Questions remain on anti-drilling ballot question | Slag Heap

Questions remain on anti-drilling ballot question

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Just a follow-up on yesterday's post about the prospects for letting residents vote on a citywide ban on natural-gas drilling. As noted here and elsewhere, while a seemingly veto-proof majority of council passed the measure allowing the referendum, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl can still kill it. The mayor has 10 days to act on the bill -- but under state election law, the city has only eight days in which to forward the measure to the county. If it's not ratified by then, it will miss an Aug. 9 deadline for appearing on the ballot.

If that's what happens, council has itself to blame: Doug Shields, the original sponsor, didn't introduce the measure until mid-July. And without waiving the rules of council, it would have been impossible for the measure to be passed any earlier than yesterday.

So council is now left pleading with the mayor to please hurry up and make a move. 

Yesterday, council president Darlene Harris forwarded the legislation to the mayor with a letter asking him not to sit on the measure:

City Couuncil has requested that you take action on [the bill] by end of business August 8th, 2011, thus waiving the 10 days usually allotted for Mayoral action of adopted legislation. 

This request is necessitated in that the Bureau of Elections has notified the City Clerk that the Ordinance requestint the referendum must be received by August 8th to meet legal timeframe requirements. 

We humbly request your action to sign, return unsigned, or veto by end of business August 8th so that Council may act accordingly. 

Thank you for this courtesy.

Ordinarily, August marks a nearly month-long recess for council. But council members did not adjourn their business yesterday; they merely put the meeting itself in recess until August 9. Should Ravenstahl accede to Harris' request, council could then take a vote to override a veto. 

So far, Ravenstahl isn't tipping his hand: He has merely pledged to "review the legislation," with an eye toward its legality. His Law Department is already on record as expressing grave misgivings about the bill.

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