Monday, June 26, 2006

Drive to shrink city council gains steam

A couple have emailed me asking about this proposal, not sure what to think.
Drive to shrink city council gains steamFirefighters, city GOP want council cut to size

A referendum drive to cut the size of Pittsburgh City Council from nine members to five may have unprecedented momentum, council members and their foes agree.
First, I love democracy and I think we need to use it or loose it. We need to flex those community muscles and that means we should be putting three to six referendum questions onto the ballot every election for the next few years. So, I like the use of referendums a great deal.

I also love the concept of ballot access. This means that questions should be put to the public and made available for a general vote without a lot of undo hardships in terms of signatures of voters.

So, direct, honest candidates and questions should get onto the ballot with reason. As many know, this isn't the case now. Statewide candidates get onto a ballot with 2,000 signatures while nearly 100,000 are needed for those who are NOT with the old party label, D and R. That has to be changed.

We don't even allow for citizen led ballot questions in PA. The 'growing greener' vote of May, 2005, for example, was put onto the ballot by the Governor and blessed by the legislature. We, as citizens, should have the right to put up ballot questions too. In the city, there is that possibility.

So, let's vote. Let's have the discussion. Let's get the question on the ballot.

But, I don't like that these questions are HATCHED behind closed doors and are no put out into the open before they are put onto various petitions. The wording of the changes for the city charter need to be "sanctioned" in a much better way. I'm not sure we are putting forth the very best questions for general vote.

I know that the 'row-office reduction' and debate was centered around a very bad question. The question that went to the voters was much weaker than what I would have done. I bucked for individual questions for each row office, YES - or - NO, rather than the package deal that was crunched into one question.

Before I get into the ins and outs of if council should be dropped from 9 to 5, I want to see who is calling and giving out black petitions? Where are they Joe King and Bob Hillen? Will this be another fruitless exercise? There isn't a good track record of getting signatures. And, are we going to be spinning our wheels again?

The deadline is August 8. Why is this just getting media coverage now? Did I miss something back in April, May, and June?

I drove past a firehouse today and almost pulled over to walk to the folks there and ask these same questions. Where are the black petitions? Can I get some? Let's go!

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