DISTRICT RESIDENTS will have a chance to vote Tuesday on two proposed amendments to the home-rule charter. One, the initiative and referendum charter amendment, would allow citizens to propose laws and suspected acts of the city council, the other, recall charter amendment, would allow citizens to remove local elected officials from office.
Considerable attention has recently been focused on the proposed amendments because of confusion in their wording. Only last week, the city council realized that the proposals contained a typographical error - making them significantly different from the way they were originally approved. That error has been eliminated and the ballots the voters receive will be the correct ones.
We support both of these amendments to the charter. They are thoughtful proposals intended to encourage additional community involvement in governing the city. The council has included some safeguards that - surprisingly - were the items of debate several days ago. In the initiative and referendum amendment, the signatures of at least of 5 per cent of the city's registered voters (with 5 per cent from each of at least five wants) would be required on a petition to propose laws that would be decided by popular vote, or to propose the repeal of laws enacted by the city council. In the recall amendment, the requirement would be a minimum of 10 per cent of the registered voters from a ward to sign a petition for recall of an elected official of that ward. And, in the case of at-large elected officials, signatures of 10 per cent of the voters (with 10 per cent from each of at least five city wards) would be needed to put a recall petition on the ballot. These provisions are an attempt to ensure that one particular ward or faction does not control the decisions for the entire city - and their inclusion considerably strengthens the amendments.
The amendments, if approved by the voters, still must be okayed by the House and Senate. We hope that the city voters - and the Congress - will recognize their importance.