By Donna Westfall – March 24, 2016 – A simple request: how many signatures are needed to place the referendum on the November ballot to repeal the 20% sewer rate increase? This was asked during Public Comment at the March 21st council meeting.
Similar to the simple typo changing four years of rate increases to five years on the ordinance ready to be adopted by our City Council, this request was to verify whether or not we would get accurate information out of City Hall on the number of signers to the referendum.
They heard, “referendum.” They know what a referendum is. I never mentioned an “initiative.” Let’s clarify:
A REFERENDUM allows voters the opportunity to DEMAND that the Crescent City, City Council either RESCIND its approval (of the 20% sewer rate increase) or submit the same to the voters of Crescent City for the adoption or rejection in accordance with state law.
Just in case they didn’t hear me correctly at the council meeting, I sent them an email:
- To reiterate my request at the March 21st council meeting during public comment; how soon can you tell me how many signatures of valid registered voters from the city are needed on the Referendum to place it on the November ballot to repeal the adopted sewer rate increase?
Here’s their first response:
To place a referendum on the November ballot you will need to collect valid voter signatures equal to 5% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. If you wish to go for a special election the number would be 15%. This is based on the Attorney General opinion specifically addressing prop 218 and other provisions of the California Constitution regarding local referendums on certain subjects (taxes, property related fees) stating that there cannot be an imposition of stricter requirements than if there were a state referendum on the same subject.
In the last gubernatorial election in Crescent City there were 812 votes cast for Governor. Therefore, the number of signatures required is 41.
City Clerk, PIO, &
City of Crescent City
Next, I sent her this:
“Are you positive? Because Elections Code 9237 states: If a petition protesting the adoption of an ordinance, and circulated by a person who meets the requirements of Section 102, is submitted to the elections official of the legislative body of the city in his or her office during normal office hours, as posted, within 30 days of the date the adopted ordinance is attested by the city clerk or secretary to the legislative body, and is signed BY NOT LESS THAN 10 PERCENT OF THE VOTERS OF THE CITY ACCORDING TO THE COUNTY ELECTIONS OFFICIAL’S LAST OFFICIAL REPORT OF REGISTRATION.
That’s two strikes against Attorney Martha Rice. First, not catching a simple typo, and second not giving accurate information to our City Clerk. Our city clerk is no longer an elected official. That changed during former City Manager, Gene Palazzo’s reign. Now, it’s an appointed position and I don’t know about you, but having someone elected to a position with the opportunity to recall them if necessary still allows the voter some measure of comfort. Having them appointed and a paid employee of the City subject to being fired means that as long as they are following the dictates of City Hall, they are assured of keeping their job.
I’d rather the City Clerk position was elected rather than appointed.
Can you trust City Hall?
Not when they intentionally give wrong information. And, that’s what I maintain they did right from the get go about the wastewater treatment plant upgrade/expansion in connection with the $43.8 million loan that our City can’t afford to repay.
Let’s get to the initiative: Unlike the referendum that gives the voters the chance to vote out poorly thought out ordinances like another increase to our sewer rates, the initiative addresses new issues.
An initiative puts NEW legislation on the ballot. For example; to rid our City of 44 years of poisoning us with fluoride, we placed an INITIATIVE on the 2012 ballot to put in place a moratorium to turn off the toxic waste fluoride until our supplier could provide critical information like proof that it was safe for all consumers; infants to seniors. Our fluoride supplier never provided the information to this date. The fluoride added to our water was turned off in early 2013 and remains off.
Here’s a question: Can we place an initiative on the ballot to REDUCE salaries 5% a year for the next four years of all City employees? Would that help to balance the budget of our overly expensive wastewater treatment plant and help repay the overly expensive State Revolving Loan approved by an un-elected Water Board and approved by a City Council that didn’t have the good sense to ask critical questions?
And, when critical questions were asked in the subsequent years, a censure was put in place to prevent me from asking any more critical questions.
Here’s another question: Can our City Council renegotiate the contract with independent City Attorney’s Bob Black and Martha Rice to remove their annual up to 5% rate increase?
And another question: Can our City Council replace Black and Rice from remaining the City Attorney’s when they are sloppy about reviewing documents for accuracy and sloppy about giving accurate information like numbers of signatures on a referendum?
Can you trust City Hall?