Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Measure A opponents blast rebuttal rule

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

As arguments over a city ballot measure in Santa Barbara heat up, some local residents are miffed that city staff won’t accept a rebuttal argument they want to appear on the ballot this November.
After submitting an initial argument against Measure A, which proposes to switch city elections to an even-year cycle, those campaigning against the measure attempted to file a rebuttal to the Yes on A argument, but were rebuffed by the City Clerk’s office.

City Attorney Steve Wiley explained that the state election code requires the city to pass a resolution allowing for rebuttals to ballot arguments and that it has been the policy of Santa Barbara leaders not to do so.
“At some point you have to cut off the arguments,” Wiley said. “I think we are like most cities in that respect. We just allow the pro and con arguments.”
James Kahan, who signed the No on A argument, said he finds that a weak argument against allowing rebuttals.
“I think it really transcends the election code,” Kahan said. “...This Council makes a big point about how they want discussion and dialogue. I wonder how much truth is in that.”
Sharon Westby, a Santa Barbara resident who also penned the No on A argument called the city’s decision not to accept their rebuttal “very frustrating.”
“The more information we get out to the people of Santa Barbara, the more aware they become,” Westby said.
City Administrator Jim Armstrong said the city isn’t discriminating against the No on A movement, and nobody on the City Council raised the issue when they discussed the upcoming city election a few months ago.
“It’s nothing new,” Armstrong said. “It’s just the Council has never allowed rebuttals. That’s just been the policy.”
Measure A supporters said they won’t be able to submit a rebuttal for the November ballot either, and view the furor being raised by the No on V campaign as an attempt to distract voters.
In addition to raising issues with the city’s refusal to accept rebuttals, Kahan also questioned the impartiality of Wiley’s analysis of the measure.
“How do you think I feel about an impartial analysis of the attorney who works for Councilmembers that will gain another year in their term?” Kahan asked.
If voters approve Measure A, four current City Council incumbents and three others elected this November will serve an additional year in office.
“This is a real nightmare,” said Dale Francisco, another signatory on the No on A argument. “You have the city attorney for the City Council writing the impartial analysis for a city ballot measure.”
Wiley dismissed those cries of concern, explaining that most cities run their own elections and he has no problem detaching himself from any ties of loyalty.
“The law requires me to prepare it,” Wiley said. “The law actually says the only time the city attorney doesn’t prepare an analysis is if the measure involves the city attorney’s salary. I think people will understand that this sort of thing happens.”

2 comments:

Yes on Measure A said...

The procedure and pre-election filing schedule set up by the City prohibits Rebuttal Arguments to be filed about ballot measures, including Rebuttals from advocates on both sides of same ballot measure.

That prohibition of Rebuttal Arguments has infuriated the opponents of Measure A, which is highly ironic because their complaint could be resolved if Measure A succeeds, resulting in the elections being run by the County instead the City.

Ballot Measures overseen by the County process could include Rebuttals simply if the schedule were moved up for the filing dates.

Anonymous said...

“How do you think I feel about an impartial analysis of the attorney who works for Councilmembers that will gain another year in their term?”

Oh please. Instead of baselessly attacking Wiley's integrity, how about explaining what's not impartial about the analysis?