Protect KC's petition process from politicians
The Kansas City Star
KC’s elected officials for years have tried to change the petition process to make it tougher for residents to have a say over taxes and important issues.
For example, I successfully opposed an effort proposed by Mayor Kay Barnes and the council several years ago to force petition campaigns to get a certain number of signatures from different parts of Kansas City.
This was aimed, in part, at activist Clay Chastain, who had gathered many of his pro-light rail signatures at grocery stores and other places in the vote-happy 4th District.
As I noted at the time, the mayor and at-large council members didn’t have to gather their signatures in different parts of the city.
So they were trying to make things tougher for the citizens than they are for the politicians. How typical.
The latest get-tough-with-citizens plan comes from council member Russ Johnson, who this week tried to rush to the Nov. 6 ballot a proposal to require that people who circulate initiative petitions must be Kansas City residents.
Again, this one appeared aimed at Chastain, but it also would have affected any other future campaigns on any number of items where groups want to hire outsiders to collect signatures.
Remember, the people who sign the petitions have to be KC residents. And obviously, the voters making the final decisions (unless the council overturns them, as once happened with a Chastain light-rail plan) have to be KC residents.
Fortunately, on Wednesday, as The Star reported, Johnson pulled the issue from council review.
It’s a silly, non-needed proposal that likely would be successfully opposed in the courts by groups that want to protect the rights of citizens to initiate legislation.