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Nike asks judge to declare it victor in Beaverton public records case

Sports apparel giant also wants the court to force the city to pay all costs

Nike Inc. is asking a Washington County circuit judge to declare it the winner in its long-running public records feud with the city of Beaverton.

Attorneys for Nike filed three motions Friday afternoon asking that the court find in favor of the Fortune 500 sports apparel giant in the 19-month-old public records request, declare the city in contempt and require the city to bear all the costs of searching for the records, which could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Attorneys also are preparing a separate filing for hundreds of thousands of dollars more in legal costs if the court finds in favor of Nike.

City Attorney Alan Rappleyea said Friday that the city had not yet seen the filings and would not comment on their content.

Nike and the city have wrangled since December 2004 over a request for all the documents related to Beaverton's attempt to annex Nike's World Campus on Southwest Murray Boulevard. The city has hired a computer consulting firm to retrieve much of the documents and e-mails and has deluged Nike with thousands of pages of information thought relevant to the case.

Since the beginning, Nike has maintained that the city failed to provide information of value in the request. In December, Judge Gayle Nachtigal set aside the issue of who would pay for the massive records request.

Under Oregon law, usually the person making the request is required to pay for the staff time to search and copy the documents, unless it involved unusual circumstances.

Nike's attorneys said in Friday's court filings that the city has stalled attempts to get the relevant information, forcing it to spend thousands in fees and related costs to find out if the city planned to annex the site.

Late last year, the Legislature approved a bill that prevented the city from annexing Nike's property, and several other business sites around the region, for at least 35 years.

Nike's latest filings were prompted by the discovery in late June of a color-coded map and a brief Nov. 1, 2001, e-mail exchange between Joe Grillo, the city's community development director, and Hal Bergsma, the city's principal planner, listing possible business sites that could be annexed to 'reverse the city's total taxable assessed calculation.'

In bright yellow on the map is Nike's world headquarters campus. Other properties highlighted on the map included the Tektronix campus, Providence St. Vincent Medical Center and some of the commercial sites in the Peterkort development north of the Sunset Highway.

In the e-mail, Grillo and Bergsma discuss a draft annexation plan that includes the properties on the color-coded map. The e-mail makes it clear that although it is a public document, the annexation issue paper was not for wide distribution and comments about the possible annexation sites could be tempered or removed 'before more people see it.'

Nike spokesman Vada Manager said the company decided to ask the court to find the city in contempt (the second time it has done so) because the city knew about the map and the e-mail exchange months before it was given to Portland attorney Joel A. Mullin during Bergsma's June 20 deposition.

'Clearly this demonstrates that you have some smoking guns, maybe even smoking canons,' Manager said. 'Given the color-coded map and other disclosures, we certainly see merit that the city was in contempt.'

In his filing, Mullin wrote that the city could have produced the map, the issue paper and the e-mail much earlier than June 20.

'As it turns out, the 'smoking gun' documents were not located in some dark outer corner of the city's servers; they were to be found in the file cabinet in the office of the city's principal planner Hal Bergsma,' Mullin wrote.

Nike claims the city should have produced all the relevant documents earlier, and now should be required to pay the entire costs of the search. Although there are no final figures on the issue, city officials have said it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.