This week's LOW comes from long time resident and frequent city council critic Barbara McAusland who seconds our recent Boot to the council's proposed time limit on initiative petitions. Thanks for the letter Barbara, you're entitled to a $25 gift certificate courtesy of Dinner's Ready for your contribution to this week's Mailbag.
Infrastructure First would like to award the Glass Slipper to The Source for telling it like it is in "The Boot" August 28. The only incorrect statement in your article was in reporting the number of signatures handed in to the City on July 24. The real number was 6,343, not 5,100, and it will reach 8,000 by the time we are done. This number is one and a half times the specified number of signatures (15% of the electorate registered at the date of our application) required by law. We need to offset the State's draconian penalties in their random sampling method for checking the accuracy of signatures. We have surmounted the obstacles of bad weather, holidays, and the restriction of gathering signatures only in public places (to some of which we have been denied access) unless the business owners grant us permission. The Source acknowledged the fact that the huge number of signatures required is tough work for volunteer circulators. Moreover, added to these hardships, the State changed the petition form without informing the County of City clerks. The result was a changeover, a stop work notice, and an affidavit to be signed months after the fact by 18 circulators. If circulators give incorrect information there are severe penalties. Aren't these restrictions enough without the limitation of the time period for signature collection proposed by the Council? This kind of piddling detail is typical of the activities the councilors busy themselves with instead of solving important problems like the impact of poorly managed growth. The Council should have done its homework. Our initiative is not a "nutty" idea. Nor is it capricious or frivolous if that is what the councilor means by "nutty." It is a sensible, major undertaking to improve the quality of life in our community. The initiative is legal, well thought out, and the result of careful research. The signatures attest to the fact that voters are thinking. What is "nutty," i.e., not rational, is that councilors should be so afraid of Infrastructure First that they should seek to curtail our work by putting a time limit on signature gathering. How could any councilor be against improving life in Bend? Growth paying for itself and good planning: that is what Infrastructure First means. In coming City Council elections this issue could be the elephant in the room.
Barbara I. McAusland,
Editor's note: The author is a petitioner for Infrastructure First and a founder of Friends of Bend.