Wheels of Justice
Grind Slowly, but Exceedingly Fine
The Library/Event Center/Parking Structure issue is still making its way through the tangled maze of the Florida judicial system. On October 20, the hearing regarding validation of up to $30 million in general obligation bonds for the purpose of building the library-event center came before Judge Margaret Schreiber of the Ninth Judicial Circuit.
Despite the array of arguments and the number of lawyers present to make them, at the end of the day, it comes down to one question. What language will the Judge put in her final order?
Bonds Will Be Validated
Since no one opposed validating the bonds, the Judge asked the city’s bond attorney, whose area of expertise this is, to come back to her by November 15 with drafts of two final orders for her signature. Both orders will validate the bonds.
Validation Order May? Or May Not? Include Location
One order will include the language of the location in Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Park. The other will validate the bonds, but will include no language about the location. After she receives the two draft orders November 15, the Judge will decide which order to sign. Either way, the bonds will be validated.
Separate Suit on Petitions Also Pending
Meanwhile, a separate suit, this one filed in the Appellate Division of the Ninth Circuit, seeks to determine whether the petitions submitted to the City by the Save Our Library WP PAC constitute a Referendum or a Citizens’ Initiative.
Are the Petitions a Referendum?
If the appellate judge finds that the petitions are a Referendum, under Sec. 5.02 of the City Charter, then the petitions are not valid and the effort to block the location of the library in MLK Park fails.
Or a Citzens Initiative?
If the judge finds the petitions are a Citizens’ Initiative, under Sec. 5.01 of the City Charter, the petitioners will bring before the Commission an ordinance stating that no library may be built in MLK Park. The Commission must vote on that ordinance. If they pass it, it becomes law that no library may be built in MLK Park.
Final Decision May Be Up to the Voters
If the Commission does not pass the ordinance, then the ordinance will go on a ballot and it will be up to the registered voters in Winter Park to decide whether the ordinance passes or fails. In both cases, only a simple majority is required.
At this point, it is unclear how the outcome of one lawsuit will affect the outcome of the other.
It’s doubtful this Commission will pass a Citizens’ Initiative. The right thing to do so that Winter Park can go forward without rancor, is to put it on the ballot. That way everyone will understand what we’re voting on.
They don’t want the humiliation of being defeated at the polls. They don’t want any more residents being made aware that, in March, they were tricked into raising their own taxes to have their own library taken out from under them and moved clear across town. And they don’t want their opposition to gain any more followers.
For these reasons, they will approve the Citizens Initiative, unanimously, when it comes up for a vote at City Commission, and avoid an embarrassing election.