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A little more about that fire initiative suit

Submitted by on 1, April 1, 2009 – 6:50 amNo Comment

fire-station-oneSo I’ve been meaning to tell you that I got a little bit more information on the suit the city filed on Friday challenging Alameda firefighters’ efforts to put a minimum staffing requirement on the ballot.

City Clerk Lara Weisiger is named as the plaintiff in the suit, which asks the court to give her a pass on counting signatures collected by the firefighters to put their initiative on the ballot. Attorneys for Weisiger and the city argue that the measure is an improper use of the initiative process.

Specifically, they argue that the staffing requirements the measure would enact if passed would illegally intrude on the council’s authority to set budget and staffing levels, so the city shouldn’t be required to waste its time and money putting it on the ballot. (They also argue the measure would intrude on that the county’s emergency medical services authority sets paramedic staffing levels.)

The defendants in the suit are the Alameda firefighters union and the three local residents who signed the notice of intent to collect signatures for the ballot measure – the Rev. Michael Yoshii, Robert P. Blanchard and Cesar Michael Ascarrunz.

On Monday, the case was assigned to Judge David Hunter out at the Hayward Hall of Justice. An initial case management conference is set for 9 a.m. August 10.

The case number, if you’re interested in following it, is RG09443866, and you can track the progress of the case here.

The suit is the latest salvo in the ongoing conflict between the city and its firefighters, who have been undergoing contentious contract negotiations for over a year. The firefighters decided to put the ballot measure together in the wake of fire company brownouts, which were enacted to conserve the department’s overtime cash. And they’ve gone a few rounds with the city over the title and summary the city attorney is required to write to accompany the measure.

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