Tag Archives: term limits

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.

 

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

Dispersed Power or Central Authority

Term limits is one of the most divisive political issues in existence. People love term limits or they hate term limits.

On one side we have supporters of term limits. They want citizen legislators, accountable officials, responsive government, and power dispersed into the hands of many to avoid authoritarian government. This is the citizenry, the general populace, republicans, democrats, greens, libertarians, about 75%-80% of everyday people support term limits.

On the other side of this divisive issue we have those who oppose term limits. They want aggressive legislators who know the system, legislators who answer to them, government that gives them advantages, and more time for their people in office. This is the elected few, the lobbyists, the two party establishment, a minority of about 15% who directly benefit from controlling legislation and tax dollars.

To be sure, there are some crossovers, citizens who oppose term limits and officials who support term limits. But between these two sides division is clear. People who want power dispersed, and people who want more time (always more time) in control.

The establishment opposes term limits by talking about voter choice and elections, they downplay the incumbent advantage and political machines. They claim every election people choose to keep electing the same candidates because they really love those candidates. In Kennesaw, Georgia we can see a typical example.

From the Marietta Daily Journal:

Kennesaw Councilwoman Cris Eaton-Welsh said Thursday she won’t run for re-election, but she has three policy changes she wants to see before leaving at the end of the year.“My philosophy has always been that we’re never meant to be career politicians. That’s kind of what the country was founded on was part-time legislators. You’re supposed to come in, accomplish your job and groom someone else or encourage someone else and then move on,” Eaton-Welsh said.

Eaton-Welsh brought her proposal to Mayor Mark Mathews and the other council members Wednesday evening at a work session and received pushback from Mathews.

“You don’t think the voters already control that by leaving us in or taking us out of office?” Mathews asked Eaton-Welsh.

Eaton-Welsh said because incumbents are heavily favored in elections, “I really don’t think that they do.”

Mathews responded: “Wow.”

Mayor Mathews may be a great guy, but if he’s being honest and doesn’t think incumbents are heavily favored he’s out of touch with reality.

Term limits is very divisive, and it’s also very lopsided, voters support term limits by huge margins. If only politicians were in it for the people rather than the power.

 

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Filed under Ballot Question, charter amendment, pension, politicians, Term limits

Warren Michigan Term Limits, When the Mayor Won’t Let Go

The mayor in Warren Michigan, is trying to do an end run around voter approved term limits.

From Deadline Detroit:

This story begins in December 2014, in the political slumber between the Christmas and New Year holidays, when Warren City Attorney David Griem issued a dubious legal opinion. He claimed claimed a city charter amendment approved by voters in the 1990s, which limits officials to 12 years in an office (three 4-year terms),  is not what the electorate thought it was.

Their logic: At large council seats are different offices than ward council seats and the term limit clock counts separately if you were elected at large or in a ward.

Let’s look at the relevant section of the Warren city charter.

First council and mayor:

Sec. 4.1 – City officers. (a)The elective officers shall be the mayor, the seven council members, the clerk, and treasurer.

Sec. 5.1 – The city council.(a) The council shall consist of seven members, one of whom shall be the mayor pro-tem. There shall be five council districts and one at-large district established in the city. One member shall be elected from each of the five (5) council districts and two members shall be elected at-large. Each candidate for a city council district shall be a resident of the council district he or she seeks to represent. A city council member’s office is vacated if the member moves his or her residence outside of the council district that the member represents.

 

Next term limits:

Sec. 4.3 – Certain persons ineligible for city office. (d) A person shall not be eligible to hold the office of mayor, city council, city clerk or city treasurer for more than the greater of three (3) complete terms or twelve (12) years in that particular office. This provision shall be applied to commence with the term of office that took effect after the election on November 7, 1995.

Area reporter Chad Selwiski has done a great story on this issue, he writes:

Griem, a formerly prominent criminal defense attorney, claims that the city council operates as a bicameral legislature, similar to the distinct House and Senate chambers in Congress.

Yet, the council never meets or votes in separate sessions based on district council members vs. at-large council members.

