Update: Lawsuit challenges claims made by Measure J

A lawsuit was filed on December 30, 2019, seeking to have the ballot letter designation, the ballot question and the Impartial Analysis modified before the Voter Guide for Contra Costa County is printed. The suit was granted priority status, because it is an election matter. A hearing was held Monday, January 6 on the merits of the suit. The court dismissed the suit, asserting it had been filed two days late, after the 10-day inspection period had passed. Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration, and sought an early hearing date, which was denied.

Petitioner then filed a Notice of Appeal, and withdrew the Motion for Reconsideration. Petitioner filed a Motion for Calendar Preference, which offered to file Appellant’s Opening Brief within 24 hours of receiving the Court’s Order. Petitioner file its Appendix Volume 1, Appendix Volume 2 and a Motion for Judicial Notice. The Court’s Order was that action on the Motion would be deferred until Respondents have 15 days to reply. That means the case will not be heard until after the election. Petitioner requested, in the alternative, that the case be expedited so that a decision can be issued in early July, to inform those writing ballot measures for the November 2020 election of any changes to case law.

The lawsuit, a Petition for Writ of Mandate  with accompanying exhibits  raised three distinct challenges:

Challenges to the County Counsel’s Impartial Analysis:

  • It eliminated the prominent notice that the measure is a tax increase
  • It failed to disclose that interest would be paid on bonds
  • It uncritically repeated CCTA’s claim that the measure would reduce congestion, which is provably false
  • It failed to disclose that the Transportation Expenditure Plan lacks a definite project list

Challenges to the Registrar of Voters’ assignment of the letter J to the measure:

  • The Registrar used a method of assignment not permitted by the Elections Code
  • The existing Measure J runs until 2034. Giving the new tax measure the same letter will cause confusion

Challenges to the ballot question:

  • It impermissibly calls the tax a “½ ¢ sales tax” when the tax is a percentage of sales
  • The ballot question contains impermissibly untrue and prejudicial claims:
    •  Reduce congestion
    •  Make commutes faster and more predictable;
    •  Improve air quality;


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