Archive for May 31st, 2011
Back in 2009, the Colorado legislature decided they had had it with citizen oversight. They passed HB09-1326, which, among other things:
- People who successfully challenge the validity of signatures in court could sue sponsors of the measure to recover attorney’s fee.
- Circulators who collect more than 100 signatures are required to go through a government-sponsored training procedure before they are allowed to collect additional signatures legally
Most damagingly, people can sue for attorneys’ fees even if they don’t invalidate enough signatures to get the measure disqualified, and they can hold sponsors of the initiative personally liable for these damages. Jon Caldara, the victim of such a lawsuit, has argued that these rules, and the risk they entail, constitute such a high bar to participation in the process that they effectively kill it.
Comes “Great Education Colorado Action is the political arm of Great Education Colorado, a group that urges more spending on education,” (gee, I wonder where their funding comes from?), and a ballot measure to “temporarily” raise state sales and income taxes to pay for education. (For the moment, let’s skip over the merits of the measure, except to note that money is fungible, and anyone who thinks this money is going to make it to the classroom without taking a detour through teachers unions and pension funds will also probably be surprised by the headlines, immediately upon ratification, that claim that the schools are still short of cash.)
Their innovation here isn’t the proposal, that’s old hat. Their innovation is in how they propose to gather signatures:
So supporters are trying a strategy that uses social network websites to ask people to sign the petitions. Supporters have set up a website that allows people to download petitions and then volunteer to gather signatures.
The kit includes instructions on how to gather 50 signatures to fill each petition and even how to properly staple the pages. It instructs volunteers to seek out a notary after gathering the signatures and then to return the signed petitions to supporters in Denver.Every petition must bear an individual number, and the website where they can be downloaded assigns each one a unique number.
Some see this as a highly creative way to gather signatures on the cheap. I see it as a way to limit the teachers unions’ liability, while still exposing them to real risks. The circulators are under even less control than usual, will be prone to making mistakes, and all the liability for the costs involved in hunting in this target-rich environment will fall to GEC. Moreover, there’s no way of stopping individuals from collecting more than 100 signatures. In fact, there will be considerable incentive for person A to gather, say, 150 signatures, and have persons B and C sign for 50 each, which is, of course, fraudulent.
Great Education Colorado may think it’s got a really cool idea here. I hope someone’s willing to hold them to the same inane standards that the left has tried to foist on the rest of us.
Also, just to add to the schdenfreude, note that suddenly, to the Denver Post, which has spent years agitating against the initiative process, “The hurdle to get an initiative on the ballot isn’t small.” Keep that in mind the next time they editorialize about how easy the initiative process is. Apparently, small is in the eye of the petitioner.