FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
St. George Leaders Will Not Appeal Ruling
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, July 16, 2015
Despite having evidence of enough signatures to move forward, the Committee for the Incorporation of the City of St. George decided on Thursday to not appeal Judge Wilson Fields ruling. The organization will continue to explore options as it regroups and recharges after this recent legal setback.
According to spokesperson Lionel Rainey III, “The expected time and cost of the legal process led us to the decision to not pursue an appeal of Judge Fields dismissal of our case.” Rainey estimates that, based on the legal rationale underlying Judge Fields ruling, the timeline could exceed two years and cost in excess of $250,000.
Rainey continued, “Because Judge Fields dismissed our case on a technicality and did not hear the merits of our position, we would have to appeal to the First Circuit Court. If we won there, our opponents would appeal that decision to the State Supreme Court. If we won there, the case would go back to Judge Fields’ court, where we do not believe we would receive a fair hearing. Then the case would again go back to the First Circuit Court and then to the Supreme Court for a second time.”
Since the St. George Committee started the process of incorporation nearly two years ago, Baton Rouge city leaders and opponents doubted St. George leaders would gather even 10,000 signatures, much less the amount required. Despite these predictions, when the final signatures were turned in to the Registrar of Voters, it is a fact that St. George organizers had more valid signatures than were required. Even after the Registrar removed 88 signatures previously counted as valid, the number of signatures submitted exceeded the required amount. It wasn’t until two weeks later, when Better Together turned in their final withdrawals, that the Registrar of Voters decided to make the determination that an insufficient number of signatures were presented.
Over the last two years the goal of the Committee has been to create an outstanding public education system for all children in the St. George area as well as to provide local citizens with the opportunity to create a modern city, one that is responsive to their needs and responsible with their tax dollars. Supporters of the Committee to Incorporate St. George vow to continue to actively fight for those values.
“Pay close attention to those who cheer this as a victory,” said Rainey. “Nothing has been won. All they succeeded in doing is temporarily delaying the democratic process. As middle income families continue to leave the Parish, children continue to go to failing schools and local tax dollars are swept and spent downtown, this is what they cheer for. Our opponents claim to have a desire to bring people together. By fighting to deny people the right to vote, these groups have driven a permanent wedge. They have not poured water on this fire. They poured gasoline on it. We are as committed as ever to accomplish our goal of providing excellent public education for all the children of St. George and to create a city that serves the needs of all of its citizens.”
Lionel Rainey III