By Kelly Wheeler
City News Service
Saying he didn't see the need for a temporary restraining order, a San Diego judge on Wednesday scheduled oral arguments Friday in a lawsuit aimed at keeping a proposed half-cent sales tax off the November ballot.
The attorney for anti-tax activists Richard Rider and Stephen Cicero told Superior Court Judge David Oberholtzer that the TRO was needed to keep Proposition D off the ballot, until its constitutionality is decided.
Assistant City Attorney Don Worley said the plaintiffs made no showing that the tax measure should be kept off the ballot.
The judge said he would decide the matter on Friday, a week before the Sept. 3 deadline for such a ruling.
The proposed tax hike, placed on the ballot by the City Council, would raise an estimated $103 million a year for the city, which is projected to have a $72 million budget shortfall during the next fiscal year.
The proposition calls for the tax hike once 10 so-called "reform" measures are implemented, some concerning the city's retirement system.
Oberholtzer said he didn't think the voters were being asked to decide anything administrative. He said there was nothing false about the ballot statement.
He said he wasn't sure if the ballot statement was misleading and wondered if voters would be skeptical about where the sales tax revenue would go.
"I think that the judge needs some convincing in some other areas, but I think that the judge is showing that he has an open mind, and that he's interested and involved in the case, and I think that's all we need to win," said Edward Teyssier, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs.
The ballot title includes the phrase "essential services,'" which would make voters believe the tax hike will pay for police and fire protection, when the revenue would go to the city's general fund, said Rider, president of San Diego Tax Fighters.
Rider said Proposition D needs a simple majority to pass on Nov. 2 because it is a general tax. If the revenue was going toward "special uses," it would need a two-thirds margin to pass.