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Letters: Referendum process in grave jeopardy

Original post made on Apr 11, 2008

Dear Editor,

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 11, 2008, 12:00 AM

Comments (15)

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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2008 at 5:01 pm

Bill, you're spot on about "voters will return the favor in November when the mayor and some of the others come up for reelection."

Will be interesting to see how much in campaign contributions Hosterman and Councilmember Sullivan will be getting from James Tong, Marty Inderbitzen, and the Lins for their re-election campaigns.

Methinks it's not gonna help 'em. Let's replace 'em both in November!

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Posted by get it right!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2008 at 8:05 pm

Again, misinformation. The judge ruled that the petitioners would have to carry whatever portion of the ancillary material that would illuminate the ordinance. That would not have been close to the purported 141bs.

I think it was a clear message that petitioners had to have available material that informed the voters since most did not follow the four years of discussion and read the stack of information.

This only endangers those who want to short cut the system. This was not precedent setting, but direction on what this judge believes is needed. It will only make the council more careful when creating ordinances and the petitioners more careful when promoting a referendum.

Isn't that what we want?

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Posted by got it right
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2008 at 10:29 pm

How is anybody supposed to know what to carry based on what the judge said? It would be subjective.

It is amazing how much discussion there is on just putting this before the voters. The discussions make it sound like this information is misleading on a vote but the signatures are to just put it on the ballot. If the ballot arguments were inacurate we should be concerned but to just put it on the ballot, jeez. Why are the supporters of this development so afraid to put this issue before the voters? It does not sound like they are confident that the voters will approve it.

I was not sure about this project before but after seeing what the developers, and those council members who voted on the project, are trying to do to prevent me from voting on it, I am compelled to vote against the project (if I am given the chance). They have given me great reason to distruct them. I guess if we do not have this opportunity, our only fallback is to vote out those who did not want the voters to be able to vote on this. Their attitude is arrogant!

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Posted by Diane
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 11, 2008 at 11:27 pm

Whether you agree with the Council's decision on Oak Grove or not, we as a community, should absolutely be questioning their actions about the referendum. Council should be supportive of the referendum process! Council members first were arrogant in telling us not to sign and then turn their back on this lawsuit. I, for one, will remember when November comes!

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Posted by trailblazer
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 12, 2008 at 7:14 am

I'll remember in November, too, and will vote in support of those who voted FOR Oak Grove. Great deal for the community, IMHO. See you out on the new trails!

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 12, 2008 at 9:51 am

Get it right,

Well voters like you are a prime example of why such things should not be put on a ballot, if you really would vote against the project based upon your opinion of the property owners rather than the merits or demerits of the project itself.

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 12, 2008 at 9:52 am

Get it right, I meant got it right... Up with representative democracy, down with direct democracy!

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Posted by Shelley
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 12, 2008 at 9:56 am

voting is not something done based on emotion. "I am compelled to vote against the project" means the vote is not based on any logical reasoning about what the plan actually will do, but because the voter *feels* betrayed by our city council. Voting on emotion and not the facts threatens the integrity of democracy.

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Posted by Jerry
a resident of Oak Hill
on Apr 12, 2008 at 2:59 pm

One should be careful when lecturing about democrary from one side of their mouth and not allowing someone to vote based on "opinions of others/emotion" out the other side. From my understanding of the Bill Of Rights one can use any standard they chose when casting a vote, including "great reason to distrust them" for whatever reason the voter may chose. If "opinions of others", whom ever "others" might include, was used as a disqualifier a huge percentage of the population might not be eligible to cast a vote.

Don't we often use peoples "actions" in forming "opinions of others" in our daily lives..........Wouldn't that be called "Human nature"....

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 12, 2008 at 4:19 pm

The people who wrote the Bill of Rights were concerned with protecting the rights of the minority. That's why the Constitution was framed without a process to allow citizens to vote directly on laws. (The original version of the Constitution also restricted voting to property owners, essentially people with a tangible vested interest in the country!) It's true, the writers of the Bill of Rights didn't want uneducated, uninterested, or vindictive people voting and making laws against a minority. Got it right would have voted against the Founding Fathers! Besides, Jerry, you seem to be ignoring the idea that voting on a law is fundamentally different from voting for a representative. One is a function of direct democracy, the other of representative democracy.

The title of this letter is "Referendum process in grave jeopardy". The title of my response is "Fair elections and minority rights in grave jeopardy".

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Posted by frank
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 12, 2008 at 5:36 pm

The Oak Grove ordinance in question contains very clearly the following text:

Section 2. Approves Case PUD-33, the application of James Tong, Charter Properties, for Planned Unit Development (PUD) development plan approval to create 51 homes.....

California Code 9238 specifies:

(b) Each section of the referendum petition shall contain (1) the
identifying number or title, and (2) the text of the ordinance or the
portion of the ordinance that is the subject of the referendum.
The petition sections shall be designed in the same form as
specified in Section 9020.

It seems pretty clear that the development plan is "the portion of the ordinance that is the subject of the referendum." The referendum people carried the text but not the subject. It is also pretty clear what the intent of the legislature was when this code was written, that is, to make available the relevant information. In this case it was the subject of the referendum.

Numerous, nearly identical cases have appeared over the last decade and courts have found referenda and initiatives were
good-to-go when they "substantially complied" with 9238. Since the Oak Grove referendum included NO portions of the development plan, it could not even meet this case law standard of "substantially complies".

The referendum process is certainly not AT RISK because of this case. Referendum petitioners failed to read the law, interpret it, and to interpret it in view of well known case law. They simplistically accepted what the city attorney gave them. Now they blame him for their shortcomings.

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 12, 2008 at 8:10 pm

Jerry, thinking more about this... Let me first say that I agree with you regarding the idea that a person can use any standard they choose when voting. I don't think I was very clear in my last response to you. I wasn't trying to disqualify anyone's vote. I was trying to use Got it right's post as an example of why putting laws to a vote, why direct democracy, is inherently unfair to a minority (think "no taxation without representation"). Personally, I use my opinion of the initiative and referendum process to decide generally to vote no against such things. So I submit myself also as an example of why the process is bad. My vote is certainly not fair to the people who put the proposed law on the ballot!

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Posted by minority
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2008 at 12:17 pm

Stacey, you are saying that this processs if unfair to the minority but on other posts you and frank state that the 5000 signatures are a minority faction. Sounds contradictory. You think we should not pay any attention to the 5000 signatures because they only represent a minority of the population but then state that you want to preserve the rights of the minority.

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 13, 2008 at 1:55 pm


Are you the same person who wrote in another thread, "only 32% of the voters voted for the mayor so the mayor has a minority opinion also"? Comparing apples and oranges again, eh? Preservation of minority rights is key in our representative democracy. That's why the Lins sued. Their right to a fair election was being trampled. You're the one making the assumption that 4200 validated signers have their rights being trampled, not I.

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Posted by frank
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 13, 2008 at 8:09 pm

Yes, minority is probably mj's sister in the other post. They pop up in new posts with their same positions but never rebut the counter-arguments against their position that are raised in the old posts.

Like where the 4200 validated signature do not equate to votes cast in an election where voters vote in privacy, and where the vote is cast on a single day, and is not solicited by "sellers" over a 30 day period in places like farmer's markets and supermarket storefronts.

And minority wants us to buy the argument that minority rights are somehow equated, not with voters, but with petition signers who woke up that morning thinking only they were going to buy turnips at the farmer's market that day.

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