Pardon Rain Man? Oregon Gov. Ducks for Cover

By Kendra Alleyne | August 2, 2012 | 11:24am EDT

Gov. John Kitzhaber of Oregon (AP Photo)

( - Gov. John Kitzhaber (D.-Ore.) has authority under Oregon's constitution to pardon or commute the jail term and remit the fine of a man sentenced for collecting rainwater and snow runoff in reservoirs on his own property. But the governor is ducking for cover.

Gary Harrington of Eagle Point, Ore., was sentenced July 25 in Jackson County Circuit Court to 30 days in jail and over $1,500 in fines for violating Oregon state laws that say all water is publically owned--making the 3 reservoirs on his property used to house rainwater and snow runoff illegal.

Since Monday, has repeatedly contacted the governor’s office via phone and email to ask if the governor has any intention of pardoning Harrington or commuting his sentence. But the governor's office has not responded to any of those inquiries.

Steve Buckstein, senior policy analyst at the Cascade Policy Institute in Portland, told that he doesn’t think the governor would lift a finger to help Harrington out.

“Well our governor, knowing what I know about him, would probably want to increase the sentence,” Buckstein said. “He wouldn’t want to pardon him. Our governor is a very big environmentalist.”

Article V, Section 14 of the Oregon constitution says the governor "shall have the power to grant reprieves, communtations, and pardons, after conviction, for all offences [sic] except treason" and "to remit fines, and forfeitures."

Bruce McCain, a former Oregon county sheriff, told that he, too, thinks it is highly unlikely that the governor would intervene on Harrington’s behalf.

“The governor in Oregon, like most states, has the authority under the state constitution to have a broad rage of commutations--they’re called clemency powers. The idea that the governor is going to intervene on this water thing is personally zero,” McCain said.

“Oregon is a very liberal progressive state. He’s definitely in the corner of the environmental movement. I think this governor would be absolutely in favor of public ownership of the water.”

“I don’t see this governor intervening on his behalf at all, in fact, the general consensus is--folks from the left and the right--that this guy got off easy; that there’s a lot of outdoors people who may not necessarily be in the total progressive environmental movement, but they’re still very, very concerned about the environment and the outdoors,” McCain said.

Harrington must report to the Jackson County Jail next week, where he will begin serving his 30 day sentence.

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