A judge Friday blocked the printing of ballot documents both supporting and opposing the proposed countywide half-cent sales tax for transportation projects, ruling that more time is needed to sort out mutual charges of inaccuracy.
Superior Court Judge Eileen C. Moore set a hearing for Friday to take up both sides' complaints.
Under the law, all registered voters in Orange County must receive a pamphlet before the Nov. 7 general election and it must include written arguments for and against all measures on the ballot.
Dana Reed, the treasurer of Citizens for Measure M, the group supporting the tax, filed the lawsuit seeking a court order directing county election officials to remove allegedly false statements from the ballot argument against the measure.
Reed targeted a claim that approval of the sales tax would lead to "massive indebtedness" of "$18 billion, plus interest" because the county would be able to borrow more with the new revenue. He said that a public utilities code limits bond indebtedness to $3.1 billion.
The tax would raise $3.1 billion for highway and transportation projects over the next 20 years.
On Friday, Russell Burkett, a named defendant in Reed's suit, filed papers alleging in turn that endorsements contained in the ballot arguments by supporters are misleading.
Proponents listed the names of nine persons supporting the proposal. Four are identified with the names of organizations with which they have been affiliated.
Burkett contended that the tactic suggests "that the organizations have themselves endorsed Measure M." He said that the law requires a signed consent of the organization be included in the ballot statement, and that none had filed such a consent.
Bruce Nestande, the chairman of Citizens for Yes on M, said such listings used were meant as descriptions of what the people do, not necessarily an endorsement by the groups .
"Under no conditions do we feel that this is misleading at all," he said. "It's a description of what these people do in life. It was not meant that these organizations endorsed it."
In dispute are the listings of: Randy Goodwin, former executive director, Howard Jarvis Tax Reduction Movement; Audrey Redfearn, chair, Democratic Foundation of Orange County; Charlotte Mousel, Republican national committeewoman; and Bob Balgenorth, executive secretary, Orange County Building Trades Council, AFL-CIO.
Cynthia Hanna, the executive director of the Democratic Foundation, said her organization endorsed the sales tax Aug. 27, but didn't file papers with the county's registrar of voters.
Greg Haskin, the executive director of the Republican Party of Orange County, said the Republican National Committee had not taken a position on the tax and probably would not.