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Referendum Certified

Next move up to City Council

Posted - Tuesday, Feb 24, 1998

On Monday, February 23, County Auditor Shirley Forslof certifiedthat a sufficient number of Bellingham citizens - 1,391 - had signedthe petition to require an election on the issue. It is up to theCity Council as to when the election will be held.

The auditor only had to count about 2/3s of the signatures toreach the needed number. The petitions were collected over a two weekperiod - a very short time for citizens demanding a referendum. Thisshows strong community support for overturning the City Council'sactions last December.

Now - what will the council do? They actually can rescind theordinance themselves - and end the need for a vote of the people.Last December they overrode the Mayor's veto by a 6 to 1 vote - withonly Louise Bjornson dissenting. Now Leslie Richardson and BarbaraRyan are on the council - and are thought to be open to rescindingit. If just one of the old guard of the guys switches over then amajority of 4 will be able to rescind it. We certainly urge thecouncil to take this action. It should be obvious by now that thepeople are not pleased - and that the people are willing to act.

Or the council can simply schedule the referendum for an electiondate. Open dates are April 28, May 19, September 15 and November 3.Tip Johnson, the originator of the petition, says that any date willsuit him. He is ready for the next step in his campaign to saveHoag's Pond for public access.

There is always the tactic of a council of about 5 years ago. Whena petition was certified for a referendum to overturn the ArtsCenter, the council decided to just ignore the people and notschedule the election. In the next council election, much of thecouncil was voted out of office. We think the guys on this councilremember this.

There is no question that a referendum on this issue will be adivisive process for our community. The actions of the Council lastDecember were irresponsible - and the guys knew it. But they werejustifiably mad at the city departments that had given them badadvice - Planning, Public Works and - worst of all - Parks. So theyignored the public good and gave away city land to a city employee -and took away public access to a beautiful pond in Fairhaven. Inbeing mad at the departments they hurt the citizens ofBellingham.

Tip Johnson did the right thing in starting a referendum. Now itis the council's turn to do the right thing - rescind the ordinance.We urge them to do this.

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Home Contents Info Correspondents ©1998 NWCitizen.com