Charter Amendment Petition Filed for
Reasonable Petition Requirements in City of Bastrop
Bastrop, Texas: At approximately 10:30 am, Independent Texans PAC filed signatures for a charter amendment to the Bastrop City Charter for “Reasonable Petition Requirements in the City of Bastrop” with Bastrop City Secretary, Ann Franklin. If petitioners meet the required 214 signatures, the measure will be certified by the City Secretary and the Bastrop Council must place the measure on the November ballot for a vote of the people. Bastrop city voters will then have the opportunity to vote on easing petition requirements for citizens’ initiatives, referenda and recalls. The group also announced the end of the petition to recall Bastrop Mayor Ken Kesselus, citing the city’s 25% petition hurdle as “draconian,” when most Texas cities require 10%.
“We offered to hold this charter amendment for the May election to give a charter revision committee appointed by the Council the time to review the city charter,” explained Linda Curtis, director of Independent Texans PAC. “However, this changed for us with City Attorney Jo-Christy Brown’s resignation this week, followed three hours later by that of the Interim City Manager, Chief Steve Adcock, a respected law enforcement official. Kesselus and his clan of self-interested influence peddlers like water marketer Joe Beal and recently retired Bluebonnet Electric Coop General Manager, Mark Rose, have pushed this city into a real crisis of confidence, and it is time to take action.”
In a memorandum to the Mayor, City Council and City Secretary that accompanied today’s filing, Independent Texans explained that this filing of 298 valid signatures is “a portion of the total signatures gathered and should readily meet the 214 signatures required for ballot certification.” The group did not reveal how many total signatures they have gathered for either petition.
The memorandum also spelled out in detail what the group believes the Council is legally bound to do and why they are prohibited by state and federal law from “playing petition games in order to deny Bastrop voters the right to vote for or against this amendment.” The memorandum stated that once the City Secretary certifies the signatures, the Council is bound to place the measure on the next available ballot – the November 8th election. The Council can do so at any upcoming meeting.
“After watching the recent actions of this mayor and council, I fully support this initiative to allow citizens a means to more easily recall self-serving or inept city officials, and to overrule their actions when they don’t match our citizens’ needs,” commented former Bastrop City Council Member Kelly Gilleland. “If these more realistic petition percentages were already in place, there would also have been enough signatures to initiate a recall on Kesselus. As it stands now, our elected officials know that the current charter makes it virtually impossible for recall, no matter how badly they behave. We don’t have to accept being treated like lowly serfs in a royal kingdom.”
At a recent City Council Meeting Councilman Willie DeLaRosa complained that a November city election could cost the city as much as $13,000. Today Curtis fired back, “What the city will spend on this election is less than the $17,500-plus the City has shelled out in legal fees dealing with Kesselus’ repeated attempts to circumvent the Ethics Ordinance, City Charter, and Texas Open Meetings Act. This Mayor and Council better not waste one penny fighting the rights of citizens to vote to secure their petition rights.”
The group also released a slide show entitled, “The Right to Petition: Bastrop Voters’ Source of Power to Take Back Their Town.” It explains some of the history of petition rights, starting with founding fathers Jefferson and Madison, the 1913 Texas constitutional amendment guaranteeing citizens living in home rule cities the right to petition and the details of their proposed amendment.
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