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home / citizen / in the media

Pasadena Star News
Mar 19, 2002

by Elizabeth Lee

Activist sues city officials over initiative

Rene Amy, the school district watchdog known for suing the PUSD, has struck again -- but this time at City Hall.

Amy sued Mayor Bill Bogaard, City Clerk Jane Rodriguez and other city officials on Friday, alleging they have "nullif(ied) the will of the people" by failing to file a voter-approved, anti-corruption initiative with the Secretary of State's office.

By not doing that and by failing to perform other administrative duties, they have prevented the measure -- known as the "Taxpayer Protection Amendment" -- from taking effect.

Voters approved the initiative, also known as Measure B, by 60 percent in March 2001. But the city decided not to file a copy of the measure -- an amendment to the city's charter -- with the state, which is required for it to become law.

"For the city of Pasadena to thumb their noses at the voters, I think, is an obscenity in government," said Amy, a Pasadena resident.

Measure B would make it illegal for city officials to accept jobs, gifts or campaign donations from people or groups to whom they have awarded taxpayer dollars.

A member of the City Council, however, said the city is waiting for a court ruling on the measure's constitutionality before it decides whether to implement the measure.

"The advice of the city attorney and the decision of the City Council was to answer that question first," said Councilman Steve Haderlein. "If it's constitutional, then we implement it. And if it's not, then we don't."

Amy's lawsuit, filed Friday in Pasadena Superior Court, acknowledges that Pasadena is awaiting a court ruling on the measure's constitutionality. But it notes that the court case in question involves only a similar measure passed in another city, Santa Monica. The Superior Court hearing the case has no jurisdiction over Pasadena.

Pasadena can test Measure B itself by filing suit in a local court, Amy's lawsuit said. "However, (the city) cannot procedurally nullify the will of the people by not signing their names or mailing, or faxing or e-mailing, the measure to the appropriate entities," the lawsuit stated.

Amy said he has filed six lawsuits against public agencies, most of them against the Pasadena Unified School District. In all cases, he said, he has either won or forced settlements, and sometimes the PUSD has been ordered to pay thousands of dollars in attorneys' fees.

After Amy won a recent lawsuit against the PUSD alleging the district illegally collected student fees, his attorney received $80,000.

"The city has to realize they're up a creek without a paddle on this," Amy said.



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