In a chance coincidence with a Vallejo decision to delay a binding arbitration ballot measure until June 2010, a community group has sued the city on the same issue.

Citizens for Vallejo, a community initiative to remove binding arbitration from the city's charter, said in a lawsuit that a decision in October to disqualify a resident petition that fell short 201 signatures was illegal.

Last week, the City Council approved a Charter Review Committee proposal to repeal the binding arbitration charter provision and place it before voters next June.

That ad hoc committee was formed early this year, after council members rejected a proposal by Councilmember Joanne Schivley to support a resident petition by putting the issue to voters itself, bypassing the invalidated petition.

Citizens for Vallejo members say binding arbitration, Vallejo's nearly 40-year-old employee conflict resolution system, no longer fits city's needs, and they have the resident support to prove it, they said.

"The bottom line is that when binding arbitration came in, it was a different world," said one petition author, Jim Libien. "That world has changed and we need to keep up with the modern world and handle these things in a different world."

Petition authors and the driving forces behind the group said they believe they had gathered enough signatures to go forward without council support.

Their petition had about 9,600 signatures, but more than 2,700 signatures were invalidated.


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The city oversees such petitions, but the Solano County Registrar of Voters said organizers had not gathered the nearly 7,000 valid signatures needed.

Libien said the three major areas the group is challenging in the suit include the Registrar's changing of the required number of signatures, the invalidation of about 42 signatures due to an incorrect date on some petition pages and a "series of mistakes" Registrar officials allegedly made.

"We're hoping that the court will look at that and validate all the signatures ... and the court will order (it) to go on the ballot," Libien said.

The three petition authors, including Libien, J.D. Miller and Byrne Conley, have pored over the invalidated signatures, disqualified for incorrect residency, duplication, unregistered status, non-matching signatures and other reasons.

Miller and Libien said Thursday's filing, so close to the council's decision, was just coincidence.

After being served with the group's legal challenge, Vallejo officials will have 30 calendar days to respond. Group members said they are unsure if the court could rule in time for November's election.

Contact staff writer Jessica A. York at 553-6834 or jyork@thnewsnet.com.