Last week, Riverside resident Tony Peraica filed an appeal of a ruling last month that dismissed the lawsuit filed by him and the anti-tax group, Taxpayers United of America, against Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208.
In the lawsuit, Taxpayers United and Peraica charged that the district illegally used public resources to advocate for yes votes in last year’s property tax referendum campaign.
But, on July 17, Cook County Circuit Judge Leroy K. Martin Jr. threw out the lawsuit, granting the district’s motion to dismiss the case. Martin’s ruling addressed the legal issues, not the factual issues in the case.
Martin ruled, without hearing any evidence about the factual allegations in the case and even assuming that the allegations in the lawsuit were true, that as a matter of law the plaintiffs failed to state a claim that could be addressed in civil court.
In March, Martin dismissed part of the lawsuit, saying that even if RBHS officials had illegally used public resources to advocate for yes votes in the referendum, it was as a criminal matter and the state’s attorney’s office would have to decide whether to pursue – not a matter to be hashed out in civil litigation.
Taxpayers United issued a press release last week announcing the appeal.
“We are filing this appeal to protect the taxpayers from financial abuse by unions and to assert, as a matter of principle, that school unions and administration cannot conspire to expend taxpayer dollars to promote a pro-tax-increase referendum on a taxpayer dime,” Peraica was quoted as saying in the release. “If the unions and administration want to borrow money or increase taxes, they must spend their own money to do so.”
The plaintiffs will have a new lawyer representing them on the appeal.
Tim Sprague, a lawyer who works for Peraica’s law firm, Anthony J. Peraica & Associates, will assist in the appeal process, according to the press release. Sprague is a trustee in Lyons Township, where Peraica serves as Lyons Township Republican Committeeman.
Taxpayers United’s general counsel, Andrew Spiegel, is not handling the appeal. The Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission has recommended suspending Spiegel’s law license, because of Spiegel’s actions in unrelated cases.
Taxpayers United sued also school districts in Oak Park and Wilmette claiming that referendum ballot language was misleading and illegal, but the group has lost both cases thus far.