.
"The county court, in session today, discussed the decision of the supreme court, which upheld the circuit court of Marion County, in decreeing that the state of Oregon had no claim to the tax monies paid into the counties by the government on the revested O. & C. lands, and agreed that it was the proper time to advise the people of this county that it is their intention that the money saved to the county by this decision, some $270,000, should be set aside as a fund for the construction of a new court house, as authorized by the people, and decided to investigate plans for the new building and inspect different sites for its erection.
"In using this money the court will obviate the necessity of levying special taxes for the court house construction.
"Members of the county court feel that it is well to act on this matter at this early date, in order that if the taxpayers wish, they might refer the matter to the people at the November election.
"At this time there are funds on hand to retire all outstanding bonds, with the exception of some $170,000 of Crater Lake Highway bonds, which the court has found they cannot retire without paying to the present holders an excessive premium, and they will retire these bonds from the yearly payments received from the county into the general fund, from the yearly payments made by the government on the above lands, which approximate some $70,000 per year."
Medford Mail Tribune, April 18, 1928, page 1
JACKSON CO. TO GET $98,546 of O.&C. REFUNDSWASHINGTON, Aug. 22.--(AP)--Payment of $103,190 to two counties in Oregon as settlement of tax claims on reverted lands was requested of Secretary Mellon today by Secretary of the Interior West. Jackson County is to receive $98,546 and Lincoln County $4644.
Secretary Mellon Requested by Secretary of Interior West to Pay Large Sum to Jackson County on Tax Refund Claims.
Under the act of 1926 the government was ordered to pay several counties in Oregon and Washington sums equal to amount of taxes that would have accrued between 1916 and 1926 on revested land granted to the Oregon and California Railroad Company.
----This allowance by the Treasury Department of the Jackson County claim for $98,713.83 will be reduced by $200 to $300. According to County Assessor J. B. Coleman the government, in the compiling of the amount, computed to the .45 of an acre, and .4 of a cent. Assessor Coleman says he has discovered an error of one cent in the computations by the departmental clerks, and is thinking some of telling them about it.
The placing of a section of land in the Ashland watershed removed that much land from the O.-C. refund claim.
The city of Jacksonville will recover $8.09 owing to the discovery of 40 acres within the city limits that come under the refund law.
The money receivable from the O.-C. claims was apportioned in this year's budget by the county court as follows:
To the bond sinking fund . . . $71,817.64
To the road district fund . . . $9,921.94
To the school fund . . . $16,966.06
The valuation of the land affected, under the 1915 assessment, was placed at $3,704,840.89.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 22, 1928, page 1
COUNTY RECEIVES A $98,546 CHECK FROM UNCLE SAMA check for $98,546.47 was received this morning by the county treasurer's office from the Treasury Department, Washington, D.C. as the 1928 payment to Jackson County of its share of the O.-C. tax refund money.
This sum will be available within a week for use in county financial matters, and will be apportioned by the assessor's office into the general, road and school funds.
The check received today is the third received by this county, and the total received from the O.-C. fund to date, according to the county treasurer's office, totals $1,368,809.24.
The first check was for $1,151,962.74, and covered the back payments for a 10-year payment. It was received in March, 1927.
The second check was received September 27, 1927, and was drawn for the sum of $118,300.03, and was the regular annual payment for 1927.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 27, 1928, page 3
DISPOSITION O.-C. FUND IS PROBLEM TO COUNTY COURTThe $270,000 in the O.-C. suspense fund of Jackson County is a thorn in the side of the county court, and on its final disposition hinges the future financial tranquility of the county. The same problem is also delaying the final certification of the county budget, which under the law must be made not later than next Monday. Attorneys of the city are preparing an opinion on the rights of the county court in the handling of the fund, which will be presented Monday, and upon which the final decision will likely be made.
The suspense fund was originally created as an anchor to windward in the event that the state of Oregon won its suit for a share of the O.-C. tax refund moneys. The state lost the suit, the United States Supreme Court handing down its ruling a few days before the last general election in favor of the counties. The suspense fund was thus voided, and thereafter had no legal place to go, and the county court had not sufficient time for the calling of an election before the preparation of the budget.
The state law is not very specific on what shall be done, but provides that "surplus moneys" be diverted to the general and current expense funds and subtracted from the amount to be raised in the budget. This would lower the "tax base," and in a year the financial affairs of the county would be in a "worse shape than the state's" according to Commissioner Victor Bursell. Commissioner George Alford said that this action "would mean just one bond election after another, to get enough money to run the county."
The county court desires to retain the money in the suspense fund for use in the building of a county courthouse, which will become a necessity when the five-year use of the present city hall expires.
