Constituents should be allowed to exercise rights
Our new County Councilman for the 7th District, Derek Young, recently wrote a newspaper article entitled “Lawsuit isn’t easy choice, but it is right” (The News Tribune, March 8). Sorry, Mr. Young. But you’re wrong and the sad thing is you don’t even know it.
Young starts the article with this opening sentence: “Recently, Pierce County filed a lawsuit to stop a referendum that would harm county government and its institutions.” Really? That’s your first concern? The harm caused to county government and it institutions by one of your very own constituents exercising his rights under the Pierce County Charter? What about the harm caused the citizen exercising his right of referendum, Mr. Young? No concerns there? Really?
Those rights are clearly spelled out in the preamble of the County Charter: “We the people of Pierce County…claim the rights of initiative and referendum, and encourage citizen participation, in accordance with the Constitution of the State of Washington.” Section 5.60 of the County Charter states: “The people reserve to power of referendum. A referendum may be ordered on any ordinance … passed by the Council.”
I’m sorry that the County Executive didn’t like the fact that a regular citizen of her county dared challenge her plan to build her new palace, but that’s his right. That’s the sacred right of every person in this county and we claimed that right before we turned over the reins of power to those we elect. It is one of our only safeguards to keeping control of our government so when the Executive ordered the prosecuting attorney to “drop the hammer,” it’s meant as a chilling message to the rest of us.
That lawsuit was quickly overturned when the County Council finally figured out that the Executive could not “order” a lawsuit but only the County Council has that authority.
That one regular guy who only wanted the peoples voice to be heard through an election process was spared the government guillotine and allowed to proceed with the almost insurmountable task of getting 24,000 signatures on a petition to get the question to the people for their vote. No matter what the question might be, we all need to defend that God-given right and owe a debt of gratitude this day to Jerry Gibbs.