Don't deflect blame for missing ballot deadline

Feb. 14 is the special election date, but it was hardly a rosy exchange of valentines this week between a local couple active in civic affairs and city officials.

The testy exchange of letters stems from a signature-gathering effort to get a public vote in Port Orchard on whether the city should change to what’s called a “code city.”

The City Council held hearings in May to discuss what effect this status change might have on local government operations, and to get public input. As is typical for such mundane matters, hardly anyone showed up.

“Code city” doesn’t stir up the citizenry the way water rate increases or semi-nude baristas do.

So the council passed a resolution to change the city’s status, and it would have taken effect after 90 days unless there was a referendum to put it on the ballot.

Well, there is. Gil and Kathy Michael took the initiative to gather signatures on such a referendum petition, which they submitted to the City Clerk’s office on Monday. But to their dismay, they were informed that it was two weeks past the Aug. 1

deadline for the referendum to get on the November ballot.

They’ll get the vote they want, once the signatures are verified, but it will have to be at a special election. And that will cost the city substantially more.

Unfortunately, after realizing they missed the deadline, the couple wrote a misguided letter accusing the City Clerk of withholding information and blaming her for their referendum not making the November ballot.

Unfortunately, the city attorney, at the mayor’s direction, fired off a withering response that’s more harshly worded than it needed to be. But it essentially says: Don’t blame the City Clerk for missing your deadline when you never asked her about it.

The lead-up to the Feb. 14 special election may produce more discussion of the pros and cons of switching to code city status. But the election cost will make it an unnecessarily expensive Valentine’s Day.

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