Menlo Park City Council candidate Chuck Bernstein inspired a look at how ballot measure arguments get written last week when he challenged the accuracy of a rebuttal argument supporting the proposed Bohannon Gateway office/hotel project. The argument will be included in the voter information publication that the county sends to all registered voters.
Turns out the only way to revise a ballot measure argument is to get a court injunction, according to City Clerk Margaret Roberts after consultation with the city attorney's office.
Mr. Bernstein said a court challenge would cost him at least $10,000, according to estimates from local attorneys. He said he can't afford to risk his family's welfare on a quest that would cost at least half as much as his council campaign.
It's puzzling as to when the public has a chance to ask for corrections of factual errors, since by the time the arguments are made available, the deadline for making revisions without requiring a court order has passed.
Meanwhile, Mayor Rich Cline and Councilmember Kelly Fergusson, who helped write the pro-Gateway argument, flatly disagreed that any factual errors existed. But Mr. Cline said that if they did, he would be willing to correct them.
Mr. Bernstein submitted a letter to the City Council on Aug. 23 asking them to allow the city attorney to correct the language describing how the Gateway project would benefit Menlo Park schools. If the council agrees, he said, he hoped the correction could be made without requiring a court injunction.
He wants one sentence reworded in the rebuttal to indicate that the project will not generate $600,000 for schools in Menlo Park; Mr. Bernstein maintains that the money will instead go to either the Redwood City School District or Sequoia Union High School District.
Mr. Bernstein's hope was dashed by City Attorney Bill McClure, who told him that the elections code did not allow for such correction, particularly since the Aug. 19 deadline for review had passed.
Go http://www.menlopark.org/departments/mgr/election2010/candidate/index.html here to see the city's elections website and the arguments and rebuttals for both the Gateway and pension ballot measures.