A NOTE FROM LAURA DOUGHERTY, HJTA’S NEW DIRECTOR OF LEGAL AFFAIRS
I am touched by Tim’s words and honored to be the next trustee of legal action for California taxpayers. Like Tim, I also worked various jobs to support my family in my distant past, including bank-telling, insurance secretary work, substitute teaching, and mothering itself. Then, after graduating from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law with Honors and a two-year-old daughter, I had the privilege to work for property-rights guru Ronald Zumbrun as his last new hire. He hadn’t advertised the position, but my unsolicited application got me the job.
Ron taught me many things, but most importantly he taught me never to back down from a case when you know it’s the right fight. I attended oral arguments with him in state and federal courts, and I was directly responsible for federal and state appellate briefs. His cases kept government accountable, and I was hooked.
Since joining HJTA in 2016, I have been fascinated by the seemingly endless stream of cases threatening taxpayer rights. I’ve seen agencies try to block ratepayers’ access to the courts. In 2019, we took that fight all the way to the California Supreme Court, where I was privileged to represent HJTA as amicus (friend of the court) in the case. We won that battle. The Court agreed with us that no agency can block a ratepayer’s judicial access by imposing a requirement that the ratepayer must go through the motions of protesting at a public hearing where it would be impossible to resolve their concern.
HJTA is currently fighting in the courts to protect the two-thirds vote on local special taxes, to oppose vacant lot fees that ignore Proposition 218, and to secure the right to vote on high-risk pension obligation bonds that put taxpayers on the hook if the strategy doesn’t work out. It’s not easy for taxpayers, but I’m here because every case is the right fight.