Monday, December 22, 2014

Choices Made By Charter Commission Allow Interference From Monkey Wrenches

December 17th, as previously noted, a meeting of the Charter Commission was held. Two sections of the charter were discussion. The first was Section 5 of the charter dealing with recall. The second part of the meeting dealt with initiatives and referendums. Here is a link to the videos of the meeting.


Section 5 of the charter was discussed from 0:00 through 1:41:33. Section 14 of the charter was discussed from about 1:41:33 through 2:41:22.


Many people may not know the difference between an “Initiative” and a “referendum”. It seems many of the members of the charter commission did not either.

An initiative adds something; in this case, an initiative adds an ordinance. A referendum effectively takes something away, and in this case it would be the repeal of an ordinance. For the most part, pretty simple actions.

An initiative or referendum requires a petition signed by 10% of the qualified voters. In Richardson that would be somewhere around 6000-7000 voters. That is a fairly high hurdle.

If a person were collecting signature, at say the library, and there were a constant flow of registers votes, and if it took 5 minutes to explain the petition and get the person to sign, a person could gather as many as roughly 7000 signature in about 110 days. That would be a lot of effort for one person to do, but it is possible.

If a person (say someone like me) wanted to throw a monkey wrench into the works, why gather 10% of the registered voters signatures, when instead, I would need to only gather about 3500 signatures and force a charter election instead?

Amending the charter is far easier than trying to make a change by ordinance. Most anything that can be done by ordinance could also be done with a charter amendment.

That is the way I would do it.

Amending the charter can only be done every 730 days. Initiative can be done every day of the year. If someone wanted to disrupt the charter commission’s work, which is set to be voted upon in Nov. 2015, all they would have to do is gather about 3500 signatures and force a charter election.

So what is the point here? I would say the point would be that when it comes to initiative and referendums, the charter commission should chart a new course and reduce the requirement for a valid petition to 5% rather than the 10%.

Anyone with any sense who would want to change something with regard to an ordinance, could most easily do it with a charter amendment instead.

No comments:

Post a Comment