Category Archives: Petition Drive

An Easy Fix?

Tacoma, WA

Alex Hays recently submitted signatures for a ballot measure which will change the city government. The ballot measure proposes a strong mayor form of government. But he made a mistake.

But there was one mistake. In an effort to redraft the city charter, there was mix up and Hays accidentally removed a section of the charter that gives people the power to create initiatives and referendums. If passed, this initiative would take that power away from people in Tacoma.

“We reacted to the city’s request that we put together a different version. They wanted the entire charter reproduced. That made it a little harder to get right and unfortunately that created a chance for this mistake to occur,” said Hays.

Now the city is claiming nothing can be done.

Citizens signed this petition and the measure should appear as signed by citizens. However, if the city council sincerely wants to retain the initiative and referendum portion of the charter (and offer that choice to voters,) they can craft a ballot question that will do the same changes as the petition submitted by Hays, but include the initiative section of the charter. Then the ballot title should make clear what each charter amendment includes:

  • Strong mayor, tighter term limits, and no initiative and referendum.
  • Strong mayor, tighter term limits, and keep initiative and referendum.

The issue getting the highest number of votes would be approved, unless neither ballot question gets over 50% and no changes would be made. I hope the city council acts quickly to ensure voters have this option.

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Ballot measures, Ballot Question, charter amendment, Initiative, Petition Drive, politicians, referendum, Term limits

Two Years Later Wyoming Supreme Court Rules For Petitioners

The Casper clerk rejected signatures that should have counted.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Ballot Question, Petition Drive, referendum

Safeway Drops Legal Challenge To Initiative Signature Gathering

PRESS RELEASE
SAFEWAY DROPS LEGAL CHALLENGE TO INITIATIVE SIGNATURE GATHERING
Citizen Solutions is pleased to announce that Safeway has dropped its legal challenge to initiative signature gathering at its stores throughout Washington state.
Safeway had sued Citizen Solutions and Progressive Campaigns for their activities in gathering signatures on I-1366, a Tax Reform Act, and I-1401, an initiative to protect endangered animals.  Safeway initially sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, but dropped that request just hours after Citizens Solutions responded with substantial evidence showing that Safeway stores across the state are modern town centers – in Safeway’s own words.  Two weeks later, just hours after Citizens Solutions formally responded to  all of Safeway’s claims by asserting the rights of initiative sponsors under Washington’s constitutional protection for the initiative process, Safeway threw in the towel and asked simply to drop its law suit.
Safeway’s action to file its lawsuit followed similar claims by other stores, including Fred Meyer.  Safeway’s quick turnabout was an acknowledgement that the Washington Supreme Court decision in the Alderwood Mall case from 1981 firmly protects the right of the people to gather initiative and referendum signatures at malls and other locations that are town centers.  Safeway’s lawsuit was dismissed on July 17, 2015.
Fred Diamondstone
Attorney
1218 Third Ave., Suite 1000
Seattle, WA 98101

Leave a Comment

Filed under Ballot Question, Initiative, Petition Drive

Tax Cap In Ocean City Maryland

The city attorney in Ocean City does not think citizens are allowed to petition for a tax cap. He’s basing his opinion on a tax rollback restriction. However, it is unlikely the court will decide until the city confirms enough petition signatures were submitted.

According to Charter Amendment Procedures for Maryland Municipalities, “the residents of an incorporated city or town may initiate an amendment to a municipal charter by gathering the signatures of at least 20 percent of qualified municipal voters on a petition in the same fashion that a charter amendment approved by a municipal governing body may be petitioned to referendum.”

Once the appropriate number of signatures is verified, the Town of Ocean City will be required to conduct the referendum within 90 days or at the next scheduled election, which is in November of 2016.

“I suspect that there may be some litigation over this petition, and the court is not going to reach a determination if the petition has not been verified with the requisite number of signatures,” Ayres said. “The issue is with the substance of the petition. In my opinion, the substance of the petition violates Section 6-303 of the Tax Property Article of the Maryland Code Annotated. The substance of the petition would amend the charter, so your ability to tax would be capped at the 2009 level of taxes, and that is known as a ‘tax rollback.’ In the case of Board of Election Supervisors vs. Smallwood … the court had ruled tax rollbacks are not proper charter material and violate Section 6-303.”

The Mayor and City Council voted unanimously to request the Board of Elections verify the number of signatures on the petition.

