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LAS VEGAS-If proponents want any shot at getting their redevelopment initiative and referendum on the city’s June 2 ballot they need to start at the district court level. That was the advice of the Nevada Supreme Court, which rejected the petition on Wednesday, saying emergency petitions may only be utilized when there is “no plain, speedy, and adequate remedy at law,” and that such remedies are available at the district court level to address such matters.

“We will immediately file litigation in district court seeking to protect the fundamental constitutional right of citizens to file initiatives and referendum,” says D. Taylor, secretary-treasurer of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, one of the main proponents, in a statement sent to media outlets. “We find the Nevada Supreme Court’s refusal to make a decision on this important issue troubling, given that the court accepted our case and heard oral arguments on the issue. Nevertheless, we respect the court’s decision, and will pursue our case in district court.”

The referendum would repeal the Las Vegas redevelopment plan, the city’s strategy for revitalizing its core and redeveloping brown fields. The initiative would require voter approval before any payments were made under both existing and future lease-purchase agreements worth more than $2 million.

Lease-purchase agreements are how the city prefers to finance its redevelopment efforts, including Union Park, its showcase railyard redevelopment. More specifically, it is how the city has set up a deal with Forest City Development that includes a new $267-million City Hall, a new $1.2-billion casino in Union Park, an additional $1 billion of redevelopment on four blocks south of the proposed new City Hall site, and the potential for redevelopment of the current City Hall site adjacent to the Fremont Street Experience.

The Las Vegas Taxpayer Accountability Committee and the Las Vegas Redevelopment Reform Committee, backed by Culinary Local 226, gathered more than enough signatures for a referendum and an initiative that would essentially kill the city’s redevelopment plan. The proponents petitioned the Nevada Supreme Court following the City Council’s decision not to place the referendum or the initiative on the ballot. City Attorney Brad Jerbic had advised the council that the would-be ballot issues are defective.

Attorney Richard McCracken filed the petition in the Supreme Court seeking quick decision because absentee ballots for the June 2 general election must be printed and mailed no later than April 24. McCracken described Jerbic’s opinion as “utterly baseless,” according to the Las Vegas Sun . McCracken reportedly added that a 2006 Supreme Court determined that substantial constitutional challenges may not be brought pre-election, and that even the city clerk had determined it was the ministerial duty for the city council to place the issue on the ballot.

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman released a statement Wednesday night expressing delight with the decision and accusing one or all of its proponents of an attempted shakedown. A Goodman spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for the mayor to provide additional detail. McCracken did not immediately respond to a request for a response.

“This is a great day for the future of Las Vegas and Nevada,” states the mayor in his prepared remarks. “As an aside, the city will not be crippled by those with ulterior motives who try to extort us.”

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