Term Limits Volunteers Will Be Busy Circulating Petitions This Weekend

Volunteers are collecting signatures to get a term limits initiative for West Hollywood City Council members on the March 2013 ballot. Volunteers will be stationed throughout the city.

Volunteers from the Weho Term Limits group will be out in force this weekend collecting signatures.

The group, which is circulating a , will be in the pocket park on the northwest corner of Crescent Heights and Santa Monica boulevards Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

On Sunday, volunteers will have tables set up beside the Sal Guarriello Veterans' Memorial Fountain on Santa Monica Boulevard at Holloway Street (near the IHOP), from 1-3 p.m.

“Come by and sign the petition. Help us get term limits on the ballot for March," Scott Schmidt, one of the group’s organizers, told Weho Patch.

Alternately, people can go to the term limits website and pledge to sign the petition. A volunteer will then bring a copy of the petition to the person for a signature.

The group seeks to limit City Council members to three four-year terms of office, which could be served either consecutively or scattered, for a total of 12 years.

Of the current City Council members, John Heilman has served for 28 years, Abbe Land has served for 21, Jeff Prang has served for 15 and John Duran has served for 11. The new kid on the Council, John D’Amico, has served for one year.

By state law, the term limits can not be retroactive, so all of the current Council members would be allowed another 12 years.

Registering Voters at Same Time

Schmidt said the petition drive was going well.

“I’ve been walking down the sidewalk with my clip board in hand and people have come out of stores asking to sign the petition,” Schmidt said. “I was crossing the street at La Cienega and someone who was crossing with me [saw the clipboard and] asked to sign.”

The group is also registering people to vote at the same time they sign the petition.

“We’ve got voter registration forms as well,” Schmidt said. “By law, people have to be registered to vote within 72 hours of signing the petition.”

People who sign the petition must also live within West Hollywood city limits.

“When we ask if they live in West Hollywood,” Schmidt said, “if they say ‘yes,’ then about 80 percent of them sign it.”

Some Reticent to Sign

When asked about demographics, Schmidt said the younger voters seem most eager to sign.

“Whether they’re women or young men, they see term limits and ask for the pen,” Schmidt said. “Some of the older voters who have been around for a while and know certain Council members have been more reticent to sign.”

Schmidt explained that some of the older voters who have connections to the city have expressed concerns about retaliation for signing.

Such fears are groundless. At this week’s City Council meeting, City Attorney Mike Jenkins announced that the City Clerk is the only person allowed to see the names on the petition as he verifies that the person who signed is a registered voter living within West Hollywood city limits.

“By law, the only person in City Hall who will see the petitions is [City Clerk] Corey Shaffer,” Schmidt said. “He’s not allowed to show them to anyone else and can’t discuss the names either. [The petitions] are not a part of the public record.”

For more information about the term limits initiative, CLICK HERE to visit the website.

Chloe Ross September 11, 2012 at 06:51 AM
I would - the county wouldprobably bebetter for us than the City who considers anything east of the Maginot Line to blighted.
Rudolf Martin September 11, 2012 at 08:02 AM
thanks 'scott', yeah those were the days... and to bring the discussion back to term limits: having no term limits always leads to corruption. (not that that could happen in our city). here is an excerpt from an interview with jack abramoff (convicted felon lobbyist) who suggests that term limits (including staff!) are essential for curbing corruption and favoritism: " as a lobbyist the worst thing in the world you could ever have is term limits. I was against it for ... Vehemently when I was a lobbyist, why, because once you buy a congressional office frankly, you don’t want to buy it again. You want to put it in the bank."
scott ferguson September 11, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Rudolf - I checked and Abramoff indeed does now favor term limits. The problem is that for him it is theoretical - his lobbying efforts were nearly entirely with Congress, which of course does not (and because of the difficulties of Constitutional Amendments never will have) term limits. He has no practical experience with them. The epistimological evidence in state legislatures has been that term limits have been a major reason for the increase of power of term limits. Why? 1) If a legislator enters a job with term limits, from his first day he often is looking for his next job, either an upgrade in government (meaning running as a non-incumbent, in a more expensive campaign) so he becomes even more dependent on outside funding, mostly from lobbying interests, or he is looking for a job in the private sector, which lobbyists can dangle in front of him. Professional politicians have far less temptation. 2) The more inexperienced the legislator, the more he depends on outside influences to influence his vote. This is being shown nationwide with multiple Repub-dominated legislatures whose laws are literally being written, and passed, by the right-wing lobby ALEC (just google them), lock, stock and barrel. 3) New legislators have gotten money to be elected, and lobbyists know how to take advantage of that. Non-incumbents often are more obligated to narrow interests than incumbents who get their money from a range of often conflicting interests.
Rudolf Martin September 11, 2012 at 05:38 PM
"The epistimological evidence in state legislatures has been that term limits have been a major reason for the increase of power of term limits." ??? I surmise that is a typo and you mean lobbyists/special interests? as to your points 1 and 3 i would agree with. this just shows that term limits are not going to magically erase the fact that humans are always prone to being swayed by money, power and special interest. on your point 2 i would disagree with: not if we elect a capable person of integrity and a solid knowledge of how our city functions which we all strive to do. i don't think ALEC bothers to lobby in west hollywood. our issues are way too local. but wouldn't it be great to have this issue on the ballot so that more people would think about these things? having this debate on a larger scale could increase voter participation. and that is precisely what incumbents traditionally do not want to encourage. watch their actions, not their words.
scott ferguson September 11, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Thx for catching my word mixup and understanding the point. The history of local politics nationally is that where it does take some money to compete (as it does in WeHo) more often than not, barring a major issue that mobilizes opponents (which seems never to have happened here), it is the challenger who wins who is more beholden to special interests for his money. Unless someone is self-financed (not sure what the local laws are), it is far easier to raise money from a group with a specific agenda to back a challenger than from lots of small donors. That's just the reality of things. As far as the argument that having this debate is healthy - that argument can apply to any referendum. The referenda process has been a disaster for California in general, for progressives in particular. There is way too low a thresshold to get on the ballot (most states require more). I believe, based on 200+ years of US government, in representative democracy, not direct democracy. So unless a referendum is needed to corrrect a previous one (as may be needed with Prop 8), I usually oppose referenda on principle. The first rule in any political action - scope out the unintended consequences. That applies in volumes to term limits, as their usage has proven.


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