After missing deadline, opponents file suit to stop measure

After missing deadline, opponents file suit to stop measure

Michele Ellson

Updated at 3:49 p.m. Friday, March 23

Opponents of a proposed half-cent sales tax have filed a suit to try to get the measure yanked from the June 5 ballot after failing to hand in their ballot argument on time.

In a writ filed Friday in Alameda County Superior Court, an attorney for opponent Liz Williams argued that the city didn’t offer the public enough time to consider Measure C or turn in ballot arguments on the measure, and they questioned the accuracy of the ballot language. They want a judge to take the measure off the ballot, require the city to change the ballot language and require their opposition argument be included with the proponents’ argument in favor, which was submitted on time.

Opponents asked to submit their argument Monday but were rebuffed because it was past the deadline, they said in the court filing, and City Clerk Lara Weisiger confirmed in an e-mail to them Thursday that the city had no plans to withdraw or amend the measure. A hearing is scheduled for April 18, though opponents have asked for an earlier date, saying ballot materials are to be printed in early April.

Neither proponents nor opponents of the measure would comment on the suit.

A spokesperson for opponents of the tax said last week they’d be considering their legal options after they learned they had missed the deadline for submitting their ballot argument and that they had delivered it to the wrong agency. David Howard said the Alameda County Registrar of Voters accepted opponents’ ballot argument on March 16, then called later to try to get them to take it back; county election officials did not return a call seeking comment last week.

A staff report submitted to the City Council for the March 7 hearing where council members voted unanimously to put the tax on the ballot said arguments were due to the City Clerk on March 15.

The proposed tax hike would generate an estimated $54 million over 30 years, and proponents have said the money would be used to cover a list of building and equipment costs, including a new swim center, renovations to the Carnegie Library, a new mid-Island fire station with an emergency operations center, city vehicles and equipment.