Monday, May 4, 2009

Mesa's Penchant for Elections

The ruling in the Phoenix court battle over the number of signatures needed to call a referendum may lower the number of signatures needed to refer an item to the ballot in Mesa. The real fact of the matter is that the number needed is pretty low in the first place - if, for example, you take 10% for the last Mayor's race, that is still only about 5000 signatures.

It probably doesn't matter much anyway, because Mesa has Section 613 of the City Charter which was passed in 2004. It says:

... the City shall not expend public funds, grant tax concessions or relief, or incur any form of debt in an amount greater than one million, five hundred thousand dollars ($1,500,000), and/or exchange or grant City-owned land of a fair market value in excess of one million, five hundred thousand dollars ($1,500,000) to construct or aid in the construction of any amphitheater, sports complex, cultural or entertainment facility, arena, stadium, convention facility, or multi-purpose facility without approval of the majority of the electorate voting thereon at the next ensuing election.

Thus, the council is pretty well boxed in on what they can do, because this has such a large definition. Hence the slew of elections for things like Waveyard and Gaylord (I found out about this law after it was referenced in the ballot language). For example, if Mesa did decide to do something about about spring training where any city money would be involved, it would most likely have to go to the voters. Same thing if say, they wanted to attract a Major League Soccer team or replace Mesa amphitheater with a newer more modern version in an area where people could have concerts that last later than 8pm.

In fact, voters don't really need to go out and collect signatures for every much, because if the city is at all involved, all they need to do is try to apply 613 to the deal. Heck, anything can be called a "multi-purpose facility." This type of a law is not normal, and no other city in the valley has this sort of limitation. Other cities have the threat of referendum, especially with these lowered numbers, but a guaranteed election could halt projects in Mesa and encourage people to take their money elsewhere and even if they decide to go through with the project, it adds to the timeline to wait around for the next election.

Voters in Mesa should be more concerned about 613 than any changes to the referendum process.

1 comment:

Heath Reed said...

This is good ol Mesa for you. 613 is the worst thing to ever happen to this city. We can all thank the wonderful VBO and concerned citizens after the city tried to get the cardinals. Now, these organization do not have any leg to stand on in Mesa because what they have usually championed against, the citizens have gone the other way. They have now turned their attention towards Gilbert to make that city even worse than it is now. Thank you VBO for hindering the city in doing any type of improvement you morons!

The good thing about this change is maybe someone will have the guts to change 613 and reverse it. But this is not good because we vote on so much that why do we have city council anyways?

613 will always hinder this city in reinvigorating itself to become a better city and more sustainable finically and offer more.