Friday, March 31, 2006

Judge spanks Austin council for misleading ballot language

WooHoo! A judge agreed with backers of two citizen initiatives that the Austin City Council's proposed ballot language describing the Open Government Online and Clean Water charter amendments was misleading and must change.

Judge Steve Yelenosky said the ballot language pulled out unrepresentative and sometimes false examples that were solely negative to the point it was tantamount to an argument against the measure instead of a description of it. In particular the judge said the city's portrayal that emails with personal information in them would go online in real time falsely read the amendment, ignoring caveats that gave the City discretion to be practical.

He also said the City's $36 million cost estimate was bogus - the city conceded under questioning the amendment would not require spending at a level that required a tax increase, even though on the ballot the city had predicted property taxes increasing at $.03 on the dollar!

See a more detailed writeup on the Open Government Austin blog, from this morning's Austin Statesman and from blogger Sal Costello.

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