No need for two questions
April 17, 2002
Now it looks like Carson City residents will have two ballot questions on Fuji Park and the Fairgrounds to confront them Nov. 5.
This is not a bad thing. Worse would be no ballot question. It is, however, an unnecessary complication to a contentious issue.
Judge Michael Griffin issued a common-sense and legally reasonable opinion on Monday placing the original question — the one on petitions signed by 3,400 residents — on the ballot.
“Should Fuji Park and the Fairgrounds be maintained and improved in not less than its present size as a park in perpetuity?”
Griffin’s point: Arguments over the legality of putting such an initiative into practice should take place after the voting public has its say. After all, he noted, maybe it won’t pass.
There is something to be said for not wasting the taxpayers’ time and money. If a court is going to strike down the initiative, city attorney Mark Forsberg argued, shouldn’t that happen before we go to the expense of holding an election?
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But there’s more to be said, in our opinion, for the right of residents to petition their government for change. As long as the petitioners meet the criteria, Nevada law says, their initiative goes on the ballot.
It is wholly unreasonable to expect a group of activists like the Concerned Citizens for Fuji Park and the Fairgrounds to spend their time, effort and money to meet the letter of the law in gathering signatures on petitions, only to have their own government thwart them, using their own tax dollars, by making a pre-emptive strike in court.
We think that’s what Griffin meant when he referred to giving “great deference to the will of the people.”
Does there need to be two questions on the ballot? Of course not.
The one fashioned by city supervisors — “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?” — is now redundant.
Supervisors should simply pull it off the ballot.
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