Federal judge dismisses lawsuit to save City Hall

POSTED: 06:54 PM MST Nov 29, 2012    UPDATED: 12:18 PM MDT Mar 19, 2014 
EL PASO, Texas -

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit aimed at stopping the demolition of El Paso City Hall

U.S. District Judge David Guaderrama issued the order saying the case was not within his jurisdiction.
He did not rule on the merits of the case. The lawsuit was filed by former Mayor Ray Salazar.

The goal of the lawsuit was to stop the demolition and allow voters to decide whether to build a ballpark on the current site of El Paso City Hall.

The City responded to the suit in mid-November on several different points, one of which was a legal principle called “ripeness.”

"Essentially, this means the case was premature until the sufficiency of the most recent petition had been determined, and until the City Council has taken action on that petition if it is certified," the City of El Paso said in a statement. "Judge Guaderrama agreed with the City’s argument on the ripeness point, concluding that “the case at this point is abstract and hypothetical, and accordingly, is not presently fit for judicial decision.”
However, all is not lost for those trying to save City Hall.
The petition seeking an election over the issue has been certified, which according to City Charter, means the issue must be put up for a vote.
The next election is scheduled for May 11 which is after the building is scheduled to be torn down.
The petitioners would have to seek and get an injunction to keep the building up long enough for the vote to take place -- which would prevent the ballpark from being ready for the start of the 2014 season.

The ordinance that the petitioners would be asking the voters to approve is the
same ordinance considered and rejected by City Council on September 18,
2012 which led to a second petition filed on October 30, 2012.

In response, City Rep. Steve Ortega said: "We already made a deal with the ownership group. We have a contractual partnership with the Pacific Coast League, with Triple A baseball. And once we make a commitment we need to see it through."

But City Rep. Eddie Holguin says the voters should have the last say.

"It's the will of the voters. That's the entire petition process," Holguin said. "It's giving power back to the people. People are taking power from us and demanding that they have a vote in this issue."