Judge Dismisses Montebello Trash Issue

What a big "oops". One would think a judge would side with "the people" on this one, even for a "minor technicality". Although, I am siding with Athens on this one because SSG has an Athens contract and I am a satisfied customer, I just feel sympathetic for all the hard work and signatures collected for nothing.

Read the Tribune story here.

Judge Yaffe

I saw the article. The judge in the Montebello case was the same one who had the Wal-Mart EIR case out of Rosemead. The problem (as I see it) is that judges always give cities the presumption of being correct, even when the city is not playing fair.

In the Montebello case, for example, the article says Yaffe couldn't confirm when the city clerk actually signed the garbage contract that was being challenged, so he just assumed it was after the opponents started gathering referendum signatures. If it were up to me, I'd have erred the other way: If the city can't prove the signatures were gathered prematurely, you've got to count them.

Why can't you start

Why can't you start collecting signatures until after 30 days (after the contract is signed)?

I can see how the haulers misunderstood the language. You'd think the normal rule is that you have to start collecting signatures as soon as possible.

There are a lot of pitfalls

There are a lot of pitfalls where the language of a law is not quite what past practice has determined. That's why you really need to hire a legal specialist to help you with your referendum. Otherwise, as in Rosemead, you wind up challenging the wrong ordinance or the wrong part of the ordinance. Or, as has happened in other cities, you fail to include the full language (not just a summary) of the law you're proposing ATTACHED to each petition. You can't just carry a copy--you need to duplicate it for every petition packet. This has placed challenging a referendum or drafting an initiative beyond the capacity of most true citizens' organizations.