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." 


Remaining Remarkable Stokes Photo Books Go On Sale; Zarzours Open Saturday For MAINX24

The final copies of the Remarkable Stokes Collection are on sale at Zarzours restaurant on the Southside.   The Chattanooga photo album was a big hit two years ago when almost 3,000 copies were sold.   There are only 224 copies remaining and there are no plans for a new edition.   Also at Zarzours are the Chattanooga Railroad book as well as the new ... (click for more)

Eugene Gaines, 45, Shot On North Germantown Road Thursday Night; Arrested Later On An Active Warrant

Eugene Gaines, 45, was shot Thursday night on North Germantown Road.  Officers with the Chattanooga Police Department were called to a local hospital after a man showed up with a gunshot wound.  Gaines suffered a single gunshot wound to the elbow. He  told investigators he was shot when pulling into the parking lot at the Park Village Apartments. His ... (click for more)

Tennessee River Gorge Trust Trail Warriors Make You Want To Take A Hike

Trail warriors of the Tennessee River Gorge Trust make you want to take a hike.  The Tennessee River Gorge Trust staff and volunteers make a huge difference in the Chattanooga community and have been making the outdoor areas around the River Gorge clean and protected for more than 30 years.  They deserve to be recognized and praised for all of the hard work they have ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Bible In Gatlinburg

The day after fire rained and reigned in Gatlinburg, Isaac McCord, 24 and from Tullahoma, was picking up debris at the popular Dollywood attraction. The theme park had minimal damage compared to the hundreds of structure either lost or severely damaged in Sevier County. He picked up a piece of paper that was in a puddle of water, beneath a bench. “It was one of the most surreal ... (click for more)

Both CCS Teams Win By 24 Points Over Boyd-Buchanan

Chattanooga Christian basketball coach Eddie Salter holds some really tough practices with his Chargers and he expects them to transfer that high-energy to game day. It seemed to work on Thursday night as Salter’s Chargers raced to a 21-5 lead after the first quarter and never looked back as they improved to 6-1 with the impressive 64-40 non-district win over visiting Boyd-Buchanan. ... (click for more)

Eric Voges, Chris Woodruff Selected for Tenn. Tennis Hall of Fame

A pair of former U. of Tennessee tennis players and former state high school champions Eric Voges (McCallie School/UT) and Chris Woodruff (Knox Bearden HS/ UT) will be inducted into the Tennessee Tennis Hall of Fame January 28 in Nashville. Voges was a UT captain in 1984 and 1985, was a TSSAA state doubles champion in 1979 and 1980 and a Chattanooga Rotary singles champion ... (click for more)