Citizens of Clark County Washington, primarily within the City of Vancouver are not going to just lie down any longer as efforts to force the promised vote on light rail from Portland, Oregon are thwarted at every turn by elected officials. They are fighting back.
As we all know by now, several elected officials have been making promises of a citizen vote on the CRC (Columbia River Crossing), more precisely the light rail prospect of the project. To date no vote has been held or scheduled and efforts by citizens to get a vote fall by the wayside in some fairly unseemly ways.
The latest being the petition effort that was first rejected with the claim that many signatures were from voters outside the city limits.
More signatures were gathered within the legal time frame set by the city and turned in with more than enough signatures required, only to be allowed to languish somewhere for several months only to be once again rejected with the claim of duplicate signatures or forms not properly filled out.
Petitioners vowed to push back against city hall who seem to be exceeding their authority by bypassing and improperly invalidating signatures on the petition, hundreds of signatures in fact.
The discovery of a 1977 State Supreme Court ruling lent credence to petitioners point of view only to see the city come back with what in essence amounted to “that doesn’t apply to us” as efforts move forward to get the project underway without any accurate gauge of citizen support, a much needed element in obtaining proper funding for such a massive project.
Petitioners have now gone a step further in their fight against city hall. Obtaining the list of voters whose signature’s were rejected due to duplicate signatures, even their initial signature being invalidated, the crux of the 1977 ruling that says one signature is to be validated if duplicates are discovered, efforts are under way to contact those voters and sign them up as plaintiffs in legal proceeding against the city.
Petitioners have retained Seattle Constitutional Attorney Stephen Pidgeon, who unsuccessfully ran for State Attorney General last year to represent them in proceedings against the city. Attorney Pidgeon is known for taking cases involving citizen’s rights to initiative and winning them.
Mr. Pidgeon has already sent a letter to each city council member and the Mayor urging them to ‘do the right thing’ and vote on the petition to avoid litigation.
Attorney Pidgeon says in his letter to city officials,
“The council may take any position it desires in regard to this initiative. However, if the counsel refuses on Monday to allow this initiative to qualify, or to otherwise provide for an initiative on this subject matter, then you can expect litigation and a direct collateral challenge to the code governing initiatives in Vancouver. All of that time, effort, and expense can easily be avoided with a simple majority vote of the city council on Monday.”
“The people in Southwest Washington have been repeatedly promised the chance to vote on whether or not they want light rail, and its incumbent debt. As usual, the failure by elected politicians to keep their promises has prompted Plaintiffs to sponsor and support this citizen initiative. They were required to submit 5472 valid voter signatures. They cleared that hurdle. In fact, plaintiffs submitted more than the required minimum number of valid voter signatures. Remember, those 600+ signatures that have been disqualified were from Vancouver voters who were properly registered and qualified to sign and vote.”
An email sent out this morning by Debbie Peterson says,
“We are just inches away from giving the voters what they’ve earned and deserve: a straight up or down vote on stopping light rail. We need your help to get this effort over the finish line and put it to a public vote. We firmly believe the voters oppose this monstrous boondoggle; we need your help to defend the people’s right to vote.”
Ms. Peterson’s email announced retaining Stephen Pidgeon and is seeking donations to build a legal fund to support Mr. Pidgeon’s efforts.
Another email by Larry Patella, who drafted and promoted the petition effort explained,
“Last week, I received an Email from Tim Eyman who asked if we had a lawyer and needed some help. He is on my email list and had read in the Columbian that our Initiative Petition to prevent the Vancouver City Council from using any City Funds or In Kind assistance to support Portland’s Light Rail… was rejected by the Vancouver City Council. Tim dove right in and got us hooked up with Stephen Pidgeon, an absolutely brilliant constitutional attorney, to handle what appears to be a lawsuit challenging the Vancouver City Councils decision to disenfranchise some 600+ Vancouver Voters, voters who inadvertently may have signed the Light Rail Petition more than once. Attorney Pidgeon just this morning emailed the mayor and city council his preliminary statement.”
Folks, don’t believe the old axiom that we cannot fight city hall. We sure can and we must if we wish to save our community from the increased crime, massive debt and high tolls to build a special replacement bridge to carry light rail that will not lessen any congestion through our community.
We have to fight back and return our government system to us, the people who have been ignored, bypassed and taxed into near bankruptcy by those who act more like rulers than representatives.
Attorney’s fees are expected to be $20,000 and your generous help is needed to raise the needed funds.
If you are able, donations can be made at
Legal Defense for Stop Light Rail Initiative (Stephen Pidgeon)
c/o Debbie Peterson
PO Box 872204
Vancouver, WA 98687
Let’s band together and live up to our own state constitution where it is said, 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.