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Meeting Information

Budget and Policy Committee

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Elections Commission Budget Committee

Wednesday, January 7, 2004

5:30 pm

City Hall, Room 400



1.         CALL TO ORDER

            The Meeting was called to order at 5:53.


2.         ROLL CALL

Present were Commissioner Robert Kenealey and Chairperson Brenda Stowers.


3.          FLAG SALUTE was led by Commissioner Mendelson.



4.         Public CommentChristopher Bowman commented that the draft for a plan for the selection of official ballot arguments by Supervisor Tony Hall was a good start and addresses most of the issues.  He said that a prioritization that would have the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor on an equal level in a lottery to determine which proposal would be the official proponent or opponent would be his choice.   Mr. Bowman suggested that it would be appropriate that someone with special knowledge of the subject be given priority in the selection of arguments.    Additionally, Mr. Bowman expressed his belief that every argument should pay for itself.  He noted that Mayors and Supervisors get free publicity for their stands on measures and should also pay. 


5.         Discussion and possible action to recommend a selection process for official ballot arguments to the full Elections Commission.  Commissioner Kenealey MOVED that the Committee adopt an official process for ballot arguments to send to the full Commission.  SECONDED by Commissioner Mendelson.


Commissioner Mendelson said that it would be appropriate to get an opinion from the City Attorney regarding the constitutionality of limiting individuals’ participation to one argument and the Committee should get information on how the DoE makes its determination regarding the selection of ballot arguments.  The Commissioner suggested that once this information is available, the Committee can prepare its report and recommendation to the Commission, and asked that the subject be TABLED until then. 


Commissioner Kenealey suggested that the item be CONTINUED TO THE CALL OF THE CHAIR.  Commissioner Mendelson agreed and the vote CARRIED.


Chairperson Stowers stated that prior to the next Budget and Policy Committee Meeting, the Committee would request the legal opinion on the constitutionality of limiting the number of arguments that could be submitted and request the Director of Elections to submit a written report of how the Department currently makes its determination of ballot arguments.  The Commission Secretary is to notify Deputy City Attorney Julia Moll and the Director John Arntz that deadline for the reports will be one week prior to the next Committee meeting which will be February 4, 2004.


Commissioner Kenealey asked Mr. Christopher Bowman if he recalled when the City first began using the lottery procedure for ballot arguments.


Mr. Bowman answered that his research showed it began approximately in 1979. 


  1. Public Comment.  Christopher Bowman reminded the Committee that the City Attorney’s Office, after approximately two years of research, gave its opinion when it drafted the resolution on this subject in 1999.  He suggested that the Committee talk about not just the process but also the product when it reviews the Director’s report.  The escalation of the “arms race” over this issue because one person or group abuses the system can be a problem.  Sometimes, he said, up to 68 arguments have been submitted on one subject in order to get a “guarantee” that a particular argument gets chosen.  This has a tremendous impact on staff who must process all that paperwork.  Mr. Bowman suggested that the Committee and the Director look at how many arguments have been submitted by particular persons/groups over the years. 


7.              ADJOURNMENT at 6:15 pm.