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Ballot measures, Ballot Question, charter amendment, Initiative, Petition Drive, politicians, referendum

Colorado Legislators Show Contempt For Citizens

Colorado legislators finally ended their session and went home, but not before weakening voters petition rights.

HB15-1057 creates petty new hurdles for initiatives.

In Colorado the politicians love making the initiative harder. Initiatives must have two sponsors. There are multiple review and comment hearings where the public can complain about the petition and changes can be demanded. Each time a change occurs a new comment hearing must be held. This process takes months. A representative of the sponsors had been required to attend each of these review hearings. If they didn’t attend it started the entire process over. This can be tedious considering a sponsor from Cortez would need to drive over 7 hours to be in Denver for the hearing. But they could have a representative in Denver attend in their place. Not anymore!

How petty can legislators be? They now require both sponsors to attend every hearing, and if one of the sponsors is unable to attend for any reason, the initiative is withdrawn and the process must be restarted.

From the bill:

BOTH DESIGNATED REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PROPONENTS MUST APPEAR AT ALL REVIEW AND COMMENT MEETINGS. IF EITHER DESIGNATED REPRESENTATIVE FAILS TO ATTEND A MEETING, THE MEASURE IS CONSIDERED WITHDRAWN BY THE PROPONENTS.
IF ONE OF THE TWO DESIGNATED REPRESENTATIVES FAILS TO ATTEND THE REVIEW AND COMMENT MEETING ,THE PETITION IS DEEMED TO BE AUTOMATICALLY  RESUBMITTED TO THE DIRECTORS OF THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL AND THE OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE LEGAL SERVICES FOR REVIEW AND COMMENT, UNLESS THE DESIGNATED  REPRESENTATIVE PRESENT OBJECTS TO THE AUTOMATIC RESUBMISSION.
NO LATER THAN FIVE BUSINESS DAYS AFTER THE RESUBMISSION , THE DIRECTORS SHALL CONDUCT A REVIEW AND COMMENT MEETING IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS SECTION.
IF BOTH DESIGNATED REPRESENTATIVES FAIL TO ATTEND THE REVIEW AND COMMENT MEETING OR IF THE DESIGNATED REPRESENTATIVE PRESENT OBJECTS TO THE AUTOMATIC RESUBMISSION, THE PROPONENTS MAY THEREAFTER RESUBMIT THE INITIATIVE PETITION IN ACCORDANCE WITH SUBSECTION (1) OF THIS SECTION

 

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Ballot measures, Ballot Question, Initiative, Petition Drive, politicians, referendum

Canada’s New E-Petition

E-Petitioning is coming. In the near future we can expect politicians to enact some creative laws to allow for citizens to sign petitions electronically. A few trial versions have been talked about, but no game changing legislation has yet been proposed. Plenty of non-binding online petition websites are currently offering people the opportunity to sign and show their support for an issue. However these are not legally binding.
In Canada a new e-petition initiative process has been proposed. Formal have been adopted a recent article in the International Business Times said this:

Under the e-petition system, new rules allow citizens to propose an initiative on anything– federal funding, new demands, even views on controversial issues according to its proponent Stewart.

In e-petition, the stipulation is that it must be sponsored by an MP and must be backed by 500 signatures, if it is an online submission, in 120 days before it can be read in Parliament. Also, the minister in charge of the matter should respond to a successful initiative within 45 days.

The law makers are hoping that e-petitions would help reverse many troubling political trends. It may also help in arresting the sagging political participation. The voter turnout dipped to 61 percent since 2000 from the 73 percent in the 1980s. Many burning issues of people get ignored in the heat of party politics by MPs under the pressure of excessive partisanship. They have little freedom to vote on their own convictions or honour the wishes of their constituents. The e-petition may anull that predicament.

Another non-binding petition process in the EU is often used but the politicians rarely obey the will of petitioners.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Initiative, Petition Drive, politicians, Uncategorized

Sturgis, Michigan, So Many Dogs It’s Criminal

My wife and I are serious dog lovers. Our dog is the best dog in the world. She’s family. We adopted her from a shelter in 2009 and have never regretted it for a second. Choosing a dog at the shelter was tough. At the time we were in a small apartment, and I knew we only had room for one dog. When we walked into the shelter I asked, “which dog has been here the longest?” They showed us a skinny mix breed who had been waiting over two years for her forever home. My wife and I took her for a walk and she stole our hearts. I’ve wondered about all those dogs we passed up, they were facing long odds and most probably never found a forever home.

dinner time
Yesterday I read about Sturgis, Michigan a town that has made it illegal for anyone to own more than two dogs. The ordinance was created to stop individuals from operating kennels in the city, it reads as follows:

Sec. 10-33. – Operating a dog kennel in city prohibited.  No person, group of persons, association or corporation shall keep, operate, or maintain a dog kennel within the limits of the city. A dog kennel, as used in this section means any establishment wherein or whereon more than two dogs are owned, kept, or harbored. This section shall not apply to the owning, keeping, or harboring of any dog pups until they  attain the age of four months.

