Court denies propositions for Nov. ballot

Trial date likely set this Friday in superior court

A motion to put two propositions related to collective bargaining in the City of Sequim on the Nov. 4 ballot was denied on Sept. 23 in Clallam County Superior Court.

Judge Erik Rohrer denied Sequim city resident Susan Brautigam’s motion against the City of Sequim  five days after hearing arguments from her attorney Shawn Newman, and defending attorney Craig Ritchie, attorney for the City of Sequim, and Thomas Leahy, attorney for the Teamsters Local 589.

Brautigam is seeking approval of Proposition 1, the “Collective Bargaining Transparency Act,” that would open union collective bargaining labor negotiations to the public and Proposition 2, the “Collective Bargaining Protections Act,” that would prohibit mandatory union entry for employment and prohibit work stoppages in Sequim. The second proposition would apply to 48 union city positions in three collective bargaining units: 12 police officers, four police sergeants and 32 non-commissioned group members.

“There are genuine issues of material fact and potentially other issues that would preclude summary judgment,” Rohrer said in court documents. “The court finds that these issues would be best resolved at trial.”

Ritchie, who filed for a trial over the validity of the propositions, said they’ll pick a trial start date tentatively at 8:45 a.m. Friday, Sept. 26 via phone.

Regarding Rohrer’s decision, Newman said that the judge is trying to approach it carefully.

“It’s a very important case, which will be inevitably appealed,” he said. “It certainly could be the basis for recalls of city council members. I think he is trying to be very judicious about his rulings.”

Rohrer allowed Teamsters Local 589, which represents the 48 union city employees, to intervene in the suit, court documents state, because the group “claims an interest relating to the subject of the action and the disposition of the case may impair or impede its ability to protect that interests therefore the City of Sequim cannot adequately represent the Teamsters.”

He also questioned whether anything could be added to the Nov. 4 ballot.

“The court was persuaded that there is at least a reasonable possibility that it was already too late for anything to be added to the Nov. 4, 2014, ballot,” he said in court documents.

Ritchie said without all the parties involved, like the auditor and Secretary of State, the city can’t put on an election.

“We don’t have the authority to put it on the ballot,” he said. “That’s up to the auditor.”

Rohrer said Clallam County Auditor Patty Rosand was the best candidate to speak on that dates and allowed her to participate with her attorney Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Will Payne in the proceedings. Payne said that the deadline for initiatives to go on the ballot was Aug. 5 and that military ballots were tabbed to be sent out on Sept. 19.

Newman contested the timing issue referencing a contract obtained from Rosand by Scott Roberts, the Citizen Action Network director at the Freedom Foundation, saying the “drop dead date” is either Sept. 22 or Sept. 26.

The Secretary of State’s office also will be allowed to participate in future proceedings, Rohrer said in court documents, to resolve this dispute in Brautigam’s request that there be ample time allowed for information to be inserted in voter pamphlet statements.

The City of Blaine also has requested to intervene in the case, while Ritchie said he is considering asking the cities of Chelan and Shelton to intervene as well since they’ve received similar propositions.

Earlier this month, Sequim city councilors unanimously voted to deny adopting the propositions or put them on the ballot at Ritchie’s suggestion on Sept. 8.


 

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