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Permanent injunction against Take Back STL

Permanent injunction against Take Back STL

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Ruling from Judge Robert Dierker issued May 27, 2014, calling the initiative illegal and void on its face.
Ruling from Judge Robert Dierker issued May 27, 2014, calling the initiative illegal and void on its face.

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Published by: St. Louis Public Radio on May 27, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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05/29/2014

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MISSOURI CIRCUIT COURT TWENTY-SECOND CIRCUIT (City of St. Louis) MARY ERIN NOEL, et al., ) ) Plaintiffs, ) ) v. ) No. 1422-CC00249 ) Div. 18 BOARD OF ELECTION COMMISSIONERS, ) etc., et al., ) ) Defendants. )
FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, ORDER AND JUDGMENT
 Plaintiffs, citizens and taxpayers of the City of St. Louis, bring this action to prevent submission of an initiative proposition to their fellow citizens of the City. After hearing, the Court entered a preliminary injunction preventing submission of the initiative at a special election. At the trial on the merits, members of the committee of petitioners were granted leave to intervene as defendants. The parties submitted the case on the preliminary injunction record, the pleadings, exhibits and testimony of the principal draftsman of the initiative. Having considered the record, the Court now enters its findings of fact, conclusions of law, order and judgment. Issues on which no specific finding is made are deemed found in accordance with the result reached. Objections not heretofore expressly ruled on will be deemed overruled, with the Court considering such evidence only for permissible purposes. Findings of Fact 1. Plaintiffs herein are individuals and a limited liability company residing in the City of St. Louis and are taxpayers thereof.
 
 2 2. Defendant Board of Election Commissioners is the duly authorized and acting election authority within and for the City of St. Louis. 3. Defendant City of St. Louis is a constitutional charter city of Missouri. 4. Intervenor defendants are members of a committee of petitioners who prepared and circulated petitions to the voters of the City of St. Louis, proposing an amendment to the Charter of the City of St. Louis consisting of a new article XXVII, entitled "Sustainable Energy Policy." See Pl.Ex. 2, 3. (For convenience, the Court hereinafter will sometimes refer to the proposition as the "sustainable energy amendment.") 5. The committee of petitioners presented petitions reflecting 22,639 signatures of registered City voters to the Election Board, and the Board duly certified the petitions to the Board of Aldermen. Pl.Ex. 4. The Board of Aldermen did not act to submit the proposition to the voters. Pl.Ex. 1. The Election Board accordingly proceeded to call a special election for April 8, 2014, and began preparations for holding the election. The estimated cost of a special election, payable from public funds, is $500,000. The cost of submitting the proposition at a general election would be less, but will necessarily entail expenditures of public funds attributable specifically to the sustainable energy amendment. See Pl.Ex. 8 for the manner of printing ballot propositions in the past. 6. The ballot form adopted by the Board for submitting the sustainable energy amendment will not contain a summary of the
 
 3 initiative proposition, but will instead present the entire text of the proposition. Pl.Ex. 5. 7. Plaintiffs allege that the energy initiative is procedurally and substantively invalid and seek a declaratory judgment to that effect. Count I of the petition alleges that charter amendments by initiative are not permitted under Mo.Const. art. VI, §32, governing the charter of the City of St. Louis. Count II alleges that the initiative proposition is invalid on its face as exceeding the powers of the City as a constitutional home rule city in that the sustainable energy amendment would conflict with numerous statutes. Count III alleges that the proposition is invalid on its face as entailing an appropriation of public funds contrary to Mo.Const. art. III, §51. Count IV alleges numerous procedural defects in the initiative petition: it is addressed to the City's Board of Aldermen and not the Election Board; it illegally demands that the Board of Aldermen adopt the proposition instead of submitting it to the voters; the enacting clause is defective; the summary of the proposition in the initiative petition is false and misleading; and the initiative petition fails to fully disclose the text of the proposition. Count V alleges that the proposed ballot summary, or the presentation of the proposition in full, presents the proposition in an unlawful manner. Count VI alleges that the proposition is void on its face as denying equal protection of the laws to the "unsustainable energy producers" identified in the proposition. Finally, count VII seeks injunctive relief.

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