An odd thing happened this week. People found on their Facebook pages a “community news forum” notice from the website “Common Sense, Saratoga”. It solicited their help in a petition drive to get a new version of the city manager charter on the November ballot but curiously didn’t make the actual charter available to potential petitioners or the public whose signatures they would be soliciting . It told readers that:
1. The city would be divided into six wards with one representative from each ward.
2. The ward representatives would serve two year terms.
3. The mayor would be elected city wide.
4. The mayor would serve a four year term.
5. 2,000 valid signatures would have to be gathered to get the charter on the November ballot.
6. They had only until the end of this month (less than ten days) to submit the petitions for certification.
People were informed that they should send any questions to SaratogaCharter2019@gmail.com.
Conspicuously absent from this notice was where people could find a copy of this proposed charter to read.
Interestingly the news feed disappeared from people’s Facebook page and as of the time I am writing this has not reappeared. None of this information is on their website or their Facebook page.
I guess I am old school but I don’t understand how anyone would sign a petition to get a charter on the ballot if they were not familiar with its content.
The Common Sense, Saratoga webpage lists four people as founders. Of the four I have the email addresses for three of them: Gordon Boyd, Ann Bullock, and Robert Turner. I sent an email to them and to SaratogaCharter2019@gmail.com asking the following questions:
1. Who wrote the new charter?
2. Who approved the new charter? (Is there some kind of structured organization?)
3. Where can someone get a copy of the new charter?
4. Where can someone get a copy of the petition that is being circulated?
5. Why did you wait until less than two weeks before state law requires the charter petition to be submitted to begin circulating a petition?
6. Why didn’t you involve the public in a discussion of your proposal before finalizing it?
I would have thought that in the interest of transparency and assisting the public in understanding their proposal and the process they are going through that the backers of this measure would have already posted all of this information along with a copy of the proposed charter before starting their petition drive.
I actually don’t think there is anything conspiratorial about what would, at first glance, suggest secrecy. My experience with the people behind this project is that transparency is just not important to them. They are so imbued with the rightness of their campaign that it does not occur to them that people deserve to have this information. They expect the public to just blindly trust what they have produced because they are so convinced of its merits.
I will be posting a screen shot of the news feed that disappeared plus their draft ward map shortly.