Take Back St. Louis Appeals Judge's Ruling on Ballot Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 24, 2014

Contact: Arielle Klagsbrun, arielle@organizemo.org

Take Back St. Louis Files Appeal On Permanent Injunction Ruling for Ballot Initiative

ST. LOUIS -- The Take Back St. Louis coalition filed a notice of appeal with the Eastern Missouri court of appeals yesterday challenging a judge’s granting of a permanent injunction on a municipal ballot initiative. The Take Back St. Louis initiative was removed from the April 8th ballot by the granting of a temporary restraining order. The judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, represented by a former Peabody lobbyist, finding that the initiative’s directives on the local allocation of tax increment financing (TIFs) conflicted with state law. The Take Back St. Louis coalition is looking to place the issue on the November ballot.

“We are appealing because we believe the judge incorrectly interpreted the law regarding how the initiative conflicts with state statutes,” said Lynn Oldham of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) and one of the petitioners for the Take Back St. Louis initiative appealing the ruling. “We hope to give St. Louis residents the chance to vote on the Take Back St. Louis initiative because we cannot let big corporations like Peabody Coal work with the Mayor’s office to stop our voices from being heard. We have a different vision for the city than the Mayor -- a vision where corporations pay their fair share of taxes to our public schools and infrastructure, where vacant land is invested in to create green jobs, where our local city government doesn’t try to protect the world’s largest coal company. Over 22,000 people signed the Take Back St. Louis initiative because they wanted St. Louis to vote on that vision.”

Towards the end of January, a former Peabody lobbyist filed suit against the City of St. Louis and the Board of Elections, asking for both a temporary and permanent injunction on the Take Back St. Louis initiative. At the hearings on the initiative, officials from the Mayor’s office testified for the plaintiffs. The City of St. Louis, a defendant, was also actively strategizing with the plaintiffs in the courtroom. At the same time, the Take Back St. Louis coalition has obtained correspondence through Sunshine requests that show how the Mayor’s office has been working with Peabody Coal to gut the citizen-driven ballot initiative since 2012.

The Take Back St. Louis initiative would give St. Louis residents a vote on amending the city charter to include citizens’ right to a sustainable energy future, to stop public financial incentives from going to fossil fuel companies and their bankers, lawyers and lobbyists and to reorient the city’s development priorities towards sustainability initiatives and renewable energy on vacant land.

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