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Judge denies request to delay May 20 special purpose local option sales tax referendum

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 7:02 PM
Last updated Thursday, April 17, 2014 1:53 AM
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A Superior Court judge denied a request Wednesday from a Richmond County citizen seeking a court order to postpone the May 20 special purpose local option sales tax referendum.

Les Morton:  Mirshak
Mirshak
Les Morton:

In a Columbia County court hearing, Judge Michael Annis said Les Morton’s argument challenging special purpose local option sales tax 7 was more fit for Augusta Commission chambers than a courtroom. Morton, who did not have a lawyer, struggled to present a legal basis for his complaint that Augusta officials violated Georgia’s Open Meetings Act when approving the new special purpose local option sales tax and mismanaged the collections currently underway.

“The political side of this is heard at the commission chambers,” Annis said to Morton, adding that Augusta-Richmond County General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie used substantiated legal claims to defend the complaints.

Morton, a small businessman, filed a complaint in superior court April 10 against the commission. He also filed a complaint in federal court on April 11.

Although Annis denied the request for a temporary injunction to delay the May 20 vote, Morton can still pursue his case if he serves court papers on the defendants.

Morton said during the hearing that the new special purpose local option sales tax project list approved by the commission did not allocate projects to south Richmond County where he lives.

New subdivisions have been built in the area without infrastructure improvements such as sidewalks, street lights and bike trails, he said.

Morton, who also challenged tax funding for nonprofit organizations, asked that the new special purpose local option sales tax vote be delayed until 2015 to allow public input on the project list. Without court action, Morton said he would “suffer immediate and substantial harm” for investing taxes in city projects without benefitting from them.

MacKenzie said the city would incur significant costs associated with delaying the vote such as scheduling a special election date.

“In respect to the harm being argued (by Morton), the harm is nothing short of political argument,” MacKenzie said.

Annis said he could not rule in favor of the injunction because Morton did not show “substantial likelihood” that the case could prevail in court.

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dichotomy
37619
Points
dichotomy 04/16/14 - 07:26 pm
10
6
I agree with your arguments

I agree with your arguments Mr. Morton. But you did not stand a chance in court. Judges are there to make the government more powerful and give it more control. They are not there to protect the taxpayers.

Put that energy into campaigning to convince voters to REJECT SPLOST VII and make the commissioners bring it back again without the PRIVATE, NON-GOVERNMENTAL stuff in it. That will hurt them a lot more than winning a decision in court. They really are afraid of the voters getting their act together and smacking them down. They all think Richmond County voters are too stupid and too divided to pay any attention to what THEY do with OUR money. AND WE HAVE BEEN, BUT SOME OF US ARE COMING OUT OF OUR COMA. I actually think we might have a chance of beating the snot out of them on this SPLOST thing this time around.

triscuit
3266
Points
triscuit 04/16/14 - 07:40 pm
8
3
I do believe this SPLOST is

I do believe this SPLOST is in trouble, and the Commission knows it.

Esctab
1324
Points
Esctab 04/16/14 - 08:04 pm
6
3
triscuit, I sure hope you are

triscuit,
I sure hope you are right! Fingers crossed for a successful NO vote!

Riverman1
94247
Points
Riverman1 04/16/14 - 08:04 pm
7
4
Can't Stop The Juggernaut

Nothing must stop this juggernaut SPLOST. The judicial system knocks the roadblocks out of the way. There's too much money going to the special interests for anyone to derail it. Judge Annis, you are as twisted as Deke and the Commissioners in this ILLEGAL SPLOST to give money to the cronies.

rebellious
22034
Points
rebellious 04/17/14 - 12:05 am
6
3
This man

is he one I spoke of who bravely stood before the Almighty Augusta Commission. Hizzoner Copenhagen limited him to 5 minutes. Lockett requested 2 more minutes and was granted. After he was gaveled down, Morton was dismissed with a smack of chewing gum and a few "Ho Hums" from the commission members. So, it appears even the Judges are in the bag for SPLOST VII. No surprise there, no is it?

Reminds me of old Foghorn Leghorn: "Lookit here son, I say son, did ya see that hawk after those hens? He scared 'em! That Rhode Island Red turned white. Then blue. Rhode Island. Red, white, and blue. That's a joke, son. A flag waver. You're built too low. The fast ones go over your head. Ya got a hole in your glove. I keep pitchin' 'em and you keep missin' 'em. Ya gotta keep your eye on the ball. Eye. Ball. I almost had a gag, son. Joke, that is. "

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 04/17/14 - 05:44 am
2
2
splost
Unpublished

put me down for a "NO" vote. I hope someone is right about Richmond County voters becoming educated enough to actually read what is being proposed and reject these notions and giving taxpayers money to private enterprise for things that can wait until times are better and people are working.

story1
807
Points
story1 04/17/14 - 07:32 am
2
1
Thanks Mr. Morton

For bringing this issue to light. We, the people, must stand up and Vote NO on Splost VII. Let's send a message that business, behind the curtain, cannot be conducted this way any longer.

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 04/17/14 - 09:46 am
2
1
Mr Morton = Citizen Hero
Unpublished

I just got a Vote No to SPLOST sign the other day. Maybe Mr. Morton can focus his efforts now in that direction.

Riverman1
94247
Points
Riverman1 04/17/14 - 01:31 pm
1
1
SPLOST Is Going To Be A Test

I reallllllllllllyyyyy hope I'm wrong, but I have a bad feeling about the SPLOST vote. The Richmond County demographics are being told to vote for it. People like Mr. Morton are rare.

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 04/17/14 - 02:44 pm
1
1
Riverman
Unpublished

I think you are wrong on this... I think the only black commissioner for it is Fennoy, and I believe he has even changed his tune. All but two of the mayoral CANDIDATES are against it. There is especially strong opposition to it this time in the black community and among black political leaders. usually SPLOSTs pass because of overwhelming support from the black community. Not this time. Couple that with the 35% of the anti tax voters who traditionally vote against all SPLOSTs and I see this going down in flames by at least a 60% margin

bubbasauce
24271
Points
bubbasauce 04/17/14 - 08:27 pm
0
0
I will vote No, No and No!!

I will vote No, No and No!!

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