It's still unclear if the group behind the petition will actually go forward with the signature drive needed to get the referendum on the ballot, or if it has the financial resources needed to do so.
A lawyer representing an unidentified group of citizens on Thursday filed a petition for a possible referendum that would overturn the Metropolitan King County Council’s decision to send $135 million in public funds toward the Mariners ballpark.
The council on Sept. 17 had voted 5-4 to spend hotel-motel tax revenues on various fixes at Safeco Field over the next quarter century, against objections that the billion-dollar company could pay for its own work.
Seattle-based labor attorney Dmitri Iglitzin filed paperwork with the county for a potential referendum on behalf of a new group called the “Citizens Against Sports Stadium Subsidies.” The petition is the first step of a potential signature-gathering process required to put a referendum on the ballot.
Iglitzin said it’s still unclear if the signature drive will happen – he said the petition had to be filed Thursday because it was the deadline to start the process for a potential referendum.
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He also declined to identify members of the CASSS group or whether it had any funding to hire signature gatherers, which is typically needed to gather signatures on a large scale. He called the group “a coalition of organizations and individuals that opposes public subsidies of sports stadiums and professional sports teams.”
“It believes that given the enormous challenges facing our county and region – growing income inequality, an affordable housing and homelessness crisis, and need for public investment in range of areas, effectively giving $135 million in taxpayer funds to a wealthy sports team is a misuse of public funds,” Iglitzin said in an email.
If it moves forward, the group would have to collect about 40,000 signatures of registered voters to qualify for the Feb. 12 special election.
The Mariners declined comment.