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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.
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