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Government and People
SUPERIOR COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
DAVID ARGO. 2877 Arizona Terrace, NW, Washington, D.C. 20016, (202) 364-0083
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA BOARD OF ELECTIONS AND ETHICS
Civil Action No. 04 ca004740
(Petition for Review and Writ of Mandamus)
Parties and Jurisdiction
1. Plaintiff, David Argo (ARGO) is a registered qualified elector of the District of Columbia.
2. Plaintiff, Dorothy Brizill, (BRIZILL) is a registered qualified elector of the District of Columbia.
3. Plaintiff, Regina James, ( JAMES) is a registered qualified elector of the District of Columbia.
4. Defendant, District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics ("the Board"), is an independent agency of the District of Columbia, composed of three members appointed by the Mayor of the District of Columbia, to impartially regulate and conduct elections in the District of Columbia.
5. The court has jurisdiction over this case under D.C. Official Code § 1-1001.16(e)(1)(A) and this court's general equitable powers.
THE PROPOSED INITIATIVE
6. On April 22, 2004, Pedro Alfonso (the proponent) submitted a proposed initiative to the Board entitled the "Jobs, Education, and Healthcare Lottery Expansion Initiative of 2004." As first proposed, (Initial Proposal) the initiative would amend the "Law to Legalize Lotteries, Daily Numbers Games, and Bingo and Raffles for Charitable Purposes,"( D.C. Official Code §3-1301 et seq.) to legalize installation of 3, 500 Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) (more commonly called "slot machines" and hereinafter also called "slot machines") at one specified site in the District of Columbia, to one licensee, for a period of ten years. This grants an exclusive license, or contract, for a period of ten years, to a specifically designated licensee. In return the District of Columbia would receive 25% of the net proceeds of each installed slot machine (VLT). The Initiative also established two special funds, and allocated VLT (slot machine) net proceeds for these funds and the general fund, after certain incurred costs were first paid.
7. The Board gave a mere 5 days notice, in the District of Columbia Register (the DC Register) on Friday, May 28, 2004 (51 D.C. Reg., Vol. 22), that it would hold a public hearing on Wednesday, June 2, to consider whether the "Initial Proposal" was a proper subject for an initiative. The DC Register is the only official legal bulletin of the District of Columbia. It is published by the Office of the Secretary of the District of Columbia. Rules for publication in the DC Register are set forth in the DC Code and the DC Municipal Regulations.
8. Also, on May 28, 2004, the Friday afternoon before the three day Memorial Day weekend, at 4:00 PM, the proponents submitted extensive revisions of the proposed initiative (Proposal 2) to the Board. The Board and its staff had not previously seen this text.
9. At the June 2, 2004 meeting of the Board, it deemed the "revisions" to the Initial Proposal "substantive changes" and refused to hear testimony on the "subject matter question," then scheduled, until either the proponents: (1) published the revisions in the DC Register, or (2) withdrew the first proposal and resubmitted it as a new initiative. The Board gave the proponent a third option, which was to proceed with the proposal as originally filed on April 22, 2004, but indicated that the first proposal had serious flaws.
10. On at least two occasions during the June 2, 2004 meeting, the Board chair asked whether Mr. Ray was withdrawing the first proposed initiative, to which Mr. Ray answered,' yes."
11. The Board then, with advise its counsel, set a new "subject matter" hearing for either June 9, 2004 or June 14, 2004, depending on when the DC Register publication of the "revisions" could be accomplished (either on Friday, June 4, 2004 or Friday, June 11, 2004).
12. The Office of Documents could not publish the "revisions" in the June 4, 2004 edition of the DC Register because they were not submitted to the Office of Documents prior to May 27, 2004, the legal deadline. (See, D.C. Municipal Regulations, Title I, Chapter 3).
13. In order to meet the Board's requirement of publication prior to the hearing, and to preserve the earlier hearing date of June 9, the proponents (or their agents) independently produced and printed a DC Register Supplement, dated June 4, 2004. The proponents do not dispute that they paid for the printing at Kinkos and the first class postage. Moreover, the proponents (through their agent) were given mailing labels by the Office of Secretary, mailed it themselves, and hand distributed copies to DC Government Offices themselves.
