In a recent decision, Rock County Judge Daniel Dillon ruled against a Janesville resident's tea party-like direct legislation referendum that would have required the city to hold a binding referendum on public capital projects exceeding $2 million in cost.
You might recall the resident, Bill McCoy, gathered 3,500 signatures and presented them to the Janesville city council in August, 2014 and despite having legal precedent working in his favor, the council under advice from the city attorney completely ignored his petition effort.
According to the minutes of Friday's hearing, Dillon found that McCoy's proposed ordinance on $2 million construction projects would “violate authority delegated to the city” and is therefore not subject to direct legislation.
That "violate authority delegated to the city" is the core to his ruling and in my view, does not appear to have very strong grounding. Remember, McCoy's petition was designed to put large (local) public spending decisions into the hands of the people, not to limit private spending or public administrative spending. But I see no point in arguing the case post-mortem. I suspect it's over.
Beyond the adage "you can't fight city hall," marking a new notch, a few things about this case still stand out. If government spending is to be delegated only by government, why are there so many referendums from government, most of them binding, asking voters to delegate authority for revenue?
But most importantly is that on two fronts, McCoy, an honest and passionate fellow committed to his cause, received practically ZERO help from local tea party types for his "limit government spending" referendum (they also abandoned him at the polls when he ran for a city council seat) but also that the big moneyed "limited" government red state groups like Freedom Works or Americans For Prosperity offered no legal help for his court case.
The reason for this in my view is because anything that limits local spending (unless it limits public unions or school teachers) doesn't help their primary cause of shifting the burden of taxation away from state and federal income taxes. The abandonment of progressive income taxation is the reason why those groups exist in the first place. Nothing else matters. Not race issues, gun control or abortion. Those however make convenient distractions.
So, somebody has to absorb those shifts in public funding to such a final degree that they (locals) eventually cry out they can't afford it any longer, blame government, then demand privatization. McCoy becomes an obstruction because to help him limit local spending would be helping to defeat their number one objective. Even in little ol' Janesville.
THAT my friends, is the moral of the story.
RNR - The Method To Scott Walker's Budget Madness And The Antidote (To feed it is to fight it. To fight it is surrender.)