MOORPARK : Suit Seeks to Alter Ballot Arguments

Moorpark officials have gone to court to revise ballot arguments on a tax that would establish an ambulance station in the city.

Moorpark City Clerk Lillian Kellerman said Tuesday that she filed the suit this week seeking a court order to replace arguments over the tax measure, listed as Measure C.

The legal action is rare although not unprecedented, a county election official said.

It is the latest twist in a bitter debate over the tax measure.

Measure C has already divided members of the City Council, and Moorpark Chamber of Commerce officials have objected to it. The ambulance station would cost up to $870,000 for the first year of operation.

The deadline to file the arguments was Aug. 13, and the state elections code does not permit changes in ballot arguments after that date. However, it does allow a city clerk to seek a court order deleting false information.

Arguments used for and against Measure C are "false or misleading," according to the lawsuit filed in Ventura County Superior Court.

In particular, an argument co-authored by Councilmen Scott Montgomery and Paul Lawrason against Measure C contends that the number of ambulances available in the city would be reduced from seven to one. Lawrason and Montgomery last week agreed to submit a new version eliminating the reference to the ambulances.

"In our opinion, it was full of errors," Councilman Clint Harper said.

Lawrason said he did not believe that the argument was incorrect, but said he and Montgomery agreed to the revisions in exchange for changes to the argument in support of the tax. The amended version alters a reference to "paramedic units" the tax would fund to a single paramedic unit.

Harper said the council asked Kellerman to file the lawsuit because it was the only way to change the arguments before Election Day. But time is running out for Moorpark officials to alter what voters will read Nov. 6.

Final versions of the arguments on all measures in the county are scheduled to be printed Monday, said Jenny Harrison, election services coordinator.

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