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Ask Before You Sign – Or Think Before You Ink

Dear Editor,

Recently, supporters of a referendum on a development in Santa Monica have hit the streets to gather signatures to get their issue on the ballot.

The League of Women Voters of Santa Monica has no position on this referendum. We are neutral regarding it.

However the League has a long-standing concern about the political process, including the process by which signatures are gathered.

Often supporters will argue that you should sign their petition because you should “let the voters decide” – that in some way it is your duty as a citizen of a democratic society to support putting the measure on the ballot.

This is not true. It is the privilege and right of supporters to gather signatures, and, if they get enough, to put their referendum on the ballot.

But it is no one's duty or responsibility to support putting a measure on the ballot that they don't understand or don't agree with.

Some years ago, the League of Women Voters of California spelled out this argument in detail at http://lwvsantamonica.org/files/ask-before-you-sign.pdf

Remember, we want all registered voters to exercise their franchise. Just be sure you get all the facts before you sign anything.

Sincerely,

Ann K. Williams

President

League of Women Voters of Santa Monica


Captain Liberty February 17, 2014 at 11:31 AM
Dear League of Women Voters If you had been paying attention you would know that there are 30 plus major development projects in the Santa Monica pipeline. Some of these are large. So large in fact that they're community cripplers. You think we have gridlock now? Just wait. What you see happening is the exercise of the true democratic process. Not the sham that is our city council these days with four of the seven members in the pocket of the developers. So you're wrong. It IS our duty to take back our city. And the fact that you found it necessary to put forth your rather lame and unnecessary warning leads me to wonder if the developers don't have their hooks in you as well. Why else would you attempt to cloud the waters at this critical time? We are not children, Ms Williams, we are residents who have at last had enough and intend to fix that which is broken. Perhaps you should dig deeper into the meaning of the word duty. Especially when it comes to protecting our community from the greedy hoards who would swoop in, make their millions, and leave the mess for the rest of us to deal with.
santamonican February 17, 2014 at 11:50 AM
The League of Women Voters are right. Many items, the collectors of signatures have misrepresented why they are asking for my signature. I would request the information, read it, and find it to be the opposite of what what represented. The advice of the League is correct. Do not depend on the explanation of the signature collector, demand and read the actual information before you sign. My compliments to the League for their good advice.
santamonican February 17, 2014 at 11:51 AM
The League of Women Voters are right. Many times, the collectors of signatures have misrepresented why they are asking for my signature. I would request the information, read it, and find it to be the opposite of what what represented. The advice of the League is correct. Do not depend on the explanation of the signature collector, demand and read the actual information before you sign. My compliments to the League for their good advice.
Jayne February 17, 2014 at 12:33 PM
I agree with the League of Women Voters on the issue of not signing a petition just because it is put in front of you. It is easy to sign a petition. It is hard, once the issue is on the ballot, to determine how to vote in it. I will not sign a petition unless I know exactly what it is for and how it will affect us. HOWEVER, on the issue of the Santa Monica City Council and the development in Santa Monica, I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with Captain Liberty above. The 4 members of the council seem to have developers in their pockets and NOT the BEST INTERESTS OF THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN SANTA MONICA. It is shocking to me because these same council members live in this city, but obviously do not care one bit that more development, more traffic and more people is detrimental to us all. So please, SIGN THE PETITION that stops them from overbuilding and overcrowding, and let's take back the city for our residents.
Douglas Fay February 17, 2014 at 01:20 PM
Residocracy is the best thing that has happened in Santa Monica in decades. It is truly a grassroots movement for the people by the people. They have done a tremendous job at preparing this petition and deserve the support from the League of Women Voters. Before Ann Williams submitted this article did she read the petition? No position indicates she hasn't. The petition volunteers must gather 10,000 valid signatures in 30 days. I don't recall this happening since Prop 20 was forced on the ballot by the people after the Santa Barbara oil rig catastrophe. Power to the people and if I don't get elected to 3rd District Los Angeles County Supervisor I would gladly serve on the SM City Council, supporting Residocracy's mission.
