Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Prescott council says earlier vote on initiative will stand

Whew. The Council took a good look at that big wet cow pie on the floor and decided not to give in to temptation and step in it again. You wouldn't think that sort of decision would take more than a few nanoseconds of debate.

The denials are silly -- of course Mr Lamerson and Ms Suttles were looking for every angle to scuttle the initiative. The attempts to change the rules in the middle of the game were obviously politically motivated. Any fair-minded person can see that once the City gave the initiative seekers a number, that should have been the end of it, whatever the constitutional technicalities involved. Once the City Council accepts the initiative as valid, it's legally binding and the legal challenge will have to be on substance, not signatures. Mr Lamerson knows this too.

The smart way to handle this would have been Mr Lamerson calling up the initiative committee, putting together a meeting and working out with them how to make any necessary changes to guard against constitutional challenge. Better still would be to avoid any talk of a do-over and think in terms of preventing constitutional errors in the future.

This deal is done, whatever you think if the initiative. I'll be voting against it, by the way. I don't like the broadness of its brush, which will likely lead to major unforeseen consequences.

But we have to respect the process, that is much more important than any given vote we make in the short term.


Candace said...

Courier coverage chose not to mention that Councilwoman Lopas stayed away from the meeting and sent in a statement, which Councilman Bell read. Lopas wrote that she shares your sentiments about initiatives and unintended consequences, but believes that people turn to initiatives when they feel strongly that they are not being heard by their elected representatives.

She also notes that in 97 years, no one has contested either the 15% or the 25% requirements as applied; that's why there is no case law. She states that the intent of the law in cases like ours is clearly 15%, and that the opponents to Proposition 400, two years ago, had plenty of lawyers to dispute that initiative, but they never brought up the 15%/25% signature count issue.

Lopas also said she had already voted on this matter a few weeks back, with that vote to accept the 15% total of qualifying signatures, which passed 5 to 2: "It makes me sad that I'm being asked to revisit my vote." She expressed resentment that Rep. Mason had gotten involved. "I will not be forced to vote on it again today," she wrote.

And did the Courier mention that Councilman Luzius asked who the three members were who asked for the special meeting on Monday? This question created an awkward moment on the part of Councilman Bell, who, put on the spot to say whether he was one of the three, fumferred "I don't really recall asking for it."

The request prompted a brush-off from the mayor, who said the requesters were Bell, Lamerson, and Roecker, and then quickly moved on the the rest of Luzius's question: Why today, and not tomorrow during our regularly scheduled meeting? They had wanted it lsat week, Wilson replied, but something about We had to let our lawyers look at the question carefully.

No kidding! (So to speak.) And of course Luzius wasn't satisfied with that response: once into this week, why not wait for the regular Tuesday meeting? That's when Luzius offered the opinion that it really looks like the city is trying to torpedo the initiative.

So I'm thinkin' they came away with at least a little smidge of cowflop on 'em.

Candace said...

[gnash] "LAST week"...