Last year, the former public information officer for the city attorney’s office, Erica Harrold, said in a telephone interview called it a “draconian state law” that mandates that a petition for a referendum overturning a city ordinance—including the final version of the ordinance—must be turned in no later than 30 days after the final passage of the ordinance, even though state law does not give a timetable as to when the final version of the ordinance must be made available to the public.
“We need to rework the state law so that the 30-day clock doesn’t start ticking until there is publicly available a stamped, final version of the ordinance,” Harrold said last year. Until that law is changed, she added, “our hands are tied. What else can we do? The city attorney’s office believes we were on solid ground” in throwing out the petitions.
Anyway, I just wanted to point out that this isn’t some bizarre and random change of attitude on the part of John Russo’s office. JDAT conveniently forgets to mention that Russo’s office successfully lobbied the State to change the law last year so that the 30-day time period doesn’t begin until the City Clerk certifies an ordinance. From the press release (pdf!):
“A lot of the mistakes made by Referendum Committee leaders sprang from their fear that, with only 30 days under state law to collect signatures, they needed to move very quickly,” said Oakland City Attorney John Russo. “My hope is that this new law will allow those people who care enough to engage in the process to get the time they need and that they won’t feel they have to cut corners.”