Review Commission deserves congratulations for
hard work done for the citizens of Clallam
County: Review changes and vote wisely
Editorial by Bob Forde
15-member elected commission to review the
Home Rule Charter – Clallam County’s
“Constitution”, deserves a hand for the
hard work and long hours they’ve devoted to
reviewing the charter and listening to
citizens across the spectrum of political
views to arrive at several proposed changes.
newspaper accounts have reported inaccurately
regarding the commission’s work, especially
concerning the initiative and referendum
Much-needed changes to strengthen these
two very important rights reserved to the
people have been under attack, most recently
with the “100 signatures” issue.
It is important to stress that before
reporting on these issues, it would be good if
reporters from local newspapers (a) actually
read the proposed changes; and (b) attended
the charter review commission meetings.
commission looked at, and incorporated,
language from other counties around the state
concerning the initiative and referendum
The new language, as proposed, places
the procedure into easy-to-follow steps, with
safeguards to get an initiative to the ballot
instead of being shut down before getting to
the people for a vote.
of 100 signatures is made concerning the
initiative process. (An initiative is the
creation of a new law, or the repeal of a law,
initiated by the people.)
referendum process, which in the existing
charter only requires one signature to get it
started, would require 100 signatures under
the proposed change, just to get it started,
making it more difficult for “frivolous”
This is 100 times the number required
referendum sponsor would have only 8 days to
get those 100 signatures.
(A referendum deals with a law just
passed by the county commissioners – it
“refers” the law to the people – submits
to popular vote – a measure passed on or
proposed by the county commissioners).
Gazette ran a “news” story about the
issue, entitled “Charter proposals baffle
county leaders” (7.24.02).
You reported that the proposed change
would “suspend any ordinance” with the 100
signatures, a statement which was inaccurate
and misleading, to say the least.
ordinance” could not be suspended under the
proposal; only a new, proposed ordinance made
by the county commissioners, if 100 signatures
could be gathered within 8 days – not an
That’s only to get the referendum
started, and then 5% of the people who voted
in the last general election would have to
sign on in order to get it on the ballot for
the vote of the rest of the people.
ordinance” would include the right of
initiative – and the initiative process does
not call for 100 signatures anywhere in the
The process for an initiative is
different than that for a referendum.
course of commission meetings, the initiative
I sponsored, Initiative 6 – the Repeal of
the Critical Areas Code - has been mentioned
as an example as to why the charter should be
changed toward correcting and strengthening
the initiative and referendum process.
made in local papers that Initiative 6 is dead
are far from the truth.
The lawsuit over whether the initiative
can go forward for a vote of the people has
been placed on the “fast track” by the
appeals court, and is scheduled for oral
arguments on September 4th.
Apparently, the judges in the appeals
court think it’s important enough an issue
to hear soon.
Also of note
is that prominent organizations and
state-elected officials have joined in an
amicus brief in favor of Initiative 6.
Signers on this friendly brief include
State Representatives Jim Buck and Joyce
Mulliken; State Senator Tim Sheldon; the
Washington State Farm Bureau; the Evergreen
Freedom Foundation, and Ferry County.
They obviously believe that the people
of Clallam County have been short-changed in
not being allowed to vote on this initiative,
and have made an excellent argument regarding
the constitutional rights of the people at the
local level to do so.
tell what the outcome will be, but there are
many ‘experts’ with whom we have spoken
who firmly believe that Initiative 6 will win
in the end, and be allowed to go before the
people of this county for a vote, as it should
have in the beginning.
Whether you are for or against the
issue, it should be left to the people to
initiative should never have been thrown into
the courts to begin with.
The county commissioners failed to
follow their own ordinance – that an issue
“must be on the ballot” before they can
even file a declaratory judgment (which is
what they did, naming me as the defendant in
this case). With the proposed changes to the initiative and referendum
process, hopefully some of these issues will
be dealt with through clarification of the
proper procedure to follow. This will not just help “special interest groups” but
each and every citizen of this county.
the Home Rule Charter (our county
constitution), is designed to “give the
control of county affairs to the people of the
county rather than requiring legislation from
Olympia.” It offers increased local involvement and local control in
our local government by its citizens, which
follows the concepts of both the U.S.
Constitution and the Washington State
Constitution, which states “All political
power is inherent in the people, and
governments derive their just powers from the
consent of the governed, and are established
to protect and maintain individual rights.”
(Art. 1, Sec. 1, WA State Const.)
certain organizations have repeated over the
course of the commission meetings, - that the
issues are too complex for ordinary citizens
to understand - I believe that the people can,
and will, make the right choices.
I strongly encourage citizens to obtain a copy of the Home Rule Charter and its proposed changes, which is available at the Clallam County Courthouse, and online at www.clallam.net, so you are fully informed about the truth of these issues before you vote in November.
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