Big Spring Citizens Defend Their Petition Rights, File Suit Against Council Actions in Texas City

Tue, Feb 9 2010

(LAKE RIDGE, VA) – Today, Citizens in Charge Foundation, a transpartisan national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, presented the Concerned Citizens Council of Big Spring, Texas with the February 2010 John Lilburne Award.  The group is being recognized for standing up for the petition rights of all citizens by filing suit against the city council for violating the state open meetings law in an attempt to block the Concerned Citizens Council’s petition.

“When a City Council goes out of its way to hold an unlawful meeting simply to keep citizens from voting on an issue, that’s just plain wrong,” said Citizens in Charge Foundation President Paul Jacob. “If local officials thought they could get away with this unlawful political dodge, they obviously picked on the wrong citizens.”

Members of the Concerned Citizens Council in Big Spring, TX wanted to stop the city from spending millions of dollars on a new swimming pool and then raising taxes to pay for it. The group of citizens submitted a petition to the city council for its approval, or to be placed on the ballot for city voters to decide the issue. The law states that the City Council has 20 days to vote yes or no regarding a petition that is submitted. If the council does not act within those 20 days the measure automatically goes onto the ballot for a vote. In this case the City Council did not act, until the 19th day, when it held an unlawful meeting, voted down the petition, and kept it off the ballot.

At a January meeting, members of the Concerned Citizens Council of Big Spring, Texas, voted to stand up for their rights and legally challenge the unlawful City Council action and sue to get their measure on the ballot.

“It’s great to see the citizens of Big Spring standing up to protect their petition rights from attack,” added Jacob. “The Concerned Citizens Council deserves this award and the recognition. Our basic rights need to be protected.”

Each month, Citizens in Charge Foundation presents the John Lilburne Award to a citizen, or citizens, working to protect and defend the First Amendment petition rights of Americans.  John Lilburne was a 17th Century English pamphleteer, political activist, and champion of individual rights who advocated constitutional government and pioneered the use of petitioning and referenda for redress against government power and abuse. For a complete list of past Lilburne Award winners please click here.

ABOUT CITIZENS IN CHARGE FOUNDATION:
Citizens in Charge Foundation is the only national transpartisan voter rights group dedicated to protecting and expanding the ballot initiative and referendum process. We believe good government starts with the voter. For more information visit us www.CitizensInCharge.org
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