D.C. AG says budget autonomy referendum is wrong approach

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City lawmakers’ attorney, V. David Zvenyach, strenuously defended the referendum’s legality before the board. He said the board is required to show deference to the will of popularly elected officials in the District instead of injecting itself as guardians of what should or should not appear on the ballot.

“The board is not a court,” he said.

Mr. Nathan disagreed. He said the board was composed of experienced attorneys with a statutory obligation to weigh whether its actions could violate the law.

He said the city lawmakers’ reasoning would force the board to approve council-created charter amendments that, hypothetically, abolish the mayor, prevent the U.S. attorney from prosecuting local politicians or even resegregate the schools.

“The council is wrong on all counts,” he said.

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