The Petition That Refuses To Die

by lewwaters

PetitionExtending Portland, Oregon’s financially beleaguered light rail line into Vancouver and Clark County Washington has been and remains a very contentious matter. Even though every single vote perceived to provide funding for part of the project has been easily defeated at the ballot box, even within the confines of a gerrymandered sub-district thought to give the project an edge for approval, voters have not been given a vote on the project itself and proponents forge ahead with plans and spending tax dollars in planning for it.

It is now known, thanks to an Oregon Supreme Court ruling on another matter, that the only reason Oregon agreed to a new bridge was to force us to accept their overly expensive and failing folly of light rail.

Hence we hear words like “no light rail, no bridge,” “deal with it, its coming” and as we always hear from the overbearing left, “the debate is over.”

To that end citizens in Vancouver, Washington and Clark County have rallied together, speaking against the project at city council meetings, C-TRAN Board Meetings, County Commissioner Meetings and collecting as much information showing the futility and costly expenses associated with light rail that we in Clark County simply cannot afford.

One such effort was a petition to be placed on the ballot in the Vancouver City Limits began by citizen activist Larry Patella, Bill Turlay (before he was elected to the city council) and 5 other citizens that if passed by a majority of citizen votes, would have prevented the city of Vancouver from budgeting any funds to be used on light rail.

Needless to say, proponents of light rail, both elected officials and non-elected promoters who stand to profit in some way from it opposed the petition and erected roadblocks to it getting on the ballot, ridiculed the effort, scoffed at people supporting the petition and complained that verifying signatures, required by law with any petition, would cost the city and county precious money, even though they have no problem squandering our taxes elsewhere.

The petition was initially rejected in April 2012 due to many signatures appearing from citizens not living within the city limits of Vancouver, Washington. Petitioners were given a short time to gather more signatures and gathered more than enough in the allotted time. The petition was turned in with hopes for it to appear on the November 2012 ballot.

The petition then sat somewhere for 7 months, until after the November election had passed and citizens promoting the petition began questioning what happened to it.

Initially ruled valid in early January 2013, mysteriously the very same day, word come out that sorry, it is invalid after all due to some 94 questionable signatures, duplicate signatures apparently invalidating those signatures.

Not setting well with citizens, questions began being asked, state law and city codes began being scoured over and we began speaking out against this usurpation of our rights by city officials.

The local mouthpiece for the project, the Columbian ran a derogatory post titled Light-rail petitioner can’t seem to accept defeat where we read city council is told by city attorney Ted Gathe, “if an amended petition is found to have an insufficient number of signatures, no further action will be taken on the petition.”

Asked by city council member Larry Smith whether or not petitioners can appeal, Gathe jokingly, we are led to believe replied, “They can always sue the county auditor’s office,”

As I wrote then, this whole matter stunk to high heaven, from the way it languished somewhere for 7 months to the “discovery” of 94 questionable signatures the very same day after the petition was deemed valid.

Lo and behold, due to the diligence of citizens, a lawsuit just might be what is needed as it was discovered that the Washington Supreme Court ruled on a case back in 1977, SUDDUTH v. CHAPMAN that states that in the case of duplicate signatures, the first signature must be counted and not disqualified along with any subsequent duplicate signatures.

Cathie Garber, Clark County assistant election supervisor says that if the Sudduth v. Chapman ruling pertains to this petition and the ruling invalidating the petition is changed, “it would add 603 valid signers to the petition. There would be a total of 6,043 valid signatures,” far more than the 5,472 valid signature requirement.

The Columbian’s Stephanie Rice in a post informs us of “a state law governing the city petition process that says if a person signs a petition multiple times, all of the signatures are invalid.”

Sudduth v. Chapman seems to have ruled a different law unconstitutional, saying now that if a “person signs multiple times, the first signature is valid and the other ones are invalidated.” But, at least one signature is verified and counted as the 1977 court said, “The initiative and referendum provisions of the constitution are to be liberally construed to protect the citizens’ constitutional rights.”

A letter has been submitted to the State Attorney General for more clarification and an opinion regarding whether the city code invalidating all signatures in duplication or the Sudduth v. Chapman ruling applies.

Much to the chagrin of those promoting this project and forcing us to accept and pay for Portland’s light rail into our community, citizens voices will be heard.

We are tired of elected officials seeing themselves as our rulers, dictating what we may or may not do and forcing us to fund their pet projects we state time and again we do not want.

As Mark Twain once famously said, “the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

That just may very well apply to this effort to force elected rulers to heed the voices of voters.

See also a post by Larry Patella at Reality Clark County, More CRC Games Exposed

5 Comments to “The Petition That Refuses To Die”

  1. Well, one of Stephanie’s many problems is that she’s a flat out liar, and ignorant. Unknown, but unlikely, that her ignorance is anything BUT deliberate and she’s merely toeing Brancaccio’s “keep them in the dark and feed them BS” editorial policy on all things related to the CRC.

    The democratian has repeatedly shown itself capable of lying, exaggerating, and failing to report the story… like they’ve never printed a word about the indictment from the Oregon Supreme Court.

    The paper has known about that decision for a year. It’s a fascinating read that lay bare the real reasons for the I-5 Bridge replacement, which has nothing to do with congestion, safety, earthquakes or any other bogus reason the pro-CRC/looters/tollers have been ramming down our throats.

    Lying (or “misreporting” the facts) is mere child’s play for a sellout like Rice, who can rarely be found in the same building with an inconvenient truth. Thus, her nonsense in this article, while typically false, lacks any effort on their part to discover the truth; even though, in this instance, they can’t use the “lack of a paper trail” dodge they hid behind as they engaged in their cover-up of the House democrats and Jim Jacks’ alcohol-fueled molestation of female staff in Olympia.

    It’s a shame that our community is saddled with this joke of a newspaper and this disgrace to journalism.

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  2. Well in defence of Stephanie Rice it takes intelligence to investigate beyond the surface. It requires effort to actually go hunt down and read or maybe better yet it requires the literate skill to do so. That is probably the issue so therefore reporting on the spoon fed responses from Gathe and the council are quite possibly the only options available to her! 🙂

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  3. Getting back to the origin of this post. I love how this came all together. And for whomever got the Sudduth vs Chapman reference. I got them or several of them, some serious attagirl – attaboys! 🙂 I love it when people do some thing called “research…”

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  4. It seems only reasonable that the first signature should be held as valid. It’s easy for someone to mistakenly sign several duplicate petitions over a period of weeks or months without any ill intent. The court got this one right – now why can’t the city?

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  5. It is all so clear now, and understandable. Those signatures would be covered under Washington Petition rules and not Oregon’s Initiative rules, so naturally the supporters of the Light Rail project would assume that Oregon code covers an Oregon project here in Vancouver.

    Well alrighty then, No problem, what was I thinking. Now all they have to do is to get Portland to annex Vancouver, and voila problem solved, right!

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