local government

About 15 Queen Anne’s County residents submitted about 2,300 signatures Friday afternoon to the Queen Anne’s County Board of Elections in an effort to send the county’s recently passed big box ordinance to a referendum in the 2012 General Election.

“We believe we are submitting 2,347 valid signatures against a requirement of about 1,600,” Jim Campbell said Friday in the lobby of the Board of Elections.

In a sharp blow to Mayor Mike McGinn — whose opposition to a tunnel through downtown became a centerpiece of his administration — Seattle voters gave a resounding “yes” to building the biggest deep-bore tunnel ever constructed to carry cars swiftly past the central city.

The nearly 60% yes vote on a referendum clears the way for groundbreaking on the $1.9-billion tunnel, part of a $3.1-billion project to get rid of the earthquake-prone, two-level viaduct that many see as an eyesore along the scenic waterfront.

A Pittsburgh City Council bill to put a referendum on the November ballot to ban natural gas drilling may wind up being a meaningless political gesture ”” as well as illegal.

Council approved the bill with a veto-proof 6-3 majority on Monday, over the objections of the city’s Law Department. The bill would let residents vote on amending the city charter to ban drilling as part of a “community bill of rights.”

City lawyers have said in a memo that the charter amendment would be “invalid and unenforceable” because it conflicts with state laws that allow gas production and could lead to residents and businesses suing the city for lost royalties if they’re prevented from leasing gas drilling rights on their properties.

Those were the words of Shannon Thomason of the Big Spring, TX Concerned CitizensNews 9 Council. Trevor Ford and I traveled to Big Spring this week to find out why the city council went so far as to violate Texas public meeting law to hold an emergency meeting to prevent a tax rollback from making the citywide ballot.

Here at Citizens in Charge Foundation, we encourage people to petition their government about whatever concerns them. We’ve found that people have a wide variety of concerns to petition about. One example is a Lafayette, IN petition to allow urban chicken farming.

While the petition is unofficial, over 200 residents have signed in favor of allowing chickens in the city. We’re not sure how the city council will eventually rule, but we’re always glad to see people petition their government.

The Lakeport city council has voted to sent the issue of allowing fireworks in the city to a vote. Residents supporting fireworks in the city collected nearly 700 signatures on a petition to bring the vote.

Read the story from the Lake County News

Residents of Medford Lakes, NJ are pushing ahead with plans to recall the borough mayor. The recall effort comes in response to consideration of a plan to eliminate the local police force. Recall supporters need to collect the signatures of about 750 registered voters to trigger a recall election.

Read the story from the Medford Sun

Supporters of an effort to put the town’s $139 million school budget to a referendum failed to gain enough signatures. Supporters gained 1,225 of the 1,833 signatures needed to trigger a referendum.

Read the story from the Connecticut Post

After a vote in the Miami-Dade Commission that would have put a half-cent transportation surtax to a vote of the people failed, one commissioner said he plans to run a petition drive to put the measure on the ballot through the initiative process. Signatures of 4% of the county’s registered voters, about 48,000, would be needed to put the matter on the ballot.

Read the story from Miami Today

From Joe Matthews at the Blockbuster Democracy Blog:

A ballot initiative aimed at blocking city ownership of a proposed $500 million hotel narrowly failed Saturday. Another measure that would have forced a vote on decisions to give over $1million in taxpayer money to private developers failed as well.

Read the story from the Dallas Morning News

Supporters of a campaign to reduce the size of the Toledo City Council from 12 members to 9 have launched a petition drive to put the matter before voters this September. The group needs to collect signatures of 10 percent of the voters who voted in the 2007 council election, 4,600 signatures, to qualify for the ballot.

Read the story from the Toledo Free Press

The Fremont City Council has voted 5-1 to appeal a judges ruling that an immigration initiative does qualify for the ballot. The measure aims to curtail the hiring and renting of housing to illegal immigrants. The measure had enough petition signatures to qualify for the ballot, but city leaders claim the city doesn’t have the power to enact the law.

Read the story from the Omaha World-Herald

Fargo, ND city commissioners approved a ballot measure that would raise the city’s sales tax by a half-cent to 7%. The money would go to flood protection measures. Citizens will vote on the measure in a June 30 special election.

Read the story from the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead

The California Supreme Court declared that the city of Salinas did not violate the law in its campaign against a tax-cutting measure. City Measure O, which failed after the city launched a campaign against it in 2002, would have cut the city’s utility tax by almost $8 million. Supporters of that measure fear that this decision will lead to more taxpayer-funded campaigning.

Read the story from the Californian