This morning, after weeks and weeks of hard work and careful study, we filed our lawsuit against the city of Austin for illegally throwing out signed petitions to put reinstatement of the campaign ban on the ballot.
We are seeking to be put on the May 2021 ballot.
With your help, we submitted ~24,500 signed petitions on July 20. On August 5, the city said we were 900 short of the 20,000 required to qualify for the ballot. We do not believe for one second we turned in fewer than 20,000 legitimate signed petitions.
You can see our full press release below.
This fight will not be easy.
With your help, we have raised around $80,000 for our legal fund. Those funds are already being quickly depleted as we had to file an incredibly detailed public information request to determine whether a lawsuit had merit. We have hired a highly respected local law firm, George Brothers Kincaid & Horton, LLP, to represent us. We have already paid several legal bills totaling tens of thousands of dollars and the real work begins now.
We NEED IMMEDIATE FINANCIAL SUPPORT.
There are two ways to give:
> You can securely donatehere. > You can make a check to "Save Austin Now" and mail it to 807 Brazos St., Ste. 408, Austin, TX 78701.
As I have said before, we have only begun to fight!
Save Austin Now Co-Founders Sue City of Austin for Throwing Out Signed Petitions for Ordinance to Reinstate Camping Ban Submitted 24.5k+ Signed Petitions on July 20; City Certified 900 Short of 20k
AUSTIN, TX — Today the co-founders of educational nonprofit Save Austin Now, two Austin residents, Matt Mackowiak and Cleo Petricek, one a Republican and the other a Democrat, filed a lawsuit against the City of Austin alleging hundreds (and perhaps thousands) of signed petitions from Austin residents were inappropriately thrown out during the review of the petition to put reinstatement of the camping ban on the November 2020 ballot. The lawsuit was filed in Travis County District Court (Case #: 48279010) and the plaintiffs are presented by Russ Horton of George Brothers Kincaid and Horton, LLP.
Over 148 days, Save Austin Now collected 24,500+ signed petitions and turned them in to the city on July 20. On August 5, just 12 days before the ballot language approval deadline for the November ballot, the City Clerk’s office said the petition effort fell short of the 20,000 required signatures by an estimated 900 signatures. Interestingly, the 25 percent sample that was analyzed by the city came up just 65 signed petitions short of 5,000.
Had it been certified by the city, placed on the ballot and passed by the voters, the ordinance would have reinstated the ban on homeless camping citywide, restored the sit/lie ordinance to downtown and extended it to the UT campus and surrounding area, and banned panhandling at night citywide from 7pm-7am.
The plaintiffs are basing their lawsuit on a large public information request received by the city, which shows several ways that the right to petition was inappropriately infringed by the City Clerk’s office.
“We are absolutely convinced that over 148 days, with more than 80 volunteers, we collected more than the required 20,000 signed petitions, in the middle of shelter-at-home during a global pandemic, and that the City of Austin, the City Clerk’s office, and the City Council colluded to prevent this ordinance from appearing on the November ballot,” said Save Austin Now co-founder Matt Mackowiak. “We are fighting for the rights of every Austinite that signed our petition. All we want is for this to appear on the ballot at the next opportunity, which would be May 2021. We believe as many as five justifications used to throw out signatures were inappropriate. The threshold for infringing on the right to petition your government should be very high. We will relentlessly fight this battle in the courts, and we believe we will prevail.”
“Our nearly 25,000 petition signers simply want their voices to be heard,” Save Austin Now co-founder Cleo Petricek. “As a lifelong Democrat who has sheltered homeless individuals in my home, this issue is personal to me. Every Austinite should demand a safe city. We know that Austin is less safe today than it was a year ago. We submitted more than enough signatures and we believe the courts will come to the same conclusion. The city of Austin is arrogant. They do not want to hear from residents. We demand the right to be heard and look forward to making our case.”