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Santa Monica Looks to Pasadena to Settle Score

By Teresa Rochester and Jorge Casuso

April 28 -- A Pasadena City Hall watchdog will try to succeed where Santa Monica's city clerk failed - forcing a judge to render a verdict on the legality of an anti-corruption law approved by voters in November of 2000.

The watchdog - Rene Amy - filed suit against the City of Pasadena last month to force officials there to enact the Taxpayer Protection Amendment. The amendment, which also was approved by Santa Monica voters, restricts elected or appointed public officials from taking campaign contributions or jobs from sources who have benefited from their votes or actions

The initiative sponsored by the non-profit Oaks Project has bedeviled a number of cities, including Santa Monica, which sued its own city clerk, Maria Stewart, to test its constitutionality. The attempt, however, failed last month when a judge found the proposition did not apply to the city clerk.

Now, Santa Monica is considering intervening in the Pasadena case, where the City Council recently gave the okay for attorneys to file a cross complaint alleging that the law is unconstitutional and asking the judge to rule on its validity.

"I think it's in all cities interest to have a speedy resolution," said City Attorney Marsha Moutrie. "I hope the Pasadena litigation will proceed expeditiously and decide whether the Oaks Initiative is constitutional.

"We may intervene to make it clear on the record that it's not just a Pasadena issue," Moutrie said. "I just want it resolved."

Joining Amy's suit against Pasadena is the measure's initial sponsors, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, which includes the Oaks Project.

A judge's decision on the Santa Monica suit came one year after a California Court of Appeal found that a suit against an identical ordinance in Vista was "moot" when a competing and conflicting initiative was approved by voters in the San Diego County municipality.

"We want to find out if it (the measure) is valid or not," said Pasadena City Attorney Michele Beal Bagneris.


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