Update on Ethics Naples
Note to our readers: Because the City has thrown the simple matter of sending a successful citizens' petition for the ballot into legal proceedings, we are constrained from fully responding in public. We hope you understand and will read the following with interest and form your own opinions.
On April 24th Ethics Naples received ballot certification from the Collier County Supervisor of Elections, entitling the matter to be placed on the August 2018 Ballot. See the Naples Daily News coverage here and the County's certification here.
Florida statute Section 166.031 states here that when 10 percent of the registered voters of a City sign a petition, then the
"... governing body of the municipality shall place the proposed amendment contained in the ... petition to a vote of the electors at the next general election held within the municipality or at a special election called for such purpose." (emphasis added)
However on May 2nd the Naples City Council voted 4 to 3 (Barnett, Buxton, McLeod and Seigel for the majority) not to place the ethics petition on the August ballot. Based on the advice of City Attorney Pritt, the majority of City Council chose to take Ethics Naples to court because Mr. Pritt advised them the petition was partly defective. The Naples Daily News coverage is here.
On May 3rd the City filed their suit in Circuit Court. Their brief is here. In short, it contains a variety of proposed defects in the petition and asks the Court to decide if the City Council has to perform its statutory duty of placing the proposed amendment on the ballot.
Ethics Naples filed for a writ of mandamus to place the certified petition on the ballot in the 20th District Court of Appeals on May 8th. This writ may be reviewed here. In short, this writ states that nothing in the ethics petition rises to the high level of defect necessary to keep the matter of the ballot, and that the proper course is to allow citizens to vote on the matter.
On May 10th the District Court of Appeals transferred the case to the Circuit Court for initial action. On May 16th Ethics Naples filed a motion to stay the City's case here and to expedite the writ of mandamus to place the certified petition on the ballot here. Then on May 17th the City of Naples moved to oppose Ethics Naples' motions here.
Naples Daily News coverage of these legal proceedings is here.
What does it all mean? Well, one thing it means is that there will now be many thousands of dollars of legal expenses necessary to have the City follow the simple language of the Florida statutes governing such petitions.
What can you do? Two actions are critical at this point.
Please donate to support the necessary legal expenses. You can mail a check to our address below or donate from the Home or Help pages. Thank you!
Please follow the issue so that you are well informed and respectfully express your concerns to those involved.