July 21, 2008

Petition drive organizers angry

With more than 4,000 signatures gathered, organizers of the drive to let the public vote on whether to create a chief operating officer thought they had overcome the final hurdle.
Then they learned Monday that the city might require they go back and make sure every petition circulator signs the paperwork in the presence of a notary public.
“I don’t really see it as a big deal,” said Dale Clift, the city attorney, because there’s still plenty of time before the July 31 deadline for submitting the signatures. Only a little less than 3,200 valid signatures are required.
But two of the organizers of the drive, Republican city Councilor Ken Cockayne and businessman Craig Yarde, said the new requirement poses massive headaches and denounced them as an unfair dirty trick to try to stymie the referendum.
“This is absolutely unfair,” Yarde said.
Because some of the petition circulators are on vacation, Yarde said, “I will not be able to count hundreds of signatures of citizens who signed” in good faith.
Cockayne said that he's upset that the city is "changing the rules in the middle of the game" just days before the deadline.Clift said the decision about whether to require a notary is City Clerk Therese Pac’s call. Pac was unavailable Monday.
Clift said, though, that Pac wants the petitions witnessed legally to ensure that those signing the petitions are aware they are attesting to the truth of a statement that says the circulator personally saw each of the signatures and had reason to believe the identity of those who penned their names.
“I think she’s well within in her rights to be cautious in this matter,” Clift said. “It’s a caution on her part to take a step to ensure that these petitions are above board and without question, that the circulators meet the qualifications.”
Cockayne said there were between 75 and 100 people who circulated petitions. Some gathered only a few names while others gathered hundreds.
He said that had Pac told the organizers weeks ago that the forms would need to be notarized, he would have had no trouble with it. In fact, he said, he is a notary and would simply have done the appropriate steps as the petitions were turned in.
Instead, organizers have to try to track down each circulator and have them sign again in the presence of a notary.
“Things like this, I believe, are what turns people off,” Cockayne said. He said that ordinary citizens stepped up to help by signing the petitions or circulating them and now their efforts may not be included at all.
“This just puts a sour taste in peoples’ mouths and they say ‘why even get involved?’. This is what is turning people off about our city and Bristol,” Cockayne said.
“This is a great example of why we need a chief operating officer,” Yarde said. “That's what you get when you have 21 department heads doing whatever they want because they don't have anyone who's managing them.”
Yarde said that people “should call Mayor [Art] Ward and tell him to manage his people and let the citizens of Bristol decide if they want a COO rather than trying to put roadblocks” in the way.
The Charter Revision Commission, which recently completed its work, recommended the city create a chief operating officer post to handle administrative oversight and provide long-term planning.
Supporters of the position said it would bring greater efficiency to City Hall and save taxpayers money in the long run.
But Ward and four of the six city councilors rejected the idea. They said it wouldn’t help or it would cost too much money.
If the council had approved it, the public would have the final say on the proposed charter change. It would have been on the November 4 ballot.
If the petition drive succeeds, voters will still get the chance to have the last word.

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Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Unions - 12,648
Taxpayers - 0

Anonymous said...

Yarde said that people “should call Mayor [Art] Ward and tell him to manage his people and let the citizens of Bristol decide if they want a COO rather than trying to put roadblocks” in the way.


Yeah right.
Not a chance of that happening anytime soon. Why do think the dept heads went to town to make sure Zoppo was discredited and lost the primary and Johnson lost the general?

Anonymous said...

Hey I'm a Notary....PLEASE let me charge the customary $5 fee per person. That would be a nice Nice payday.

Anonymous said...

If people like Yarde hadn't tried to bypass the laws by leaving petitions unattended, then Pac wouldn't have felt the need to place this requirement on them.

It's their own fault. She's just doing her job - securing that the citizens of Bristol are protected by potentially illegal and fraudulent petitions being counted.

Anonymous said...

Even a COO couldn't tell Pac that she can't mandate notarized signatures. It's her call and she's doing it because the petitioners were lazy and left some to be signed without witnesses.

Yarde made his bed.

Anonymous said...

Why did they not learn the rules in the first place?

If you want to run an organization, learn and play by the rules.

Craig, it is not like your own business: you don't own the city!

Anonymous said...

What do you expect from a bunch of amateurs!!!

And they want to run the city?

This is typical of many of those in elected office: power goes to their heads.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Pac is a complete idiot. I can't believe the people let her get away with this abuse. Demand her termination!

