VOTE "NO" on QUESTION #4
The ballot language according to KCMO.org
"Initiative, Referendum and Recall" to require petition circulators to be (1) residents of Kansas City; to require (2) City Attorney review and comment, (3) geographic support and a six month time limit for initiative petitions; and to reflect current law as provided in Ordinance No. 030961, as amended?
These five lines describe the changes that if printed out from the KCMO.org web site take thirteen pages to specifically recount the new restrictions.
NEW RESTRICTIONS TO PETITION PROCESS
Question #4 on the ballot for November 4th provides for several new restrictions to be added to the petition process.
(1) The resident rule will remove the help of those persons who reside in the cities that abut the city limits of Kansas City and may not be included in a city election but whose lives would be impacted by decisions made by the city of Kansas City. Many persons speak of developing regional issues. Involvement in an initiative that will affect the Kansas City Metropolitan area under the resident change will remove feelings of regional citizenship. If the major reason for this change is to stop Clay Chastain then his mother will become the petitioner, as he stands around and talks. Paid petitioners, without Kansas City residency are allowed to come into Kansas City and acquire signatures on state issues. They will still be allowed under this law, only when it is a city election will be prohibited
(2) City Attorney review requires a city official to decide if a proposal has merit in a legal sense. Any negative conclusion on the part of the city attorney will result feelings that an apriori judgments from a city employee, an employee of the entity that has been unresponsive to citizen requests, which is the usual reason for an initiative in the first place. This represents a legal hurdle which will in actuality function as a waste of time, probably resulting in additional court proceedings each time that a petition is presented.
(3) Geographic support requires that signatures be acquired in four of the six councilmatic districts. This will ghettoized those councilmatic districts with lowest voter turnout. Traditionally the lowest registered voter and lowest voter participation area is the east side, a predominate African-American residential area. The perception is that petitions that directly affect east side areas of Kansas City will never acquire the necessary signatures if they will need the signature support of three other districts. This perception further divides the city. This perception coupled with the resident rule further removes hearts and minds from any semblance of regional area development.
(4) There are additional changes in time requirements which will make it harder to file petitions. The time restraints are a separate issue requiring more time than I can devote at present.
(5) Recall requirements state that
"Grounds for recall must relate to and affect the administration of the official's office, and be of a substantial nature directly affecting the rights and interests of the public. Grounds for recall are limited to objective reasons which reasonable people, regardless of their political persuasion, could agree would render any official's performance ineffective, such as acts of misfeasance, the improper performance of some act which may lawfully be done, malfeasance, the commission of some act wholly beyond the official's authority, and nonfeasance, the failure to perform a required duty."
**(b) Grounds for recall.* Predominantly displayed on each page of the recall petition will be a statement of no more than two hundred words stating the grounds upon which the recall is based.
Recall petitions traditionally have been used to remove from office not only those whom the courts have refused to remove as required by law such as in misfeasance or malfeasance cases but also those who for various non publicly stated reasons have become an embarrassment to the electorate. An individuals personal conduct is at present a requirement to keep a public office. The charter changes presented in Question #4 will require incorrect performance of official duties of the office one is elected to as the only criteria for removal. Personal character is usually a criteria for obtaining an office and it should continue to be a criteria for retaining an office. The potential of a recall at present is a constant reminder to elected officials to maintain a semblance of good personal character.
(6) Finally the combination of the four councilmatic districts coupled with the county designation requirement:
"Signatures from one county. *Noted at the top of each page will be the county in which the signers of that page reside and are registered voters. Pages intermixing persons from different counties will have only those signatures from the designated county considered. Pages without a county designation will not be counted."
will require that a petitioner standing at a public location in the City of Kansas City, such as CostCo in midtown will need to have nine petitions if he is to collect signatures from any and all persons who wish to provide a signature at that location. We have six districts that overlap three counties.
(7) The combination of the above changes minus #4 and #5 will accomplish one problematic situation. Rather than have petition gathering occur in the public areas of the city the petition process will exist primarily in those places of the city where organizations of like minded people have prior established organizations. Established organizations have prior knowledge of their membership which will allow ease in organizing the signing of a petition by county, by district and overseen by a resident petitioner.
The petition process will thus be taken from the hands of the general public and placed in the hands of primarily political, religious, and fraternal institutions.
The first amendment of the United States constitution which says that a redress of grievance will exist for all people is the origin of, it is the document, from which our city petition rights have evolved. Petition rights achieve a fine balance for our democratic society allowing even the tiniest voice to be heard. A "NO" vote on Question #4 will allow the City of Kansas City to continue to reflect the very best of our democratic society.
A place where every voice may be heard.
INCORRECT USE OF THE EMERGENCY PROVISION
The voice of the public has already been heard and it stated that no change to the petition process should take place. Virtually the same proposal was part of the charter changes voted on two years ago. The voters rejected the charter change primarily because of the petition changes. The charter change proposal was introduced using the emergency provision at city hall.
Question #4 was also introduced through the use of the emergency clause of the City of Kansas City. This in fact closed all conversation on this proposal. When an emergency is declared in introducing a proposal, the proposal does not move through a committee. There is no public discussion. This removes any possibility of public input or debate about the specifics of the proposal. This is the second time that this proposal has been put to a vote using the emergency provision. Without funds to alert the public of the 13 printed pages of changes, one must work very diligently to get the message out that six lines of ballot language do not sufficiently describe the 13 page proposal. This type of chicanery does not help our society to have an informed electorate. Several people tried to obtain public hearings. I feel that any ballot proposal that is introduced with the emergency provision should be voted down as a matter of course.
Question #4 will provide a restrictive set of unnecessary requirements to one of our forms of free speech. It was introduced to the ballot without the necessary public discussion that takes place in a city council committee attended by the general public. The petition process and public discourse keep our Democracy functioning smoothly. Endorse a "NO" vote on Question #4 to reinforce our present inclusive democratic functioning in the City of Kansas City.