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Mail Tribune 100

THE LAND GRANT DECISION

The decision of Judge Wolverton in the Oregon land grant case, holding the railroad entitled to an equity of the $2.50 an acre and no more, confirms the interpretation of the supreme court decision made by the Mail Tribune—which was flatly contradicted by the Portland Oregonian and other organs of predatory privilege striving to protect the railroad and enrich it with something belonging to the people under court decree.

Governor Withycombe, in order to help the railroad, called a land grant conference of representatives of various sections and industries and recommended agreement upon a program whereby the railroad would be able to secure, in addition to the $2.50 an acre, a division of the proceeds from the sale of the property at its present value. The conference failed to make a single demand to protect the interests of the state. Its entire efforts were to aid the railroad. 

Notwithstanding Judge Wolverton's decree, Governor Withycombe is still striving to present the railroad with some $8,000,000 more than it is entitled to under the decree. A report of the proceedings of the land grant conference held Friday reads:

It was decided to submit to representatives of the Southern Pacific railroad a proposition that the company should receive $2.50 an acre for the grant lands, plus the amount of taxes in excess of $2.50 an acre that has been paid. This excess is between $2,000,000 and $2,500,000. 

Various propositions were discussed, the most liberal one being that of Governor Withycombe, who thought that the company should be reimbursed for its administration expenses in connection with the lands, excess taxes and the cost of carrying troops in the past, and that there should be a sinking fund of $2,000,000 to reimburse the company for carrying troops in the future. This would give the company about $8,000,000 and, as the governor figured it, would leave about $12,000,000 for the state.

Why give the railroad anything more than it is entitled to under the court's decree? Has not the refusal of the railroad to live up to the terms of the grant already cost the state tremendously by retarding development? Why rob the state to reward the railroad for breach of faith?

Again we ask, does Governor Withycombe represent the people of Oregon or the Southern Pacific railroad?