PHOENIX – On Friday, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge handed a grassroots group, Build a Better Phoenix, a victory in their battle to stop future light rail expansion and instead use those monies for better roads.
The Court sided with the public and ruled that Build a Better Phoenix’s ballot initiative will be on the ballot.
The Arizona Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America had challenged the ballot measure in court after Build a Better Phoenix managed to collect more than double the required signatures to put the issue on the ballot.
The Associated General Contractors of America claimed that the “100 word description of the principal provisions of the proposed initiative violates A.R.S. § 19-102 in that it creates a significant danger of confusion or unfairness because: (1) the summary states future light rail extension will be halted and funds redirected toward infrastructure improvements but fails to disclose that infrastructure improvements cannot include improvements to existing light rail infrastructure; (2) the summary suggests all moneys that would have been spent on light rail extension will be redirected to infrastructure improvements when only a portion of funds that would otherwise be available for light rail expansion may be redirected; (3) the summary fails to state that redirected funds may only supplement and not replace funds already appropriated for infrastructure improvement projects and the initiative actually prohibits any surplus money reverting to the general fund for the City of Phoenix.”
Judge Sherry Stephens disagreed and found “the 98 word summary contains the principal provisions of the proposed initiative and complies with the law. As written, the summary does not create a significant danger of confusion or unfairness and communicates to potential signers the thrust of the measure. The omission of information regarding: (1) the sources of funding for light rail; (2) the possible negative impact of the initiative on jobs, the environment, utility companies, and the Phoenix regional area; (3) the limitation on future passenger rail projects; and (4) the potential loss of federal and regional funding are not matters that must be covered in the 100 word summary.”
“This could be one of the biggest rulings of the year,” said Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio in a press release. “The government tried to take away their livelihoods, and these folks fought back. This is a huge win for them, and a huge win for taxpayers across the City. This allows our crumbling, dangerous and embarrassing streets to be re-paved today. $1.6 billion is needed today just to bring up the streets to standard”
DiCiccio noted that Build a Better Phoenix was forced to defend “the ballot access they earned against a fully-funded and City-supported effort to circumvent the will of the people.”
Building a Better Phoenix called the Associated General Contractors of America lawsuit “frivolous” and vowed to hit “campaign trail which includes letting the citizens of Phoenix know about our initiative so they are well informed of what they are voting for and the positive outcomes with voting in favor of our initiative. We do not have a proposition number yet. When we do get one, we will be able to give stronger details. Building a Better Phoenix is so thankful for the continued growing support we have receive each day.”