By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,551)
At a hearing at 1:30 pm this afternoon in Superior Court, Judge Thomas A. Humphrey decided to postpone the matter of the city’s Motion to Stay until Monday at 8:30 am. The reason for the delay was Judge Humphrey’s lack of familiarity with the case. The City had been ordered by Justice Joyce Wheeler to have the petitions for gathering the required 1,500 signatures to put the matter to a public vote ready for the Friends of Congress Square Park by 3:00 pm today. As a result of todays delay, the city’s requested Stay does go into effect until the hearing on Monday morning.
The hearing was continued until Monday morning at 8:30 am by Judge Humphrey. That’s when Judge Joyce Wheeler will be available to preside over the matter again. She was not available today.
Late yesterday afternoon the City filed a request for a stay to be decided upon by the court before 3:00 pm, Friday, November 1, 2013. That is the time designated by the court for the availability of the petitions to the Friends group.
In an “update” issued by Robert H. Levin, Esq., one of the two attorneys for the Friends, Levin said: “Friends of Congress Square Park will continue to urge Justice Wheeler to deny the Motion to Stay and hopes to have the City Clerk issue the initiative petitions on Monday, in time to gather signatures at the polls on Election Day. Friends of Congress Square Park is disappointed not to have its petition forms in hand for tonight’s First Friday Art Walk and tomorrow’s Farmers Market, but understands the unique circumstances that have led to this temporary delay.”
The Friends of Congress Square Park are opposed to the city’s sale of most of the downtown Park to RockBridge Capital for its construction of an events center next to the soon to open Westin Hotel. In September, the city denied the group a Citizens Initiative which might have led to the matter going to referendum. The Friends sued the city to get that right back. Earlier this week, Justice Joyce Wheeler decided in favor of the Friends group and the petitions were to be ready at city hall by 3 pm this afternoon.
A brief statement was issued by the City of Portland late this afternoon, although it has been slow to respond to requests for information and not helpful in disbursing information about special hearings, etc.