Saturday, April 03, 2010

Wait and See

Although my local blogging brethern HoCo Rising and 53 Beers on Tap have already proclaimed a first round victory for the TAG petition effort, I think I’ll take a more cautious approach. According to this story by Larry Carson in The Sun, “Taxpayers Against Giveaways, turned in 3,510 signatures, spokesman Russell Swatek said, far more than the 2,500 required. They now have until April 30 to pass the 5,000 mark, which is Howard County's threshold for petitioning a County Council zoning vote to referendum.”

Not so fast. Those signatures will need to be validated by the Howard County Board of Elections first.

I think it is a fair assumption to say that not all of these signatures will be found to be valid. I am a bit suspicious since they were short ten days ago but somehow managed to exceed the goal by 40%.

This eleventh hour triumph just doesn’t smell right.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

WB,

As I posted on Howard County Rising, there may not be sufficient signatures regardless. See below when the Howard County referendum is compared to the Anne Arundel County referendum.

I have taken a look at the numbers regarding the signatures that TAG submitted, and it may be too soon for TAG to celebrate. First, the numbers. For TAG to succeed, it needed 2500 valid signatures. We all know that not every signature will be valid (that is, a person may sign only once, and must be a registered voter in Howard County), so more that 2500 is necessary. TAG submitted 3510 signatures, hoping that 2500 of those signatures would survive scrutiny.

Recently, as has been noted, Anne Arundel County just certified a referendum over the casinos at Arundel Mills. In that case, 40,408 signatures were submitted. Of those, 17,441 were tossed as being invalid, leaving only 22,967 remaining. Sounds pretty good, especially since they needed around 19,000 to succeed? However, note that this means that only 56.84% of the signatures were valid (22,967/40408).

Now, let's apply that same ratio to the 3510 signatures that TAG submitted. 56.84% times 3510 equals 1995, a number that is far short of the needed 2500. In fact, assuming the 56.84% ratio holds, TAG would have needed almost 4400 signatures.

Only time will tell if TAG did a better job of collecting signatures than the folks over in Anne Arundel County. But there is no reason to expect that to be the case. (Mike Davis)

Anonymous said...

I think AA County, a comparable jurisdiction, is on the right track with a 19,000 requiremnet instead of 2500. 2500 is pretty easy for 20 angry people to get in 10 days. Do we really think a County of 300,000 should be held hostage by a vocal minority afraid of change?

Anonymous said...

That's right anon 4:36! I agree with user Independent on Explore Howard--"Howard Board of Elections, take note. They're doing your job better in other counties." http://www.explorehoward.com/news/70455/slots-arundel-mills-be-put-vote-november/

Even user citizentaxpayerjane and Mona Brinegar could agree with user Independent :-)

HoCoRising said...

Only my mother calls me Howard County Rising...and only when I'm in trouble.

Anonymous said...

I think you all need to realize that it's not about citizens being "held hostage," it's about elected officials being held responsible to what they were elected to do. An important difference.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:00, you're right on that this is aboutelected officials being accountable, which is why they worked so hard to work through the issues and make the right decsion. Letting 20 angry people delay the progress they approved dos't have anything to do with accountability - it's just a tiny minority highjacking the will of the people.

PZGURU said...

ANON 6:17 - STOP SAYING THAT THE APPROVAL WAS THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ONLY IF THIS GOES TO REFERENDUM, AND THEN IT"S APPROVED CAN ANYONE CLAIM THAT THE WILL OF A MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE HAS BEEN DONE. Until then s.t.f.u. with your bogus proclamations and lies!!!!

And, as a second point, "change" is not the issue. It's whether this proposed change is good. Frankly, a lot of people think not and their voices need to be heard. And, it's a lot more than 20 people. It was backroom deal made 4 years ago between Ulman and GGP, and he had to play the charade/political game to try and make the approval look "legitimate". The outcome was already known 4 years ago, at least for anyone who is blind to the obvious political escapades that go on year in and year out in Howard County.

Anonymous said...

Happy Easter.

Anonymous said...

PZGURU! PZGURU! Repeat after me, goosefraba (paraphrasing a quote from Anger Management)

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:17: If 20 people can get several thousand other citizens to sign a petition, than that is accountability for our elected officials. If 20 people--and by extension thousands more--have a problem with it, than I guess the elected officials did not "work through" the problems as far as their constituents are concerned.

That's the point.

number9dream said...

"ONLY IF THIS GOES TO REFERENDUM, AND THEN IT"S APPROVED CAN ANYONE CLAIM THAT THE WILL OF A MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE HAS BEEN DONE."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that a measure taken to referendum is subject not to the will of the people but to the will of the voters.

Semantic? Perhaps. But the uninformed electorate can do great damage.
#

Anonymous said...

no9,

The people have the opportunity to vote. If they choose to vote, and most of them vote a particular way, that is certainly an expression of their will.

"Uninformed electorate"? Are you stuck a few centuries back?

I'm sorry if democracy, in a county with an excellent education system and awash in information sources, offends or scares you.

PZGURU said...

Goosefraba. Goosefraba. Goosefraba. Thanks, Anon 8:23. I feel much better now.

Anonymous said...

We all know many of the signatures were obtained by telling uninformed people a variety of lies: 20-story buildings around the lake, massive traffic without GGP paying for any roads or parking, explosion of 10,000 new residents all at once with no controls. So now GGP or the county will need to pay for a public information campaign so people know the detailes before they vote. This is why we live in a republic where we elect other people to dig into the details and make decisions on our behalf. If we don't like their decisions, we work to replace them. But it's not reasonable to expect the general voter to understand complex land use legislation which is why we have elected officials.

Anonymous said...

Oh, so the handful who believe they know best will be deciding our future?! Man, you need to live under oppression so that you can newly value Democracy.

Anonymous said...

let's cross our fingers and hope that enough signatures are disqualified and we can finally move forward with the development. Enough time and energy has been spent talking about it... let's get some shovels in the ground and move forward.

Anonymous said...

The petition drive likely will fail according to the stats on the BOE website:

Petition CB59-2009
UNOFFICIAL Petition Statistics Summary as of 3:30pm on 04/07/2010.

Valid Signatures required for Referendum to Continue: 2501
Signatures Submitted: 3491
Signatures Reviewed: 2343
Valid Signatures: 1442
Invalid Signatures: 901

BeenThereDoneThat said...

Let's all celebrate democracy in action. Us po' folk in Howard need to take a page from the Anne Arundel referendum playbook where the Laurel Jockey Club survived the petition challenge by paying upwards of $250,000 to collect 40,000 signatures and only have 18,000 invalidated (meeting the required threshold for inclusion on the ballot).