“The words (bicameral legislature) are just not there,” the suit claims. “(The charter) repeatedly refers to a single office of city council, and there is nothing – nothing — in the charter to indicate the contrary.”

Read more here.

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Filed under Ballot measures, Ballot Question, charter amendment, Michigan Term Limits, politicians, Term limits

Many Good Ideas

Former libertarian party candidate for governor of Virgina Robert Sarvis suggested a list of citizen friendly solutions to our two party system’s lock on political power.

Instant runoff voting

Easier ballot access and equal treatment in ballot order

Non-partisan redistricting reform

Term limits

Larger representative bodies

Inclusive debates

 

 

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Filed under politicians, Term limits, transparency

They Want It All Money and Power

It’s the season. In many places those jokers who won the popularity contests last election day are up to no good.

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A “Citizens Commission” in Arkansans has just raised legislator pay by more than double. It seems as though the last 30 days of public comment was a sham.

The commission has received dozens of emails objecting to the pay raises, including criticism that the move would create a full-time Legislature and that the pay hikes dwarf the cost-of-living raises that state employees receive.

“I don’t know how the commission can ignore that,” said Commissioner Stuart Hill, who also voted against the raises.

Vice Chairman Chuck Banks said he didn’t believe the commission was ignoring the public reaction to the raises.

“I personally am quite proud we were able to get focused, get on it and do like the citizens expected us to do, and get up here and get the job done and go home,” Banks said.

 

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Buckeye residents are being fed a line of bull about how they really need career politicians.

 

Mainers can watch as their poster-boy career politician tries to increase his pay and extend his time in office.

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Other places where politician pay raises have happened or are in the works:

“The Utah Legislature passed a bill that would pay the state’s top executive $150,000 a year, a nearly 37 percent increase.”

“OLYMPIA, Wash. – Members of the Washington state Legislature may receive an 11% raise over the next few years. The governor is looking at a 4% raise”

Wyoming, “Senate File 116 would increase legislative pay from $150 per day to $175 per day. The raise would be the first for legislators since 2005.”

 

 

South Dakota voted down a raise. “SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO AM) – The Senate Local Government Committee today defeated a bill tying legislator’s pay to across-the-board increases to state employee’s salaries.”

 

 

 

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Filed under Arkansas Term Limits, politicians

Power Over The Politicians

The SCOTUS recently heard arguments to overturn Proposition 106. “Proposition 106 amended the Arizona Constitution to create an independent redistricting commission to re-draw the state’s legislative and congressional district lines after every census.” The law is being challenged by the Arizona legislature. The legislature argues their power to gerrymander districts is protected by Article I, Section 4 of the federal Constitution, which reads, in part: “The times, places and manner of holding elections for … Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof.” Will the court uphold the right of citizens to legislate through the initiative process?

In 1995 the SCOTUS ruled citizens couldn’t term limit their state’s congressional delegation (U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton). The decision invalidated Congressional term limits provisions of 23 states.

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Filed under Ballot measures, Term limits

Top 7 Election Manipulations of 2014

Election manipulation is a problem. It happens when elected government officials manipulate citizens by using their power to trick voters at the ballot box or preventing a ballot question from reaching voters. It happens more often than you would think, bond proposals placed on special low turnout election dates, deceptive ballot language, or undercutting citizens when they attempt to place initiatives on the ballot. Here are the top voter manipulations of 2014.

 

7. California’s AG shut down an initiative with biased ballot language.

California’s Attorney General used political power to stop a petition drive before it started. Mayor Chuck Reed of San Jose proposed a statewide amendment to allow changes to future pensions in California. The AG wrote language naming the most popular state workers (teachers, nurses, peace officers) and suggesting their retirement security would be compromised. Voters never had the chance to decide this issue.

 

6. Election to increase road taxes scheduled for the worst month for potholes.

Michigan voters were justifiably angry last spring when it became obvious the legislators had neglected one of their core duties, funding road repair. All year the legislature avoided the issue, promising to find a resolution after the November election. Late in the session a senate proposal for $1.2 billion in new taxes was pitted against a revenue neutral ($0 new taxes) house proposal. Elected officials then avoided the issue by proposing a constitutional amendment for a $1.7 billion tax increase. They chose to have a special election will be in early May, during Michigan pothole season.

