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Gallatin County judge hears motion to dismiss Public Safety Center Lawsuit

Posted at 2:26 PM, Mar 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-21 18:16:52-04

BOZEMAN – On Wednesday, District Court Judge Rienne McElyea heard arguments on whether or not to allow a citizen’s lawsuit against Bozeman regarding the Public Safety Center to continue.

Back in November, a $37 million bond to build the city project was approved by two-thirds of local voters. However, a lawsuit filed by Roger Koopman alleges the city advocated for the project instead of merely educating voters.

“That corrupts the democratic process,” said Koopman. “You need to have sunshine on all areas, not just on what you want the results to be.”

The complaint first went to the state’s Commissioner of Political Practice (COPP) and then to the Bozeman Board of Ethics, both of whom said the city did no wrong.

These rulings led to the city asking for dismissal from the court, stating that only the COPP or Gallatin County Attorney can bring the lawsuit against the city.

“Frankly, it reminds me of the old cartoon, where’s the beef,” said Deputy Mayor Chris Mehl. “You know the ad campaign, there are charges without any substance. We have two clear rulings that said the city followed the law. We have no evidence that we didn’t follow the law. It is time to let the city police department and fire department to do their job.”

Judge McElyea decided to not rule immediately on the motion but rather release a written statement later.

Reporting by Mederios Babb for MTN News