Schools Over Stadium loses lawsuit over petition, but plans to start over

Schools Over Stadium has been slowed down, but they aren’t giving up on cutting off the A’s stadium funding in Las Vegas.

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Let’s rewind to September for a moment. The A’s and the state of Nevada pushed ahead with plans for a publicly financed stadium, and the state’s educators pushed back with the filing of a petition meant to cut off said public finances. The plan was to get the petition its required signatures and put it on the ballot in 2024, so that the citizens of Nevada could decide if they wanted their tax dollars to go towards yet another new stadium, or if those funds should instead be put toward anything else. Like, say, the educational system that desperately needed them.

I wrote about that issue at Baseball Prospectus (no subscription required) after speaking with the Nevada State Educators Association:

“Nevada ranks 48th in the nation in education funding, with the largest class sizes in the country. Nevada struggles with teacher vacancies, leaving thousands of classrooms covered by long-term substitutes,” said [Chris] Daly. “NSEA made a big push during this year’s legislative session to get Nevada to do better. Nearly 1,000 educators and supporters rallied in front of the legislature toward the end of the session, imploring state leaders to do more to help our schools. Instead, the politicians turned their attention away from struggling educators and students to give away the store to a California billionaire.”

This has all happened without any official input from the people it would actually impact: the citizens of Nevada. As Daly put it, “We filed a referendum petition to give Nevada voters the chance to weigh in on state tax funding to pay for stadium bonds. We hope to force a public conversation about Nevada’s priorities, the state of Nevada schools, and whether public money should go to giveaways like the A’s stadium instead of public services.”

The plan of the NSEA and the political-action committee they formed, Schools Over Stadiums, was to attack the state taxes being used for stadium bonding, as this strategy would allow them to come in and cut off that funding even if construction was already a go. A lawsuit was filed shortly after that story went live, however, in order to outright kill the petition or at least undo any progress it had made on the signature front, forcing a restart. That lawsuit is now over, and Schools Over Stadiums lost. They can no longer collect signatures for the petition, which is inactive.

However, this decision, made by a judge in Carson City, can be appealed, and the signature deadline for a petition to be on the 2024 ballot isn’t until July. That means that Schools Over Stadiums can rework the problem area of the petition that caused them to have a lawsuit filed against them (and lose it), and then start over. It cuts things close in terms of time, since now months have been wasted, but it can still be done. And it sounds like that’s the plan, too, per the PAC itself, which released this statement after the decision:

“When you take on billionaires, it’s never easy. While the decision is disappointing, it’s not uncommon. Educators overcome obstacles every day, especially in a state ranked 48th in the nation. We’re undeterred and still committed to giving Nevada voters the opportunity to decide whether their tax dollars are used to subsidize a billionaire’s stadium. Schools Over Stadiums will appeal this decision to the Supreme Court and/or refile the referendum petition. As the judge pointed out, there’s plenty of time before the signature deadline in July of 2024. We remain confident Nevada voters will choose schools over stadiums next November.”

It’s disappointing that this lawsuit had the support of labor unions obsessed with the idea of securing jobs for building the stadium, especially since, in the process, they are throwing their comrades in education under the bus. There will be other construction projects, but there’s barely money being put towards education as is: there will surely be even less when Nevada is on the hook for not just the Las Vegas Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium, but this unnamed new home for the A’s, as well. For all the positive feelings out there regarding the actions of labor right now, thanks to the various strikes and all the solidarity that’s existed out there even as, say, the entertainment of your average person has been threatened, there are still plenty of shortsighted people out there who don’t see the issues for what they are.

With any luck, Schools Over Stadium will be able to rework their petition, file it, get the signatures they need across Nevada’s four districts, and then let the people decide in November of 2024 whether or not an A’s stadium should be paid for with their tax dollars. If this all happens and they decide that yes, they’d love to see a baseball team that barely tries and isn’t going to bother trying in the future, either, no new ballpark or no, well. Nothing you can do there, if they can’t see the problem with the arrangement and the people on the other side of it. But at the least, that opportunity to choose, that chance to make the wrong call, needs to exist. Because as is, the people of Nevada have been shut out of this process entirely, so that some unregistered lobbyists and A’s owner John Fisher can take whatever they want, regardless of the damage it will cause.

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