Envision Spokane Statement to Legal Action to Block the Community Bill of Rights from the Ballot

by: Posted on: July 08, 2013

Business Community and Spokane County Join Forces to Block Citizens’ Initiatives from City Ballot – Lawsuit Filed Against Initiative Sponsors and City of Spokane

Envision Spokane President Brad Read – “Corporations are seeking to control not only how we vote, but whether we can vote”


PRESS STATEMENT, JUNE 26, 2013: On June 21, the Spokane County Commission voted to join the business community in filing a lawsuit to stop two citizens’ initiatives from appearing on the City of Spokane’s November ballot.

The lawsuit, also filed June 21, is part of an ongoing effort by corporate interests to block access by citizens to the initiative process in Spokane and Washington State.

In May, the Spokane City Council voted unanimously to place both initiatives – the Community Bill of Rights (sponsor: Envision Spokane) and the Voter Bill of Rights (sponsor: Spokane Moves to Amend the Constitution) – on the ballot this fall.  Thousands of city residents signed petitions to qualify the initiatives for the ballot.

Washington courts have repeatedly upheld the right to initiative and the right of citizens to vote on initiatives.  As the Washington Supreme Court ruled, “local initiative and referendum provisions reserve a ‘fundamental right of a governed people to exercise their inherent right and constitutional political power over governmental affairs.’” 1000 Friends of Washington v. McFarland, 159 Wn.2d 165 (2006).

In learning of the lawsuit, Envision Spokane President Brad Read stated, “Polling shows that the vast majority of Americans believe corporations have too much control over our elections, spending millions of dollars to influence how we vote.  Now they want to go even further, as corporations seek to control not only how we vote, but whether we can vote.”

Read stated further, “This lawsuit is a clear attempt by business interests to interfere with the ability of the initiative sponsors to mount campaigns in support of the measures.  Rather than educating voters, proponents are forced to spend resources fighting simply to maintain the right of citizens to the initiative process and the right to vote, rights that we thought we’d won generations ago.”

Lawsuit to Block the Community Bill of Rights Citizens’ Initiative

The parties bringing the lawsuit include: Spokane Entrepreneurial Center, Downtown Spokane Partnership, Greater Spokane Incorporated, Spokane Building Owners and Managers Associations, Spokane Association of Realtors, Spokane Homebuilders Association, Inland Pacific Chapter of Associated of Builders and Contractors, Avista Corporation, Pearson Packing System, William Butler, Neil Muller, Tom Power, Spokane County, and Spokane City Councilors Steve Salvatori, Nancy McLaughlin, and Mike Allen.

The lawsuit was brought against Envision Spokane and Spokane Moves to Amend the Constitution, as well as Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton and the City of Spokane.

Envision Spokane’s attorneys are prepared to fight the lawsuit to keep the Community Bill of Rights initiative on the November ballot.

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