Fed Up With Being Pushed Aside and Ignored, CRC Opponents File Lawsuit

by lewwaters

Tilted ScaleThe Columbia River Crossing project to extend Portland, Oregon’s financially troubled light rail a short distance into Clark County has long been a source of contention to county citizens and residents of the City of Vancouver.

Several times now efforts to give those citizens a vote on the project have been thwarted as promises made during campaigns of fighting for a citizen vote and efforts put forth by the citizens themselves have been neglected, discarded and voices in opposition marginalized by elected officials.

The latest effort saw a citizen petition rejected with the claim of being 32 signatures short of the required number after an excessive time spent verifying those signatures by the County Auditor’s office. Then end result was the claim of several duplicate signatures from voters who inadvertently signed more than once rejecting both the duplicate and the original signature along with some rejected due to the petition page not being dated properly.

Discovering a 1977 State Supreme Court ruling, Sudduth v. Chapman, those citizens let it be known they were fed up with the city officials pushing them around, denying them due process and taking what appears to be extreme measures to disenfranchise and silence their voices.

The City Council of Vancouver, Washington was put on notice that a lawsuit was in the works over this perceived violation of their constitutional rights. Even though there has been seen an increase in legislative opposition to the project, the city chose to ignore those voters.

I have to admit that it was with a certain degree of pleasure to watch Larry Patella, one of the 75 plaintiffs and a sponsor of the petition sitting before the Vancouver City Council last evening and ending his comment with, “see you in court.”

The lawsuit was filed in Cowlitz County Superior Court, Monday, February 11, 2013 assigned case number 13-2-00212-5 with an initial hearing scheduled for February 20, 2013 in Kelso, Washington. A draft of the lawsuit may be seen HERE

The local so called newspaper of record, the Columbian, also known as the “Lazy C” for their lack of interest in many issues affecting citizens and at other times the ‘unofficial daily newsletter for the Democrat party’ seemed to very pleased last Friday when the lawsuit had not been filed, neglecting it was clearly stated the suit would be filed on Monday if it was ready to on Friday.

At issue appears to be the 1996 law RCW 35.21.005 Sufficiency of petitions that states in part, “(7) Signatures, including the original, of any person who has signed a petition two or more times shall be stricken.”

As cited in the draft, previous State Supreme Court Rulings have ruled against such a rule, deeming that the original signature must be deemed valid and validated if proper otherwise and only the subsequent signatures invalidated.

Quoting from Sudduth vs. Chapman the suit reads,

“In view of the multiplicity of petitions which are circulated before each election, it is not surprising that some honest citizens may become so confused by the number of petitions presented to them that they may inadvertently sign two or more for the same measure. This, of course, is carelessness on their part, but if they are legally entitled to sign, we think one signature should be allowed and the others stricken.”

The lawsuit filed also quotes,

“In State ex rel. Howell v. Superior Court, 97 Wash. 569, 574-575 (1917), the Court upheld the rights of petition signers to have their signatures counted and thereby rejected the claim that Article II, section 1 and implementing legislation required that all signatures must be physically contained on one petition. Importantly, the Washington Supreme Court held that to deny the rights of petition signers in such an instance ‘would do violence to the spirit of the constitution,’ Howell, at 575, and that ‘Only the strictest construction of the constitution and of that act could lead to such a conclusion’.”

It must also be remembered that the Washington State Constitution states at Article 1 Section 1:

“POLITICAL POWER. All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.”

It goes on to say at Article II Section 1:

“LEGISLATIVE POWERS, WHERE VESTED. The legislative authority of the state of Washington shall be vested in the legislature, consisting of a senate and house of representatives, which shall be called the legislature of the state of Washington, but the people reserve to themselves the power to propose bills, laws, and to enact or reject the same at the polls, independent of the legislature, and also reserve power, at their own option, to approve or reject at the polls any act, item, section, or part of any bill, act, or law passed by the legislature.” (emphasis added)

The suit filed also states,

“Cases set forth by the Supreme Court case law have made paramount the rights of citizens to have their petition signatures filed and counted.”

Needless to say, citizens in Washington State retained considerable legislative powers for themselves when approving the State Constitution in 1889 and those powers have not been overturned, although some subsequent laws seem to ignore such constitutional powers.

