KC Light Rail

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The First Legal Challenge

A south Kansas City resident has filed the first legal challenge of the City Council repeal of the voter-approved light rail initiative. Opposition from south Kansas City was expected because all proposed routes don't directly pass through that part of the city.

The "life-long" resident, Rose Marie Gunter, claims she is "disenfranchised" by the council's actions, even though they also approved a resolution to provide a replacement plan to voters in 2008. Puppet or pawn? Too early to tell, but Prime Buzz noted there was opposition forming in the southland last week, and it was south KC residents that formed the harshest opposition to the 2001 city-backed light rail plan that failed at the ballot box. Some have claimed that an expected legal challenge (and subsequent veto of the repeal) is all part of the Mayor's grand scheme to put a damper on light rail completely until a regional plan is funded.

7 Comments so far

  1. Eric November 14th, 2007 4:23 pm

    By definition a “starter” route won’t touch every corner of the city. It will be interesting to see if this lawsuit goes anywhere.

    I’m not sure how she can claim disenfranchisement when it was the voters that gave the City Council the power to repeal initiative petitions. Perhaps Ms. Gunter should have read the new charter more closely before she voted on it.

  2. mainstream November 14th, 2007 5:50 pm

    Good point Eric. That is a contradiction that someone needs to reconcile.

    The only flaw I can see is if they could argue successfully that technically, the City Council does not have jurisdiction or authority. If the law is there that’s supports that, doesn’t matter what the people voted for.

    Since this cahrter provision hasn’t been tested in MO at least since 1970, it will be interesting…

  3. mainstream November 14th, 2007 9:47 pm

    FLOYD TOWNSEND, et al. v. THE CITY OF DILLON, et al.

    We agree and hold an ordinance which repeals a voter initiated ordinance need not be submitted to the electorate for approval. If dissatisfied with the municipal council’s repeal of a voter initiated ordinance, the electorate’s immediate remedy is to initiate a petition to reenact the original ordinance and, ultimately, to refuse to reelect those members of council who passed the ordinance repealing the voter initiated ordinance.”

    The SC Supreme Court found that:

    “Although some states impose a restraint on the legislative body’s right to repeal a voter initiated provision even where no explicit restraint exists, the majority of jurisdictions conclude, where there are no explicit constitutional or statutory restraints, a voter initiated ordinance may be repealed by the same procedure as non-initiated ordinances.”

    If there was something explicitly in the MO Constitution that forbade the council overriding a voter initiative, it could not have made it into the Charter.

    So I have to conclude that MO is similarly situated to SC.

    That makes sense from another standpoint, once an ordinance becomes law, how is it different than any other ordinance? I think the implied silence of the MO consitution is informative.


  4. john November 14th, 2007 10:32 pm

    “If dissatisfied with the municipal council’s repeal of a voter initiated ordinance, the electorate’s immediate remedy is to initiate a petition to reenact the original ordinance”

    Please don’t tell me this means the return of Clay Chastain to our fair city. We have enough problems as it is.

  5. mainstream November 14th, 2007 10:47 pm

    He couldn’t get the signatures this time around epecially with the Citizens’ plan.

  6. northlander November 15th, 2007 9:59 am

    The people should get what they voted for. If the City has a better plan lets see it and the cost. If the cost is about the same as Clays his plan should be funded the same way.

  7. […] City Attorney Galen Beaufort issued a statement today in response to yesterday’s announcement of a legal challenge to last week’s council repeal of the voter-approved light rail plan. […]

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