Friday, May 25, 2018

#atxcouncil to Citizenry: Drop Dead

"And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold."
Matthew 24:12

It's not a secret that we support the goals of CodeNext.  It's also not a secret that we have zero confidence in the city's ability to produce a document that meets those alleged goals.  Finally, it's not a secret that we've been taking a wait and see approach.

Looks like our answer is becoming clearer:
The Austin City Council on Thursday voted against placing a petition ordinance on November’s ballot that would have asked if CodeNext should be put to a vote.

The vote sets up a likely legal challenge to the council’s action. Local attorney Fred Lewis, one of the leaders behind the petition that garnered more than 31,000 signatures, said after the vote that he would sue the city.

“The council, a majority never wanted the public to vote on CodeNext,” Lewis said. “So we will go to court and we will ask the court to respect the wishes of the voters and allow them to vote.”

The vote was 6-4 with council members Alison Alter, Ora Houston, Leslie Pool and Kathie Tovo against. Council Member Ellen Troxclair was absent from the meeting.
At this point, it's not even about the content (although that sucks too); it's about the lawlessness of the process.

The city's "reasoning" is based on a highly technical reading of the phrase "zoning."  According to those with whom we've spoken, the city's reasoning is...specious at best.  They're gaslighting via legalese.

The plain language of the statute in question states:
(a) Notwithstanding other requirements of this subchapter, the voters of a home-rule municipality may repeal the municipality's zoning regulations adopted under this subchapter by either:
(1) a charter election conducted under law;  or
(2) on the initial adoption of zoning regulations by a municipality, the use of any referendum process that is authorized under the charter of the municipality for public protest of the adoption of an ordinance.
[Note: Emphasis added.]
This is clearly a) an initial adoption, b) "any" referendum process, and c) public protest; anyone who claims otherwise is either a fool or a liar.

[Note: We did not know state law allows the option to repeal zoning entirely via. referendum; file that one away for a later date.]

Speaking of gaslighting, check out this gem:
Adler, in extended remarks on the legality of the petition ordinance, said he could not in good faith have placed the referendum on the ballot short of a court order.

“The easy thing to do here would be to put this on the ballot and walk away,” Adler said, “but that wouldn’t be right because it would be illegal. To me, that would be a denial to the oath of office I took. I wasn’t elected to do the easy thing; I was elected to do the hard thing and the right thing.”

[Note: Emphasis added]
That is some 1984-level newspeak; Adler took an oath to uphold the law of which he's now acting in clear violation.

Bottom Line: Hubris rarely works out well over time.

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