Petition Update

 

Monday (June 27, 2016) Bloomington City Council rejected your petition for Charter Amendment to bring Organized Collection to the ballot despite its sufficiency and the fact that we had surpassed the minimum number of signature requirement as mandated by City Charter (our constitution) - disregarding your voice.

 

Our city councilmen think getting re-elected last November was confirmation that they have the majority behind them. They say they have more e-mails and phone calls from the folks who want them to take over Trash Collection for all of us.

 

Well we don’t believe it. Getting re-elected in a low turnout year is not an indication of majority support for Organized Collection.

 

All we ever wanted was to bring this to the ballot for everyone to vote. All we want is for this City Council to uphold the City Charter and listen to its residents, listen to you.

 

Why is City Council so afraid to let you vote? If they are so confident that they are on the right side of the issue and the majority is behind them then let us vote on it. Let us see where the true majority is.

 

Let us do this the democratic way. Let us vote.

 

It is not over. We are reviewing our next steps. We will keep you all posted.

 

 

Show Up! Stand Up! Attend the Council Meeting on Monday, June 27, 2016

Just a few days ago the people of the UK showed the world that they wanted to again enjoy self-rule. It was a huge step and simply reflects the nature of the times. We are living in a time of political turmoil where politicians and the political class think they are entitled to dictate every measure of your life. They think they are smarter than you, that you just don't get it, or because some outside group and/or lobbyist helped to convince them that there are reasons to go against the will of the people. The UK showed us that the voice of the people is alive and well. The problem is that the political class doesn't get it. They still think they can make an unpopular decision, ram it down our throats, and expect to get reelected next time around.

 

The times are a changing.

 

The UK showed how it's supposed to be done. The people wanted a vote and remarkably those in power gave the people the ability to be heard. That's a pretty novel idea, especially here in Bloomington where the mayor, council, city manager, and city attorney have done everything they can to shut you and I (also known as we the people or the majority) up. All we've ever asked for is to give the people a voice on a matter where pretty much everyone is affected. You all know Bloomington's story which has been disappointing thus far.

With your help we recently submitted our charter amendment petition. It will be recognized as sufficient by the city on Monday, June 27th. Immediately after they recognize it, the mayor, council, city attorney, and city manager are planning on throwing it out. They are planning on using stale arguments of no real merit and will even probably try to claim they are doing what is right. They had to stretch to twist their interpretation of the law into something that fits their desire to keep us silent. That is a boatload of hog wash. They've disregarded the voice of the people at every step of the process. It started by not having a question on the city survey, followed by not including citizens on the OCOC committee, then by having the public hearing on graduation night, and ultimately by going against public input that was solidly against organized collection. Ultimately they've even lied (you recall the propaganda about organized collection being safer, we'd have better roads, etc.). Their propaganda was all published after they had the memo from the public works director which essentially said that there are no measurable benefits to organized collection only potentially perceived benefits.

 

This is likely the last time the city will have a vote on the process and the city has planned it so that you can't speak up by placing the item at time where public input is not allowed.

 

We the people are tired of not being heard. We will be at the council meeting and we hope you are too. We need to show up and stand up for the rights granted to us by our charter. We humbly ask that you come out and show your support at Monday's meeting (June 27th). Bring your signs, t-shirts, etc. We're not encouraging any civil disobedience, but we do believe a packed house can speak volumes!

How disingenuous

 

Some of you recently received City of Bloomington 2016 survey which was followed by a press release with the heading: “City of Bloomington Seeks Resident Opinion,” dated May 31, 2016.

 

If you haven't seen it yet, it is supposedly designed to provide a baseline measure of how the city government is serving its residents. The idea is to gauge perceptions of the city and make comparisons with peer cities.

 

What's the point? Are we supposed to believe that the city actually cares about "Resident Opinion?" The city has systematically fought us tooth and nail to prevent us from expressing our opinions at the ballot box on the issue of Organized Collection.

 

It began with the public comment period, and was followed by countless emails and letters from residents. These were ignored. Next, thousands of citizens spoke out by signing a ballot initiative. The people of Bloomington were pleading to be heard. This was met by lawyers and untold numbers of taxpayer-funded hours to keep us quiet.

 

In the face of overwhelming public opposition, the city forged ahead and changed the City Charter to put the Organized Collection scheme in motion. The people cried out in a referendum petition, pleading the city to listen to their voices. This fell on deaf ears.

 

We delivered a Charter Amendment petition on May 18th, again signed by thousands of residents demanding to be heard. The Charter Commission is planning to meet on June 9th to review our petition. But the City Council's response? Publish an announcement in Bloomington Briefing that government-run garbage collection is on track and will begin this fall.

 

It seems their minds are already made up. If the City of Bloomington truly cared about "Resident Opinion," why would it go to such great lengths to silence it? Our demand from the very beginning has been to express our wishes at the ballot box. We simply desire the freedom to choose whether we want Organized Collection or not.

 

Here we are, on the heels of a lawsuit brought by citizens for the very purpose of being heard. In my mailbox is the city's request for my opinion. Am I to believe that someone will actually listen this time?

 

Will this City Council ever hear its residents? Or for that matter adhere to the Charter by which it is supposed to govern?

