Las Vegas Sun

September 21, 2014

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Culinary vows to sue over ballot questions

Council’s refusal to put measures before voters draws threat of court fight

The Culinary will go to court to challenge the Las Vegas City Council’s refusal to place two union-sponsored measures on the ballot for the June 2 election, a union attorney confirmed late Thursday.

The union’s attorney, Richard McCracken, declined to say exactly when the suit would be filed in District Court, but said it would not be this week.

“The issue is the power of the city to deny the voters access,” McCracken said. The union, he said, is fighting to ensure that voters can weigh in on the two measures — one to mandate voter approval for redevelopment agency projects and to prevent the agency from incurring more debt to support such projects, the other designed to stop construction of a new city hall by requiring voter approval of “lease-purchase” arrangements.

In his advice to the council, City Attorney Brad Jerbic laid out his legal opinion: The city must not put the two Culinary-sponsored measures on the ballot, even though the city clerk’s office confirmed enough petition signatures had been obtained to do so. The proposed measures, Jerbic argued, are legally defective in a number of ways and unconstitutional — so voters must not be given a chance to approve them.

For example, if the redevelopment agency referendum passes, $80 million in obligations to bondholders and others would be “impaired,” he noted in a memo to the council. Chaos could then ensue, he told the council.

The council agreed and voted unanimously this week to scrap the ballot measures.

A city spokesman declined to comment on the news from McCracken, noting that the litigation is pending.

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