Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dispute arises over TABOR notice in Colorado Springs city election

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2017 at 11:36 AM

A duel is shaping up between the Colorado Springs city government and its arch-nemesis, Taxpayer's Bill of Rights author Douglas Bruce.

click to enlarge cityelectionsbug-web_360.png
This time, the battle will be over whether the city should use favorable comments in its TABOR notice about Issue 2, which asks voter permission for the city to keep $6 million from excess revenue collected in 2016 above TABOR caps and $6 million that is projected to be collected in 2017 above TABOR caps.

Mayor John Suthers, with a majority of City Council, wants to spent the excess revenue on stormwater projects.

Voters will decide in the April 4 city election, which is being conducted by mail.

The favorable comments at issue were submitted without a signature. Oddly, City Clerk Sarah Johnson says she's determined that John O'Donnell turned in those comments.

Regardless, Johnson says it would be appropriate to use them in the city's written pro-con TABOR notice, to be mailed to voters on March 3, even if the comments were not signed by a city voter.

That's a position Bruce can't abide. And he says he'll file a lawsuit over it.

Here's the lawsuit, which asks for the court to expedite a hearing, in light of the pending election.

Here is what Johnson has to say about it:
A pro comment and a con comment were received in the Office of the City Clerk on 2/17, which was the deadline to file them. Summaries of both the pro and the con comments will be included in the TABOR Notice. Copies of the comments are attached.

The pro comment was not filed anonymously. It was hand delivered to my office during regular business hours. I can confirm that John O'Donnell provided the content for the pro comment. Mr. Bruce is mistaken in his belief that the pro comment must be filed by an elector, however I have confirmed that Mr. O'Donnell is an elector of the City of Colorado Springs.

With regard to Mr. Bruce's legal assertions, the City believes that summarizing the pro comments on Issue 2 is proper. First, Charter section 7-90 (c)(2)(v) contains no limitation on who may file pro or con comments for City TABOR questions. Second, the statutory section Mr. Bruce quoted, C.R.S. section 1-7-901, applies only to state elections and not to municipal elections. Finally, even if section 1-7-901 were applicable, it simply confers upon the election official the discretion whether to summarize all comments received.

Pursuant to our City Charter, the TABOR Notice will be mailed by 3/3.
Here are the pro and con statements for and against Issue 2:

You'll notice the opposition statement wasn't filed by Bruce. That's because Bruce isn't a registered voter after he was convicted of a felony (tax evasion), which is on appeal.

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