City takes fairgrounds case to the supreme court

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Carson City attorneys have asked the Supreme Court to prevent Clerk Alan Glover from placing the Fuji Park and fairgrounds question on the November ballot.

In documents filed Monday, Deputy District Attorney Mark Forsberg noted because of the strict deadlines in which ballots must be printed, there isn't enough time for city leaders to simply appeal the April 15 decision of Judge Michael Griffin putting the park and fairgrounds question onto the ballot.

The writ of prohibition basically presents a new issue to be decided by the Supreme Court and should speed up the court's action in the case, said Julian Smith, attorney for the Concerned Citizens to Save Fuji Park and the Fairgrounds.

Forsberg argues in the documents that voters passing an ordinance conflicts with the city's charter and the state constitution, both of which grant the city's elected officials the right to "control, manage and sell property."

"It's obvious the city is going to do everything they can to block the certified petition of the people," said Jon Nowlin, Concerned Citizen member.

The petition advisory question, championed by the Concerned Citizens and supported by 3,400 registered voters, request an ordinance that the park and fairgrounds "be maintained and improved in not less than its present size as a park in perpetuity."

Forsberg also argued the language in the petition is illegal because the question asks the city to improve the area without "providing for a way in which the money can be raised." Forsberg noted the Concerned Citizens would have had to ask for an amendment to the city's charter to allow the passage of an ordinance by initiative petition.

Smith said Forsberg's arguments render useless the initiative petition process.

"Everything the city can do is authorized by the Legislature," Smith said. "So if you take (Forsberg's opinion) literally, there is no initiative petition for anything.

"What the initiative petition process does is substitute people for the Board (of Supervisors)," Smith argued. "We gave the board a chance (to pass the ordinance) and they declined. Our position is the people can adopt any ordinance the Board can adopt."

Smith said he will also argue for the petition to be placed on the September ballot pursuant to his interpretation of state law. Griffin did not signify which election the question must appear. While he agreed there are possible legal issues surrounding the Concerned Citizen's question, Griffin argued voters should have a say before city officials challenge the question's legality.

Carson City supervisors on April 23 decided to appeal Griffin's decision to the Supreme Court, arguing they didn't want Carson voters to waste time campaigning for and against something they deem illegal.

They have approved an advisory question for the November ballot which asks, "While retaining and improving the area known as Fuji Park, should Carson City make available for commercial development City property known as the Carson City Fairgrounds?"

Supervisors don't want two conflicting questions on the ballot and are slated July 15 to choose a question if the Supreme Court hasn't made a decision at that point.


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