Nevada: Empty Suits

Thu, May 5 2011 — Source: Las Vegas City Life

Let’s dispense with the obvious right away: Some Boulder City residents say they think most of their city council members, along with the city attorney, are power hungry and care as little for the law as they do for the will of the people.

Citizens in Charge strongly opposes any legislation requiring state legislators in California to wear—whenever speaking to members of the public—a large badge on their chests, which must read in no smaller than 30-point type, “Member of the California Assembly” or “Assemblymember” or “State Senator” or “Member of the California Senate.”

We also disagree with making legislators wear a large badge that reads in no smaller than 30-point type, “Paid Member of the California Assembly” or “Paid State Senator.”

A national petition leader who helped force a mayoral recall vote in Omaha returned to Nebraska on Thursday, as his battle against several of the state’s petition restrictions went to court.

Paul Jacob is taking particular aim at a law that prohibits out-of-state residents like himself from gathering signatures for ballot measures in Nebraska.

A video called “Recall Fever: Stop the Madness” was premiered last week at the National Press Club in Washington by the U.S. Conference of Mayors as part of a “public awareness initiative” to convince folks that recalling their mayor — which citizens are attempting with greater frequency around the nation — is “destructive” and “costly.” 

Destructive? At worst, it’s creative destruction … or destructive creation. Costly? Latent here is the argument that democracy is too expensive and, thus, we’ll have to settle for the incumbent, no matter what.

Last weekend on “The Score” radio show, my colleague Scott Lee interviewed Paul Jacob, president of Citizens in Charge, a group dedicated to “…protecting and expanding the initiative and referendum process.” Paul made an impassioned case for initiative and referendum, but also noted that Virginia, the cradle on American political thought, lacks the process almost entirely.  How could this possibly be?

According to Jon Caldara, initiative rights in Colorado are now dead. As voters, many of us find state-wide citizen initiatives to be wanting, at least if election results matter. Caldara, of the Independence Institute, was a petition proponent for Amendment 63, the health care initiative that appeared on last November`s ballot. That ballot measure failed. Now Caldara is being sued personally for fraud supposedly committed by petition circulators.

“It doesn`t matter if you love or hate my initiative,” says Caldera. State law killing is your initiative rights.

This legislative session there will be yet another attempt to make it harder for citizens to change the Colorado State Constitution by raising the signature requirements to get something on the ballot. Why bother? The petition process in Colorado is already DEAD.
I mean it. Dead. Only a fool with a financial death-wish would try to get ANY initiative on a statewide ballot.

Taxes and spending aren’t dominating just the federal debate. Months after an election marked by tea-party activism and a huge backlash against incumbents, they continue to roil local politics too.

At the end of this month, Jim Suttle, the brash first-term Democratic mayor of this prairie city, will face a recall election financed by backers of the opponent he defeated a year and a half ago. Critics are angry at a series of local-tax increases he instituted last year to balance the city budget.

In regard to the recall signature-gathering process against Mayor Jim Suttle: On election day, I was contacted by longtime friend, Paul Jacob, formerly head of the national term limit movement and fellow initiative and referendum advocate and supporter. He was asked to assess the struggling recall effort which had been utilizing an all-volunteer team of petition circulators.

Supporters of an initiative to ban the use of public money for lobbying or campaigning acknowledge that Alaska regulators were requiring more financial disclosure before supporters withdrew. The main group in support of the initiative did not want to disclose its contributors. Last week, Clean Team Alaska suspended its campaign to get voters to approve the proposed law on the August statewide ballot. The group accused state executives of trying to sink the measure by inappropriately tinkering with the summary language that voters would see.