As you can see, it’s a broad definition of kennel and I suspect many residents are in violation of this law without being aware it exists.

 

3dogs3

From the article:

Rick Carter, of 204 S. Fourth St., disagrees with the standard and argues that the city should not be able to control the number of pets he has on his private property as long as the animals are cared for and create no nuisances. Carter is fighting a civil citation he received when someone reported he had three dogs at his home. He has refused to relocate any of his pets and says he has never been cited for a dog-related nuisance or danger.

Carter filed a citizen initiative petition in January, signed by more than 21 registered voters. That forced the Sturgis City Commission to either repeal the existing dog limit ordinance or send the question to the ballot for voters to decide.

3dogs2

Fortunately someone decided to challenge this law and gathered signatures to call for it’s repeal. They were motivated by a love of their three pets, and an unwillingness to abandon one of those pets. Tuesday, May 5, 2015 voters in Sturgis will be voting to decide whether or not to repeal this ordinance.

3dogs1

This question will appear on the ballot:

CITY OF STURGIS
ORDINANCE PROPOSAL
Should the City of Sturgis repeal Part II – Chapter 10 Animals
– Article II Dogs and Cats –
Section 10-33 of the City of Sturgis Code of Ordinances?
Sec. 10-33. – Operating a dog kennel in city prohibited.
No person, group of persons, association or corporation shall keep, operate, or maintain a dog kennel within the limits of the city. A dog kennel, as used in this section means any establishment wherein or whereon more than two dogs are owned, kept, or harbored. This section shall not apply to the owning, keeping, or harboring of any dog pups until they attain the age of four months.
3 dosg4
Voters decided to keep the kennel ordinance on 5/5/2015

By a 294-648 margin, Sturgis city voters Tuesday turned down the repeal of a city ordinance that limits residents to having no more than two dogs.

But the man who sought the repeal said Tuesday he is moving to Kansas City and his three dogs will be going with him.

Tuesday’s election turnout was less than 15 percent of registered voters citywide.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Ballot measures, Ballot Question, Petition Drive, Support These Campaigns!

Elgin, Texas Mass Transit Amendment

The Elgin Petitioners Committee successfully gathered signatures on a petition that will require voter approval before the city spends taxpayer money on passenger train service.

From their website:

An Important Message For The Citizens Of Elgin

From the Elgin Petitioners Committee

The Austin area population is growing rapidly. This growth has led to major congestion on roads like IH 35 and MoPac. Elgin, and other communities in the US 290E corridor, are projected to experience similar growth in coming years.

TxDOT had planned for improving 290E to a 6 lane divided freeway. CAMPO, the regional planning agency in Austin, had pledged $148 million towards the 290E project but 4 or 5 years ago the Elgin City Council allowed TxDOT and CAMPO to divert our 290E money into other projects.

The official long range transportation plan for the 5 county region now calls for no improvements whatsoever for 290E until sometime after the year 2035. The only road improvement scheduled for the Elgin area between now and 2035 is the adding of 2 lanes to N Ave C between SH 95 and County Line Road. (SH 95 is to be widened in Williamson County in the year 2024.)

We believe that members of the City Council who advocate building a passenger train project between Elgin and Austin (the “Green Line”) may have traded away our road funding to get approval of the train project. The Elgin Petitioners Committee supports building a train line but only after the improvements to 290E and other important arteries are upgraded.

To that end, we are circulating a petition which would require the City Council to place a measure on the ballot. The ballot proposition will allow the citizens to vote for roads first, or trains first. We believe that 90% of the citizens agree that this is a good idea.

We want 290E put back into the list of transportation projects and we want our funding restored. The alternative is having 290E just as congested as IH 35 or MoPac.

The ballot language:

“The City has the power to spend taxpayer money to construct and maintain streets, roads, highways, bike trails, sidewalks and mass transit facilities, except that no taxpayer money may be spent on or contractually pledged to any passenger train project unless a public bus line shall have first demonstrated a need for train service by having 500 intercity boardings in Elgin per weekday, averaged over three months, connecting to the City of Austin.”

