Petition for Referendum Question On Confluence Project
Posted: December 20, 2013
I was surprised this week when I went to retrieve my mail at the downtown Eau Claire post office to find two volunteers soliciting signatures for a petition to get a question placed on the April 1st ballot asking voters if they wish to have the City of Eau Claire spend taxpayer dollars on the Confluence Project.
I realize that the post office property is public domain. In fact, I give every year to the men and women of the Veterans of Foreign War to solicit a few dollars for the Memorial Day poppies. However, I thought it was very odd that signatures were being solicited on property that is owned by the taxpayers who are being asked whether they wish to support a major downtown redevelopment plan.
The irony of the situation is this: The downtown post office building is owned by the City of Eau Claire Redevelopment Authority (RDA). The RDA acquired the facility after purchasing it from Gateway West Development Corp. last fall. Even the name of the city committee implies that the group is committed to improving the central business district.
The other issue that I found amusing is that at least one of the volunteers asking people to sign the petition to get the referendum question on the ballot was from the Town of Washington. Apparently, she is an artist who is concerned about her friends who live in the City of Eau Claire. She told a co-worker that she supports The Confluence, but she thinks that the city should get feedback from the public about how to fund the project.
During the three days this week that I witnessed volunteers asking for signatures, I saw three people sign the petition. Many of the visitors to the downtown post office reside outside the city limits and are not eligible to sign the petition. However, I overheard volunteers on Tuesday confirm to one another that they were confident they will receive the necessary number of signatures to get the question placed on the spring ballot.
All of this could be for naught since City of Eau Claire Attorney Steve Nick has gone on record stating that the referendum question will not be binding. In other words, prior council action to provide $5 million towards the Confluence Project supercedes any referendum question. It all seems like a waste of time to me.
THERE WILL BE NO ISSUE OF THE BOTTOM LINE ON DEC. 27th or JAN. 3rd DUE TO THE CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR'S HOLIDAYS. ROPA PUBLISHING COMPANY WISHES ALL A SAFE AND HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON!