We (Save1431/concerned neighbors) were very fortunate Wednesday evening to have a question and answer session with Jo Campbell. Ms. Campbell is a practicing attorney and a former PUC commissioner. She knows her stuff, and she drove from Waco to speak with us at no charge. About 30 people attended.
Her No. 1 piece of advice is to intervene is you are able. The more intervenors, the stronger our position. Only people “directly affected” — those within 300 feet of the center line — are guaranteed to be able to intervene.
She said we should urge the people who received the intervenor form from the PUC to fill it out and send it in.
If you are not within 300 feet but you want to intervene, you need a reason why you are affected. She said being a parent of a child at a school on the route is a good reason. Or if your kids or grandkids play in an area where there could be lines. Or if you keep bees. Or if you work out at the park every day.
If the judge doesn’t think your reason to intervene is strong enough and says you cannot be an intervenor, you have 5 days to appeal.
Ms. Campbell offered to represent us. She charges $300 an hour and says other lawyers charge $300-$500 per hour for such services. A battle led by her would cost $50,000-$100,000. She recommends forming a group to reduce cost. She said she knows of another lawyer in a similar case who charged $200,000.
Other people involved have said you do not necessarily need an attorney just to be an intervenor. Once you become an intervenor, you will need to file testimony (a document). You might not ever have to attend court. And if the demands are too much, you can drop out.
If you miss the June 13 filing deadline or drop out of the process, you are out. You miss the chance to be a party to any negotiations that might happen in the future. You will not be a part of the case before the PUC if you do not meet the June 13 deadline. And you won’t even know what is going on.
So now people need to intervene if they are within the 300 feet. And people who are not should decide if they want to intervene directly, as community stakeholders in our greenspaces, as parents or as park users.
If we were to hire a lawyer, we’d have to have a plan for how to fairly raise that much money quickly. Although Save1431 has gotten good support, we aren’t sure it’s enough to generate those kinds of dollars.
We don’t think Save1431 is the right type of entity to intervene, but we could form a park group or groups. We could form concerned parent groups for the schools and preschools. Ms. Campbell said that she can represent all of our groups, which would allow us to spread the cost broadly.
We can talk about this, but it you all want to work as a group and pay that rate, we’d need to hear a strong response.