Court rules on tax measure: No more time to add ballot argument

Sacramento voters reviewing a proposed city sales tax increase will find a supporting argument statement – but no opposing argument – on sample ballot materials after a judge blocked a request Monday that would allow other ballot arguments to be filed.

Representatives of the political watchdog group Eye on Sacramento filed the lawsuit Friday to force the city clerk to extend the deadline after Mayor Kevin Johnson missed the Aug. 8 deadline to submit a opposing ballot argument.

“It is a prerequisite of a writ (of mandate) that there is a violation of duty by the city clerk,” Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny said before the ruling. “I see none of that here.”

Craig Powell, president of Eye on Sacramento, said he filed the suit against City Clerk Shirley Concolino after she refused to extend the submission deadline.

“We are extremely disappointed in the ruling,” Powell told reporters after the hearing.

Powell told the court that the core of the case was “equity,” and the city clerk did not use her discretion to set and adjust election deadlines wisely.

“It is my duty to ensure a fair, impartial and neutral election process,” Concolino said in an emailed statement Monday. “The neutral process includes the deadlines. If I were to arbitrarily change or modify a deadline, I would be negating this neutral process and would in fact be giving preference to one side or the other.”

Statements written by members of the City Council in favor of the sales tax proposal were received on time, according to the clerk’s office, however, the opposing argument, which was to be written by Johnson, missed the deadline.

Without a deadline extension, the ballot will only contain the pro argument, Concolino said after the hearing.

If the court had ordered the clerk to extend the deadline, Johnson would have likely resubmitted his argument opposing the ballot measure, according to Steve Maviglio, Johnson’s 2012 campaign manager.

Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @MelissaCorker.

Keep up with our political coverage with our weekly newsletter, Sacto Politico. It goes out every Wednesday morning and includes a summary of all the week’s political news affecting the capital city, with links to all the interesting, must-read stories from newspapers, magazines and blogs. It also features the best of our live chat series, Sac Press Live.

Sign me up!


Conversation Express your views, debate, and be heard with those in your area closest to the issue. RSS Feed

August 20, 2012 | 8:03 PM

This is what passes for democracy in Sacramento… I suspect the Council is very pleased with itself. Wonder if it is too late to recall KJ for just generally being an ineffective jerk…

August 21, 2012 | 12:50 PM

KJ planned it this way; he loves additional tax revenue just like the rest of them.

August 22, 2012 | 11:52 AM

Concolino’s statement is accurate, she did her job well. But kudo’s to Powell for trying to extend the deadline through whatever means he had at his disposal. It’s unfortunate that KJ couldn’t find the time for one of his staffers to write an opposition argument. How does one get listed as the person responsible for the opposition argument for a particular ballot measure anyway?

Leave a Reply