From the Coalition for Good Governance in Orange County:
We had a fantastic victory last November as a result of your hard work and participation, but we still have work to do regarding the weaknesses in the Orange County Charter.
We currently have a venue in which to advocate for more change because the commission to review the Orange County Charter has convened. This commission is known as the Charter Review Commission (CRC). There are many changes we could propose and support but we think the most important and productive at this time is the citizen petition process.
Our goal is to get PETITION PROCESS REFORM on the 2016 Ballot.
On Thursday March 12, the CRC met for the second time, and a few of our friends attended. Some notes from that meeting are below; but none of these items were discussed at any length in this meeting:
The commission voted to retain Wade Vose as legal counsel, as recommended by the Legal Counsel Working Committee. Interestingly, Commission chairman Shaughnessy argued against Vose. Instead he supported Gray Robinson (who was the very close second place choice of the Legal Counsel Working Committee). In fact at least 2 of the 3 Mayoral appointees did not support Vose as counsel. Because of a motion set forth by Eddie Fernandez, Gray Robinson will be retained in the future IF there are conflicts or if their expertise is needed.
CRC members had the opportunity to set forth possible areas of focus. Fred Brummer informally mentioned several including limiting the frequency of CRCs from every 4 years to every 20 years, increase the number of districts, streamline the tax collectors office into county government, change the petition process to make every signature carry the same weight across the districts, and limit petition language to 75 words. Shaughnessy also spoke of the need to have clear, legal initiative language. One other member put forth a couple inconsequential items.
The CRC will be meeting again in April:
When: April 9th 2015 at 4:00PM
Where: Orange County Administration Building
201 South Rosalind Avenue
Please, if able, attend this meeting and subsequent meetings. We want to continue the discussion of reforming the petition process so Orange County businesses and citizenry are protected from the influences of out-of-town special interest agendas and funds.
We need to appear and/or speak to the Commission about the need to reform the petition process. Our initial task is to urge the commission to form sub-committees to review the current problems with the petition process.
Our strategy is as follows:
Attend the CRC meeting on April 9th and possibly subsequent meetings — we need to ATTEND these meetings to show presence and interest.
JUST BEING THERE IS GREAT AND THERE IS NO OBLIGATION TO ADDRESS THE COMMISSION.
There will be some who do speak to the commission and elaborate on the citizen petition pitfalls, and explain why the petition process needs reform.
Highlight why Petition Process Reform is necessary
· Charter’s wording of the petition process is vague and unclear.
· During the Paid Sick Leave Petitioning, we saw confusion over missed deadlines, misleading petition language, and multi-issue questions.
· Unfair representation across the districts of the county. Some districts were purposely ignored by the last two petitioning campaigns.
· Lack of transparency in the process. During last two petitioning campaigns, professional petitioners were hired by front groups funded through shadowy means by outside special interest groups.
· Potentially support recommendations proposed by SOE Bill Cowles. (We will attend his presentation to the CRC; we’ll announce the date of his appearance when scheduled.)
Encourage CRC to study Petition Process
· Highlight the idea that the CRC is the proper vehicle for addressing Petition Process Reform.
· Describe how the current petition process generates mob rule; we live in a republic, not a pure democracy.
· The Charter is the Constitution of Orange County.
· The Charter is a procedural document, not intended to dictate policy.
· There is a national trend to use Charter to push an agenda driven by special interests.
Thank you, Linda O’Keefe