Hidey-ho, #Boulder. It's another council night. It's a study session, which are usually kinda ho-hum. But tonight's topics are muy interesante: Election stuff.
We've got a demo of the new online petitioning system that has been surrounded by much drama. Members of the election working group claiming no one will use it bc of the way it's designed. We'll get into that later. boulderbeat.news/2020/10/10/bou…
Council will discuss (but maybe not decide) how to fix conflicts in state and local election law. boulderbeat.news/2020/07/24/bou…
Then we'll be talking about the issue that sparked all this petitioning and election madness in the first place: Occupancy limits.

Specifically, what does council want to change, and when/how will it do so?
Lastly, a bit about public participation in remote city council meetings. We'll be staying virtual at least through January (and, if I was a betting man, I'd say much longer).
Councilwoman Friend is leading tonight's study session, I believe, which must be why she looks extra fancy.
And Brenda Ritenour, Boulder's neighborhood liaison, is taking over for Sarah Huntley in facilitating.

Did you know Boulder has a neighborhood liaison? And she hold office hours on the reg?
Weaver starting out by recognizing that yesterday was Indigenous Peoples Day.
"Facing and acknowledging our past — good and bad — makes our city" stronger, Weaver says. Those now living on these stolen land recognize that harm was done.
Alright, first item: Election schtuff. City Attorney Tom Carr leading. www-static.bouldercolorado.gov/docs/Election_…
Carr: "We had a very rough year this year in getting to the ballot. Lots of confusion. Very regrettable."
Most petitions we'd ever had in 1 year before were 2, Carr says; this year, we had 5.

"It very much taxed our system."
A Bit of History:
In August 2017, after a public hearing, council approved a ballot measure intended to simplify the process for direct democracy in Boulder. One community member raised concerns about the proposed changes, after council had approved them
Voters OK’d changes in November 2017

Election and campaign finance working group formed in 2018; recommended further changed to direct democracy but NOT charter amendments

Voters OK’d reforms and online petitioning in 2018
The big conflict this year was: Does Boulder's charter govern charter amendments, or does the state's election law?

Council in July determined that state law did.
You can see why this is confusing, because Section 37 of Boulder's charter specifically references charter amendments:
“The people shall have the power at their option to propose charter amendments, legislative ordinances, including ordinances granting franchises or privileges, and other legislative measures, and to adopt the same at the polls, such power being known as the initiative.”
Per the presentation tonight: Even though § 37 is titled “Power to initiate charter amendments and legislation” and the first sentence includes language about petitions to amend charter, the City now maintains that §§ 37‐42 do not apply to petitions to amend the Boulder Charter
Carr: What I recommend is to amend Section 37 of Boulder's charter with "clear and unambiguous language" stating that Colorado law governs charter amendments, not Boulder's own rules.
Why does this matter? Because state law gives half the time to collect signatures (90 days, not 180) and requires 2X the number of signatures in even years.
Yates q for Carr: You said there was confusion about Section 20 of the Colorado law?
Carr: It's a question of interpretation. Most city attorneys interpret that broadly to give more power to home rule cities.
"There is some confusion," Carr says.
Yates: While there's confusion about whether or not Section 20 allows us to supersede the state constitution or not .... is there confusion within rules about how many signatures are needed for charter amendment petitions? And when?
Carr: No. If you follow state law, it's very clear.
Young: You suggested one way to clarify things would be to add language that says charter amendments are not included. Could we just remove the term charter amendments from that section?
Carr: Yes, but ... "I'm not a big believe in subtlety when you're making amendments."
That's the issue with the 2017 amendments, Carr says. "They left too much wiggle room. I don't want to leave any wiggle room."
Brockett: Are you looking for direction from us tonight to move forward and make these changes?
Carr: "Direction, objection, suggestions."
Damn that's some good alliteration. Also a great album title.
Brockett: "It felt like one of the surprises this year was that this election was considered a special election ... To me, a special election would intuitively mean one other than the ones regularly held in November."

