Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Numbers Game

The deadline for the first batch of signatures for the Taxpayers Against Giveaways referendum effort to place the Columbia Town Center redevelopment legislation on the November ballot is just three days away. There is a good deal of speculation as to whether they will meet the initial threshold of 2,500 signatures of registered voters in Howard County.

Last week the group circulated an email about the responses they have received during their signature gathering. Tag claims that about,

“65% do not want that much density and sign the petition.
20% are too busy to talk about it.
8% are comfortable with CB-59 as written.
6% are undecided on CB-59, but think the people should have a chance to vote on it in November, and they sign the petition.
1% want to sign, but have a condition (e.g. severe hand tremors) preventing them from giving a valid signature.”

The key word here is “about.” What is missing is the number that these percentages were derived from. Is this 100, 1,000 or more?

The email goes on to claim that “The people want CB-59 on the November ballot, but TAG needs help to collect the required number of signatures.”

I can’t help but wonder if the people want this on the ballot so badly why aren’t there more canvassers out there?

For all of my daily travels in and around Columbia I have yet to see anyone gathering signatures for this petition and believe me I’ve been looking for them.


Anonymous said...

Saw someone looking for signatures at Hickory Ridge Village outside the Giant on Saturday at about 4pm. Did not talk to them.

Sarah said...

Someone was at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center two Sundays ago; I declined to sign.

futurefan said...

These percentages seem about as arbitrary as his arguments against the downtown plan.

Anonymous said...

Well, WB, I have done a poll myself, and I have determined the following:

50% of the people I ask wonder why the development hasn't started already. Didn't the County Council already pass something?

46% of the people I ask have no idea what I am talking about.

4% just laugh.

Of course, my poll isn't very scientific. In fact, it's just those people I happen to talk to. On the other hand, that seems to pass a poll these days.

futurefan said...

Wait, wait! I want to do one, too!

OK, here's my poll: 50% of the people in my office have four children or more; 25% wanted an eggplant sandwich; 25% went to grad school in New Orleans before the storm.

There are 4,000 people in my office. You can take my word on it!

Anonymous said...

I love the Search music at the end of your remark.
You obviously have too much time on your hands. Perhaps you should be talking to more people about leasing space. Mine is still open.
But I am too small for you to consider.

Anonymous said...

So, some people are actually against the right of the people to impeach their elected representavies? Where do I pick up my brown shirt? I'll await your commentators' reply.

L.T. said...

If y'all weren't so focused on urbanizing Columbia, you'd be appalled at your childish comments about people that are practicing democracy.

Win or lose, agree or not - doesn't anyone appreciate people who are willing to put themselves out there to fight for a cause they believe in?

Shame on ya bunch of snobs. Where are the Tea Baggers when you need them?

Anonymous said...

Hey, the tea partiers would be very much in favor of this activity. They're about Democracy first, not money in their own pockets. And they're not all Republicans, it's grass roots at the deepest level. They're not super-organized and have taken heat as a result of not being salesmen and polished PR folks, but I know lots of Dems who go to those meetings throughout the state.

Anonymous said...

Now that the poll has been published, expect the tireless money makers to rush to the scene of the poll and skew it. They hate truth.

Anonymous said...

A referendum is a very significant and important part of our democratic process, but that doesn't mean that any bill can be put to referendum just because a few people think a referendum is needed. By definition, a referendum is an extraordinary process. Per the Howard County Charter, the lesser of 5% or 5000 registered voters in Howard County have to be convinced that a referendum is necessary and then be willing to sign a petition. Pretty basic stuff.

This means those who support a referendum drive must present a convincing argument that a referendum is necessary. Has that happened in this case? The answer is still waiting.

But, as democratic as it is to be able to have a referendum drive, it is equally democratic for those opposed to further delays in the revitalization of downtown to vocally oppose the referendum drive. By characterizing all of the opponents to the referendum drive as money hungry developers or whatever, you are doing a great disservice to the cause. We are all in this together.

That's what democracy is all about - different viewpoints being argued in public in a civil manner. And the opponents to the referendum drive have just as much right to express their views as the proponents have to seek a referendum. May the best viewpoint win.

Anonymous said...

Get off the 5k signatures. No one who can read thinks you only have to gather 5k signatures. The last two petitions gathered nearly double the requirement and both were dismissed for trumped up reasons.

20,000+ resident's rights have been denied.

Anonymous said...

Ummm,sorry Anonymous 8:17, but the Charter requires 5000 registered voters who, after all, are the ones that really count, right? If people collecting signatures can't figure out to make sure a signer is signing only once, is signing his/her legal name, and is a registered voter in Howard County (not just a resident), that's a problem - for the people taking the bill to referendum. It's not difficult. Just play by the rules. Getting only 3% of the registered voters to support a referendum is, in my opinion, the minimum that should be required.

Anonymous said...

I'm a libertarian and I support anything that protects people from the government. But this is a land use decision not some hugely unpopular government action that infringes on your rights. And since democracy is usually about compromise, someone is always going to feel that they got the shaft and, if you let that person take every law to referendum, government would stop and we'd have people who don't understand detailed issues voting on everything. The 5,000 signatures is actually very low compared to the other counties in central MD. with such a low bar, it's reasonable to at least make sure the people are registered voters.

Anonymous said...

I signed the last petition and they threw out my signature. It was my real, full, by the book signature, matching my voter's registration card, which is current.

So again, get off the 5k item. It's insane to pursue that when the I's are dotted and T's crossed and still registered voters who sign fully, and only once, get the signature thrown out.