Ribaudo column: 2016 ‘Loop Road’ ballot initiative an example of bad judgement (opinion)
The California Supreme Court said a lot when it said nothing earlier this year when it ruled on Bruce Grego’s 2016 ballot measure to try to have the city of South Lake Tahoe control the Loop Road project with a vote.
While it’s a wonderful notion to have people vote on issues, it’s unfortunately a federal and state project. The Loop Road is not a local project, unlike the recent Measure T dealing with vacation rentals, which is an issue that impacts the city and is a legitimate issue for residents to vote on — though that ballot measure is now in litigation and the outcome remains to be seen.
In denying Grego’s petition for review, the Supreme Court smacked down Grego’s ballot measure based on a lower superior court ruling that the ballot measure was “vague to the point of being unenforceable.”
He brought a part of the community along with the notion that the community was entitled to vote on a federal and state project when every other lawyer knew that was not the case. In fact, people in this community still believe they were voting on the Loop Road project. They weren’t. They were voting on the potential to vote on the Loop Road project, which again would not have been legal because it’s a state and federal project.
Throughout this saga Grego has exhibited incredibly poor judgement. First, the decision to try to insert the city into a state and federal project via the ballot. In my conversations with other lawyers knowledgeable about this issue, they indicated case law is clear this would not be successful.
Second, his poorly drafted ballot measure that was categorically rejected by the courts.
Third, his decision to appeal to the appellate court, where he was rejected because he lacked standing, and finally his attempt to have the California Supreme Court consider the issue where he was ultimately shut down.
Bruce couldn’t take one defeat, he needed three. How could someone have such poor judgement to be shut down at every level of the court system? He is a lawyer, he should know better. At each juncture along the California judicial system Grego continued to exhibit his poor judgement.
Yet, he is not done. Despite being rejected at every level, he indicated there were other ballot measures he was considering. Really? One has to ask: Is this about the community or is it about him? Can you imagine if the city of South Lake Tahoe had done all this? People would be screaming about incompetence and recalling the council. And Grego and his friends want to have another go at it? Just because you can do a ballot measure doesn’t mean you should. Good judgement is part of that analysis, or at least it should be.
Bruce has been trying to be the unelected sixth City Council member since voters turned him out of office and he has used ballot measures to do it. In the process of doing so with this measure, he manipulated and divided the community to these ends.
I don’t believe this was ever about the community having input on the Loop Road, having a say about the future of the project. The community has had many opportunities and made many great suggestions. And they will continue to have many more as the project proceeds, with each suggestion making the project even better for the community.
Those who live in that neighborhood want this project because they are smart enough to know this project will bring them better low-income housing, streets, less traffic, crosswalks, sidewalks and a park, many things they want to improve their quality of life, according to those who I have talked with.
No, this was about Bruce Grego and a bunch of his friends trying to exert their power and limit the City Council in its ability to function with regards to the project.
From my view he has lost all credibility and the good people of this community should reject his efforts at every turn.
It’s a wrap
OK, we had a hell of a good winter, but it’s time for spring. Time for baseball and long motorcycle rides. Bring it on.
Carl Ribaudo is a columnist, consultant, speaker and writer who lives in South Lake Tahoe. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.