The county court has been in session all of today, in an effort to find a solution of the problem. Medford Mail Tribune, December 29, 1928, page 6
O-C REFUND FIGHT EARNS $17,500 FOR CARSON, CORDON
ROSEBURG, Ore., July 11.--(AP)--Payment of $17,500 jointly to attorneys John Carson of Salem and Guy Cordon of Roseburg, who represented 18 land grant counties in successfully resisting the action brought by the state to secure a portion of the funds paid by the government as an O. and C. tax refund, was authorized by the executive committee of the Oregon Grant Land Counties Association last night.
The directors requested three circuit judges to fix the fees to be paid attorneys.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 11, 1929, page 1
COUNTY TO GET $92,994 CHECK IN TAX REFUND
Secretary Wilbur Orders Payment to Seven Oregon Counties of O. and C. Tax Return--Check Due in Mid-October.WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 28.--(AP)--Secretary Wilbur today requested the Treasury to pay seven Oregon counties various sums of money growing out of revested Oregon and California railroad company grant lands.
Jackson County will be paid $92,994; Curry County $2943; Klamath, $7918: Washington, $4434; Douglas, $151,476; Columbia, $7581 and Tillamook, $3973.
Claims were submitted to the Interior Department under the act of Congress which provides for payments to several counties in Oregon and Washington within whose boundaries the revested Oregon and California company grants lands are located.
Amounts of money are equal to taxes that would have accrued against these lands for the years 1916 to 1926, inclusive, if such lands remained privately owned and taxable.
----According to the county treasurer's office, the $92,994 is payment for the current taxes on O.-C. grant land in Jackson County.
The check for the sum is due in mid-October.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 28, 1929, page 1
COUNTY TO GET TIDY SUM FROM O-C TAX CLAIM
PORTLAND, Ore., June 13.--(AP)--The controller general of the United States today approved the claims of Oregon counties previously denied a part of the amounts due them under the Oregon and California tax reimbursement act of 1926, amounting to $200,000.
The treasury department will pay Clackamas County $153,053; Multnomah County $27,557 and Benton County $15,590. Curry and Jackson counties also will receive smaller payments.
----According to County Assessor J. B. Coleman, the amount for Jackson County from the O-C refund will amount this year to between $58,000 and $59,000.
Jackson County's claim previously disallowed will amount to $500 or $600, and is for land in the Jacksonville watershed. This land was eliminated from the payments, but was afterwards ordered back by the interior department.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 13, 1930, page 1
JACKSON COUNTY O-C TAX REFUND CLAIM ALLOWED
Notice was received today by the county court that the claim of Jackson County for money due under the provisions of the O. & C. tax refund for the year 1929 had been approved by the Department of the Interior, and would amount to $85,086.75.
The Treasury Department check for the sum will be received within the next month, and will be available for 1931 budget uses, it is expected.
The claim allowed is $133.28 more than claimed by the county. With great care, the government checked over each item. A half dozen errors in favor of the county amounted to one cent. The discrepancies were due to lack of knowledge of red tape technicalities.
Last year the O. & C. refund cash was used in the interest redeeming fund of the county. Its destination in the coming budget will be determined at sessions of the budget committee.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 22, 1930, page 3
O&C Wealth Actually Began with
Jacksonville Man's Uncomfortable Ride
By EVA HAMILTONIt all began with a Jacksonville farmer's uncomfortable ride--the wealth that comes to 18 Oregon counties from the resource management of revested Oregon and California (O&C) railroad grant lands.
Mail Tribune Staff Writer
At least that's the impression gained from reading a bit of history brought from the family files by Mrs. Charles Risse of Medford. As the former Gertrude Haskins, she has become possessor of written documents, clippings and photographs treasured by her father, the late Leon B. Haskins, and other relatives.
The railroading history seemed to gain more pertinence recently with announcement of addition of 243,000 more acres of land to the management of the Bureau of Land Management under the same treatment afforded the O&C lands. From O&C lands $57,789,348.30 was realized by 18 Oregon counties during fiscal year 1974, and more than $9 million by Jackson County in calendar year 1974.
The farmer's discomfort, riding on the Oregon-California stage between a fat man and a hoop-skirted woman, provoked his remark: "Dadgum, we need a railroad." A number of farmers agreed and Jacksonville got the first survey under way which led to some colorful railroading activity and competitive battles, followed many years later by the Revestment Act of 1916 which returned to the government title to lands granted to the Oregon and California Railroad.
It wasn't as simple as it may sound.
The first survey for a railroad from Portland to California was started in 1863. On the original subscription list financing the survey were such well-known names as Lindsay Applegate, O. C. Applegate, Wagner & McCall's mill, J. G. Van Dyke and R. S. Belknap. Some paid cash, up to $25 (more of them $10) and others donated supplies and grain.
In addition to the small amount of money, there was a federal grant in sight. The surveys were made and presented to the Oregon Legislature. in 1864. Senate Bill No. 14, according to an article in the Oregonian, proposed to grant this railroad one-half million acres of public lands granted to Oregon for internal improvements, 20 alternate sections per mile of railroad.
