Opponents of the city of San Diego’s financial reform ballot measure filed the first of likely many lawsuits Thursday afternoon.

The suit charges that Proposition D violates election rules that limit ballot measures to one subject; gives voters illegal administrative powers; illegally delegates legislative power to the city auditor; the reform measures are too vague; and the ballot title and summary are false.

“This is a con job,” said plaintiff Richard Rider, the head of San Diego Tax Fighters. “It’s outright extortion and it really irritates me to no end.”

Rider is asking courts to throw out Prop. D, which requires the city to complete 10 reforms before triggering a temporary, half-cent sales tax increase. Failing that, he’d like the court to order changes to the ballot summary and title.

What’s most interesting about the suit is how closely its arguments mirror an opinion issued by City Attorney Jan Goldsmith as the measure was developing.

Goldsmith warned the proposal faced challenges complying with single-subject rules, maintaining council legislative authority and providing clear reform criteria. And in passing the measure, the City Council took an option Goldsmith called the riskiest: allowing the city auditor to have the final say if the reform triggers had been met rather than allowing the council to sign off.

Two other items also of note: Rider’s attorney, Edward Teyssier, successfully sued the city last year over an improper business tax.

T.J. Zane, head of the pro-business Lincoln Club of San Diego, is heading the formal campaign against the measure. He said another suit against the measure’s fiscal analysis “is forthcoming.”

Finally, many legal filings are staid affairs. This one isn’t. That’s much appreciated by those of us who read these regularly. The most colorful passage:

What resulted was the subject Proposition D, a ‘Frankenstein Proposition’ that was charged into life as City Ordinance No. O-19986. Unless this Court acts either to void it or substantially modify it, it will appear on the ballot as Proposition D where, if it is approved by voters, its monstrously unconstitutional and illegal provisions will likely precipitate numerous lawsuits that will haunt our local courts for many years.

Goldsmith issued this statement: “The City Attorney’s Office will vigorously defend the right of voters to decide the fate of Proposition D.”


Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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