Light-rail petitioner can’t seem to accept defeat

At Monday’s meeting, the Vancouver City Council was briefed by City Attorney Ted Gathe about the failed light-rail petition that was briefly thought to have enough signatures.

Councilor Bill Turlay, who was involved in the petition effort before he was elected to the council, said he’d like the city to produce a pamphlet that explains the petition process, an idea endorsed by Councilor Larry Smith.

Gathe told the council that the city already provides clear guidelines to petitioners. The petitioners had also been in contact with Auditor Greg Kimsey’s office, which ultimately decided the petition was 32 signatures short.

What was left unsaid at the meeting was this: The city provides the rules (such as people who sign the petition must live in the city, be registered voters and can only sign once), but whether petitioners can comprehend the rules is another issue.

Take petitioner Larry Patella, who in his email today wrote:

It is also my opinion that we still have a chance. Article 10.05 of the Vancouver City Charter states:

“An initiative petition may be amended at any time within twenty days after the notification of insufficiency has been sent by the city clerk by filing a supplementary petition upon additional papers signed and filed as provided in case of an original petition”.

If the City Charter is the law of the land, we have time to collect additional signature and amend our petition,” Patella wrote.

What Patella doesn’t understand is his group already amended its petition. It failed in April, they were given more time, and came up short.

As Gathe told the council on Monday, if an amended petition is found to have an insufficient number of signatures, no further action will be taken on the petition.

Smith asked Monday if petitioners can appeal.

They can always sue the county auditor’s office, Gathe deadpanned.

That was a joke, right? It prompted a few people to laugh.

Kimsey said today that it cost $42,200 in staff time to review the signatures.

Stephanie Rice

Stephanie Rice

I cover Vancouver city government. Reach me at or 360-735-4508.

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