The Springfield City Council has placed three proposed Charter Amendments on the August 7th ballot. These three amendments make significant changes in how city officials are elected and to how citizens of Springfield bring issues before the Council and voters using the initiative petition process. In all three cases, the proposed amendments favor city government over the interests of the citizens of Springfield. United for Missouri recommends a NO vote on all three amendments.
Charter Amendment 2012-1 seeks to eliminate the primary election that takes place at the February election. The reasons behind the elimination of the primary appear to be the fact that it will save the city money and it’s very cold time of year for seniors to come out and vote.
The primary election was put into place in the city charter after elections in the late 70’s and 80’s where elected by less than a majority of Springfield voters. A charter commission recommended that the charter be changed to establish the primary election in February and the top two candidates would move on to the April election where one would receive a majority of the votes cast. This system has worked well for the citizens of Springfield.
The state has eliminated the February election except for bond issues. However, as a home-rule charter city, Springfield could still conduct their primary election in February. As an alternative, they could conduct the primary in April and the city general election in August. In many cases, this might actually save the money the city says they are trying to save and give better weather for residents to participate. The current proposal should be defeated and the City should come back with one that retains the primary setup established long ago and that has been working so well. United for Missouri joins with the Citizen Rights Coalition in recommending a NO vote on this proposal.
Charter Amendment 2012-2 is a very onerous amendment. Among the numerous changes it makes to the initiative process, seven in all – from how initiative petitions are started to how long citizens have to collect signatures – it actually changes the fact that initiatives can now include issues that add cost to city government operations. The current charter provisions do not allow initiatives to contain costs driven issues.
The proposed charter amendment for initiative petitions adds bureaucratic hurdles and would discourage citizen efforts to change their city government through the initiative process. It would insulate City government from citizen involvement and reform proposals. United for Missouri joins with the Citizen Rights Coalition in recommending a NO vote on this proposal.
Charter Amendment 2012-3 is in my opinion the most onerous proposition of the three. The current requirement for initiative petitions is to collect a number of signatures equal to 10% of those voting in the last mayoral election. The City Council believes that 10% is too low. In reality, 10% is a lot of signatures to gather. The City Council wants to penalize citizen activists by making the signature requirement even harder – and you aren’t going to like the way they are wanting to do it!
The City Council proposes to change the number of signatures required to be 7% instead of the current 10%. So you say, “well that’s better!” It’s not. The want it to be 7% of REGISTERED voters and represents a 300% increase in the number of signatures required to be gathered by citizens.
That’s bad enough but when you realize that REGISTERED voters include people who no longer live in the city either because they have moved or are DEAD – then you know that your signature is being diluted and the City Council is devaluing your participation! You might say that all you have to do is clean-up the voter registration role. Believe me, Richard Struckoff is doing all he can to do that but the federal laws and regulations do not allow simple, common sense clean-up of voter roles.
You can watch what your fellow citizens have to say about these amendment by clicking here.
All in all out the citizens of Springfield should reject all the proposed charter amendments. They do not solve the problems they are said to solve. They do give the City Government more control and power. That’s the wrong direction!