Carl DeMaio ends effort…for now:
DeMaio Pledges to Continue Campaign to Reform City Finances
SAN DIEGO – The campaign supporting the “Competition and Transparency in City Contracting” Initiative today announced that after seeking extensive legal counsel it will not pursue a full hand count of all signatures submitted for qualification.
The decision was made after receiving a letter late yesterday from the City Clerk that a full hand count was not legally available to the campaign. This new position was diametrically opposite to the information received in the original letter from the City Clerk earlier in the week. Therefore, at this time, the campaign would be required to take on a large legal battle against the City and the State of California to take any further action. This type of effort, which would end up being costly to the campaign and taxpayers, could still not give certainty to an eventual full counting of the signatures.
“We are fully confident that a full count would qualify this initiative, but given the aggressive legal challenges we would be required to take on and the costs that would be associated to the campaign and the taxpayers we have decided not to take further action,” explained campaign strategist Jennifer Jacobs. “While we were fully prepared to pay for the full hand count, taking on a large legal battle does not move the ball forward for anyone involved, most importantly the taxpayers.”
Jacobs went on to say, “It is extremely disappointing that a fluke in the system has slapped 134,000 voters in the city across the face by not allowing for any type of recourse.”
“Given the anticipated opposition and the cost of the hand count, the campaign should anticipate possibly several hundreds of thousands in legal fees and costs – such that I would advise the campaign to use its financial resources to focus on restarting the process for qualifying a fiscal reform ballot measure for the 2012 cycle,” wrote campaign legal counsel Jim Sutton in a memo outlining the campaign’s legal options and anticipated costs. “It is unfortunate that the law does not allow for the campaign to have a due process for the signatures to be validated in a secondary manner. This allows for a glitch or a fluke in the random sampling process to invalidate 134,000 people’s voter intention. The City Council may want to look in to placing a remedy for future initiatives.”
The campaign contractor managing the signature gathering effort aggressively monitored and checked the validity rate of their signatures every step of the way – and the Registrar’s own random sample resulted in a validity rate of over 79% which is more than enough to qualify the measure. However due to a state law that governs proposed amendments to the city’s charter the signatures were subject to the rules governing a state-wide ballot initiative. The finding of 30 duplicates in the 4200 sample was extrapolated out to disqualify 30,000 in the random sample.
City Councilmember Carl DeMaio, the measure’s chief proponent, supported the campaign’s decision to avoid a costly and protracted legal battle over the verification methodology and the qualification process. He expressed concern that a legal battle would distract from city business and would impose costs on taxpayers as city officials are forced to engage in a legal battle as well as if a special election were triggered.
DeMaio said despite the setback, the campaign to reform city finances would continue in earnest.
“I am appreciative of the thousands of San Diegans who joined our effort to put real fiscal reform on the ballot for a public vote – and I pledge to continue to work every day to reform our city’s finances from inside city government and if necessary through another citizens ballot initiative in 2012,” commented DeMaio.
Eric Christen, Executive Director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, added “We are absolutely ready to re-file the ballot measure and collect signatures to guarantee San Diegans have a chance to vote on reform. As we moved closer to submitting this ballot measure, labor union leaders started talking about a compromise. We are open to that, but are fully prepared to move forward should negotiations not result in progress on managed competition and job-killing measures such as project labor agreements.”