Stephen Pidgeon, attorney for Plaintiffs is known for taking cases involving citizen’s rights to initiative and winning them.

In covering the Light-rail opponents lawsuit last evening, the Columbian quoted County Auditor Greg Kimsey, named as defendant who said,

“I am very pleased that someone has finally taken action to challenge this state law. This is a bad law, and I’m glad to see it being challenged.”

It’s well passed time we citizen’s took on those we have elected who ignore our voices and strap us with massive fees and taxes to pay for a boondoggle that will do little to relieve problems that have existed for a very long time and only serve to increase the wealth of a few fatcats who wrangled their way in to convince government officials we citizens need to pay for what they produce, whether we want it or not. In this case, it is Portland, Oregon’s light rail along with the $1.6 Billion in unfunded liabilities attached with it.

Many of the known troubles and shortcomings of this planned $3.6 Billion project are contained at CRCFacts.info.

Your help is needed and appreciated as court cases such as this one cost money. Citizens do not have the luxury of tapping into tax dollars to afford legal fees. Any donation you can help with is needed to win this lawsuit and restore our citizen’s power where government has taken them away.

Donations may be sent to;

Legal Defense for Stop Light Rail Initiative (Stephen Pidgeon)
c/o Debbie Peterson
PO Box 872204
Vancouver, WA 98687

We get the government we deserve and we deserve fair representation, not being dictated to.

3 Comments to “Fed Up With Being Pushed Aside and Ignored, CRC Opponents File Lawsuit”

  1. Stephen Pidgeon almost apologized to Greg Kimsey as his hands were tied by the bad statute. The City, though, can always enact the proposed law or call for the vote, petition or no petition, bad statute or no bad statute. Pidgeon did not name the City as a defendant because that would have given them an excuse to deliberate in executive sessions. Now, they will have to meet and strategize in public.

  2. Any updates on this?

  3. Jeremy, I received the following in email a bit ago.

    Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

    To: 75 Plaintiffs in Patella v Kimsey
    From: Tim Eyman, advisor to Vancouver’s Stop Light Rail Initiative
    Cc: Citizens in Clark County, Vancouver’s Mayor and City Council, Clark County’s Board of Commissioners, House and Senate members & Governor, and members of the media

    RE: Defendant Kimsey files stunning legal response, he agrees with Plaintiffs, ‘dupe’ law is unconstitutional, asks Court to let him count the 606 disenfranchised voters, qualifying initiative for a public vote

    Attached is Auditor Greg Kimsey’s legal response to Stephen Pidgeon’s lawsuit. Bottom line, he agrees that this law hurt 606 Vancouver voters’ right to have their signatures counted and agrees this abhorrent law should be found unconstitutional. This follows on the heels of the AG’s decision to not defend this grossly unfair law.

    It is important to recognize that this broad consensus against this unjust law only occurred AFTER local activists Larry Patella, Debbie Peterson, and other initiative leaders filed their lawsuit with 75 local citizens agreeing to be Plaintiffs. In other words, the people led and the politicians followed. If these 75 courageous citizens had done nothing, this injustice, supported by the mayor and city council, would have prevailed; the people would have been robbed of their right to vote on a qualified initiative. The mayor and council could have done what Larry Patella and other local citizens did: filed a lawsuit upholding the rights of these 606 Vancouver citizens. They didn’t. They chose to do nothing and let this injustice continue. In fact, many of them mocked the leaders of the campaign for trying to get the council to act on behalf these 606 disenfranchised citizens. It was shameful and cowardly of them to do nothing, forcing local citizens to do what t
    hese city officials are elected to do.

    Attorney Stephen Pidgeon and the 75 Plaintiffs in this case are the real heroes.

    Please help. Mail donation checks to: Legal Defense for Stop Light Rail Initiative (Stephen Pidgeon), c/o Debbie Peterson, PO Box 872204, Vancouver, WA 98687

    See you in Kelso tomorrow.

    Sincerely, Tim Eyman, advisor to Vancouver’s Stop Light Rail Initiative, tim_eyman@comcast.net, cell: 509-991-5295

    Greg Kimsey Response

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