All For Transportation lawyer Ben Hill deposed Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White for 3 hours earlier this month over his lawsuit looking for to overturn the 1 % gross sales tax voters authorized for transportation enhancements final month.
Hill’s line of questioning supported the group’s assertion that White has no legal standing as an elected county official to sue the board on which he serves.
The deposition additionally offers a glimpse into the timeline throughout which White arrived on the conclusion that he would file the swimsuit, providing perception into his decision-making course of.
About an hour into the deposition, Hill requested White if his lawsuit was profitable, would that call “apply to the entire county commissioners.”
White agreed, after some session along with his lawyer, Chris Altenbernd.
Hill pressed additional.
“So that you unilaterally — that’s, by yourself — are taking a stand that may have an effect on the entire County Commissioners?
White deferred to Altenbernd.
“I’ll let you know, the reply is completely sure. The decide will both give them the authority to make what they deem applicable underneath the tax and be accountable for it or he’ll maintain the tax to be invalid. So it can have an effect on all of them.”
Hill requested a number of different questions aimed toward ascertaining whether or not White understood his duties as a County Commissioner. The questions supported All For Transportation’s defense that White can’t sue Hillsborough County as a result of the result of the swimsuit would have an effect on your complete board on which he sits with out that board having voted on the matter, as is prescribed within the county constitution.
Hill’s questions additionally hinted at a attainable protection associated to White’s determination to convey the lawsuit ahead after the November election through which a overwhelming majority of voters authorized the transportation tax and didn’t search official, documented authorized opinions earlier than taking impartial authorized motion.
White claimed he spoke with Hillsborough County lawyer Christine Beck about his issues over the constitutionality of the gross sales tax referendum and subsequently created county constitution. He claims she informed him authorized problem “wouldn’t be frivolous” and that he couldn’t problem the phrases “till such time as they turned regulation.”
White stated he was not 100 % sure of the latter declare however was constructive Beck stated such a swimsuit wouldn’t be frivolous.
At problem for White are two provisions of the constitution. One requires the creation of a citizen-led Independent Oversight Committee and the opposite particularly prescribes how the brand new tax income must be spent. Each provisions, White and his attorneys argue, usurps the Board of County Fee’s authority to make its constitutionally required funds choices.
The deposition additionally appeared to make an try to attract conclusions about White’s motive for submitting the lawsuit.
Hill spent a considerable period of time questioning White about his involvement with the opposition marketing campaign. White voluntarily voiced a message opposing the tax for a robocall to voters, gave permission for his likeness for use on opposition marketing campaign mailers and supplied quotes opposing the tax to the opposition group.
At no time did White deny that he had been against the referendum.
The truth is, White claims he was “instantly” opposed after receiving and reviewing a duplicate of the petition voters signed to get the referendum on the poll and the accompanying poll language. White stated he first acquired these paperwork in an e mail from Sharon Calvert, a transportation activist who opposed the tax and helped lead efforts to squash it.
Although White acknowledged his cooperation with activists working to reject the All For Transportation referendum, he did take steps to distance himself from the group itself. He repeatedly denied figuring out precisely which political get together or committee was funding opposition efforts, although he talked about the group No Tax For Tracks as a chance.
He additionally claimed ignorance on marketing campaign technique choices, wish to who to ship opposition supplies to.
Requested a few sequence of textual content message exchanges with Calvert through which she informed him how a lot cash it could value to ship mass texts to voters and subtly requested for assist elevating funds, White was fast to level out that he solely responded with a “thumbs up” and nothing additional as a result of he didn’t wish to use sources for that opposition group whereas he was within the midst of his personal re-election marketing campaign.
In one other sequence of questions, Hill implied that maybe White shouldn’t be working to subvert the need of the voters. White responded by evaluating his “management” taking authorized motion to civil rights pioneers within the 50s who fought to overthrow oppressive racial segregation insurance policies.
“Fifty-seven % of the individuals might theoretically amend the constitution to say that we must always segregate our county amenities. And in that context, we might have an actual authorized drawback,” White stated. “I feel we had politicians within the 1950s that pushed again towards points with civil rights that, you recognize, the bulk could also be pushing a technique, however I’m going to indicate some management and I’m going to push a distinct path.”
Hill suspended the deposition after about three hours, together with a 15-minute break, however famous he needed to proceed the method at a later date. Hill stated he had one other 15-pages of inquiries to get by means of.
The group didn’t schedule one other deposition to proceed the dialog.
A abstract judgment listening to on White’s lawsuit is scheduled for Might.
Hillsborough County residents and guests are already paying the extra 1 % gross sales tax regardless of White’s authorized problem. Income collected to date, nonetheless, has not been dispersed to receiving entities together with Hillsborough County, the Hillsborough Space Regional Transit Authority and the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant Metropolis, all of that are named as defendants on White’s swimsuit.
A personal citizen filed another lawsuit towards the tax final week.