By R.E. Graswich
There was no surprise this week when STOP, the group that ridiculously calls itself Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork, filed a lawsuit to overturn the Sacramento City Clerk’s decision to bounce STOP’s anti-arena initiative from the June ballot.
The surprise will come if a judge falls for STOP’s arguments.
City Clerk Shirley Concolino spiked the petition due to five areas of mistakes in STOP’s signature-gathering process. They were technical errors, such as circulating nine different versions of the petition and failing to include legally required enactment language. The compendium of errors was too much for Concolino.
Now please listen to a guy who’s been there.
I worked with Shirley in my time at Mayor Kevin Johnson’s office. Shirley is a friend of mine. But a couple of times, she made decisions that went against the goals of the Mayor’s Office.
They were technical issues based on mistakes from our end. I begged her to let them slide.
But Shirley is a stickler for rules and regulations. Even though we were friends, she kicked me out of her office.
And I’ll tell you exactly what I told Mayor Johnson:
“The bottom line is, I screwed up. Shirley’s just doing her job.”
Kevin didn’t want to hear that. And I didn’t like admitting it. But it was true.
So as I read the legal complaint filed by STOP, I had to laugh. Having tried to slip a few past Shirley, I know exactly how STOP feels.
In the lawsuit, STOP tries to cover up its mistakes with words like “substantially complied.” This means they blew it, but only by a little. Kind of like the Kings claiming they won when they lost by two points. Page after page is filled with “substantially complied.”
Truth is, STOP’s whole legal argument is based on guilt, with an explanation. It’s not a real legal argument. If you ever go to traffic court, you’ll hear the same thing over and over.
“I plead guilty, judge, with an explanation.”
STOP is hoping they get a judge who feels sorry for them, who is willing to apply a loose and extremely liberal brand of justice.
There aren’t many judges like that, but maybe STOP will get lucky.
One more thing about STOP, which is supposedly dedicated to “opposing pork.”
So far, just about everything STOP has done has cost taxpayers money: counting petitions, wasting the clerk’s time, fighting a desperate lawsuit with resources from the City Attorney’s office.
Now STOP is demanding city reimbursement for its legal expenses. That means taxpayers might be on the hook for STOP’s courthouse adventures.
As a guy who’s been on the wrong side of Shirley Concolino, my advice to STOP is pretty straightforward:
Admit you screwed up, take your punishment like adults, and move on.