President's Message (Arlene Ellis)|
National Voter Registration Act
Good to Hear from - Mildred Walston (Mildred Walston)
BEFORE THE CHARTER COMMISSION
We have attended most of the Commission meeting including the Public Hearings. Our remarks today are on the function of the Commission. We note that at the public workshop on 3/7, while the Chair did caution the Commissioners that priority should be given to those issues that they determine should go on the ballot for public response, that is not what seems to be happening. When the question is "all those in favor of limiting the mayor's term raise your hands," we gather that approval is given only when the Commissioners are for the issue.
To the ordinary citizen watching the TV rebroadcast, the way in which most of the questions were posed, it appears that the votes were for the substance of the questions rather than whether they were important enough to be placed on the ballot. This confused the public rather than educates them.
Item #9 on increasing the number of Council seats was approved by 8 Commissioner at the 3/7 meeting, but received only 4 votes last week and was rejected. Immediately afterward, the vote on item #10, in favor of electing at-large members to the Council was passed by 7 votes as opposed to 9 on 3/7. How did the Commissioners arrive at their decisions? Were there discussion held at the Committee meetings that closed to the public -- direct violation of the State's Sunshine law -- and if so, should the public not be given the benefit of some of those discussions before the vote is taken? How can one amendment be approved without the other? It appears to us that both questions must be considered in determining district and at-large representation. If at-large members are substituted for any of the existing 9 districts, how will new districts be determined and by whom? Are the voters being given a fair decision to make?
In the case of the referendum issue, the amendment limits the voter's choice on referendum. Were the different types of referendum thoroughly discussed before they were rejected? We keep expecting to hear a discussion of the issues before final decisions are made -- and we never get it.
In cases of housekeeping or clarification of text amendments, it is certainly proper for the Commission to recommend approval. However, on substantive issues, the appearance of personal preference by each Commissioner is detrimental to the process. We recommend that each Commissioner be asked to put the item on the ballot, rather than to be in favor of it, so that each member may be reminded of the intent of the vote.
We have two questions regarding the Styles Committee. Will they be allowed to decide on the substance as well as the style? And, will there be an organized public review of the amendments after the Committee's draft of the actual questions to be posed to the voter?
BEFORE THE CITY COUNCIL
You all know our position on the fixed guideway system. The League of Women Voters has opposed this project ever since we learned the details from the 1990 AA-DEIS. We have testified before you several times that no route should be put on the DP maps until you have decided once and for all whether to build it or not. Now once again you are being asked to reaffirm a decision you have not yet made, and to change a route that is supposed to be fixed. Once again you are having to worry about how to get somewhere when you don't even know yet, if you want to go there.
We think that rather than discussing how to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, the time has come to take a good look at the fiscal icebergs around you and figure out how to keep the ship from sinking in a sea of red ink.
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