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." 


Walling, Tn., Man Leads Red Bank Police On Wild Chase

A Walling, Tn., man is facing multiple charges after leading Red Bank Police on a wild chase on Wednesday. The driver gave several different names, but he finally was identified as Marty Eugene Lance, 21. Just before 3 p.m., a Red Bank officer conducted a traffic stop on Highway 27 south with a Chevrolet S-10 pickup. The officer said, "I stopped the truck because ... (click for more)

El Matador #4 Gets 10-Day Penalty From Beer Board

The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) notified the Chattanooga Beer Board of the sale of alcohol to a minor that took place at El Matador #4, 9201 Lee Highway on July 16. The sale was discovered during a follow up spot check the TABC made at the business after a first violation that occurred last year.   When a second violation is found, by state law, ... (click for more)

Who's Responsible For East Ridge's Stadium? - And Response (2)

There just can be no excuse for East Ridge High School's stadium being in such dangerous condition that it has been condemned.   Where is responsible for this? I know there are a few other stadiums like this as well. And there is no excuse for this.  Building new and beautiful schools, state of the art technology. Top athletic facilities as well. Yet, East Ridge ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Every Child Must Watch This

In the course of my day, I read different websites, am sent all kinds of neat videos and I love the jokes I get. But when I logged onto my ever-bulging email account Thursday morning, I happened across the scariest, most terrifying video I have ever watched. There is a website I check called “Atchuup” that boasts “cool stories daily.” Some are pretty good but this one nearly knocked ... (click for more)

Wrestling Session Sparks Lady 'Canes To Volleyball Win

All season long, East Hamilton volleyball coach Kristy Lenoir has been less than pleased with her team’s lack of emotion on the court. So, to change that Lenoir spent her allotted practice time putting the Lady Hurricanes through one-on-one wrestling matches. Yep, wrestling. “I’ve never had a practice like that one,” Lenoir said Thursday. “We’ve lacked emotion and a desire ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Football Opener: UTC vs. Jax State – Saturday at Finley Stadium; 6 p.m.

Saturday at Finley Stadium at 6 p.m.  it’s No.8 Chattanooga vs. No.7 Jacksonville (Ala.) State in arguably the most anticipated and talked about game in Chattanooga football history. An important region rivalry as a pair of top 10 FCS schools meet for the 39th time in the season opener for both schools. “This should be a great game between two of the best teams in ... (click for more)