- Written by Greg Nelson
05 Oct 2012
POLITICS - Neighborhood councils are generally ignored by elected officials because they haven’t mastered the art of learning how to help them or hurt them.
During Prohibition, a Seattle police lieutenant named Roy Olmstead got fired and fined after getting caught bootlegging while trying to avoid a roadblock by federal agents.
He became known as the “Good Bootlegger” because his employees didn’t engage in violence or other criminal activity.
He didn’t have to, because he knew that the path to success was to help the politicians keep what mattered most to them – their jobs. He bribed everyone from the mayor on down.
Today, bribes usually come in the form of campaign contributions. Although neighborhood councils can’t give any of their city money to campaigns, they can form PACs and contribute as individuals.
But very soon there will be an opportunity for neighborhood council members to do something that will cost them just one day’s work and no money, and endear them to elected officials.
Each city election starts with wannabe candidates collecting enough signatures on petitions to qualify for the ballot. Even for incumbents the process is a nuisance. Volunteers have to be found, organized, and herded around.
Just think of the political points that a neighborhood council could earn if its members offered the incumbent or challenger of choice an opportunity to gather all the necessary signatures in one day.
Qualifying this quickly would send a message of strength to the challengers. If they failed, there would be plenty of time before the December 5th deadline for the candidate to go to Plan B.
Here’s an idea.
November 10 is the first day that potential candidates can run to City Hall and get 100 blank petitions, each with room for 20 signatures.
The goal is to collect 1,000 signatures of people registered to vote in the district. To have a buffer, 2,000 signatures may be turned in.
If the candidate pays $300, those numbers are cut in half.
From experience, 10 good people could collect 1,000 signatures in a day. So play it safe and find 20 people. How hard is that?
November 10 is a Saturday, and the City Clerk’s office will only be open from 8:00 a.m. to noon, so collecting all the signatures and driving them to City Hall isn’t going to happen on the same day. So aim to be the first to turn in the petitions on Monday morning, and alert the media.
Create a plan so that each person knows where they will be … a supermarket, walking door-to-door where they live, etc.
Lots of people will be at home and doing errands on that weekend … a perfect time to get signatures.
Don’t let anyone, except the experienced people, start will more than two petitions. You don’t want to have the problem of good-hearted people biting off more than they can chew, and returning with partially filled petitions.
Pick a temporary headquarters. Pizza shops are great for this. Using couriers with cars or bicycles, deliver more blank petitions only to those who have filled the ones they have.
While waiting for petitions to arrive from the field, have someone check the signatures for obvious flaws.
Other reasons for filing early are that the City Clerk’s staff will be able to verify the petitions quickly, and if you have a need to collect more signatures you will be able to request additional petitions.
If your candidate gets elected, you have a made a friend who owes you a favor.
And that’s politics.
Vol 10 Issue 80
Pub: Oct 5, 2012