Anonymous said...

This is a feeble attempt by the unions and Art Ward to keep control on the city as they have had for years. EVERY NAME on those petitions will be contacted at election time. One way or another we will prevail...maybe get rid of the unions and Ward in one fell swoop in the next muni elections.

THE UNIONS AND WARD WILL PAY FOR THIS TACTIC!

Anonymous said...

Want to talk about feeble? How about those petition organizers? They should have known, understood and followed the correct procedure to the letter of the law to assure the proper disposition of this petition. It was THEIR lazy, sloppy, shabby performance of that task that led to Ms Pac's requiring notarization...good for her! She's looking out for our best interests.

These bubble-headed buffoons can't even get a petition done correctly, then they have the gall to get angry when they get called on the carpet for screwing it up?...and then they want us to put our faith in their COO-COO concept? Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

6:23 - ward wasn't part of this process, as a matter of fact, he signed the petition so take your ignorance and display it in front of some other morons who might grasp onto it.

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...

Part I Section 50 of the City Charter:


"One of the signers of the petition shall make oath before an officer competent to administer oaths that each signature appended to such paper is the genuine signature of the person whose name it purports to be."

If there are multiple collectors than it is reasonable to ask each collector to sign before the clerk or a notary that the signatures are genuine and were collected in their presence.

If this issue is in Mr. Yarde's mind all the more reason for an unelectable, unremovable city manager than I will definetly be voting against this proposal should it make it on the November ballot.

Ms. Pac is doing her job. I doubt she needs to be "managed."

Anonymous said...

Uh oh! The petition drive organizers are angry!!! Are they gonna storm out, slam the door and leave? At least then they'd FINALLY be doing something for the good of Bristol!

Tim Gamache said...

This problem could have been avoided if the proponents had bothered to show the petition form to the City Clerk prior to circulating the petition.The form excluded(or didn't match) the writing that has always been on the reverse side of all the petition forms prior to this.Apparently they only consulted Corporation Counsel and failed to include the City Clerk and thus assumptions were made.Don't believe I need to go into the old axiom regarding "assume!"The City Clerk is just doing her job the way it should be done.I had my signature notarized in about 10 minutes.These attacks on the Mayor,City Clerk et al is nothing more than a failure to accept responsibility for not "crossing all the Ts and dotting the Is" and making assumptions.All that was necessary was consulting the City Clerk about the form first.She and her staff will be the ones validating all the signatures, so why wouldn't you consult her first?

Steve Collins said...

Cockayne told me that both Craig Minor and Gary Schaffrick met with the city clerk before the petition drive began to go over the particulars.

Anonymous said...

The one question that has to be asked.Why didn't councilman Cockayne get a legal opinion rendered on this issue.

Tim Gamache said...

That may be true Steve,but the question remains,did they show the form they were going to circulate to the City Clerk prior to "hitting the street?"I believe it may not have been,ergo the problem.

Anonymous said...

STEVE WHEN YOU WANT SOMETHING DONE. THE OLD SAYING HAS IT.dO IT YOURSELF

Anonymous said...

minor, cocayne, johnson, yarde and company have lost all credibility as a result of their idiotic, bumbling attempt to blame others for their inefficiencies and should take their heads out of the sand and recognize their absolute stupidity for exactly what it is - ABSOLUTE STUPIDITY - self-inflicted.

Anonymous said...

3:02pm - I agree, or at least don't have cockayne, minor, yarde or johnson do it. talk about a bunch of spoliled brats having a temper tantrum.
cockayne mouths off, minor changes his mind, yarde calls for more self-adulation and johnson stomps his feet, slams/breaks a door and cries "foul" for the umpteenth time - true history repeating itself. Pray for us.

Anonymous said...

2:53

That explains it all: Minor and Schaffrick.

What a pair!!!

All that is missing is Mocabee.
(or is he?)

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of assumptions being made. Maybe its time someone do some investigating to find out exactly what went on.

Did Pac see them?

Are they required to be notarized?

Did Minor and Cockayne and company really just shoot from the hip on this and assume?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Anonymous said...

Johnson screws up again!

But then, it could have been worse, he could have been elected mayor.

Anonymous said...

If he had been, we would have had to put bumper stoppers on all the City Hall doors.

Anonymous said...

Hope you all remember tineptness of those involved come Nov. 09.