14. When the Board convened on Wednesday, June 9, 2004, a major point of discussion was the question of whether proper DC Register publication, as required by the Board and their regulations was accomplished. The Board ruled that notification of the hearing had been accomplished because of a brief legal notice they published two days before the hearing date. The Board ignored its earlier determination on June 2 that the revisions to the First Proposal either had to be properly published in the DC Register or the initiative withdrawn and resubmitted to the Board. The Board did not make a determination on whether the June 4, 2004 independently printed DC Register Supplement was legally sufficient. Instead, the Board stated that it would refer the legality and propriety of the private publication of the DC Register to either the D.C. Auditor or the D.C. Inspector General for investigation. The Board then proceeded with a hearing on the "subject matter question."
15. Prior to hearing any public testimony on the second version of the initiative, the Board heard their legal counsel's opinion that the second version of Initiative was a proper subject of an Initiative and recommended the Board accept it.
16. When public comments were made at the hearing, the proponents were represented by their legal counsel, John Ray, who sat throughout the hearing at the front table and aggressively defended his clients' position in response to testimony. Several members of the general public spoke against the proposal. Mr. Ray was also given rebuttal time.
17. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board approved their legal counsel's prior recommendation to accept the Second Proposal as a proper subject for an initiative under D. C. law.
18. The Board immediately moved into the examination of the proposed short title, summary statement and legislative text as required by D.C. Official Code §§ 1-1001.16(c)(1),(c)(2) and (c)(3).
19. After hearing the various opinions of the parties present regarding the short title and summary statement, the Board took a "short break," after which it delivered the final language to the open hearing.
20. Before adjournment, the Board was asked whether they would seek expedited publication of the second proposal, now referred to as Initiative 68, in the DC Register. The Board's Counsel stated that he would seek no special treatment of the initiative, and that it would be submitted to the DC Register, "in the regular course of time."
21. The next day, June 10, 2004, a special supplement to the DC Register was prepared by the Office of Documents. Initiative 68 was published in the DC Register (Vol. 51 D.C. Reg. 24, Vol. 2), on June 11, 2004. This Special Supplement was published on the day the District of Columbia Government was closed to observe the official day of mourning for former President Ronald Reagan, despite the fact that the submission deadline for this edition was June 3, 2004. Apparently, Council Member Vincent Orange, who had no legal authority to do so, had requested expedited treatment of Initiative 68, in a letter dated June 10, 2004, the day after the Board's hearing and formulation of the final language.
22. This action is a timely challenge to the proposed initiative under D.C. Code §§ 11001.16(e)(1)(A).
THE PROPOSED INITIATIVE SHOULD HAVE BEEN REJECTED
23. The Board should have rejected the proposed initiative for multiple procedural reasons:
A. The proposed initiative should not have been approved by the Board because it was not properly submitted according to the procedures set forth in D.C. Official Code § 1-1001.16 et seq.
B. The Board exceeded its authority, asset forth in D.C. Official Code § 1001.16 et seq. when it accepted substantive revisions to the initial proposal on June 4, 2004.
C. Initiative 68 was never "officially" published in the DC Register and cannot be properly be brought to the District of Columbia electorate for signatures in accordance with D.C. Official Code § 1001.16 et seq. D. The proposed initiative was not otherwise fairly subjected to public or Board scrutiny.
24. The proposed initiative should have been rejected because it conflicts with the District of Columbia Home Rule Act.
25. The proposed initiative should have been rejected because it is a "law appropriating funds" which is a prohibited subject for an Initiative under D.C. law.
26. The proposed initiative should have been rejected because it would "negate or limit and act of the Council" pursuant to D.C. Official Code § 1-204.46.
27. The proposed initiative should have been rejected because the short title, summary and legislative text are misleading, biased and inaccurate and are otherwise in improper form.
28. The proposed initiative should have been rejected because it is not otherwise a proper subject for an initiative in the District of Columbia.
WHEREFORE, plaintiffs ask the court to find that the initiative is not proper and that it direct the Board to reject the proposed initiative, and to grant further appropriate relief.
David Argo, pro se
June 21, 2004
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I hereby certify that I did, this day, June 21, 2001, personally deliver, and mail a copy of this complaint and Writ of Mandamus by U.S. Government Mail, Return Receipt Requested to: Kenneth McGhie, General Counsel, District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics, 441 4th Street, NW, Suite 250, Washington, DC 20001.
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