Note: Numerous questions, requiring answers, regarding the timing of the Initiative Petition to “Stop A.R.T.” by making Central Avenue an historic right-of-way, were asked by Donald Clayton before filing for the petition. The questions were directed to Natalie Howard (Albuquerque City Clerk) and her city attorney Eric Locher.

At no time did anyone suggest that the measure, if properly approved, being on the November 8, 2016, ballot was ‘optional’. The required ‘letter of intent’ for the petition was filed on June 28th. The Clerk’s Office delayed petition approval until July 1st – normally a petition is approved in 24 hours.

On July 7th a Press Conference was held in Civic Plaza officially announcing the beginning of the petition drive. On July 10th, just three days later, a huge front-page Sunday Journal article appeared that clearly stated that putting initiative petitions on the November ballot was ‘optional’, claiming the City Council could choose to delay a vote on the measure until October of 2017.

Such a delay would be “justice delayed is justice denied;” as to postpone the date for a vote until after the A.R.T. Project was substantially completed (in 2017) would obviate the entire intent of the otherwise timely petition.

Even if it was not the explicit intent of the pro-A.R.T. Albuquerque Journal to write an article aimed at defeating the public’s interest in stopping the A.R.T. project, the effect is the same. The Journal’s reach is enormous, reaching over one-half million readers on a Sunday. The article is suspect in that no attribution for the legal claim made was stated by Journal reporter Dan McKay, who wrote the article.

This important issue must be vigorously addressed:

July 11, 2016

Natalie Howard, MPA
City Clerk
Office of the City Clerk
City of Albuquerque
600 2nd Street – Room 720
Albuquerque, NM 87102

THIS IS A PUBLIC RECORD

Ms. Howard:

Reference is made to the lengthy discussion between you, Eric Locher, and myself, on July 1, 2016, regarding questions pertinent to when the Initiative submitted on June 28, 2016, might appear on the ballot.

It is herein stated, as a matter of record, that neither you, nor Mr. Locher, ever represented that, pursuant to law, the petition possibly would not appear at the November 8, 2016, general election – even if you (the City Clerk) were to “file(s) a certification with the Council” at least 90 days before the general election.

Purpose of communication:
This clarification is to document numerous concerns expressed by me at the above referenced meeting regarding the absence of clear law, and clear policy, regarding the Initiative Petition ballot and election process. I remind you that I did not receive either clear oral answers from either you, or the city attorney present, to my specific questions, nor have I received written answers.

New information:
I reference the front page article in the Sunday Albuquerque Journal dated yesterday, July 10, 2016. The article contained a long, and detailed description of the Initiative process under the changes created by the above referenced Bill. Noticeable among the provisions was the claim that the City Council can order the election of any petition measure to be delayed for a period in excess of one year.

Request for an immediate legal opinion:
My information and belief is that the purpose of the Council Bill was not to change the 90 day requirement from “90 days” to “365 days, or more.” Further, I do not believe that the purpose was to retain a “90 day” requirement before an Initiative petition could appear on the ballot.

Since a catastrophic news story has been released that has clearly suggested to a vast majority of Albuquerque voters that significant ballot delays are possible, I request an immediate and timely written legal opinion that either confirms or denies the legal issues implicit in the published information.

I remind you that this new, and I believe novel, interpretation of the law (as published in the Journal) is fraught with legal jeopardy and wholly compromises the entire petition submitted on June 28th.

Please inform me of your decision at your earliest opportunity, but in no event later than July 14, 2016.

Sincerely,
Donald Clayton