DuPage County Circuit Court Judge Bonnie Wheaton pulled the plug on the Naperville smart meter referendum. Residents will not see a question on the March primary ballot about the installation of the new meters.
On the very last day before DuPage County ballots went to print, Judge Wheaton had to decide whether some would include the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group’s referendum question:
“Shall the city of Naperville immediately and permanently stop the implementation of the $22 million smart meter project and dismantle all related equipment?”
“The decision of the Municipal Officers Electoral Board for the City of Naperville was correct and is affirmed,” ruled Judge Wheaton.
The question will not be on the ballot.
“Of course I’m disappointed in the decision,” said Doug Ibendahl, Attorney for Naperville Smart Meter Awareness. “I think the judge got it wrong. That’s life.”
In circuit court, the anti-smart meter group’s attorney argued the board invalidated signatures behind closed doors, and therefore their decision should be overturned. But Judge Wheaton said that since the board was acting as a quasi-judicial group, looking at the petitions outside city council chambers was like a jury deliberating outside the courtroom.
“The really disappointing thing is the bar has been set lower in Illinois,” said Ibendahl. “The message sent today is that it’s ok to have these electoral board hearings to invalidate signatures behind closed doors.”
The case went to circuit court because in December, Naperville resident William Dawe filed an objection to the referendum question. After the Naperville Municipal Officers Electoral Board ruled in favor of Dawe, saying there were not enough signatures belonging to registered voters, an appeal was filed at the county level, but nothing changed.
“It’s a very straightforward matter,” said Kevin McQuillan, Dawe’s attorney. “The law is very clear. You have to have enough valid signatures from residents of Naperville at those addresses in the city of Naperville that are registered voters.”
For almost a year the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group has been spreading their views about the city’s new electric system. They worry about the new meters for several reasons, including cost, personal privacy, and health. They say they’re not giving up on their referendum question, and will go to appellate court. They have also filed a federal lawsuit against the city regarding Open Meeting Act violations. They expect to be in court for that case in March.
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