Staff’s blog

On Monday, October 10, 2011 Citizens in Charge Foundation (our partner organization) will join with Californians from all over the state to celebrate the 100th Anniversary Celebration of California’s Initiative & Referendum Process. The event is free and open to the public, but RSVP to is required for registration.

From On September 16, the Ninth Circuit ruled 9-2 that cities may not criminalize the act of standing on a public sidewalk to solicit “employment, business, or contributions from an occupant of any motor vehicle.” The case is Comite de Jornaleros de Redondo Beach v City of Redondo Beach, 06-55750. Although this is not directly related to petitioning (because petitioners never expect anyone driving a car to pull over to the curb, get out of the car, and sign a petition), the decision illustrates the protection that the First Amendment gives to anyone who uses a public sidewalk for First Amendment activity.

Officials in Redmond, Washington are determined to have their state live up to its recent designation as a “battleground state” in the fight against red light cameras.

The city is refusing to send petitions on to King county officials despite a state law requiring them to do so. According to the mayor:

We’ve been advised by our attorney that the subject of this petition is not subject to initiative. Therefore, there’s no state law compelling us to do anything with the signatures.

Zocalo Public Square is hosting an even tomorrow (Wednesday Sept. 21) at 7 pm at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. Participants will be discussing the question; “How Do We Put The People Back In the Initiative Process?” The event is free, but reservations are recommended. You can reserve a seat here.

No YesA San Francisco federal judge decided today to release video recordings of last year’s trial over the constitutionality of California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Two same-sex couples, along with a coalition of news organizations, asked for the release of the videos, saying there is no reason to keep them secret.

Judge James Ware did leave open the possibility that a higer court could overturn his ruling, and won’t release the videos until September 30th.

A KOB4 News report reveals that all but $50 supporting a measuer on the Albuquerque ballot came from Redflex, the camera maker who stands to profit if the measure passes. City politicians are defending the company’s actions, while civil rights supporters say the company shouldn’t be taking money from citizens. Retired police sergent Paul Heh asks:

Why do we even have these when we pay police officers to do the same job and your rights aren’t violated?

As supporters of petition rights call on Gov. Jerry Brown to veto another attack on Californians’ initiative and referendum rights, anti-voter legislators hope that three is a charm.

Citizens in Charge President Paul Jacob tells the story in his weekly column at

Pete Peterson of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy was spot on in his blasting of Democrat California Legislators’ systematic attempts to protect their majority control by smashing the state’s initiative, referendum and recall process.

TrippiRecently the ShowMe Progress blog caught up with long-time political strategist and former Howard Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi to talk about the Your Vote Counts Act. For BlueGirl:

It comes down to a simple question. Do we trust the voters to do the right thing in the light of day or does the General Assembly hold all of the marbles?

With his veto of SB 448, California Governor Jerry Brown has rejected the state Legislature’s attempt to restrict citizen petitions for the second time in just over a month. Responding to the bill’s draconian requirement that petition circulators wear a badge while talking to voters, the Governor asked:

If it is acceptable to force paid signature gatherers to place identifying badges on their chests, will similar requirements soon be placed on paid campaign workers?

Clearly, Brown saw the absurdity of the badge proposal:

Supporters of initiative rights in California and beyond maintain hope that Gov. Jerry Brown will veto backwards legislation that would force any Californian petitioning her or his government to wear a large badge on their chest, a requirement dubbed a “Yellow Star Law.”

As we’ve reported, the badges required by SB 448 would display information about whether a petition circulator is paid or not: anti-initiative legislators hope that voters will be unlikely to sign petitions when they know the person collecting them is being paid to do so. Less measures on the ballot means less choice for voters, and in turn more power for legislators and the special interests that influence them.

(Lake Ridge, VA) – Paul Jacob, president of Citizens in Charge, a national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, applauded yesterday’s federal court ruling striking down Nebraska’s restriction on non-resident petition circulators in the case Citizens in Charge v. Gale.

As state Democrat Party leaders push yet again to restrict California voters’ access to their state ballot, a new poll finds the public wary of legislative action. According to the L.A. Times:

A June poll conducted by good-government groups found that although voters support bids for more transparency in the initiative process…they strongly oppose those that would give the Legislature more power.

State Sen. Doug LaMalfa has introduced legislation to honor the upcoming 100th anniversary of the state’s initiative and referendum process, saying [emphasis mine]:

The initiative process allows people to circumvent a legislature that is often ineffective, cumbersome and has many priorities that do not reflect the will of the people. In its 100 years, direct democracy has been a game-changer in California politics.

Red Light Cam

After a judge fined camera maker American Traffic Solutions $10,000 for bringing a frivolous lawsuit aimed at a suppressing voters in Bellingham, some state elected officials are speaking out. State Rep. Christopher Hurst, a former police officer who says the camera revenue has become “crack cocaine” for cities, told the Seattle Times: