The court hearing on the TOOTHINOV.ORG petition blanket rejection by Oro Valley Town Clerk Julie Bower took place in Pima County Superior Court yesterday morning. Judge Gus Aragon may rule this afternoon.
At question: Should a mere clerical error invalidated more than 3.100 signatures that would allow a public vote on the Town Of Oro Valley purchase of the El Conquistador Country Club?
Here's what happened at the hearing yesterday.
In attendance for the town were Town Manager Caton, Town Clerk Bower, Asssistant Town Clerk Standish and Town Attorney Sidles, plus 2 outside counsel. In attendance for TOOTHINOV.ORG were outside council Risner and plaintiffs Shirl Lamonna and Debra Arret.
The Town Of Oro Valley began the proceedings by filing initial motions. One is to summarily dismiss the case. The others are to squash two subpoenas for testimony of town clerk Bowers and town attorney Sidles. Judge Gus Aragon stated that he was not going to rule on these motions today.
Town Clerk Bower confirmed five fact-based exhibits submitted by the Plaintiff. One of these shows that the reference number that the town asserts was to be on the 249 petitions is noted as "for office use only" on the PAC document. Under oath, Bower testified that she rejected the petitions because they did not contain the serial number. She also asserted that several petitions did not fulfill several other problems. There were perhaps 5 or so sheets (this is our guess).
Attorneys Risner established that Debra Arrett had successfully gathered over 1000 signatures in just 5 hours on January 16.
Bower file an affidavit regarding and testified in court that she told Shirl Lamona what the correct number was to use. The form says "number." It does not say what number to use. Bower says that the town reference number is required by State law.
Bower testified that she is not a resident of Oro Valley. She says she has not stake in the referendum.
The Town Of Oro Valley submitted additonal facts via Bower testimony. Their assertion through this testimony is that Lamona had ample opportunity to know the correct number to use and that Bower was following state law which requires that number.
Upon cross examination, Attorney Risner established the state handbook states that their rules should be customized for the town's situation. "We don't have any special booklets," noted Bower. "I asked the town attorney whenever I get a question."
Shirl Lamonna testified that she did review the referendum with two attorneys because the jump drive of information provided by the town had to be customized. When crossed, she identified those two attorneys Brendan Burns and Matt Rabb as having reviewed the document. Lamonna said that she had not established whether these attorneys were experts in the specific statues under question.
When asked if she blamed Bowers for wrongdoing. "No. I noticed that the form said number. This is a mere clerical error. This is an opportunity to follow the constitution."
Watch the videos of the hearing here. Watch the KGUN9 report here.