City of Austin facing several legal challenges after council decisions

- When more than 30,000 Austin residents signed a petition to put the big land development code re-write CodeNext on the November ballot, City Council decided not to put it on the ballot. 
 
"They lost that lawsuit and now they're required to put it on the ballot for November.  And then they turned around and they fiddled with the wording that the city charter says that...when you have an initiated ordinance like this, what goes on the ballot is the caption that was in the ordinance," said Austin attorney Bill Aleshire.  
 
Aleshire says even though council later voted to scrap CodeNext altogether, he's not so sure it's completely gone...so the lawsuit goes on.
 
"Is the substance of CodeNext gone or is the P.R. battle about the title gone?" Aleshire said.  
 
Aleshire is also behind a suit he says is pending before the Supreme Court about a third party audit of the city.  More than 33,000 petitioned for that and Aleshire's Writ of Mandamus says council ended up adding a cost range to the ballot language and a line about not using the auditor the city already has,
 
The city says "The ballot language conforms to the legal requirements and is a fair representation of the salient aspects of the proposed efficiency audit.  We look forward to the Supreme Court review."
 
"You've got an arrogant set of folks down there that are running the majority.  The Mayor and the majority of the council that are arrogant to the point that they don't really follow the law," Aleshire said.
 
St. Edwards Political Science Professor Dr. Brian Smith weighs in about what's going on behind the scenes.

"Well the do's and don’ts are you have to make it as neutral as possible and you can't word it to make one side seem better than another which is often very difficult because often the people that are writing the language have a dog in the hunt," Smith said.  
 
Late Friday the Texas Court of Appeals for the Third District granted a stay against the "paid sick leave" ordinance.
 
Texas Public Policy Foundation attorney Robert Henneke was in the Fox 7 Austin studio Saturday night.
 
"What happened yesterday is for the court to recognize that we need to determine the legality of this ordinance first, before businesses have to start complying.  And that's what the third court did by implementing a stay, stopping the enforcement of the ordinance until the appeal has been resolved," Henneke said.
 
Stephanie Gharakhanian with Workers Defense says they're disappointed with the decision but confident paid sick leave will prevail.
 
"You know employers don't need to wait for this lawsuit to wrap up.  They can start to implement these policies now because we know that a lot of employers agree that this is the right thing to do and it's the best thing for our city," Gharakhanian said.
 
"The legal challenge right now is definitely a good delaying tactic because it kicks this can down the road until after the elections most likely and into the next legislative session and at that point the City of Austin just has to sit back and take whatever the state gives it," Smith said.

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