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FULLERTON : Ex-Chamber Chief Says He's Dropping Utility Tax Lawsuit

November 19, 1994|MIMI KO

Former Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. O'Neill said Friday he is dropping a lawsuit he had filed against the city over the passage of the controversial 2% utility tax last year.

He said there no longer is a need to sue because the City Council tentatively approved repealing the tax this week. Council members are expected to give final approval to the action next month.

"They have committed themselves to repealing the tax," O'Neill said.

He said dropping the lawsuit was an "early step in the peace-making process in the community."

City officials agreed.

"I think it's a signal that the community is trying to put divisiveness behind us," City Manager James L. Armstrong said.

O'Neill, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of businesses throughout the city in August, 1993, spent about $25,000 in legal fees. Armstrong said the city spent about $30,000.

O'Neill had initially sued the city and three council members who had voted for the tax. He had charged that then Mayor A. B. (Buck) Catlin and council members Don Bankhead and Molly McClanahan had made up their minds on the tax levy prior to a public hearing at which hundreds of residents and business owners opposed the move.

He later dropped the three council members, who were recalled in June over the tax, from the lawsuit and only the city remained as a defendant.

Bankhead has subsequently been elected to a council seat.

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