The Referendum Lawsuit

On February 7, 2019, we commenced a lawsuit against the City of St. Paul, in order to enforce our citizen right to vote on the City’s new trash plan. See, Clark, et al., v. City of St. Paul, et al., Ramsey County Ct. File # 62-CV-19-857. We filed our lawsuit in order to secure our fundamental right to hold a referendum on the new trash plan. On May 30, 2019, Ramsey County Judge Leonardo Castro ruled that the people of St. Paul had the right to vote on the City trash plan. The City filed an appeal of that ruling on June 13, 2019. On August 22, 2019, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled against the City and upheld Judge Castro’s ruling. “Holding a referendum” on the City Council’s trash plan, means submitting the City Council’s new trash plan ordinance, Ord 18-39, to a ballot vote. This will take place at the upcoming November 5, 2019, citywide election. Our citizen right to hold a referendum on any ordinance passed by the City Council, is governed by Chapter 8 of our St. Paul City Charter. The Charter required that we obtain almost 5000 signatures by St. Paul’s registered voters in support of our referendum petition. Despite the Ramsey County Election Office’s October 31, 2018, report that we had obtained a legally sufficient number of signatures in support of our petition, the St. Paul City Council rejected our right to a referendum. The City claimed that it was “not appropriate” to submit its new trash plan to a vote by our citizens. As a consequence, in order to enforce our right to a referendum, we needed to sue the City. In the process, we also seek to return our residents to a lower cost trash collection system with a greater range of options, including opting out and sharing services. We believe that our residents should not be forced to pay City assigned haulers for unnecessary trash collection services. Instead, we support more responsible lifestyles that emphasize recycling and composting.

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