Thursday, June 7, 2001
Fishing For CompetenceOn May 18th, the Monterey County Superior Court found that the city of Marina's "declaratory relief" lawsuit against LandWatch was an illegal Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP suit). The majority of the Marina City Council supposedly voted to undertake this ill-advised litigation to save time and money. The city took the advice of an out-of-town law firm that used city money to fish for a new legal precedent to undermine the initiative process statewide. Their fishing expedition was a failure for the citizens of Marina. The City Council has spent the public's money on legal expenses and accomplished nothing except bring embarrassment on the city of Marina. What's worse, they decided to initiate this litigation in a secret closed session in a direct contradiction to their public council votes to implement the initiative.
With the court decision clearly repudiating the city's legal strategy, it is now time for the Marina City Council to respect the democratic process and the California Constitution. The City Council's duty is to implement the initiative and defend it against all challenges. The sooner the council realizes the reality of the situation, the sooner the waste of city funds and time can end. The funds used for frivolous litigation could be much better spent on providing vital services to the public.
--Ken Gray, Marina
Shame on MarinaThe City of Marina has been ill advised in its actions against Measure E. They chose a law firm that is committed to squashing public opposition to development. Although Measure E is now city law, the city's hired attorney claimed she had no duty to defend it in court, and she made this irresponsible statement before consulting the City Council. This is the same firm that advised Marina to name LandWatch as a defendant in the declaratory relief lawsuit, a move that was promptly dismissed by Judge O'Farrell as a SLAPP suit--an effort to punish free speech. The result is that Marina, as the loser, now owes at least $50,000 to LandWatch attorneys, in addition to paying their own lawyers. LandWatch saw this coming and tried to save the city money--they sent a letter asking the lawsuit to be withdrawn, but the city chose to ignore it. Judge O'Farrell has advised the city to reconsider its legal approach to Measure E. It seems advisable for Marina to break away from the mindset of these attorneys and find someone who will offer the city a genuine defense of Measure E.
--Tina Walsh, Marina
Due to the editor's brain tic, we misprinted the Apartment Association's phone number in last week's cover story ("Taking Control"). You can get a copy of the Voluntary Rent Guidelines by calling 649-4704. We regret the error.