A couple of weeks back we mentioned that Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals Justice Elizabeth Lang-Miers ordered the city of Dallas to respond by no later than July 19 to attorney Andy Siegel's writ of mandamus in which he claims, among other things, that the council's call for a local option election concerning the off-premise sale of beer and wine citywide ain't kosher. This afternoon, First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers was good enough to send that response -- all 89 pages, including exhibits -- and, as always, it follows on the other side.
And while Steve Thompson has honed in on one of the exhibits -- a July 16 memo from City Secretary Deborah Watkins to Mayor Tom Leppert and the city council in which she writes that the organization formerly known as Progress Dallas barely got the number of signatures required to trigger the election -- the larger issue is this, says City Attorney Tom Perkins in an interview with Unfair Park: "The courts should not intervene in an ongoing election, and the election has been called at this point. The court should dismiss the case because of the lack of jurisdiction." And that's that.
Because ultimately, says Perkins, no matter the final certified tally, there were indeed enough valid signatures to trigger the election. "And the council is required to call the election by law," he says, " which the council did." But that is not the extent of Perkins's argument.
In his original writ, Siegel said he counted among his clients several southern sector churches, among them the African American Pastors Coalition (of which Mayor Leppert's good friend Dr. Frederick Haynes of Friendship-West Baptist Church is vice president). Which is nice and all, but, says Perkins, they don't have standing to overturn the council's call for an election.
"Meaning: The fact that you are a registered voter or you may be opposed to an election doesn't in and of itself create a standing. You have to have some special position in order for you to create standing for the court to challenge an election, and we do not believe they do. Also, we followed the law in terms of what the city secretary and the city council required to do under the local option statute and election code."
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And now, we wait for the court's ruling -- which will come down ... whenever the court decides. "That," says Perkins, "is entirely up to the court. The judges have the authority to do what they believe appropriate under the law. The argument we've made, we believe that is the correct interpretation of the law. But the judge will ultimately make that decision."
City Response to Petition for Mandamus