The Spokane City Council will consider next week adding a pair of ballot measures to the Nov. 8 ballot to ask voters whether they want the city to cut programs or “pursue additional funding sources” if the Community Bill of Rights passes.
For those not fluent in the language of government-speak, pursue additional funding sources is a polite way of saying “raise taxes.”*
Similar provisions were added to the 2009 ballot when the previous incarnation of the Community Bill of Rights was before the voters. So expect a similar explanation from supporters on the council that they just need some advice from voters on how to pay for the CBR, should the voters pass it so late in the year, what with all the preparations underway at the time for the 2012 city budget.
Expect, too, some vocal protests from Envision Spokane, the sponsors of the CBR. In 2009, they prepared a legal brief against the add-on ballot measures, saying it was an attempt to prejudice voters against the one CBR. But they never filed it. Kai Huschke of Envision Spokane said there's no decision yet on whether to file the challenge this time if the council repeats the 2009 maneuver.
So it could be deja vu all over again, on multiple levels, including the short notice of the added ballot propositions, which weren't mentioned by any councilmembers when they voted unanimously to put the Community Bill of Rights on the ballot last Monday. (OK, so they didn't have a choice in the matter because Envision Spokane followed the rules and gathered the required signatures and submitted their petiions. Not putting it on the ballot, as some people suggested, would have left the council open to a legal challenge.)
But even though there was some minimal grousing about the CBR, council members didn't suggest during that meeting they thought voters the “advisory measures” should also return to the ballot.
The council will have to decide next Monday on whether to lard the ballot with the two extra propositions. The deadline for adding something like that to the ballot is a April 16.
* What? You thought it meant take turns on a street corner with a tin cup and accordion or drill for oil in Riverfront Park?