 

5. Change the law to undermine petition gatherers.

Petitioners in Michigan gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures to change the state minimum wage law. However, as they neared the deadline to submit the signatures politicians passed a lesser minimum wage increase. When the legislators passed their increase they changed the law and negated all the petition signatures that had been gathered. This was not an example of legislators passing a law to compromise. The legislature went out of its way to prevent a vote on increasing the minimum wage, most likely to avoid higher democrat voter turn-out in November.

 

4. Lie on the ballot.

Phoenix voters voted against something that was never proposed. The issue? The city council wrote ballot language that lied to voters, the section of interest “prohibit City contributions to any other retirement plan, including deferred compensation plans, post-employment benefit plans and the police officer and firefighter retirement system.” The initiative did not affect police or fire employees (the pension programs for police and fire are covered under state law not touchable by city initiative).  At the ballot box voters were mislead to believe they were protecting public safety employees but they were instead protecting the city council’s ability to continue promising benefits without paying.

 

3. Cheat voters through legal loopholes.

After legislators passed a law allowing wolf hunting the HSUS (Human Society of the United States) petitioned to call a vote using the Michigan’s referendum process. Rather than back down, legislators passed another law to allowing wolf hunting, again the HSUS stepped in and gathered signatures using Michigan’s referendum process. Yet a third time the legislature passed yet another law to allow wolf hunting, but this time they included a spending provision to preclude another referendum petition. In November Michigan voted against wolf hunting (twice) but wolf hunting goes forward due to this voter deception.

 

2. Politicized courts block initiative.

Illinois courts stopped voters from voting on term limits. In 1994 petitioners in Illinois gathered signatures to place term limits on the ballot. Courts at that time decided the proposed law was only structural and must be structural and procedural due to this clause in the state constitution “Amendments shall be limited to structural and procedural subjects contained in Article IV.” This year an amendment was proposed that included structural and procedural changes. The courts this year changed their justification and simply shot down the measure as “unconstitutional.”

 

1. Trojan Horse, hide something people don’t want in something they like.

Arkansas legislators tricked voters on term limits and pay increase. Arkansas legislators are allowed to put three legislative referrals on the ballot every 2 years. Historically this has worked to limit legislative attempts to push through too many constitutional changes each election cycle. However, in a move to trick voters in to passing an unpopular term limit extension and avoid asking voters for a pay increase politicians rolled thirteen amendments to the state constitution into one ballot question. This twenty-two page proposal labeled “ethics reform” gave lip service to popular issues like banning gifts from lobbyists, stopping legislators becoming lobbyists, and a commission to set pay for elected officials. The last phrase of a long ballot title (written by the politicians) “establishing term limits for members of the General Assembly” was obviously intended to deceive voters. Arkansas had 6 and 8 year term limits, this amendment more than doubled those limits to 16 years. Pay raises will now be approved by a commission appointed by the people getting the raises. Voters were duped and approved this measure 52%-48%.

 

 

 

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Filed under Arkansas Term Limits, Ballot measures, Michigan Term Limits, Uncategorized

Leading the Charge for Term Limits

Michigan native and Liberty Initiative Fund Field Director Scott Tillman and his father Jeff are leading a grassroots effort in the Wolverine State to keep legislative term limits as they currently exist.  He has created an organization called Citizen Cavalry to bring attention to the efforts of outgoing State Senate majority leader Randy -486c9a655825d994Richardville, who is making the weakening of term limits one of his priorities of the lame duck session.

Tillman is touring the state with a 10-foot wooden horse, adorned with banners bringing attention to Richardville’s efforts.  The legislative term limits were approved by voters on a 1992 ballot measure, which amended the state’s constitution.

“It takes a big horse to scare away lame ducks.” Scott Tillman said of the horse. “We don’t want professional politicians, we want citizen legislators.”

Tillman has already found support in a Lansing area lawyer, Gregory Schmid.

