Las Vegas Sun

July 22, 2014

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LV to Supreme Court: Take your time on city hall decision

CARSON CITY – The Las Vegas City Council says the Nevada Supreme Court should not rush to a decision on whether the issue of a new city hall should be placed on the June 2 election ballot.

And the council, in a brief filed Thursday, says the Supreme Court does not have the authority in the law to order a special election.

The brief, signed by attorney Jackie Gilbert in representing the city, says a decision by the court to place the flawed initiative petition on the municipal election ballot would cost an additional $450,000.

Two groups, backed by the culinary union, gathered more than 14,000 signatures on an initiative petition to let the voters decide whether to block construction of a new city hall in downtown Las Vegas. But a district judge ruled the petition was defective and should not be on the ballot.

The Las Vegas Taxpayer Accountability Committee and the Las Vegas Redevelopment Reform Committee have asked the Supreme Court to consider speeding up its handling of the appeal so the issue can be placed before voters on June 2 or to order a special election.

Gilbert says the issues raised are “too important for a hasty resolution.” The brief said an “expedited decision could lead to hastily drawn legal conclusions that could lead to unintended consequences.”

The brief said the two groups and the culinary union have a “skewed notion that the court should order a city to place a measure, no matter how defective, on the ballot without looking at the merits.”

District Judge David Barker ruled there were two issues on the initiative petition when there should be only one subject. And the petition failed to inform the voters that the petition, if passed, would affect funding of present redevelopment projects now underway in downtown Las Vegas.

Opponents of the city hall say it would cost $267 million while its supporters estimate the cost at $150 million. And they say it would spruce up downtown Las Vegas, adding 13,000 new jobs.

Gilbert says there is only one race on the election ballot -- the contest for Ward 4 councilman -- and putting this question on the ballot would expand the voter numbers to all those in the city.

Absentee ballots were mailed Thursday to overseas and military voters. And there is no time to print and mail new absentee ballots,” says the brief of the city council and City Clerk Beverly Bridges

Bridges, in an affidavit attached to the brief, said she will start mailing absentee ballot to voters in this country May 1. She said 4,900 absentee/mail ballots have been printed for the general election. “If the election becomes citywide due to the late inclusion of the ballot questions, 18,000 absentee/mail ballots would have to be printed.”

Gilbert said if the Supreme Court decides the initiative petition is valid, then the issue should be placed on the next general election in November 2010.

She said the groups and the culinary union want the Supreme Court to speed up its handling of the case. But the judicial delay is due to these groups, said Gilbert.

She said they did nothing for a week after the district judge ruled “that is inconsistent with the notion that they truly want the court to expedite a resolution on the merits,” Gilbert said.

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