Prop 1 opponents file “We think the voters are stupid” lawsuit

I’m really angry about this.

Opponents of Proposition 1, Houston’s recently-passed drainage fee, filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday against Mayor Annise Parker and the City of Houston.

The lawsuit calls Prop 1 “illegal” because “the ballot language does not accurately describe the object and effect of Proposition 1, causing the voters to be intentionally misled.” It asks the judge to invalidate the vote.

The plaintiffs are Allen Mark Dacus, Elizabeth C. Perez and Rev. Robert Jefferson.

Paul Bettencourt, an outspoken Prop 1 critic, told 11 News that the plaintiffs are a few of the Prop 1 opponents – including business and church leaders — that met Wednesday to discuss how to challenge the drainage fee.

Those opponents decided to file a lawsuit Wednesday because it was the last day to do so, Betancourt said. The vote was canvassed on November 15 and a lawsuit had to be filed within 30 days, he said.

You can see a copy of the lawsuit here. I guess Bettencourt and his buddies decided they didn’t like their odds with the Lege, so they hoped to find a judge who’s as disdainful of the will of the voters as they are. I don’t think I can adequately express how much contempt I have for them.

UPDATE: From the Chron story:

[Mayor Annise] Parker said Bettencourt was “speaking out of both sides of his mouth” for challenging the result of Proposition 1 and supporting the result of Proposition 3, which banned the use of red light cameras in the city.

She accused him of “seeking to invalidate the will of the voters.”


Lawsuits focused on ballot language are not uncommon but rarely are successful, said Matthew Festa, a professor at South Texas College of Law.

“It’s always a problem with ballots,” Festa said of the imprecise language. “They’re never going to say exactly the same thing that the actual law that’s going to be passed says.”

This lawsuit is a waste of time and money. And Paul Bettencourt is perfectly fine with that.

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6 Responses to Prop 1 opponents file “We think the voters are stupid” lawsuit

  1. JPH says:

    I’m assuming they slapped that together to meet some kind of statutory deadline because it’s one of the more vaguely worded complaints I’ve ever seen. I guess they figure they’ll claim every violation they can think of now in hopes of proving one or two of them later…

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  3. Jules says:

    I think the lawsuit has merit.

    Nobody knows how much the fee will be or who, if anyone, will be exempted. Nobody knows how the fee will be collected or how we will be able to see what everyone else pays. Nobody knows what the consequence will be for not paying.

    The ballot language said nothing about a fee, just establishing a fund.

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