Good news: the Tea Party-inspired phobia against extending light rail to Clackamas County got some pushback from a judge who, unlike the county's newly elected right-wing commissioners, understands what "contract" means.
Hopefully those commissioners now won't be so eager to spew crazy talk about voters being able to ignore legally binding agreements. Judge Deanne Darling slapped them down in a recent ruling.
Clackamas County circuit Judge Deanne L. Darling ruled this week that the ballot title on an advisory light-rail measure the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners placed on the May 21 ballot is “insufficient and unfair.”
Attorney and Oak Grove resident Keith Garza claimed that the measure, as written by the county in February, was misleading because it implies that a public vote can change contractual obligations the county signed in 2010 and 2012.
...Judge Darling on March 19 certified a description of the proposed ordinance to make clear to voters that “approval or rejection of the ordinance will not affect the county’s obligations with respect to [Clackamas County’s] previous contractual commitments.”
“The court’s ruling reaffirms that the county’s promises are binding and that Measure 3-401 does not require an authorizing vote before the county actually does what it already said it would do," Garza said. “It was critically important to me that voters know that they are being asked to cast their ballot for something that won’t have any legal effect.”
Congratulations to Keith Garza for showing that a single informed, reasonable citizen has the ability to get politicians back on track when they forget about following the rule of law.
This time it was Republicans who abused their power, but power belongs to the people no matter who is trying to take it away.