“Long-term power breeds corruption,” Schmid said. “We want smart people to be in the legislature and to be experienced in government, but not entrenched. We’re trying to stamp out longtime fiefdoms.”

Read more from: Michigan Live

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by | November 21, 2014 · 9:05 pm

Add 22 Pages to Arkansas Constitution?

ISSUE 3 KILLS TERM LIMITS, HIKES POLS’ PAY!!!

Have YOU Read It?

While you’re reading this story, thousands of Arkansas voters are being cheated, robbed of their right to vote – at least, to vote without their votes being counted against them.

Issue 3 on the Arkansas ballot kills and guts the term limits law voters enacted by citizen initiative in 1992 and supported again in even higher numbers ten years ago.

TrojanHorseTermLimits

Now comes Issue 3 to weaken the current House limit of 6 years to a whopping 16 years! Senators now limited to 8 years would be able to stay in power for 16 years as well. SIXTEEN YEARS? That’s no limit!

WORST OF ALL? The ballot wording doesn’t tell voters this simple fact. If it did, as the politicians who devised this dirty trick well know, Issue 3 would go down in flames.

Instead of informing voters that the amendment lengthens the limits, the ballot wording actually lies to voters, telling them that the measure is “setting term limits.”

Here is what voters will read on their ballot about Issue 3:

AN AMENDMENT REGULATING
CONTRIBUTIONS TO CANDIDATES FOR
STATE OR LOCAL OFFICE, BARRING GIFTS
FROM LOBBYISTS TO CERTAIN STATE
OFFICIALS, PROVIDING FOR SETTING
SALARIES OF CERTAIN STATE OFFICIALS,
AND SETTING TERM LIMITS FOR MEMBERS
OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

The first part of the ballot wording is about contributions because Issue 3 outlaws corporate contributions. Not mentioned is the fact the U.S. Supreme Court has already said that provision is unconstitutional.

The second part says it will bar gifts from lobbyists to certain state officials. But this watered down provision will continue to allow plenty of gifts to legislators, including all-expense paid travel junkets from the biggest, richest lobbyists and special interests.

The third part of the ballot wording says the measure “provides for setting salaries.” Care to know how it “provides” for those salaries? Issue 3 sets up an “independent citizens commission” to set salaries. Elected? No. They’re appointed. By whom? By the very same politicians behind Issue 3.  So much for “independence”!

Issue 3 allows a group of cronies appointed by legislative leaders to hike the pay of legislators and other elected officials. How high, you ask? Well, there is no limit. The pay raise could be $25,000 or $50,000 or $100,000.

What can citizens do about that? If Issue 3 passes, NOTHING. This crony commission has absolutely no check on their power to set salaries – and to set them as high as they wish.

Last, but not least, is the ballot wording’s FLAT-OUT FALSEHOOD about “setting term limits.” Issue 3 is a world record for lies and deceptions – even for politicians!

THE PEOPLE ARE ARKANSAS ARE BEING DECEIVED AND DEFRAUDED.

Virtually no one – including the media – has read the entire 22-page, more than 7,500-word longest constitutional amendment in Arkansas history and knows what’s in it. And there has been a nearly total news blackout about its numerous provisions, with little if any reporting about the UNLIMITED PAY RAISE in Issue 3 or the DESTRUCTION of TERM LIMITS.

Already about a third of registered voters in Arkansas have cast their ballots in early voting completely unaware that the “tough-on-politicians” sounding Issue 3 is a lie written by politicians to destroy their term limits and snatch a big fat pay raise.

If you live in Arkansas, please warn your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. And do it NOW. If you know people in Arkansas, please call them or email them a link to this story. Don’t let the politicians and special interests steal their vote.

READ ALL 22 PAGES POLITICIANS ARE ATTEMPTING TO JAM INTO YOUR STATE CONSTITUTION (the gutting of term limits is on Page 16):

Issue 3 – Longest Amendment in AR History

 

 

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by | October 30, 2014 · 7:50 pm

Term Limits coming to Your Neighborhood?

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Michigan has  made a short video highlighting the grassroots efforts of dedicated individuals to establish municipal term limits in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Visit the Mackinac Center’s website: http://www.mackinac.org/

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