 

Sample Ballot

TX_Elgin_5_9_15_CitySampleBallot

Notice of Election

TX_Elgin_5_9_15_NoticeOfelection

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Ballot measures, Ballot Question, charter amendment, crony capitalism, Initiative, Our million dollar vote, Petition Drive, politicians

Land Use At The Ballot In Boulder, Colorado

Land use and zoning are not always issues that can be addressed through the initiative process. Leaving these decisions in the hands of city officials can create issues where some developments get preferential treatment and variances while others are held strictly to the letter of the law. In Colorado activists are using the initiative process to take those decisions away from municipal officials.

Boulder, Colorado citizens have proposed two charter amendments that would require public approval of projects that do not conform with existing land use regulations.

Proposed Boulder charter amendments

“Development Shall Pay Its Own Way” would require the city to develop measurements for levels of service in a variety of areas, including police, fire, libraries, parks, human services and transportation, and to not approve new development that does not pay for or otherwise provide for that level of service to be maintained. New development would be defined as any project that increases the floor area of a building or site, or any change in use of an existing building.

“Neighborhoods’ Right to Vote on Land-Use Regulation Changes” would require a vote on land-use changes if 10 percent of the registered voters in a neighborhood asked for one. Land-use changes that would subject to a vote would include exemptions to height, density and the occupancy limit, reductions in parking and setbacks, and zoning changes. Land-use changes that affect multiple neighborhoods would require separate elections in each neighborhood.

Another land use ballot question will be voted on in Aspen Colorado on May 5, 2015. It’s intent is similar, a voter approval requirement for zoning variances.

Sample Ballot:

CO_Aspen_5_5_15_SampleBallot

Text of the Amendment:

QUESTION NO. 1
Shall Article XIII of the Home Rule Charter of the City of Aspen be amended by the addition of the following?
Section 13.14 – Voter authorization of certain land use approvals.
(a)        Any land use approval granted by the City of Aspen, or an amendment to a previous land use approval, including those granted as a result of litigation, on land within the zone districts listed in paragraph (b), that exceeds the zoning limitations for allowable floor area or maximum height (including height restricted by view planes), or which reduces the requirements for the amount of off-street parking spaces or affordable housing, shall not be effective unless subsequently approved by a majority of all City electors voting thereon.
(b)        Except as set forth herein below, the provisions of paragraph (a) shall apply to all properties east of Castle Creek within the following zone districts on January 1, 2015: Commercial Core (CC) zone district, Commercial (C-1) zone district, Service/Commercial/Industrial (S/C/I) zone district, Neighborhood  Commercial (NC) zone district, Mixed Use (MU) zone district, Lodge (L) zone district, Commercial Lodge (CL) zone district, Lodge Overlay (LO) zone district, Lodge Preservation Overlay (LP) zone district.
(c)        Although within the zone districts set forth in paragraph (b), the following shall be exempt from the provisions of paragraph (a): single-family and duplex homes, replacement of non-conforming structures, and variations necessary to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), the Federal Telecommunications  Act (FTA), to implement energy efficiency measures, to meet applicable building and fire codes, or an amendment to a previous land use approval that reduces height or floor area or increases the amount of parking or affordable housing.
(d)        The approval of the electorate required by this Section shall take place at the next available previously scheduled state or county election, the next general municipal election or a special election set by the Council, whichever is earlier.
(e)        The City of Aspen shall amend the Land Use Regulations to be consistent with this Home Rule Charter Amendment.

YES
NO

Leave a Comment

Filed under Ballot measures, Ballot Question, charter amendment, Initiative, Petition Drive, politicians

Sammamish, Washington I&R Advisory Vote

Sammamish, Washington will be having an advisory note next Tuesday 4/28/2015 to judge public support for initiative and referendum. An advisory vote is not legally binding but should influence the council. Advisory votes can be called through an advisory petition (read more about advisory petitions here,) or by the legislative body in that jurisdiction. This advisory vote has been called by the Sammamish city council at their February 3, 2015 meeting.

Sammamish is a charter code city under Washington state law, but citizens do not currently have a binding legal means to propose municipal legislation apart from the city council. Harry Shedd a resident of Sammamish has put together a beautiful website explaining the advisory vote, and the initiative and referendum process.

For more information:

Sammamish Review
Ballotpedia page

Arguments in favor

Arguments against

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Ballot measures, Ballot Question, Initiative, Petition Drive, referendum, Support These Campaigns!