Thursday, February 23, 2006

Golf Course Referendum testimony by Ken Paulson

I filed a referendum on the Chambers Bay Golf Course ordinance (2005-50s) in Sept. 2005 within the time limit set by the County Charter. It is filed with the Auditor. According to the County Charter, Section 5.70, ". the filing officer shall confer with the petitioner to review the proposal as to form and style within 5 days excluding weekends and holidays." The Charter goes on to say, " . the filing officer shall give the referendum proposal a number ..then transmit a copy of the proposal to the Prosecuting Attorney, who within 10 days after receipt thereof shall formulate a concise statement, posed as a positive question, not to exceed twenty words, which shall express and give a true and impartial statement of the measure being referred. Such a statement will be the ballot title."

After filing the referendum, I called the Auditor's office and asked for the number and was told a prosecutor was sending me a letter. I then called the prosecutor and was told "this and that" of why this referendum won't happen. I asked for WAC and RCW. A copy of the letter I received from the prosecutor's office was given to the Charter Review Committee on 2/16/06.

As a point of interest, no WAC or RCW were listed in the letter as to why this referendum proposal would not happen. I honestly don't understand. If I had the opportunity to ask some questions and get real answers, the following would be some of the questions I would ask:

1. To me it's a no-brainer. The Auditor has to give the referendum proposal a "number".

a. What excuse does the Auditor have for this not happening?
b. Can anybody in government tell the Auditor not give the referendum proposal a "number"?
c. The Auditor had 5 days to assign a number. Is the Auditor office so busy that the function of picking out a number be that time consuming that it could not happen?

2. Concerning the Prosecutor: a. Section 5.60 of the Charter says "A referendum may be ordered on any ordinance, or section thereof, passed by the Council, except such ordinances as may be necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety, or support of the County government and its existing public institutions." If the County Council saw that ordinance falling within one of these, it would have had an emergency clause in the ordinance.

Only in initiatives does the prosecutor have to "review the legal aspects of the proposal". The Charter does not say that for a referendum. If a prosecutor should come to the next Charter meeting and explains why this did not happen, I have no idea what substance they could say. By the way, I was shopping this last Saturday and ran into a Pierce County Councilman and mentioned this issue again to him. His comment was that was a "raw deal" about the referendum not being able to happen.

Can anybody in government tell the Prosecutor to not give the referendum proposal a ballot title"? This has been just so far out of line that I don't know if someone could come up with enough double talk in front of the Charter Committee to make this issue go away. The County Council has the police to enforce county ordinances. The public has no one to enforce the County Charter.

Oh yes, there is a way . a citizen could spend big bucks of their own personal money and sue the county who has a boat full of lawyers to defend it and all of our tax dollars to support their agenda.

Ken Paulson

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