Staff’s blog

The powers that be at the Genesee County Parks Department don’t seem to be familiar with the freedom of speech guaranteed under the First Amendment. Fortunately for Michiganders, the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is.

Undemocratic New York City?

Mon, Jul 18 2011 by Staff

Progressive columnist Randy Shaw recently offered New York City as an example of the protections that come from a healthy process of initiative and referendum (emphasis mine):

Maryland citizens have the ability to collect signatures and force a statewide referendum vote on laws passed by the legislature. However, for nearly three decades no campaign has ever been able to collect enough to make it to the ballot. Online petition signatures helped change that:

Last week, Del. Neil C. Parrott and others won a key victory in their campaign to repeal a new law allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges. Elections officials announced that the opponents had enough signatures to suspend the law and put it to a statewide vote next year.

Our very own Paul Jacob talked with the Columbia Daily Tribune while he was in Missouri earlier this week about a transpartisan effort to protect the will of the voters in the state:

Some of you may have heard recently that California made the decision to tax online referrals from companies to As you might expect, Amazon and other online companies were none too pleased with the new development and have begun work to bring the issue to voters:

Robin FarrisRobin Farris had never been involved in politics before, but that changed when the retired Naval Officer saw news reports of wrongdoing and impropriety from the office of Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam. Dismayed and disgusted, Farris decided to start an effort to recall Washam, only to find that Washam’s fellow politicos in the state legislature had already been at work making sure that citizens had a hard time using the recall process.

(LAKE RIDGE, VA) – Today, Citizens in Charge Foundation, a national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, presented New York State Senator Joseph Robach with the July 2011 John Lilburne Award for sponsoring legislation this year in the New York Senate to create a citizen initiative & referendum process in the state.

It may be a stretch to connect petition rights and space travel, but today is the final flight of a space shuttle and liftoff is in about a half hour. If you’re interested in watching live you can do so here.

There is also a petition online to continue space shuttle flights until the next space vehicle is ready. If you’re interested you can sign here.


America is 235 years old today, and Citizens in Charge President Paul Jacob talks about the 4th of July in today’s Common Sense:

Some 235 years ago we made a clean break from the corrupt Old World of Europe. Fifty-six men risked it all to proclaim in the Declaration of Independence that:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ”” That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed… .

In keeping with state law, the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office will be holding a series of publichearings throughout the state regarding initiatives scheduled to be on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

According to the Daily Journal:

Pamela Weaver, spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office, says statements from all nine hearings will be available online at the secretary of state’s website and will be published in an educational booklet.

(LAKE RIDGE, VA) – Citizens in Charge, a national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, today called on Californians to contact their legislators and demand they defeat legislation that would require people who gather petition signatures on citizen-initiated ballot measures to wear large signs or “badges” on their chest.

“The people of California face many problems,” said Citizens in Charge President Paul Jacob. “But perhaps the most serious is having a majority of legislators with the arrogance to actually force citizens to wear a sign on their chest when petitioning to put an initiative on the ballot.”

The Washington Post has an article today about a teenager in the Washington town of Longview who is, like many citizens across the country, sick of red-light cameras in his town. Though he’s not even old enough to vote, he’s discovered that the citizen initiative process can be a powerful tool:

Red TapeNevada Governor Brian Sandoval has signed Assembly Bills 81 and 82, and Senate Bill 133 into law, making several important changes to the petition process both good and bad.

San Francisco has one of the more unique initiatives in the works, a ban on male circumcision. We’ve talked about it before on our blog and our newswire here, and it seems the initiative is now facing a bit of blowback: