Former Mayor Strikes Out in El Paso
EL PASO, Texas (CN) - Former El Paso Mayor Ray Salazar is one of several plaintiffs who filed a federal complaint against the city, Mayor John Cook, City Manager Joyce Wilson, and a handful of city representatives in October.
The plaintiffs sought to stop El Paso from demolishing its current City Hall building in order to make way for a baseball stadium for the San Diego Padres' Triple-A team. They instead wanted voters to decide the issue in early 2013.
U.S. District Judge David Guaderrama dismissed without prejudice the plaintiffs' claims on Thursday.
Guaderrama found that because the claims are not ripe, the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.
"Preliminarily, gathered from the respective parties' filings, the court finds that the underlying current of the litigation is plaintiffs' concern of a tainted political process and the resulting alleged inability for plaintiffs to exercise their rights as citizens, taxpayers, and registered voters of El Paso, Texas," Guaderrama wrote. "Because it is not the court's position or onus to comment on the politics of local government, rather to rule on the law within it jurisdictional and judicial limits, the court will not expound on defendants' decision to construct a baseball park, or to demolish City Hall."
In response to the first of two petitions, the City Council rejected an ordinance to repeal the demolition on September 18. The plaintiffs sued the city 26 days before it received the second petition, which would have voters address the issue.
"The court concedes that the right to vote is a fundamental right and undoubtedly commands judicial relief to safeguard that right when warranted," Guaderrama noted.
But the plaintiffs jumped the gun, according to the judge's 16-page ruling.
Guaderrama states: "Here, all parties agree that the petitioners have complied with the first stage of the initiative process advanced by the City Charter. The second stage of the process, however, has not been fully effectuated. Correspondingly, the city has not yet declared that there will be a vote, or alternatively, that there will not be a vote. The City Clerk has also not yet determined that the signatures meet the requirements set forth in the initiative provision of the code. Plaintiffs' claims alleged in its complaint are contingent on the above events; such events are not legal, instead they are imperatively factual."
Without the facts to indicate immediate harm, the plaintiffs' claims cannot go forward, Guaderrama concluded.