Could we make that definition more clear?
Specifically, he asked if we could make special elections one not held in November.
Carr: "There is some risk to that." He believes we can (he stated as much earlier this year that Boulder didn't typically consider even-year elections to be special) but "other ppl would disagree"
Weaver with a language q.
Carr: "My preference is if you want it to be governed by state law, you should say it is governed by state law."
Yates: Under state law, a special election is one in even years, which "is weird" but we can be v clear on that in our guidelines.
Young: Would it make any sense to revise the guidelines ahead of the charter amendments (changes) for people to review and make sure .... well, just would it make any sense?
Carr: That's my recommendation, that we draft the guidelines and have them out for public comment in January and then follow the normal procedure.
Carr: I think we'll get more signatures on petitions moving forward, with the online system, bc it's easier to use.

Reminder: Charter amendment petitions can't use that. Per state law, they must be witnessed in person.
Yates: I support these changes. And because it's a charter change, voters will have to vote on it (in November 2021)
Totally forgot that voters would have to OK this. Glad he mentioned it.
Weaver: "I think these are really simple cleanups. It's very straightforward to clean up that confusion as to whether or not state law governs charter amendments."
Brockett: I do think we'd have a strong case if we asserted home rule authority, but the most important thing is to make it absolutely clear so we can avoid the situation we had this year.
"I do remain concerned about the even-year elections requiring double the number of signatures," but clarity is important so "I'm not going to muddy the waters."
Friend concurs. "The goal here needs to be giving the community a very clear path forward for next year."
Some back-and-forth over language.
Just want ya'll to know I've asked staff about the livestream. They're working on it. Kinda crappy to keep going without anyone able to watch but ... I'm not in charge. And the Zoom will be recorded, so you can always watch later.
And I hear we're up now.
Council just deciding to get to this ASAP.

And that wraps this part. Next: Online petitions. Gonna do a new thread for that. @threadreaderapp please unroll.

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More from @shayshinecastle

14 Oct
I forgot a topic tonight! What local ballot issues will the council endorse?
And the state ones, too. Apparently. You can find the local ones here. boulderbeat.news/boulder-ballot…
Maybe they're just doing state...? Idk. Stay tuned.
Read 50 tweets
14 Oct
A lot of this will be stuff we went over recently, when council declined to suspend evictions due to occupancy during COVID. boulderbeat.news/2020/09/19/bou…
Staff is trying to understand what council might want to change so they can craft a work plan. They likely won't start this year, as they are still wrestling with Community Benefit and Use Tables.
Read 78 tweets
14 Oct
Dang, moving fast. Next topic: Public participation in remote city council (and other city) meetings. www-static.bouldercolorado.gov/docs/Recommend…
20 participants in a feedback session on this topic
12 emails to council on this topic (plus occasional feedback throughout the pandemic)
People generally like it: It's more convenient, not as intimidating as speaking in public
Read 139 tweets
14 Oct
No presentation for this one. It's online petitions. It will be online for the public "soon," Carr says. "It's pretty much ready now."
Carr: Denver has been hired to try and break it, to test the security. "We have done everything we can to test it but a brute force attack from people who know how to attack systems is the last step."
Idk how helpful it will be to tweet Carr's walk-through of the system. You can just read this. boulderbeat.news/2020/10/10/bou…
Read 67 tweets
7 Oct
We're quickly going over some land use code cleanups. There are 53 of them. I read through them all (you're welcome) and didn't see anything that bears reporting. But if you must look for yourself: www-static.bouldercolorado.gov/docs/Item_3F_-…
Staff also said they were nothing substantive. Some typo changes, some clarifications to simplify language. Stuff like that.
No slides for this super fast update, but it's about “online marketplace facilitators” (Etsy, Amazon, eBay). Boulder changing its code/practices to collect sales tax from their sellers.
Read 15 tweets

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