FRIENDS OF DENVER PARKS – PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JULY 5, 2013
On July 1, 2013 the Petitioners Committee filed a referendum petition with city clerk and recorder Debra Johnson to repeal the land swap deal between the city and Denver Public Schools. The referendum petition included 6,664 valid signatures of Denver registered voters. 6,129 signatures are required to place the issue on the ballot. The referendum petition included more than enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot.
On July 3, 2013 Johnson rejected the referendum petition without counting the signatures. Johnson claims that the Petitioners Committee improperly circulated the referendum petition without her permission. A copy of Johnson’s letter is available on the website FriendsofDenverParks.Org.
On July 5, 2013 the firm of Benson & Case filed a motion in Denver District Court to bring additional claims against Johnson in the pending lawsuit. Benson & Case is representing the plaintiffs on a pro bono basis. The new claims against Johnson ask Judge Herbert L. Stern III to declare unconstitutional section 8.3.2 (C) of the City Charter. Section 8.3.2 requires Denver citizens to obtain permission of the clerk and recorder before circulating a referendum petition. In this case, Johnson refused to give her permission.
Plaintiff’s counsel John Case said, “We believe that section 8.3.2 (C) of the City Charter is an unconstitutional restriction of the First Amendment rights of citizens to petition their government, and to govern themselves by referendum.”