 

 

 

On April 25th, 2016 Judge Moore indicated in his ruling that if we wish to re-define the powers of the council, we are free to seek amendment of the charter. We took this to heart and worked hard to complete our charter amendment petition. Because of your help we submitted the petition Wednesday, May 18th, 2016. The petition was submitted to the charter commission secretary along with the city clerk. Our petition consisted of 285 pages and contained more than 2,500 signatures. This is 45% more signatures than the 1,730 needed for sufficiency.

 

The charter amendment process is detailed by statute 410.12 and is fairly prescriptive as to the requirements and the process. The charter commission now must meet to recognize receipt of the petition. Because of the statute we believe the city has very little wiggle room on this, but given recent experience our expectations are guarded. We generally believe the city will continue to try to exclude citizen input if at all possible. We also believe that in doing so they face potential legal/ethical issues not to mention the continued disenfranchisement of the thousands of petitioners who have signed the various petitions and the majority of others that support our right to have a voice in the process.

 

With the charter amendment petition we passed an interesting milestone - we have collected more signatures with our petitions than the mayor received votes in the last election.

 

We are prepared to continue the fight and escalate as necessary.

 

Thanks for your continued support and stay tuned!

 

The city won the battle, but it may have cost them the war.

 

The ruling on our lawsuit came in late on Monday (4/25/16). The city is claiming victory (and truth be told the judge ruled against our code initiative petition), but we believe they are doing a premature victory dance. The ruling is a huge win for the citizens! It is a win for the citizens because the basis of the city's argument was that we had no ability to petition the city on this matter. The judge said otherwise.

 

The judge stated "If Plaintiffs wish to re-define the powers of the city council, they are free to seek amendment of the charter." Or in other words, we have the right and the ability to petition the city (see ruling under Petition Update on our website).

Our mistake is that we chose the wrong vehicle for submission. We're not lawyers or policy experts. We're just a group of citizens that want to make sure all citizens have the ability to have their voice heard. We accept and understand that means more work for us, but it is necessary. We are resolved and will do what is necessary to see this process through to its conclusion.

 

What does that mean? It means charter amendment. It probably means further litigation. It means further disappointment in the mayor, city council, city manager, and city attorney. They all could be working to include citizen input, but instead they continue to disenfranchise the voters. They should accept that we have a form of government that is supposed to embrace citizen input instead of trying to squelch it. The city has the power to bring this to a city wide vote, but instead they continue to use any and all means necessary (and a lot of our tax money) to attempt to keep us silent, because they seem to think they know better than each of us. The reality is your/mine/our opinion is just as valid or at least it should be on this issue. The mayor and council are supposed to be 'of the citizens' not 'above the citizens.'

Their statement on the ruling appears to be foolish since they again are saying organized collection is now moving forward. According to their plans we're already supposed to be living under organized collection so we're not sure we'd be so confident if we were them.

 

The city also has problems with the other propaganda cited in their memo. They continue to lie about the supposed benefits (you know the standard boiler plate part about the roads, pollution, etc). In July, 2014 the Public Works Director essentially refuted each of the purported benefits (see memo under FAQ on our website). Either the Public Works Director was wrong or the city is intentionally lying about the benefits (we've seen no updates to the Public Works Director's review).

Where does this leave us? Again, we are compelled to reiterate how this is a huge win for the citizens! We have a little more work to do. We have to collect a few more signatures and then based on the city's previous actions we probably have to fight the good fight in the courts, unless of course, the city chooses to listen to the people and bring this to referendum for us to vote and to save us all a lot of time and money.

 

We need your help. If you haven't signed any of our petitions or know someone else that hasn't let us know ASAP. If in doubt we can confirm if you have signed the appropriate petition.

 

Download the judgement summary

 

It should be noted we stopped collecting signatures after we reached the minimum required.

 

On January 15th - we met with the city clerk to review and turn in our petition. The clerk did a cursory review of the forms and we also discussed the charter requirements pertaining to the petition. The clerk indicated that the forms looked good and based on the count (approximately 1400) it generally looked good. The clerk indicated that if there were any issues specifically pertaining to not attaching copies of the amended ordinance to each and every petition sheet (which amounted to printing and attaching approximately 700 double sided pages) or with not notarizing each sheet it would be noted as an insufficiency and would be correctable in the 30 day window after we were notified of the insufficiency. It should be noted that we did have copies of the amended ordinance with every petition as we were circulating them. It should also be noted that the clerk attempted to contact someone in the attorney's office, but no one was around.

 

On January 20th - the city clerk provided a response to the petitions and determined that we had 1258 verifiable petitioners which exceeded the number required to have a referendum on the amended ordinance and noted insufficiencies for not attaching a copy of the amended ordinance to every petition sheet and for not notarizing every sheet.

 

On January 25th - we received word that the city attorney overruled the opinion of the city clerk and instituted her own opinion which indicated that we essentially had no ability to correct any insufficiency.

 

On February 12th - we submitted additional documentation to meet the insufficiency in support of the REFERENDUM PETITION proposing the repeal of ordinance 2015-45 directing the implementation of organized solid waste collection in the city of Bloomington.This submission is made pursuant to the Bloomington City Charter Section 5.06 providing that, after the finding of insufficiency, “The committee then has 30 days to obtain and file additional signature papers and to correct the petition.”

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