Initiative 6 gets a minor win

 by Sue Forde, Editor, Citizen Review Online

  May 16, 2002 - Clallam County, WA – The State Appeals Court of Washington has agreed to accept the amicus brief submitted by state legislators, a county and statewide groups in support of the battle in the courts of the people’s right to vote on Initiative 6.

  Clallam County deputy prosecuting attorney Christopher Melley had asked the court to refuse the brief, submitted on behalf of State Representatives Jim Buck (R-24th District), Joyce Mulliken (R-13th District), State Senator Tim Sheldon (D-35th District); the Washington State Farm Bureau, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, and Ferry County.  Melly accused the submitted brief of diverting “the attention of the court from the issues before it…to a wholly different battleground involving nothing less than the legitimacy of the Growth Management Act.” The court reviewed the request, and turned it down, after attorneys Robert C. Rowley and James J. Klauser offered their reply.

  The initiative, which began as a local grassroots attempt to place the question of repealing the local Critical Areas Code on the ballot for county voters last year, was short-circuited by two of the three county commissioners.  Led by Clallam County Commissioner Steve Tharinger (D), the initiative was thrown into the courts by way of a declaratory judgment, naming private citizen Bob Forde as the defendant.  The county’s position was that the people couldn’t vote on an issue that was mandated by a state law (in this case, the Growth Management Act).  The citizens’ position was that this is a local ordinance – as called for by the GMA – and that they could repeal it.

 The initiative battle seems to have taken on a life of its own.  After the locally county-appointed judge (after 3 elected judges recused themselves from hearing the case) ruled that the citizens of the county would not be allowed to vote on Initiative 6, despite the wording in both the home rule charter (county constitution), and the county code, Forde, who was joined by the BIAW in the fight, asked the State Supreme Court to hear the case.  The Supremes referred the case back to the appeals court for a hearing, and that’s where the matter sits now.

  Enter the amicus brief.  The county, organizations and state representatives believed enough in the constitutional right of the citizens to participate in their own government, that they joined together to help the court understand the various ramifications.  Forde, who has been defending himself throughout this process (“pro se”), does not have the legal ability nor expertise to present the constitutional issues before the court, the brief stated.  More importantly, it urges the court to “comprehensively match judicial interpretation with constitutional consequences in order to assure that the ‘GMA revolution’ does not continue to become a ‘Constitutional Revolution’ and an illicit grab of policy-making power by appointed Growth Boards as well as a divestiture of citizens’ power to control the policy that governs them.” 

“This Court must rule and interpret the GMA to preserve the constitutionally required ‘republican’ form of representative government and the Separation of Powers,” the amicus brief concluded.  The verbal arguments will be heard before the Appeals Court sometime in September.

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