I love the education I'm getting from blogging. Yesterday I strongly suggested here that the City of Portland put up for an immediate vote the so-called "clean money" proposal to have local political campaigns paid for by taxpayers. That got me to thinking, What would it take for a petition drive to force such a referendum?
Which in turn got me into the City Charter, Section 2.04.090(E) of which reads as follows:
E. A referendum petition shall:
1. Be filed with the Auditor for signature verification no later than 30 days after passage of the ordinance sought to be referred, however, it must be submitted to the Auditor at least four months before an election date in order to be placed on the ballot for that election. The four months submission requirement may be waived if the Auditor can complete the signature verification process and meet the counties’ elections filing deadlines, and the provisions of Section 2.04.130 B. are satisfied.
2. Be signed by a number of legal voters equal to or greater than 6 percent of the number of electors registered in the city on the date of the primary municipal election immediately preceding the date the prospective petition is filed, except that a petition signed by 2,000 registered voters shall be sufficient to call a referendum upon any franchise ordinance.
So we need to know "the number of electors registered in the city on the date of the primary municipal election immediately preceding the date the prospective petition." Let's assume the date of the petition were May 15, 2005. The primary election immediately preceding that date would be, what? May 18, 2004, I presume?
According to the city elections bureau, there were 296,565 registered voters in Portland on that date. Six percent of that is 17,794.
Could opponents of "clean money" get enough signatures to satisfy this requirement? I would think so. As best I can tell, however, the next primary would be May 16, 2006, which might allow one round of "clean money" to be inflicted on the voters, even against their will.
I have no doubt that if asked, the voters will reject the proposed system, on numerous grounds. As they say in chess, Check.