Final Thoughts On The Waste Water Petition Before Tonight’s Council Meeting

This’ll probably be my last chance to do any blogging before tonight but I wanted to follow up on that last post about the statistics used in the clerk’s report.

I hope by this point, after writing on this for two days straight, that it’s obvious that the petition only failed because the clerk was using some very debatable assumptions. Namely, that signatures should be deleted for not including the year and that she was expected to conduct two verification processes in sequence.

  • If the clerk just did a line-by-line run through of the petition and left out the signatures that didn’t include the year, then the petition passes the referendum threshold with 20,072 signatures.
  • If the clerk just did the line-by-line run through of the petition and kept the signatures that didn’t include the year, then the petition passes the referendum threshold with 22,906 signatures.
  • If the clerk did the line-by-line run through of the petition, kept the signatures that didn’t include the year and conducted the phone survey, the petition passes the referendum threshold with between 19,332 and 20,732 valid signatures.
  • And if the clerk did just the phone survey and during that also verified the year in which people remembered signing the petition… well, I can’t speculate on the actual numbers that would result from that but I think it’s obvious based on the results of the scenario immediately preceding this one that the petition would have passed the referendum threshold.

There are four scenarios with slightly tweaked assumptions about how the verification procedure should be conducted and in all of them the petition passes the referendum threshold. And note that you can argue that each of these scenarios is more valid than the one used by the city clerk.

In fact, the only way to make this petition fail is to do this paring down of the list of names that the clerk embarked upon.

Many people have said this to me over the last few days: It’s like the clerk devised a method specifically to make the petition fail.

And yet the Mayor continues to remind us that the clerk’s office is independent of council and administration in this matter. And as far as the letter of the Cities Act is concerned, her office is certainly supposed to be acting independently. And it probably is.

But I think what many people are concerned about is the clerk’s objectivity.

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5’10” tall and he was born in a place. He’s not there now. He’s sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It’s “Girl From Ipanema”, thanks for asking.

You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.