Novato attorney Jerome Ghigliotti on Monday struck out again in Marin Superior Court in his effort to force a voter referendum onto the ballot that would change contract hiring practices by the city of Novato. But he’s not stopping there, and he’s running for Novato City Council to try and oust those who disagree with him.
Ghigliotti is appealing to the First District Court of Appeals in San Francisco to see if judges will agree with him that all contracted employees with the city — and all employees working for any company that contracts with the city — should have their immigration status checked first.
About 3,500 people last year to have a referendum placed on the election ballot in Novato, but City Attorney Jeffrey Walter contended that the initiative was unconstitutional and convinced the Novato City Council not to act on it. On Monday, Marin Superior Court Judge Lynn Duryee denied a motion to reconsider that favored Walter and the city.
“It’s a good initiative,” Ghigliotti said Monday. “They’re depriving us of our First Amendment rights. That’s why we have the First Amendment. The colonists believed it was the most important one. This is runaway fiat government, and they have no respect for citizens’ rights.”
On top of the lawsuit on the initiative, Ghigliotti has filed a suit in federal court against the members of the council — Mayor Madeline Kellner, Jeanne MacLeamy, Pat Eklund, Carole Dillon-Knutson and Denise Athas — plus Chief of Police Joseph Kreins for his treatment before the council in September 2010. Ghigliotti was arrested for disrupting a public meeting and escorted out of Novato City Hall, but he said his First Amendment rights were violated.
Ghigliotti said the city could delay the suit from appearing in federal court for almost a year, but it’s worth pursuing.
“Basically I just fill out the forms to say, ‘I’d really like you guys to take a look at this and tell me you agree with me,’” he said.
On Monday, the first day of the election nomination period, Ghigliotti said he went to the Novato city administrative offices and pulled papers to run for City Council. Seats occupied by Kellner, MacLeamy and Dillon-Knutson will be open in the November election. All three have stated their intention to run, according to the . City Clerk Sheri Hartz said Kellner and Ghigliotti picked up their candidate packets, but the filings are not official until the packets have been submitted.
Four other Novato residents — Manny Fernandez, Eric Lucan, Leslie Peterson Schwarze, and Eleanor Sluis — have indicated they will challenge for the seats, according to the IJ.
Ghigliotti said his underlying goal with his suits against the city is assure that anybody making a single cent of taxpayer money via city coffers is a legal resident of the United States. He maintains that there is no federal preemption on the E-Verify online system of immigration status checks and cited case law that supported his claim.
“The Supreme Court is clear that there is no federal conflict, and anything else Walter doesn’t like about the initiative doesn’t make it illegal,” Ghigliotti said. “Since it’s not illegal, it has to be put on the ballot.”
The ordinance drawn up by Ghigliotti, called the Novato Legal Employment and Contracting Initiative, deals with monetary penalties for those who do not comply, not licensing penalties. Walter cited that last month when explaining why the initiative was unconstitutional.
By law, referendums with the minimum amount of verified voter signatures must be placed on a ballot or enacted as an ordinance. Walter recommended the council not act at all, saying Ghigliotti’s ordinance was unconstitutional. The council did just that and found itself and was promptly sued by Ghigliotti.