Texas Justice Foundation|
8122 DATAPOINT, SUITE 812
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS 78229
Phone: 210 614 7157
Fax: 210 614 6656
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HUGE VICTORY FOR TEXAS TAXPAYERS
COURT ORDERS VIA TO STOP USING TAXPAYER FUNDS
TO INFLUENCE THE LIGHT RAIL ELECTION
San Antonio, Texas Contact: Nita Laskowski
April 13, 2000 Phone: (210) 614-7157
State District Court Judge David Berchelmann today ordered an injunction against VIA Metropolitan Transit Authority enjoining them from continuing to use public funds to influence the election on light rail. "I commend the Judge for his courage to limit government and to protect the taxpayers." said Texas Justice Foundation President Allan E. Parker, Jr.
Judge Berchelmann stated that VIA can educate the public about the election, but that they have to give both sides of the issue if they are going to use taxpayer dollars to pay for it.
Angela Garcia, Henrietta LaGrange, and Bob Martin represented by the Texas Justice Foundation, and LULAC attorney, Luis Vera, filed a lawsuit last week seeking the injunction.
The evidence was clear throughout the trial that VIA used public funds to try and influence the election. VIA admitted to spending almost $23,000 of taxpayer money for a political survey to find out how to win the election. This publicly funded survey was used to determine which voters to target and what the most powerful statements would be to influence voters to vote Ayes@ on the light rail measure.
"This is a huge victory for the taxpayers not only in Bexar County but throughout the State of Texas. Governmental entities throughout the state will need to think twice before spending public funds to influence an election," said Skip Hulett, Director of Litigation, Texas Justice Foundation. This is really about public trust. While we cannot undo what VIA has done, today’s decision will help level the playing field."
"The voters understand the unfairness of VIA=s conduct in spending taxpayer money to try to influence this election. Voters understand that private taxpaying citizens who are against the light rail measure cannot levy a tax like the government can and do not have unlimited funds available - like the government - to campaign and to get their message out."
"What the voters want more than anything is for the electoral process to be conducted fairly and ethically on a level playing field. While we cannot undo what VIA has already done, today=s decision will help in trying to level the playing field."
"If VIA truly wants to gain public trust before the election, they should promise the taxpayers that they will ask private citizens who support light rail to reimburse the public treasury for the public funds used up to this point in trying to win this election."
For more information or to schedule an interview, call Nita Laskowski at (210) 614-7157.
TJF is a non-profit, public interest litigation group representing people at no charge in cases of limited government, free markets, private property rights, and parental rights.
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