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Government and People
April 29, 2004
By Messenger (and facsimile)
Chairman Benjamin F. Wilson
Re: Request for Special Meeting of the Board
Dear Chairman Wilson:
As counsel to the proposers of the "Jobs, Education, and Healthcare Lottery Expansion Initiative of 2004", I write to request that the Board of Elections and Ethics schedule a special public meeting/hearing, in advance of its regular meeting on rune 2, to act on matters related to the proposed Initiative. This request is consistent with the law and regulations governing the Initiative process. (See Section 400.5, Chapter 4 ("Hearings") of the Regulations).
We suggest that notice of the special public meeting/hearing could be published in the D.C. Register of May 14, allowing the special public meeting/hearing to be held on Wednesday, May 19. Agenda item(s) would include the public hearing and Board determination as to whether to approve the measure as a proper subject matter for an initiative, pursuant to 3 DCMR § 1001.3. If our consolidation request by letter of April 28, is approved, the special-meeting agenda also would also include Board action regarding adoption of the summary statement, short title, and legislative form of the initiative measure, pursuant to 3 DCMR § 1002.2; and possibly also Board preparation and providing to the proposers the original petition form, pursuant to 3 DCMR § 1003.1.
As we have discussed, the Initiative proposers have a keen interest in bringing this matter before the voters in the November general election. As D.C. citizens and civic leaders of long standing, they deeply believe in the merits of the proposed Initiative and the urgency of presenting it to the voters at the earliest opportunity.
The proposed Initiative lays the groundwork for generating substantial new revenue for the District, with recommendations to designate two-thirds of the funds for D.C. Public Schools and for prescription drug benefits for D.C. senior citizens. Because these are two of the most critical issues in our city today, we believe the Board would be acting in the public interest to expedite its processes to help bring the issue before the voters in November.
The proposed Initiative, if passed, carries the additional public benefit of creating jobs. We gained new evidence, in yesterday's Washington Business Journal, of the job-creation challenges our city still faces. As the Journal reported, "the lion's share" of new jobs created in the Washington region last month are in northern Virginia. The District still falls far short of the need in creating job opportunities for 20,000-plus' D.C. citizens who are unemployed and actively seeking work.
By our analysis of the Initiative process and timetable, if the Board agrees to schedule a special meeting/public hearing on May 19, Initiative proposers would have 32 days to defend any challenges to the Initiative and for signature collection.
But, if the Board chooses to act at its regular meeting/public hearing on June 2, Initiative proposers will have only 19 days to defend any challenges to the Initiative and for signature collection.
It is critically important for Initiative proposers to have the additional 13 petitioncirculation days that a May 19 special meeting would provide, in order to be able to present this proposal to D.C. voters on the November ballot.
For these reasons, we strongly encourage the Board to call a special public meeting/hearing on May 19 to act on these matters.
Thank you for your assistance.
cc: Stephen G. Callas, Board Member
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
April 30, 2004
John Ray, Esq.
Dear Mr. Ray:
I am writing in response to your letter of April 29 requesting a special meeting of the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics in advance of its regular meeting on June 2 to act on matters related to the proposed "Jobs, Education, and Healthcare Lottery Expansion Initiative of 2004".
As you may be aware, the Board does not typically schedule Special Meetings to approve initiative measures, the first step in the initiative process. The Board is concerned that such a precedent would not be in the best interest of the Board, the District of Columbia voters, or the City in general. Initiatives often have strong proponents, and opponents. Stated simply, it is critical that the Board remain "neutral" in its approach to initiative measures. If we were to schedule the proposed initiative in question for a Special Meeting as you have requested, any opponents of the initiative may well argue they have not received adequate notice of the initial hearing at which we determine whether the measure is a proper subject matter for an initiative in the District of Columbia. Assuming such a determination is made that the proposed measure in question is in fact a proper subject of an initiative, please be advised that it has been the Board's practice to expedite hearings addressing the proper formulation of the measure.
Your proposed measure was filed with the Board on April 22, 2004. We expect the process to proceed in the same manner as all other initiative measures. This process will allow the circulators a full six months to collect valid signatures. During that period, the District of Columbia will hold two citywide elections which will allow petition circulators to gather valid signatures on each of those election days. There is also always the potential for a special citywide election that may occur at any time, after the measure has been certified for ballot access.
If you have any questions about this matter feel free to call me or the Board's General Counsel, Kennetth McGhie, at 727-2194.
cc: Lenora Cole Alexander, Board Member
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