james schumacher February 17, 2014 at 08:27 PM
Well, I went to the pdf the League recommended. In answer to the guideline questions: 1. (complex) Many hours of public and expert testimony against this proposal. When all is said and done a horrible mix of oversize structures, traffic generating uses, water consumption (drought) and pollution. 2.(confusing) Simply written. Override councils vote. 3.(constitution) no affect on constitution. 4.(funding) MY tax dollars will fund it. With all the waste of money already perpetrated by the city government, I think that this would be a GOOD use of public funds! 5.(who's circulating petition) All volunteer citizens who are concerned with the future of SM. 6.(who's behind it) THAT'S SIMPLE. THE CITIZENS OF SANTA MONICA WHO ARE FED UP WITH NON-RESPONDSIVE AND BOUGHT OFF COUNCIL MEMBERS. It seems Ms Williams didn't do her due diligence and educate herself on the matter of the Hines office/business park. If she had, she would realize that this procedure will lead to better safe guards protecting my rights and civic improvement, as stated by "ask before you sign" statement.
Valerie Griffin February 18, 2014 at 07:22 PM
One question that many people have failed to ask about this project is what can be developed "by right" without having to get Council approval. The approved project does add about 6800 new vehicle trips, with significant penalties if that number is exceeded. The "by right" projects for financial impacts in the staff report can add over 10,000 trips without increasing the existing 600 parking spaces, or over 14,000 trips while increasing the number of paring spaces to 1373. This analysis convinced me that the Council is right.
Fatima Malik February 19, 2014 at 01:39 PM
Please re-read Ms. Williams' statement: "The League of Women Voters of Santa Monica has no position on this referendum. We are neutral regarding it." That means she is not for or against it. I encourage you to do your own due diligence. The League of Women Voters takes action on issues or advocates for a cause when there is an existing League position that supports the issue or speaks to the cause. Positions result from a process of study and consensus. (For information about the League process, see the League's web site: http://www.lwv.org/content/overview-program). If the League has no position or the scope of the issue goes far and beyond a position that the League has, they remain neutral. Ms. Williams' letter to the editor is meant to advise you to read the document and do research before you sign something. Your signature means a lot.
Captain Liberty February 19, 2014 at 05:41 PM
I would suggest when dealing with a subject as talked about and debated as this one, with the huge show of support demonstrated by members of the public and the blatant disregard by those 4 members of the City Council, the League would be well advised not to treat us as if we were ignorant children. Of course we know what we're signing. No one is lying to us. There are no misrepresentations. The developers are compromising our quality of life and we need to stop them.
ARIZKID February 20, 2014 at 12:14 PM
I am shocked as to the number of my neighbors 15, at a recent barbeque had no idea about the Hines development or the petition drive. Of which many thought the project was in Los Angeles. Only two knew what the border line was between Santa Monica and W LA. And residents wonder how the Watergarden got built??? Wait, more than twenty large developments are being proposed in our city. Not including the number of proposed developments on the WLA, VENICE, MARINA DEL REY AREAS, that will bring in even MORE TRAFFIC/CONGESTION. So get your head out of the sand and get involved with your city issues before it is TOO LATE.....
Brian Burke February 20, 2014 at 03:32 PM
This message from the League is seriously perplexing and contradictory to their stated mission. When the president, Ann K Williams says " it is no one's duty or responsibility to support putting a measure on the ballot" if they don't agree with. This is politicalhogwash. As a citizen it is indeed my duty to support any referendum that addresses significant issues facing my community and for which there has been a dearth of public discourse. If the President and the League were true to their mission they would be busy encouraging public discourse and assisting our fellow citizens in understanding the issues and participating in the debate. They would be offering forums and public discussions, even a handbook on the critical facts and statistics. Most of all they should be concerned with our City Council's efforts to sidestep established public architectural guidelines, as elucidated in LUCE, for back room negotiations with developers. And for this they can remain neutral all the while promoting democracy.

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