I haven't the time to summarize all the events that have transpired in the past 24 hours, so rather than duplicate the efforts of others, I'll simply refer you to said efforts of others; to wit, Jill Stanek's blog and the Families Against Planned Parenthood blog (the latter of which is the blog of—among others—my co-worker, Eric Scheidler, who has been spearheading our efforts at the Aurora site these past two months).
The latest development in the story comes courtesy of our attorney, Tom Brejcha of the Thomas More Society Pro-Life Law Center, via Jill, and concerns an appeal of the granting of the occupancy permit filed by fellow pro-life attorney Peter Breen. The appeal was filed with the Aurora Zoning Board of Appeals at 9:58 this morning, two minutes before the Abortion Fortress was scheduled to open.
TMS was acting on behalf of nearby property owners who are aggrieved by the violation of their rights to have notice and a public hearing on a proper application for a special use permit, which PP never applied for, let alone obtained.
We also filed on behalf of the Fox Valley Families Against Planned Parenthood, other members of which are affected property owners and citizens of Aurora.
Thus Peter accomplished the filing before 10 a.m. when PP said that it would open for business pursuant to the occupancy permit.
This filing, legally speaking, is supposed to trigger an automatic "stay" of the decision by which the permit was granted.
Whether the decision was made by the zoning administrator or by the mayor or by other officials remains to be seen. No finding was made to the effect that any emergency would occur if the stay were honored, and the law provides that absent such a finding the stay of any further proceedings pursuant to the challenged administrative action will be effective immediately.
Again, we are testing whether Aurora will follow the law or fudge it. We're shortly to send copies of the appeal to the lawyers for Planned Parenthood and Aurora's Corporation Counsel and outside counsel.
The thrust of our appeal is rather simple and straightforward: to test whether the rule of law still applies in Aurora, as elsewhere. That is, the question is whether the city is to be run by executive fiat, where the Mayor can read out of the law those provisions that he finds politically or otherwise inconvenient... or whether those entrusted with jurisdiction to make proper planning and zoning decisions in accordance with state law and city ordinances should make those decisions on the merits, without bending the law to suit the demands of cash-rich special interests....
The only rationale I've seen so far for the other side is the zoning administrator's rather flimsy suggestion that the "non-profit" and "charitable" use category in the zoning code is somehow ambiguous (he never explains how it is so), whereas the medical office category is more specific and clear. But if there ever was a "non-profit," it's the massive tax-exempt entity called Planned Parenthood -- a charity and, as such, the beneficiary of millions of dollars in tax-exempt donations as well as government largesse.
And, of course, if our appeal is somehow brushed aside we'll most certainly have "exhausted our administrative remedies" and we'll then proceed to court to seek judicial relief.
Oh, BTW, remember those full-page ads I mentioned a few weeks ago—the ones in which Planned Parenthood accused us of having a "well-documented history of advocating violence against both persons and property, as well as other related criminal activity"?
Yesterday, Brejcha filed a libel lawsuit on our behalf against Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area.