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Judge Denies Outdoor Pool Legal Action

April 7, 2014, 5:20 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Judge Denies Outdoor Pool Legal Action
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

On the eve of the city election, the group that is pushing for an outdoor pool took the city to court.

The group says the city ballot lists the outdoor pool completion date as December 15, 2015, while petitions that were circulated said December 31, 2015.

Monday afternoon, the city and the Save Spellerberg group met in court to argue over the impact of the error.  Judge Susan Sabers ruled in favor of the city just after 5 p.m., saying that the clerical error does not impact the material facts of the issue and denied the Save Spellerberg group's attempt to inject judicial action into the issue during Tuesday’s election.

The city told Sabers that the dates will not change the way voters feel about whether an outdoor pool should be built at Spellerberg Park instead of an indoor pool. 

"I think the petitioners today are holding the city to a very hyper-critical standard that's not required by law in any manner," City Attorney David Pfeifle said.

The Save Spellerberg group argued it's a slippery slope and voters should be presented with an accurate ballot on Election Day.

"If we allow the city, in this instance, to print whatever they want, we are opening a Pandora's Box in this state," attorney Joel Arends said.

Several members of the Save Spellerberg group testified that they picked the December 31, 2015, completion date to give contractors the longest possible time to finish the project. They said the two-week difference is a big issue.

But the city says it could cost up to $60,000 to re-do the election by Tuesday.

"The inconvenience to the city pales in comparison to the inconvenience of the integrity of our elections," Arends said.

Pfeifle argues that the city is only required to print the title of the ballot issue and not the petition language, and there was no error in that.

"It does not require anything on that ballot beyond the title of the initiated ordinance. None of the witnesses up here disputed that the title of their proposed ordinance was in any manner inconsistent with the petition sheets themselves," Pfeifle said.

In her decision to deny the legal action, Judge Sabers said the date discrepancy has no material impact on the outdoor pool issue.

Sabers ruling.pdf

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