Group Of Citizens Set To File An Initiative With Election Office To Seek To Overturn Domestic Partners Ordinance; West Says 4,500 Names Needed

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A group of citizens is planning to file a request with the Election Commission for a referendum seeking to overturn the controversial domestic partners ordinance approved 5-4 on first reading by the City Council on Tuesday.

Mark West, president of Citizens for Government Accountability & Transparency, said attorneys have advised him that some 4,500 names would need to be secured on a petition and the group would have two weeks in which to do it. He said, "We feel that is very achievable."

If adequate names are secured, he said that would trigger a special election in which citizens would vote the ordinance up or down.

Mr. West said the group's attorney has begun preparing the petition so that it will comply with the requirements of the law.

He stated, "This is what we've been asking for all along. An issue this divisive and contentious should be decided by all the people, not by five people who never mentioned it in their campaigns."

He said, "This issue popped up because one councilman was pushing his own agenda."


Attorney Chris Clem said in an email to Election Commission members that there is "a 99 percent chance" that such a petition will be filed.

He said the Election Commission needs to schedule a special meeting on the issue.

Attorney Clem said, "There is probably a need for the Election Commission to have a brief meeting Wednesday morning, November 20th in order to approve a petition. 

"As you know, the City of Chattanooga passed on first reading tonight a controversial ordinance extending benefits to same sex partners.  As always, the Election Commission does not have a role in supporting or opposing such ordinances.  The Chattanooga City Charter has a “referendum” or “initiative” provision in its Charter that allow citizens to file a petition to repeal such an ordinance.  A group of citizens want to file such a petition. 

"The Chattanooga Charter provides that the petitioners must file their petition within 14 days.  The City of Chattanooga (Attorney Phil Noblet) contends that the 14 days starts running immediately upon passing the ordinance.  The City Charter does imply the 14 days starts running immediately upon passing the ordinance. The ordinance is expected to pass final reading next Tuesday night, November 19h


 "The State Election Office (Mark Goins and Beth Henry-Roberson) believe the 14 days probably starts running on the date the Election Commission approves the petition, not when the city passes the ordinance.  So, if we waited until our normal meeting on December 4th then it is most likely that the 14 days for the petitioner to gather signatures would start running at that time.  The state election office relies on state law, not the Chattanooga charter, to indicate the 14 days starts running when the election commission approves the petition. 

"However, there is a 99% that a lawsuit will result over whether the City Charter correctly started the 14 days upon the passing of the ordinance or the 14 days starts when the election commission approves the petition.

"The Election Commission can avoid this entire issue of when the 14 days starts if the Election Commission would simply meet 12 hours after the vote on Tuesday night.  If we meet and approve the petition on Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. then everyone can agree that the 14 days starts running that Wednesday morning. 

"So, I would like to pass on to you the request by the State Election Office for the Hamilton County Election Commission to briefly meet Wednesday morning, November 20th in order to approve this petition so that certain people can start their 14 days of gathering petitions to repeal this ordinance." 


Fire Causes Estimated $200,000 In Damages At Home On Old East Brainerd Road

A fire at 11316 Old East Brainerd Road caused an estimated $200,000 in damages on Wednesday.    The first engine was on the scene in less than two minutes and reported smoke showing. Six engines and 35 firefighters brought the fire under control in one hour.  The cause is under investigation.  HCEMS Medic 7 was on the scene, but there were no injuries. ... (click for more)

Grand Jury No True Bills And True Bills

Here are the latest no true bills and true bills from the Hamilton County Grand Jury: No True Bills: BAUTISTA, ROBERTO H 25 M 0 1 GS 1538382 STATUTORY RAPE BAUTISTA, ROBERTO H 25 M 0 2 GS 1538383 SOLICITATION OF A MINOR BEARD, HENRY DEWAYNE B 30 M 0 1 GS 1534223 POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA aka FAT BOY, FATS GORE, JASON LAMAR B 30 M 0 1 GS 1537846 SOLICITATION OF A ... (click for more)

What's Wrong With The City Recycle Program? - And Response (2)

Being new to recycling, I have lots to learn.  I rely on 311 and the attendants at the neighborhood collection centers to assist in building my knowledge.   Recently, I had an experience that makes me reconsidered my recycling efforts.  I loaded up my car, called 311 to verify what I could take, only to be blocked by the attendant at my neighborhood collection ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: That Billboard & Much More

Now that early voting has started and our strawberries have hopefully survived this last blush of winter, allow me to catch up on some things but, first, here’s a letter from a concerned reader I feel compelled to share: “There is something I have noticed throughout Brainerd, East Brainerd, Dayton, etc. A billboard has been put up, I believe by the Health Department of Hamilton ... (click for more)

Cuonzo Martin Leaves Tennessee For Job At California

Tennessee basketball coach Cuonzo Martin apparently took his name out of the coaching search at Marquette so he could put it in a hat at the University of California at Berkeley. On Tuesday, Martin broke ties with the Volunteers and accepted the head coaching job with the Bears. Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart admitted Martin’s move surprised him. “Not from my perspective,” ... (click for more)

Mocs Win Women's Southern Conference Championship

The Chattanooga Mocs are your Southern Conference Women’s Golf Champions. That’s five straight team titles and sophomore Emily McLennan (Queensland, Australia) made it the fourth consecutive sweep winning medalist honors. McLennan was solid shooting 222 for her 54 holes on a tough week for scoring. She won by four strokes over Furman’s Taylor Totland and was seven clear of ... (click for more)