On Thursday, May 9, Judge Castro held the hearing to place the City’s ordinance 18-39 on the ballot. Oral arguments started at 9 am and continued for more than an hour. As people filled the courtroom’s seating area, additional observers continued filing in and stood in the back of the room.
A number of the Court’s questions suggested that Judge Castro was supportive of the Petitioners’ right to place the trash plan ordinance to a vote. The Court seemed to disagree with the City’s claim that it could preclude the citizen right to a referendum by signing a contract with the haulers.
When the city attorney, Megan Hafner agreed that the citizen referendum constituted a “legislative event,” Judge Castro pointed out the force majeur clause in the contract that excused performance for legislative events. The city attorney responded that the force majeur provision would not apply because the city viewed this citizen referendum as being within its control. The Court seemed to disagree, pointing out that a referendum brought by the citizens was beyond the City’s control.
Judge Castro concluded the hearing by taking the matter under advisement. After clarifying that the deadline to print the 2019 election ballots is August 23, Judge Castro stated that he was aware of the need for expediency and planned to issue his decision within 30 days.