May 7, 2012
Initiatives, Referendums & Referrals, Oh My…..
One of the least used tools at the disposal of the citizens of Oregon is the state’s liberal initiative, referendum, and referral process. It was a system designed as a way for the citizens to have checks and balances over local and state government.
Initiative petitions are filed when an individual or group of individuals want to amend, change or rescind existing law. People can file an initiative petition at any time and the petitioners have up to two years to gather enough qualifying signatures. The criterion of the initiative process allows it to be an offensive tool enabling the initiates to pick the time and place to enact the process.
People use Referendum petitions to approve or reject legislation adopted by the state legislature or the governing body of a city, county, or special district. An ordinance has to be enacted before a referendum can be filled and it has to be done immediately afterwards. The lawmakers created the referendum process as a defensive tool, so people can stop bad legislation at its inception.
The state legislature or a local governing body are the responsible parties for placing a Referral on the ballot, so the voters can decide the question on whether or not to enact an amendment. Politicians can refer to the people when new amendments or ordinances are too controversial for our representatives to deliberate.
There are many times when elected officials make the wrong decisions and the utilization of these tools must become the priority of activists. The Secretary of State’s website www.oregonvotes.org has all the manuals and forms needed to learn and initiate our system of government and the people have no excuse for not taking advantage.
The First Urban Renewal Initiative of the Season
It was very disappointing when the Referendum petition on the Bandon Resolution failed to attain enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. We collected a total of 288 signatures. The County Elections officer accepted 275 and validated only 151 of those signatures and that deficiency caused us to miss the mark by a slim margin of 28 valid signatures of the 179 that were required to put the measure on the ballot.
It was an unusually high percentage of rejected signatures. However, most of them that were rejected came from registered voters who lived just outside of the city limit.
Since it was our first attempt at filing a referendum and because it failed, we will have to revise our strategy on gathering signatures, so we can refine and practice the process. The best way to do that is to file another petition, this time an Initiative Petition.
On May 7, 2012, Mrs. Joan Calhoun and I decided to file an Initiative Petition for the Urban Renewal
Amendment in the city of Bandon. It is the same measure passed by 70% of the voters in Clackamas County
last year. The amendment would force the city’s Urban Renewal Agency to go to the voters anytime the agency
makes any substantial changes to their urban renewal plans, such as increasing the maximum indebtedness, expanding the urban renewal area or extending the length of time the agency’s plan can remain active.
Eventually, our group plans on filing that same initiative for the Coos Bay, North Bend and the Coquille Urban Renewal Agencies.
The Board of Commissioners is working on a similar measure for the county’s Urban Renewal Agency. This would be a Referral by the commissioners if the amendment passes two readings before the board. People need to call the Coos County commissioners and tell them to put the Urban Renewal Amendment on the ballot
and let the voters decide if more debt for private development is more important than hospitals, schools, fire departments, and the community college.
If you would like to volunteer to collect signatures for the Urban Renewal Initiative in Bandon, then
please email your contact information to email@example.com, or to find out more visit our website at www.CoosCountyWatchdog.com. Contact us if you live inside the city limits of Bandon and want to sign the petition, because every signature is another step towards the goal of limiting the power of authority.
“Rob Taylor was the original organizer of the TEA Parties in Coos County and is currently an independent activist working to promote the rights of the individual.”