You knew it was coming. And now, it's here: the lawsuit against the city of Dallas that Andy Siegel vowed to file by week's end in which he asks the court to void the results of last week's vote to allow the off-premise sale of wine and beer citywide. It was filed today in Dallas County District Court, and as he's said all along, Siegel wants the election results thrown out on two counts -- because, he says (again), City Secretary Deborah Watkins signed off on the referendum despite there being invalid petitions (which the city has vehemently denied), and because "the City failed to preserve the historically Dry areas of Dallas, like Oak Cliff and Preston Hollow, which voted Dry," per a press release Siegel's office sent this evening.
Says the release: "Only those residents have the right to reverse their Dry status and so, Siegel argues, 'the election is void, as the Texas Supreme Court recently concluded in a similar wet/dry case.'" This is the case to which he's referring.
This, also from the release:
"As I've said all along, the State election law was not followed on this issue," said Siegel. "Rather than spending a lot of resources trying to fight this issue at the ballot box, we chose to wait for an election challenge if the measure passed." Siegel continued. "That time has now come, and I feel very confident about our chances in court."
As you no doubt recall, on July 2 Siegel filed a writ of mandamus in the 5th District Court of Appeals in which he claimed the city didn't get enough valid signatures to call the election. At the end of August, Judge Elizabeth Lang-Miers tossed it out of court. The new filing, made on behalf of former Zoning Ordinance Committee member and real-estater Marcus Wood and Dallas Area Rapid Transit board member Jerry Christian Sr. of Kirkwood Temple, follows. So too does the cover letter in which Siegel's office says that Dallas County judicial district judges should be disqualified from hearing the case, per election code. He wants Judge John Ovard, the presiding judge of the First Administrative Judicial Region, to handle the case against the city.
When reached this evening, Dallas city attorneys had no comment, but a statement may be forthcoming. I recommend pouring yourself a drink while we wait. But if you note: Nowhere in the filing does Siegel ask for an injunction that would halt the permitting process.
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Update at 5:42 p.m.: First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers tells Unfair Park his office will not have a comment on the filing today. Monday? Maybe.
Update at 6:26 p.m.: The city, via spokesman Frank Librio and the city attorney's office, did indeed decide to respond to the lawsuit this evening. It's short and to the point:
The City acted in accordance with the law in certifying the petition, calling the election, conducting the election, and canvassing the results. The City will vigorously defend the decision of the voters of Dallas.