State Supreme Court To Decide On Q Deal Referendum

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. [Matt Richmond / ideastream]
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The City of Cleveland will face off against itself in State Supreme Court. A challenge by the city’s law director against the clerk of city council could resolve whether voters weigh in on the city’s plan to contribute $88 million to the renovation of Quicken Loans Arena.

This latest episode in the saga of the Q renovation came with a June 5 filing in state supreme court. Earlier this month, a group submitted 20,000 petition signatures to put the Q deal in front of voters. But the clerk of city council rejected the petitions, saying a referendum would constitutionally impair a binding contract.

Now, the city’s law director is suing the clerk of city council to force her to accept the petitions.

Council President Kevin Kelley says both sides have hired outside legal counsel.

“We will be able to resolve this and give the people, any party to this issue, the resolution that they deserve in the quickest way possible," says Kelley.

Mayor Frank Jackson, who restated his support for the city’s contribution to the renovation, described both sides as having valid arguments.

“Both of these legal arguments and both of these issues, constitutional issues are very important to us because they speak to the rights of our citizens," says Jackson.

An attorney for the referendum’s supporters, Subodh Chandra. He says he was surprised to see Kelley at the announcement that the city would seek to overturn the clerk’s decision.

“All he has to do is walk down the hallway and direct the clerk of council, who works for him, to accept and process the petitions," says Chandra.

The county has held off issuing the bonds to finance the project until the city resolves its issues.

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