Del. Bob Brink (D) has introduced two bills in the House of Delegates that attempt to “address the irregularities discovered during the signature gathering process” for last year’s failed effort to change Arlington’s form of government.
One bill, HB 1646, calls for the name and address of a petition signature gatherer to be present on both sides of the petition form. The bill is in response to “numerous reports where the description of the person who signed the forms as petition circulator didn’t match the description of the individual actually gathering the signatures.”
So far, HB 1646 is still awaiting a subcommittee vote.
Brink’s other bill, HB 1670, is broader piece of legislation. The bill addresses an alleged conflict of interest — that the campaign manager for the change-of-government effort was also the notary public that certified the now-disqualified petition sheets.
The bill, which passed a subcommittee on Monday, says that “a notary shall not perform any notarial act with respect to any document, writing, or electronic document that presents a conflict between his personal interest and his official duty.”
On Brink’s web site, at least one constituent worried that bill may be “over-inclusive” and could affect real estate transactions where an attorney is also acting as a notary.
Brink says the legislation is necessary to “improve the voter referendum petition process” and “prevent fraud.”
“Last year’s referendum effort in Arlington taught us valuable lessons about weaknesses in the petition signature gathering process,” Brink said in a statement. “Learning from that experience and passing this corrective legislation will help protect the integrity of voter referenda.”
Arlington’s entire delegation to the General Assembly in Richmond has come out against a proposal that would change the county’s form of government.
In a letter to Arlington County voters, lawmakers argue that changing from a county manager form of government, to a form that gives more executive powers to the county board, “could significantly impair our ability to advance Arlington’s interests in Richmond.”
The letter is signed by state senators Mary Margaret Whipple and Patsy Ticer, delegates Bob Brink, Adam Ebbin, David Englin and Patrick Hope, and a number of former state lawmakers — all Democrats.
A group, the Committee for a Better Arlington, is attempting to collect more than 14,000 signatures by July 15 in order to put the change-of-government proposal to voters in the form of a referendum.
The lawmakers’ letter, after the jump.
Change-of-Government Petition Issues – The Sun Gazette reports that the Arlington County registrar’s office may have a difficult time processing the thousands of signatures being gathered for the Committee for a Better Arlington’s change-of-government proposal. Officials are worried that the county may have to hire temporary workers and pay overtime in order to verify all the signatures. In a separate article, a Committee for a Better Arlington spokesperson says that the group will probably not honor any requests by petition signers who have reconsidered and now want their name removed from the list, saying it’s “not required by the law.”
Final Jeopardy for Arlington Contestant — Despite a valiant comeback and a down-to-the-wire finish, Arlington resident Liz Murphy placed second in last night’s semifinal round of the Jeopardy Tournament of Champions, which means she will not advance to the finals.
The Arlington County Board has given the go-ahead to include the proposed new Wakefield High School as part of its bond referendum this fall.
The $104.6 million project was fast-tracked by the school system and the county board in order to take advantage of more favorable bids from construction companies hurt by the recession. Originally, the county’s 2008 Capital Improvement Plan called for the school’s bond referendum to take place in 2012.
“By moving the project forward we will realize significant savings through reduced construction costs,” board Chairman Jay Fisette said in a statement.
“The new Wakefield High School will be a great civic building that will be both a first-class educational facility and an asset to the broader community,” said board vice-chairman Christopher Zimmerman.
In April, Acting County Manager Barbara Donnellan raised questions about whether the school’s financing could cause issues with the county’s debt limits and put Arlington’s excellent AAA bond rating in jeopardy. Apparently those fears were allayed.
Residents will vote in November on whether to approve the bonds necessary to build the school.