LIBERTY MAN WARNS MONROE CITY COUNCIL
Monroe Initiative #1 must reach the people in April
February 24, 2012
(MONROE, WA) -- Think of Ty Balascio of the group Seeds of Liberty based in Monroe as a good angel sitting upon the collective shoulder of the Monroe city council kindly reminding them to stay on that righteous path and do the right thing for the people they represent. Do the right thing.
Ty Balascio (right) of Seeds of Liberty gathering petition signatures in Monroe. CLICK TO ENLARGE
Late Thursday night Balascio fired off an email to Monroe city council members.
It was a heavenly nudge, sort of.
“After successfully defending the initiative against the City’s lawsuit, the instruction from Judge Bowden is clear – Section 3 of this initiative shall go to the voters,” wrote Balascio.
“Nearly every member of the 2011 Council and Executive stated on record “if this initiative is legal, it goes on the ballot.” The answer to that question is now clear.
The Council meeting on Tuesday, February 28th 2012 is the last opportunity to submit a resolution in time for the April deadline. Failure to do so constitutes not only another dereliction of procedural duty, but contemptibly goes against a direct court order. Seeds of Liberty, the over 1000+ followers of this cause, and the over 2300 voters who signed this initiative will be watching. Please don’t let us down again.”
About the only thing Balascio left out was a heavenly reminder to “get out of town by sundown” if you don’t do the right thing this time.
As a reminder of the April deadline Balascio sent along a PDF file showing the deadlines for elections this year, just so no one would forget.
ON THAT MONROE INITIATIVE
You may recall that Monroe’s leaders sued Balscio’s group and others because it didn't like the citizen’s initiative they filed – Monroe Initiative NO. 1 – to knock out those controversial red light cameras.
The people spoke (nearly half of active Monroe voters signed it) and Monroe’s answer was to file a lawsuit using the people’s money to, in essence, sue the people.
Welcome to the Democracy exported to Baghdad.
In late January a judge agreed with Balsico’s group and against Monroe on one portion of the suit.
As activist Tim Eyman put it in one of his many missives-at-large:
“Their anti-initiative effort failed today as Snohomish County Superior Court Judge George Bowden found that their action was a SLAPP lawsuit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) and imposed a $10,000 fine on the city, awarding that $10,000 and the cost of our attorneys' fees to our lawyer Dick Stephens, and green-lighted the initiative for a public vote.”
Which was true.
MONROE'S LEADERS WANTED TO PUNISH VOTERS?
Balascio, Eyman & Company contended from the get go the city of Monroe’s action in suing the Initiative’s sponsors, and in essence the voters as well, rather than put the anti-camera Initiative on the ballot was a punitive act against voters and the judge agreed with that position.
In a letter to both sides discussing his ruling Bowden wrote:
"Having secured enough valid signatures to place (the initiative) on the ballot, the City's lawsuit burdens the initiative sponsors with having to defend the right of the voters to express their opinions and weigh in on a matter that will directly affect them."
Ergo Balascio's latest reminder to the city council that time’s a wastin’ and to ‘get er’ done. Do the right thing (as Spike Lee says).
BACKGROUND ON CITY'S LAWSUIT AGAINST INITIATIVE
The city of Monroe sued the local group Seeds of Liberty and others to prevent Monroe Initiative #1 from ever getting on the ballot, claiming it over stepped the boundaries of what a citizen initiative could do.
In his January 19, 2012 letter regarding his ruling on the matter, judge Bowden stated he was “Granting the city of Monroe’s motion for declarative relief regarding Sections1 & 2 of the Initiative (dealing with the amount of the fines and the part that requires an ongoing public vote for any future installation of traffic cameras in the city) based on a Sept, 6 State Court of Appeals ruling in the case of American Traffic Solutions Vs. City of Bellingham.
That ruckus up in Bellingham was similar to Monroe’s red light battle.
In the Bellingham case a three-judge panel of the Washington Court of Appeals ruled a citizen initiative to block the installation of traffic enforcement cameras could stay on the November ballot but it will not be legally binding – meaning it would be advisory in nature and not be able to force the city to do anything about the cameras.
However, that ruling will soon be appealed to the State Supreme Court says Eyman and there is strong belief in his camp that the lower appeals court erred in that ruling.
And if that precedent is overturned on appeal, Eyman’s group could be back in business with at least one other provision of the Monroe Initiative #1 and that would give the anti-camera forces two thirds of a win.
And there is another way the anti-camera forces could win on all counts.
In January Eyman made it known he was pondering as one of five possible statewide initiatives he may file this year, a statewide measure to send all those cameras packing from whatever town or city in the state may have them up and running.
And a statewide initiative could throw a neutron bomb into the works of municipalities who just love those cameras and the money they generate because wherever there has been a public vote on the cameras – an up or down, yay or nay – Eyman’s side wins every time; voters say no to those cameras.
This is the reason, contend the anti-camera forces, that Monroe city officials were frightened to let the people’s initiative get on the ballot because they knew what voters would do and they did not want to allow the wishes of the voters into the equation -- they wanted to do what they wanted to do without being hindered by a public vote.
Pretty much like they did with that Walmart thing, contends the anti-Walmart crowd.