The railroad was to be constructed through the Willamette, Umpqua and Rogue River valleys.
Representative M. C. Cale of California had introduced a bill in Congress granting these lands to the California and Oregon Railroad Co., which would construct the road from Portland to the California line.
The Jacksonville survey reached Portland, and a corporation was formed called the Oregon Central Railroad Co. In the list of incorporators were W. S. Ladd, H. W. Corbett, J. C. Ainsworth, Joseph Gaston and Jesse Applegate, all names still familiar in Oregon history; and others whose family names still appear in Portland landmarks if not in the telephone books.
This line was to be built on the west side of the Willamette River. Competition soon arose. S. G. Elliott of California, backed by considerable capital, came along to incorporate another Oregon railroad company to build a line on the east side of the river. It was incorporated in Salem for $7,250,000 and the promoters proposed to sell shares at $100 each. It, too, expected to get the federal land grant.
By April 15, 1868, both of these million-dollar corporations were ready to break ground.
The west side Central Oregon railroad moved dirt first. Ceremonies were held in Portland and according to the Oregonian report everyone, "old men, middle-aged men, even ladies, vied with each other to throw dirt into the first car."
The following day the east sideline held groundbreaking ceremonies perhaps 500 yards from the east bank of the river. "A monster procession" marked this endeavor. At the close of the ceremonies, Chinamen went right to work.
The west side line hired white help. Stock was sold, bonds issued and sold on the London market. The company came into $300,000.
Among the shareholders were Ladd and Tilton, Joseph Teal, F. Dekum and Samuel Lowenstein.
Before the legislature convened in September, 1868, Ben Holladay appeared and lined up with the east side venture. He had lots of money and traveled to Salem to spend much of it on the legislature, at least $35,000, which was "big money" in those days.
The legislature disqualified the west line and designated the east side line as the proper one to receive the grant Oct. 20, 1868, history reports.
Promoters of the west side line, however, did not surrender. Battle lines were drawn to get the grant by getting the work done. Washington, Yamhill and Polk counties stayed loyal. Portland contributed $150,000 in cash and lands, Washington County $25,000 and Yamhill $20,000.
Both sides engaged in a race against time, convinced that the government would honor the line which got the most work done. Railroad jobs were offered; work proceeded at top heat. Each side envisioned over a million dollars a year to be gained from mining freight alone, according to the newspaper report.
The outcome was that Congress, pressured by agents, extended the time of filing acceptances and provided that the company which put 20 miles of road into operation should receive the land grant.
Holladay put a "dinky" engine on the east side tracks and the line was first to go into operation for 20 miles. It got the land grant.
The west side line had been pushed as far as Hillsboro and its promoters didn't give up. In December, 1869, Joseph Gaston was sent to Washington for a west side grant. His efforts and those of Sens. Corbett and Williams obtained 200,000 acres for the line with the sale price limited to $2.50 per acre. (It was the last railroad land grant made by Congress, according to a review of the events made in 1939.) Gaston took over and built the line to Forest Grove and southward 47 miles.
Holladay titles were attacked in the court, but he continued to fight and changed the name of his company to "Oregon & California Railroad Company." He was accused of disgracing the lines [sic--lives?] and ruining the political fortunes of "more men in Oregon than all other events in state history." But he pushed the railroad line to Roseburg before he quit.
It took 19 years from the first groundbreaking ceremonies for an Oregon to California line to make the grade. In 1887 the Southern Pacific took over both lines and made them part of its system.
In 1916, as previously mentioned, the Revestment Act returned to the government title to lands granted to the Oregon and California Railroad.
In 1926 the Stanfield Act provided relief to the O&C counties in which these revested lands are located. A total of $7,140,000 was paid to the 18 counties for back taxes covering the years of 1916 through 1926.
From 1927 to 1937, however, the receipts had been sufficient only to meet the counties' tax obligation from 1927 through 1933. The combination of the depression of the '30s and an unsatisfactory financial arrangement "again spelled chaos in the western counties" and there was an appeal for a revision of the "basic policy for the administration of the O&C lands," according to a history issued by the state office of the BLM. The O&C Act of 1937 changed the basis for payments to counties from tax equivalency to a percentage of the gross receipts.
In fiscal year 1952 the counties received 75 percent of total receipts ($6,053,458) over five times the estimated tax equivalent.
The 1953 Interior Department Appropriation Bill altered the effect of the 1937 Act by providing that the U.S. Treasury be reimbursed for construction of access roads from 25 percent of the receipts. Without changing the formula of 50 percent to the county treasuries the counties' support to the O&C program approximated $10,000,000 annually in recent years.
Efforts still are made to change things more as other counties look with covetous eyes at the funds coming to the 18 O&C counties.
But some residents of the Rogue Valley point out that with all that O&C wealth they are just as deprived of railroad transportation today as was that Jacksonville farmer more than a century ago.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 4, 1975, page B8
Last revised June 23, 2023