CASMAT has requested a summary of the upcoming lawsuit in opposition to the deceptive ballot initiative and the current aggressive signature gathering effort in Santa Monica. Apparently these paid professional signature gatherers are getting $4 per signature, funded by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), a national aviation industry lobby group. CASMAT strongly urges you not to be deceived by this petition and not to sign it.
Opposition to the AOPA ballot initiative is on-going on a number of fronts, and by numerous local community organizations (see here). One of those fronts is a lawsuit by Jonathan Stein, Attorney for Jim Redden and other plaintiffs. If you wish to join as a plaintiff, then please read the long-form for a fuller explanation, or call Jonathan at 310-587-2277 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Link: Deceptive AOPA ballot initiative
Link: City Summary of AOPA ballot initiative
Related news links:
Santa Monica Airport Referendum Steeped in Controversy (SM Lookout, April 30, 2104)
Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Aren’t (SM Dispatch, April 30, 2014)
AOPA, SMO and the Faults with the California Referendum Process (SM Next, April 29, 2014)
Don’t Sign the Phony Airport Initiative (The Healthy City Local, April 26,2014)
Why you should not sign the Airport Initiative (CASMAT, April 24, 2014)
Non-residents seek local support for initiative (Santa Monica Dispatch, April 21, 2014)
Residents advised not to sign airport-related initiative (SM Dispatch, April 20, 2014)
SMRR Says No to Airport Ballot Initiative (Santa Monica Lookout, April 17, 2014)
SMO Supporters … Uniting SaMo…Against Ballot Proposal (SM Next, April 16, 2014)
SMRR opposes pro-airport ballot initiative (Santa Monica Daily Press, April 16, 2014)
SMRR opposes deceptive aviation industry initiative (Airport2Park.org, April 16, 2014)
Group to challenge SMO initiative effort (Santa Monica Daily Press, April 14, 2014)
Ballot Initiative to Preserve SMO to Face Legal Challenge (SM Lookout, April 14, 2014)
Desperate Times, Measures, Companies .. Rent Corporate Jets (Healthy City, Mar 28, 2014)
AOPA financed … ballot initiative petition filed shortly after City Council defeat! (CASMAT)
Local organizations that have recommended their members NOT SIGN the AOPA petition (so far – stay posted!):
Airport2Park Member Organizations:
CASMAT, Airport2Park, SPAA, CRAAP
Other Local Organizations:
Goals Of The Lawsuit
All leases and fuel sales at Santa Monica Airport terminate in July 2015. Under City Council actions taken on March 25, 2014, new Airport leases must follow leasing policies modeled upon the light manufacturing and studio zone nearby. Fuel sales would end.
The reason that the AOPA Petition is so outrageous is it seeks to hide the provisions that would preserve below-market aviation leases before they expire by their terms. It would preserve sales of jet fuel (ultrafine particulates) and propeller leaded fuel (airborne lead particles). The AOPA Petition says it is to prevent overdevelopment of Airport land. But a thorough reading shows otherwise.
The petitioners assume that this fundamental misrepresentation and enough money can gather enough signatures to win through deception in a small-town election. We asked the City Attorney to require petitioners to amend the AOPA Petition to remove such misrepresentations. In a fair-minded and good faith exchange of well-circulated emails, the City Attorney explained her legal duties and refused.
The courts are a natural and frequently-used branch of government when citizens are faced down in such a cynical fashion and other officials refuse to act. The goal of the lawsuit is simply to force the petitioners to amend the AOPA Petition and then re-circulate it in a lawful form after the final judgment of the Court. Given the awkward mechanisms of democracy, and provisions of Elections Code §§9255 and 1415, the next ballot is June 2016 at the earliest. With airport leases terminated, one wonders whether there would be anyone to finance this uphill battle.
Parties To the Lawsuit
We hope that there will be more than 10 plaintiffs and up to 50 plaintiffs. Plaintiffs must be registered voters in the City of Santa Monica and over age 18.
Defendants fall into two groups. The first are the “real parties in interest”. These are the three petitioners that submitted the AOPA Petition to the City Clerk and are circulating it now.
The second group are certain officials of the City of Santa Monica, acting in their official capacity only. We believe in the good faith of City officers. We name them only to fulfill technical legal requirements for “blameless defendant” lawsuits.
Causes of Action In The Lawsuit
Application For Writ Of Mandate Or Prohibition (City Council). Because the AOPA Petition contains false statements, misleading statements, or statements in violation of law, or was circulated in a manner that violated law, the Court is requested to prohibit the City Council from any future action to (i) order any upcoming election ballot which submits the AOPA Petition to a vote of Santa Monica voters; or (ii) adopt any ordinance, charter amendment, or other order to submit any like-worded charter amendment to a vote of Santa Monica voters.
Application For Writ Of Mandate Or Prohibition (City Clerk). For the same reasons, the Court is requested to prohibit the City Clerk from (i) accepting the AOPA Petition and its signatures for filing; or (ii) certifying the sufficiency of the AOPA Petition to the City Council.
Complaint For Declaratory Relief (AOPA Petition language). The AOPA Petition contains false statements, misleading statements or statements not in conformance with law. As a result, the Court is requested to (i) make this declaration; (ii) require Petitioners to amend the AOPA Petition to conform to law; and then (iii) re-circulate it for signatures in 2015 or 2016.
Application For Peremptory Writ Of Mandate (City Attorney Must Use “Professional Skill and Judgment”). The City Attorney made clear in widely circulated emails that she acted only in a “ministerial” capacity to produce a ballot title and summary, regardless of the unlawfulness of the AOPA Petition. Since at least 2008, a City Attorney’s duty is to use her “professional judgment and skill” to determine the lawfulness of the AOPA Petition. The Elections Code provides for a writ of mandate because the City Attorney “neglected a duty” in connection with the AOPA Petition.
Any Downside To Being A Plaintiff??
Of course there is. You are standing up for what you believe in and others may disagree. You should only be a plaintiff if you believe that the AOPA Petition is deeply flawed. If you think it is just a little flawed, the law allows small defects, and no one should start a lawsuit over minor points.
The long-form explanation attached shows the many AOPA Petition statements that are challenged. If you think any one of those is an important statement that is false or misleading then please join as a plaintiff. Or if you think that the AOPA Petition as a whole masquerades as an anti-development measure when it contains many provisions having nothing to do with re-development of Airport land, then please join as a plaintiff.
Regarding a financial downside, there is next to none. There are very, very few instances where a plaintiff is held accountable for legal fees, or penalized for filing in a complaint so frivolous it falls outside of the First Amendment right to petition the government. Filing a complaint is perhaps done too often, but that is because it is one of the most protected ways for a citizen to petition his government for change. Again, please read the long-form for a fuller explanation or call me at 310-587-2277 or email at email@example.com. – Jonathan Stein, Attorney for Jim Redden and other plaintiffs.